Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

The elephant and plum

April 9, 2021

Not Frog and Peach, but Elephant and Plum, in a kid joke as told by Ruthie in the One Big Happy strip from 2/22 (in my comics feed on 3/21):

(#1)

Four things: kid jokes, of which the Elephant and Plum variant above is a particular clever example; the saying about elephants on which it depends; elephant jokes, of which the joke above is not the classic Elephant and Plum exemplar; and the ambiguity of “When did you laugh at it?”, which turns on the defining property of deictic elements like the interrogative when.

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Assuming the position

April 7, 2021

(Men’s bodies as sexual objects — women’s, too — and sex between men, all of this discussed in street language, with edgy images, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

At the intersection of the pinup-girl world (AZ Page here) and the premium men’s underwear world (AZ Page here), two recent ads from the Daily Jocks people: from 3/28, under the mail header “Model of the week: Freddy”, an ad for OnlyJox subscriptions, already of interest to me for its display of male buttocks as sexual objects for a male audience and for pushing the line between softcore and hardcore porn in doing so; and from 4/2, an ad for the DJ Easter sale, already of interest to me for its display of the front surface of the model’s body as series of sexual objects for a male audience, from the framing of his penis in a jockstrap though the sexualized presentation of his armpits, pectoral muscles and nipples.

The 4/2 ad is also quite clearly the photographer’s carefully composed re-creation of a classic pinup pose using a male model. And then I realized that that the 3/8 ad was in fact a bow to yet another classic pinup pose.

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Calvin becomes a personage

April 6, 2021

Two Calvin and Hobbes cartoons recently — yesterday and today (originally from 4/8 and 4/9/91) — in my comics feed, in which Calvin takes on a title (the epithet the Bold) and adopts illeism (referring to himself in the third person):

(#1)

(#2)

Yes, it’s all about linguistics.

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Ripped from the headlines

April 3, 2021

Well, actually, the headline — from CNN Politics, “Gaetz showed nude photos of women he said he’d slept with to lawmakers, sources tell CNN” by Jeremy Herb, Lauren Fox and Ryan Nobles yesterday — isn’t problematic, but very early in the body of the story, we get this:


(hat tips to Mike Pope and Michael Covarrubias on Facebook)

Which is.

I was (actually) shocked at the idea that congressman Matt Gaetz (R of FL) — admittedly, an extraordinarily arrogant bully with the contempt for ordinary people and customary social conventions so often displayed by children of privilege — would have sex with women on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Then I saw the ambiguity in modifier attachment and realized that what was alleged was merely deeply boorish behavior: passing around, wink wink nod nod, naked photos and videos of his sexual conquests to other legislators and their staffs.

Now, about that modifier attachment…

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Scientific and non-scientific -ist

March 10, 2021

Yesterday, in my posting “And you thought -ize was complicated”, a Tom Gauld cartoon showing the great semantic versatility of the suffix –ist. And now, from the 2020 collection Department of Mind-Blowing Theories: Science Cartoons [from New Scientist magazine] by Tom Gauld, –ist as used for names of scientific fields vs. for a variety of other meanings (while showing considerable morphophonological variety in these words).


(#1) The cover of Mind-Blowing

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And you thought -ize was complicated

March 9, 2021

… but that was before you looked at –ist. The spur for this observation is Tom Gauld’s cartoon “The Characters in my New Play”, originally in the Guardian on 3/14/15, since reprinted in his 2017 collection Baking With Kafka:

Gauld starts with the play-relevant term protagonist, then moves to the falsely analogous term antagonist, then takes off on a flight of fancy through the vast –ist world.

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departmentalized

March 1, 2021

From the Stanford Daily (the student newspaper) on 3/1/21: “‘The work is not done’: Students react to AAAS departmentalization recommendation” by John Okhiulu, Kemi Oyewole and Darion Wallace:

On Feb. 22, the Framework Task Force recommended Stanford’s African and African-American Studies program be departmentalized. Following a half-century of student activism, Black undergraduate and graduate students share their reactions to the news.

This is departmentalize ‘make departmental, give departmental status to, make into a department’ — which ought to be a perfectly ordinary causative use of this verb, but struck me as a use I hadn’t experienced before. And possibly I hadn’t, to judge from the evidence of an assortment of dictionaries, none of which reports this use.

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Notes of cade oil, spikenard, and labdanum

February 23, 2021

Among the scent notes in the “unisex perfume” A City on Fire — burnt match is another, but that doesn’t require looking things up — from the Imaginary Authors company, whose remarkable fragrances come with synopses of fictitious works of extravagant fiction and with striking graphic-designer labels on their bottles.

The perfumes aren’t cheap — $95 for a 50 ml bottle ($38 for a 14 ml Traveler size, $6 for a 2 ml Sample size) — but then we don’t know how many bottles get sold, and how much the perfumes are actually worn, as opposed to being treasured and displayed as art objects with an olfactory as well as visual and textual dimensions.

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Ruthie misunderstands

February 21, 2021

Two One Big Happy cartoons recently in my comics feed. Originally from 1/29, a strip in which Ruthie misunderstands “Randi with an “I””, taking it to be “Randi with an eye”. And originally from 1/25, a Sunday strip in which Ruthie misunderstands “pole dance”, taking it to be “Pole dance”.

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Lobster bands, and other restraints

February 19, 2021

(The kinky sense of band — ‘restraint’ — in the Rhymes cartoon drifts into some hard-core sex between men, so that partway through, this posting becomes no longer suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

The Rhymes With Orange cartoon from yesterday (2/18) has two lobsters arranging a hookup for some kinky sex with lobster bands:

(#1)

The elastic bands in question are rubber or silicone bands referred to commercially as lobster bands. They function as restraints on the lobsters’ ability to use their claws — so that they’re roughly analogous to the cuffs / bands / restraints of bondage sex, hence the kinkiness in the cartoon.

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