Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

The gay world of Yvon Goulet

April 9, 2018

(It’s art, but about male bodies and often about mansex, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Original alert from Daniel MacKay on Facebook, about a work that’s far from X-rated (no sexual bits at all) but is nevertheless steeped in a ritual of mansex, t-room cruising, in this case at the urinals:

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Another Magrittean disavowal

April 2, 2018

Passed around on Facebook:

The 1929 Magritte original, often riffed on, went Ceci n’est pas une pipe ‘This is not a pipe’, a disavowal that sets up a contradiction between text and image. So here we have another Magrittean disavowal, as I’ve come to call the phenomenon; there’s a survey in my 8/19/17 posting “Magrittean disavowals”.

But they come in two species, and it’s not entirely clear which one the example above belongs to.

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V-headed compounds

March 27, 2018

I’ll start with the seasonally relevant compound verb to snow blow / snow-blow / snowblow and go on from there to an animus, in some quarters, against such V-headed compounds (on the grounds that they are unnecessary innovations, because the language already has syntactic means for expressing their meanings — in this case, to blow (the) snow away from).

(#1)

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Haiku Robot

March 25, 2018

An Instagram site that searches for posted material that can be treated as a haiku (a 3-line poetic form with 5, 7, and 5 syllables in the lines). Recently, the robot took on sex between men (not at all graphically).

An example of a found haiku, based on a posting that went:

I suppose ant-man’s boss could be considered a micromanager

— to which the robot responded with the 5-7-5 version:

i suppose ant-man’s
boss could be considered a
micromanager

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Labeling the world

March 22, 2018

An old Gary Larson cartoon:

(#1)

Maybe yes, maybe no. Painting a label L on something or affixing L to something is a kind of ostensive definition: This is an L. And ostensive definitions aren’t fail-safe: just how much of the thing L is associated with to is an L?

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The meaning of “is”

March 22, 2018

… and betting on baldness.

Through the Australasian Association of Philosophy’s Facebook page, this To φ Or Not To φ (Daily Nous Philosophy Comic) by Tanya Kostochka:

(#1) And that’s just the beginning: cf. I’m Louise with I’m your daughter

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Extended 69

March 16, 2018

(Heavily sexual topic, some racy — just barely not X-rated — images, and extended discussion of sexual acts. So not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

Well, extended 69 — the term, not the act.

The story begins with what is probably a one-off use of the sexual slang 69, in You could hug 69, conveying ‘you could hug each other for mutual pleasure’; hug 69 here is a V + V compound, lit. ‘to 69 by/in hugging’, a generalization of the customary sexual 69, preserving only the semantic components of mutuality / reciprocity and pleasure in the act.

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Call me by your name

March 1, 2018

The Mother Goose and Grimm, from February 21st:

(#1)

A joke playing on use and mention: Grimmy mentions the name of the Oscar-nominated movie Call Me by Your Name, but Ralph understands him to be using the expression call me your your name, so he calls Grimmy Ralph.

That leads us to the movie and so to a thicket of issues about language, sexuality, gender, and the law.

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Up in every way

February 13, 2018

“Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up”, the song goes, and it manages to pack a whole bagful of uses of up into a few verses.

(#1) “All the Way Up”, with drugs, bitches and hoes, sex (“I’m that nigga on Viagra dick”), bling, success

And then Mountain Dew (the soft drink) extracted just a bit of the song for its own purposes.

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He meant to say “supine”

February 11, 2018

Wilson Gray on ADS-L on the 6th:

“She was lying on her back, when she was stabbed, in the prone position.”

He meant to say, “in the supine position,” of course.

There’s no “of course” here. No, that is almost surely not what the speaker meant to say; I’d wager he intended to say exactly what he did say. It’s just not what Wilson thinks the speaker should have said. (Or he’s mocking people who talk this way, though I failed to detect any raised eyebrows in what he wrote so briefly and dismissively.)

We have here a widespread vulgar confusion, a failure to distinguish

between inadvertent errors, things that are “wrong” for the person who produces them, and advertent errors, things that are ok so far as the producer is concerned but “wrong” from the point of view of at least some other people. (Faced with [the first], you call in the psycholinguist; faced with [the second], you call in the sociolinguist.) (Language Log link)

On top of that, Wilson has the sociolinguistic facts wrong, through a confusion between ordinary language and technical language: supine is a technical term for a bodily postion (lying flat on one’s back), used in certain specific domains (anatomy, sport, and shooting, in particular); in those domains, its counterpart (referring to lying flat on one’s belly) is prone, but in ordinary language, outside these specific domains, prone can refer to lying flat in general, and supine isn’t used at all.

The mistake here lies in assuming that technical, domain-specific (medical, botanical, technologcal, etc.) vocabulary is the true, correct, uniquely valid scheme for naming. From my 7/27/15 posting “Misleadingly named animals”, on zoological names:

The terminology “true fly” and “true bug” (etc.) here arises from the attitude that the naming practices of biologists are the only valid (true) naming schemes — what I’ll call technicalism. In the case of fly and bug, technicalism is remarkable from the historical point of view, since the specialized use of these nouns represents a decision to use perfectly ordinary vocabulary as technical terminology by drastically restricting its reference.

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