Archive for the ‘Speech acts’ Category

Ostentatiously playful allusions

May 18, 2019

(OPAs, for short.) The contrast is to inconspicuously playful allusions, what I’ve called Easter egg quotations on this blog. With three OPAs from the 4/20/19 Economist, illustrating three levels of closeness between the content of the OPA and the topic of the article: no substantive relationship between the two (the Nock, Nock case), tangential relationship (the Sunset brouhaha case), and tight relationship (the defecate in the woods case).

The three cases also illustrate three degrees of paronomasia: the Nock, Nock case involves a (phonologically) perfect pun; the Sunset brouhaha case an imperfect pun; and the defecate in the woods case no pun at all, but whole-word substitutions.

I’ll start in the middle, with Sunset brouhaha. But first, some background. Which will incorporate flaming saganaki; be prepared.

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Annals of indirection

January 1, 2019

Chip Dunham’s Overboard strip from December 28th:


(#1) Captain Crow and his dog Louie

An exercise in both syntax/semantics and semantics/pragmatics: on syntactic constructions and their semantics, and on the indirect conveying of meaning in context.

Above, what will become example (c) in the syntactic discussion:

(c) I don’t think I’ve told you today what a wonderful dog you are

which will lead to a related example, Sir Van Morrison’s song line in (d):

(d) Have I told you lately that I love you?

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What room am I in?

October 20, 2018

This photoon passed on to me by Karen Chung on Facebook (I have no idea of its ultimate source):

(#1)

Context, context, context.

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Asking questions and giving commands

August 21, 2018

The text for the day is a dialogue posted on Facebook on the 19th by John Beavers (a guitarist who moonlights as a linguistics professor at the University of Texas, Austin), between John’s son Ezra and John’s wife / Ezra’s mother Janice Ta:


Ezra on his 3rd birthday (July 28th)

Ezra: Mommy, do “boy” and “toy” rhyme?

Janice: Yes, they do! You’re very good at rhyming. Do “boy” and “man” rhyme?

Ezra: No. You’re not very good at rhyming.

Ah, a significant ambiguity in the use of interrogative sentences: between information-seeking interrogatives (infoseek questions, I’ll call them), like Ezra’s do “boy” and “toy” rhyme?; and examination interrogatives (test questions, I’ll call them; they’re also known as quiz questions), like Janice’s do “boy” and “man” rhyme?

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Book flash: New Work on Speech Acts

August 16, 2018

What looks to be an excellent report on work in semantics/pragmatics on speech acts, from OUP:

(#1)

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Two occasions, four cartoons

August 6, 2018

(There will be talk of men’s bodies, among a number of other things, so you might want to exercise some caution.)

Yesterday was National Underwear Day (utilitarian garments elevated to objects of play, desire, and fashion display), today is Hiroshima Day (remembering the horror of an event of mass destruction, death, and suffering). An uncomfortable, even absurd, juxtaposition, but there is a link in the symbolism of the two occasions. In my comics feed for these occasions: four language-related cartoons on familiar language-related themes, none of them having anything to do with either underwear or nuclear holocaust, probably for good reason.

Cartoons first, then the underwear and atomic bombs.
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scratch and sniff card

March 10, 2018

The One Big Happy from February 10th:

The sign says (but with reduced and):

SCRATCH AND SNIFF CARDS

Is that to be parsed as conjoined imperatives — you are to scratch and to sniff cards — or as an NP describing some cards — these are cards you can scratch and sniff, cards for scratching and sniffing?

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Can you say “cat”? Can you spell “cat”?

November 4, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips:

(#1) Can you say … “cat”… um, “sheepshank”?

The Mister Rogers trope Can you say X? ‘Say X’ (in a pedagogical tone); idiomatic go/get (all) X on Y

(#2) Can you spell “cat”?

Spanish ‘yes’ vs. English /si/ C (the letter of the alphabet); linguistic and natural mean; and more.

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Bluto says: join or else

August 23, 2017

Aggressive days in the men’s underwear world, in my adaptation of a Daily Jocks ad from the 11th. There will be hot men in their underwear, suggestive captions, and a certain amount of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics; use your judgment.

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More Magrittean disavowals

June 28, 2017

Today’s Zippy:

(#1)

One in a long series of Zippy strips about Tod Browning’s film Freaks, the characters in it, and the actors who played them (only some of them posted about here). Also one in a long series of strips referring to the Magrittean disavowal, a contradiction between text and image: in this case, the title of this comic strip, This is not a comic strip.

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