Archive for the ‘Punctuation’ Category


July 14, 2020

Following up on NO PENGUINS (my 12/4/19 posting here), another adventure in food signage, also initially presented almost entirely without context. This one takes us into the mysteries of punctuation, t/d-deletion in English, and the food practices of modern America.

The impetus:


This is available as a symbol conveying NO PENGUINS, meaning that penguins are not allowed in the signed area or will not be admitted to the signed area (under a penalty of some sort). The slash is the slash of exclusion.


Signtax and the Sloppy Joe apostrophe

October 29, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo, with punctuation:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page. And stay tuned for a Bizarro, rather than Hindu-nationalist, interpretation of the initials BJP.)

Two linked things: the syntax of the sign on the hot dog cart; and the potential ambiguity of Sloppy Joe’s on the sign, as a possessive in standard spelling or as a plural in a very popular non-standard spelling.


On the road, a/some head

April 3, 2017

(Reference to a dangerous sexual practice, but mostly in the spirt of fun. Use your judgment.)

Today’s alarming Bizarro::


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

Amidst much silliness about how punctuation saves lives — Let’s eat father and all that — comes this even greater silliness with the road sign STOP AHEAD (conveying that there is a STOP sign ahead on the road), alluding to a bit of language play I first heard as a child:

What’s that on the road ahead? / What’s that on the road — a head?

(or with in rather than on).


Risible (faux-)commercial name

March 13, 2017

From a posting by Randy Murray to the Facebook page‎ “THE ERRORIST MOVEMENT – Correct grammar, with humour”, where he comments, “apostrophes mean so much”:


At first glance, this ad would seem to fall into four big topic areas on this blog: dubious commercial names; It’s All Grammar; vulgar slang; and phallic play (in particular, word play). To which I add: the conventions on the form of hashtags, e-mail addresses, and web addresses (URLs). But first, I have to tell you that this particular Dick’s Pizza is a fabrication.


Apostrophic moments

November 18, 2016

Punctuating possessives and plurals in writing English is something of a minefield; possessive plural forms like ladies’ and women’s are especially tricky, and quite a few writers of English would prefer to see the system both rationalized and simplified — in particular to use the apostrophe to signal “grammatical morpheme s” and to place it regularly before the s. That gives us the “greengrocer’s apostrophe”, as in two eggplant’s.

It also gives us possessive plurals like kid’s, as in this ad photo for CheapesTees:


But wait, there’s more.


Grammar nazi on the loose in the library

October 15, 2016

The Unshelved cartoon from the 12th, passed on by Betsy Herrington on Facebook:

The GN takes a truly extreme (One Right Way) position that like can be only a verb, a bizarre view that results in her seeing the library poster as being incorrectly punctuated. (Ok, when in doubt, blame it on the punctuation.) She doesn’t even recognize the preposition use (Which one of these things is not like the others?), not to mention the many uses of like that are set off intonationally in speech and consequently should be punctuated with a comma — no doubt she dismisses these as simply incorrect, “not English” — in particular, quotative like (I asked when she was going, and she was like, “In a minute”) and discourse particle, or discourse marker, like, as in the library’s poster.


The C1R Christmas sale: Johnny Hazzard

December 25, 2015

(Some language things, but mostly more gay sex stuff, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

From Channel 1 Releasing, this Christmas ad (cropped here to eliminate Johnny Hazzard’s cock and make the image WordPressable):


I recognized the ad immediately: it’s exactly the same as last year’s Christmas ad, which I posted about on AZBlogX at the time, in the posting “C1R Xmas greetings” (so if you feel you really need to see Hazzard’s cock right now, you can click on that link).

Now a few words about the text of the ad, and then some about gay porn superstar Hazzard.


One space or two?

September 27, 2015

A recent Bloom County 2015, featuring, from left to right: Milo (a 10-year-old reporter, the politically engaged Milo Bloom), Opus the penguin, and Binkley (Michael Binkley, Milo’s best friend, also 10):

One space or two (after a sentence-final period), a perenially contentious issue.


Ten language-y comics

September 13, 2015

On the Comics Kingdom blog on Tuesday the 8th: “Tuesdays Top Ten Comics on Grammar and Wordplay” (with grammar, as usual, understood broadly). CK distributes strips from King Features; it’s one of my regular sources of cartoons for this blog. The strips here are all from 2014-15.


Rhett to Scarlett

September 3, 2015

Heard in passing on KFJC’s Norman Bates show Saturday morning, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) to Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) in the 1939 movie of Gone With the Wind, what I heard as:

No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.

I’m interested in the third sentence, boldfaced above. Transcribed as here:


Two modifiers of kissed in the VP: often and by someone who knows how. These modifiers can be tightly adjoined (in speech, not set off prosodically; in writing, not set off by punctuation) or loosely adjoined (in speech, set off prosodically; in writing, set off by a comma); and the modifiers can be syntactically unmarked, or marked as coordinate (with and). The version in #1 has both modifiers marked with and, with the first tightly adjoined, but the second loosely adjoined.

My question about these matters is to what extent they involve linguistic structure, and to what extent they are (more or less literally) choices in performance, options indicated in writing in the fashion of stage directions, or options taken by actors.