Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

Rainbow. Sharks. Rainbow sharks.

August 16, 2018

First, rainbow: from Andrew Winnard on Facebook, a photo of a rainbow-lit Metro escalator in Stockholm.

Then, sharks: in my posting earlier today “Central Shark”, about Sharknado Week on the SyFy channel (Trailer Park Shark (2017) is just about to begin!).

Which led me to the Italian clothing company Paul & Shark, with its sharky logo — and its line of rainbow shark t-shirts. And to a slew of artworks depicting rainbow sharks. And to a popular aquarium fish, the rainbow shark.

(more…)

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)

(more…)

The nacho cart

August 13, 2018

Drew Dernavich in the August 20th New Yorker:


(#1) “Would you like to sample something from the nacho cart?”

An office cart conveying a gigantic heap of nachos, with hot cheese dripping over the side. Underneath are who knows what astounding toppings for the taco chips, your choice.

A demented dessert cart, transporting horror-movie foodstuffs. The fanciest of high-end dining  juxtaposed with low-end cheap thrills and street food, smelling of Mexican food trucks.

(more…)

Ruthie and the language of doughnuts

August 3, 2018

The One Big Happy from July 5th, in which Ruthie and Joe get some dubious advice from their father:

(#1)

Their dad’s advice will no doubt warm the hearts of language teachers and multiculturalists, but it’s dubious as practical advice for everyday life.

Meanwhile, Ruthie wrestles with the question of how to get a language name from the noun doughnut / donut. Donuttish (with an all-purpose adjective-forming suffix, –ish) would certainly be possible, but, probably on the model of Dutch, Ruthie goes for Donutch, that is, Donut-ch (this is spoken, rather than written, by Ruthie, so it could have been spelled Donutsh, like Welsh).

(It tickles me to think of the language name as Dutchnut, a portmanteau of Dutch and doughnut. Or maybe that should be the name of the food.)

In any event, Ruthie has stumbled slant-wise onto the idea that doughnuts are of Dutch origin — an idea that confuses words and things, labels and the categories they label, but nevertheless incorporates a genuine bit of history.

(more…)

BILLY COLLINS Billy Collins

July 31, 2018

Not just any Billy Collins, but Billy Collins Billy Collins — prototypical Billy Collins, the Billy Collins. Who I’m posting about here because one of his poems prominently features the morphological construction Contrastive Focus Reduplication, or CFR (which I’m going to cite in a forthcoming posting about two New Yorker cartoons on dating).

(more…)

Motherhood and stupid PAP

July 29, 2018

Starting around the 9th, making the rounds on Facebook, a Daily Mail (U.K.) story from 2016, with a disturbing video under the heading (H):

This mother took her children’s phones and shot them to teach them a lesson!

 
(#1) You can watch the video here

(H) presents a series of complexities in interpretation, having to do with the reference of the two anaphoric pronouns them, with respect to two potential antecedent NPs: the determiner NP her children (marked as possessive) and the argument NP her children’s phones (here serving as the direct object argument of the verb took).

(more…)

Are You My Bottom?

July 27, 2018

(Anatomical and sexual double entendres thick on the ground, but mostly in a high-kawaii context. Eventually, talk of relationships and of sexual acts, though not at all vividly. There will, however, be explicit linguistics.)

An answer, offered by the Helsinki Athletica muscle-hunk model known here as SpoJo, in my previous posting today: “I Am Your Bottom” (referring to the bodypart, but if your mind bends in that direction, also to the role in anal intercourse).

The question, in the (recently published) pandalicious children’s book (for reading to kids 3-6) Are You My Bottom?:

(#1)

(more…)

Nacho flies are back

July 26, 2018

That’s what I heard in a Taco Bell television commercial on Tuesday the 24th. I visualized insects with tortilla chip wings. Decidedly odd: was Taco Bell being besiged by these nacho flies, and, if so, why were they telling us about it?

Then I realized it must be nacho fries; my confusion stemmed in part from the fact that I’d never heard of nacho fries — I don’t keep up with the fast-food business — and though I know what nachos are, I had no clear idea of what something called nacho fries would be would be like.

(more…)

furūtsu sando

July 23, 2018

From the bon appétit magazine site on 7/19/18, “A Fruit Sando Is a Dessert Sandwich Filled with Joy and Whipped Cream: I’m obsessed with this Japanese dessert and was dying for a recipe. Now we have one.” by Elyse Inamine:


(#1) furūtsu sando ‘fruit sandwich’: strawberry, kiwi, peach (or mango) (photo from the magazine)

(more…)

Aspectual distinctions in the comics

July 22, 2018

Today’s Zippy involves a distinction in the interpretation of the VP own thirty-one muu-muus:

Does Zippy happen to own (only) 31 muu-muus at the moment? Griffy asks how many muu-muus Zippy owns, and that’s what Zippy apparently says in reply.

Or is Zippy’s way of life such that he always has (only) 31 muu-muus in his possession? That would indeed predict that Zippy has (only) 31 at the moment, but it would also predict that if you took one away, he’d have to get a new one to replace it, and that if you gave him a new one, he’d have to get rid of an old one — all to maintain the stable state of owning 31 muu-muus. That’s what Zippy says in his reply.

The distinction is aspectual, corresponding very roughly to the circumstances in which you’d choose a ‘to be’ verb in Spanish: estar (roughly) for temporary situations, not necessarily extending beyond the reference time period (hence mutable, contingent), ser (roughly) for enduring, even permanent situations, extending through time before and after the reference time period (hence unchanging, even necessary).

(more…)