Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.

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Briefly noted 10/7/18: a scope ambiguity

October 7, 2018

From Robert Coren on Facebook today:

Headline in today’s Boston Globe: “Mormons required to spend less time in Sunday Services”. Wait, what? That seems like a strange requirement.
Turns out it means that the amount of time they’re required to spend in the services has been reduced.

The Globe is behind a paywall for me, so all I can see is that the head seems to have been edited to the unproblematic “Mormons to spend less time in Sunday Services”.

Still, the headline RC reports is of some interest as an example of a scope ambiguity, involving a modal condition (of requirement) and a change of state (in time spent on an activity).

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Jumping higher than a house

October 2, 2018

The One Big Happy from 9/5 has Ruthie enmeshed in the syntax and semantics of comparison:

The reduced comparative X can jump higher than your house: ‘jump higher than your house is’ (Grandpa’s intended reading), OR ‘jump higher than your house can jump’ (Ruthie’s perceived reading ).

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Attaching an 8-page essay at Wheaton College

September 30, 2018

Reported back on the 19th, a stunner of a 2017 headline about Wheaton College (IL) events dating back to 2016. First, the story from a source other than the one that produced the remarkable headline: from the Daily Mail (UK) by Jennifer Smith on 2/14/18: “Christian college ‘punished’ football players who ‘kidnapped, beat and sexually assaulted’ freshman in brutal hazing ritual by asking them to write an eight-page essay and complete community service”:

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Mike Lynch

September 27, 2018

A cartoonist and cartoon enthusiast who hasn’t appeared on this blog before.

The barest of brief Wikipedia information:

Mike Lynch [born January 18, 1962, in Iowa City IA] is a cartoonist whose work can be seen in Reader’s Digest, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy and other mass media markets.

Lynch maintains a substantial blog on cartoons, with material of his own and compilations of other cartoonists.  For example, a 9/24 posting on gag cartoons, from Dick Buchanan; a 9/21 posting on women cartoonists of the New Yorker, from Liza Donnelly; a 9/20 posting on cartoonists drawing on the wall at the Overlook Lounge in NYC.

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Angerland

September 26, 2018

The One Big Happy from 8/30, in which Ruthie hopes for semantic transparency in morphology:

Ruthie’s reading from a book, so she can see the LAND in IRELAND (in pronunciation, it’s reduced to unaccented /lǝnd/ and might not be so easily identifiable). So she hopes the IRE part will be another word she knows that will make sense in combination with LAND in the way that the first elements in, say, ICELAND and WOODLAND do.

And her dad helpfully explains IRE.

 

The dog therapist is IN

September 25, 2018

Today’s Bizarro/Wayno collaboration (entitled “Recurring Dream”) is, from the point of view of this blog, quite timely:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

That’s a dog therapist ‘therapist for dogs’ (a Use N + N compound); see discussion in my 9/22 posting “therapist dog, dog therapist”. In this case, for a patient who’s had the canine equivalent of the common nightmare of being naked in public (especially in front of a class or while giving a speech).

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Stormy compounds in English

September 23, 2018

(Extensive references to male genitals, with photos of phallic simulacra, so not to everyone’s taste.)

About a hitherto unstudied class of English N + N compounds that I will call Stormy compounds (in honor of Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Gregory Clifford), or Stormies for short. In a stormy, one N is mushroom and the other is a N referring to the penis (penis, phallus, dick, cock, in particular). For example, the subsective resemblance compounds mushroom penis ‘penis resembling a mushroom’ and penis mushroom ‘mushroom resembling a penis’.

Resemblance is one of a small set of canonical semantic relations between the head N2 and the modifier N1 in an N + N compound — relations that are in some sense always available for interpreting such compounds (within the bounds of  real-world and contextual plausibility). Otherwise, there’s an essentially open-ended universe of interpretations specific to the context and the shared experiences of speaker and addressee. In my writing about semantic relations in compounds, I’ve referred to the first set of relations as O-type (to suggest ordinary-type) and the second as X-type (to suggest extraordinary-type); others have used other terminology.

But even for O-type relations, there’s some room for specificity in how particular compounds are understood, and this fact is signficant for stormies.

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therapist dog, dog therapist

September 22, 2018

Exercises in English N + N compounds (for use in another context), illustrated in cartoons exemplifying the Psychiatrist cartoon meme, with dogs either as patient or therapist (or both): therapist dog ‘dog that is a therapist’ (also ‘dog for therapists (to use, for example as companions)’, a sense I’ll disregard here); dog therapist either ‘therapist that is a dog’ (sense 1) or ‘therapist for dogs (taking dog as patients)’ (sense 2).

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Molesting and abusing ambiguously

September 2, 2018

The news stories are appalling, but this is about an expression in one of the stories:

(1) More needs to be done to protect children from molesting priests. (Gregory Ward in e-mail on 8/29, reporting on a WBEZ-FM (Chicago) news story)

Which led to the contemplation of the N + N compounds:

(2) child molester

(3) child abuse

All of them ambiguous, though all with a (dire) conventionalized sense.

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