Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

The signs of speechlessness

December 7, 2019

What do you say to convey that you can’t find any words to describe your state of mind? What’s the verbal equivalent of the speechlessness emoji ūüė∂ ? (Which literally has no mouth, indicating an inability to speak.)

Some people have conventional expressions for this purpose. Here’s one of them, homina, in today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

(#1)

As a cartoon bonus, we get the (metonymic) conversion of an expression evincing some state of mind — homina evincing bewilderment, surprise, or shock to the point of speechlessness — ¬†to a measure noun denoting a degree of the evinced state of mind — homina as a unit of bewilderment etc. A special sort of nouning, generally available for interjections:

I give that experience three eeks / ughs / ewws / ouches / …

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NO PENGUINS

December 4, 2019

A generic penguin ban sign (sold on Amazon, a CD Visionary no-penguins button):


(#1) What’s banned? Spheniscid birds. Why? Who knows. (They smell. They steal fish. They get underfoot. Whatever.)

and a ban — in a list of prohibitions against public vice or indecency — on the door of Loretta’s Authentic Pralines on N. Rampart St. in New Orleans (photo from the TripAdvisor South Africa site):


(#2) What’s banned? Who knows. Why? Because they’re a vice (like drinking or smoking) or are indecent (like profanity or nudity), presumably the latter.

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Three comic rabbits for December

December 1, 2019

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit on the first of the month. The Mother Goose and Grimm from 12/30, with a textbook attachment ambiguity. The Rhymes With Orange for today, with an updated version of a classic tongue twister. And the Bizarro for today, with a Mr. Potato Head  wielding a terrible slang pun.

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At the onomatomania dinette

November 27, 2019

Today’s Zippy is set in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk VA of a few years back, in a Do-Nut Dinette — whose name throws Zippy into a fit of onomatomania (aka repetitive phrase disorder) compounded with Spooner’s affliction (compulsive exchange of word elements in phrases):

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(Separately, there’s the use of dinette to refer to a diner, as a type of restaurant.)

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On the rubber fowl beat

November 22, 2019

In my writing, it goes back a dozen years to a Language Log posting on rubber ducky, with further duck notes over the years; notable from the outset were items like the vinyl rubber ducky, a rubber ducky made of vinyl. And then today Bob Eckstein burst onto Facebook with a new Christmas item from the Archie McPhee company, a rubber chicken Christmas ornament — yes, a glass rubber chicken.

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Muscle Milk

November 21, 2019

(Yes, much about sexual meanings of this expression, so there will be much about men’s bodies and bodily fluids and man-man sexual practices, so not advisable for children or the sexually modest.)

Muscle Milk. A creamy sports protein supplement, with an entirely descriptive N + N compound name: ‘milk-like substance [a creamy drink] for (building) muscle(s)’. But as something of an enthusiast of both male genitals and semen, I immediately saw a sexual reading, ‘milk-like substance [semen] from a (metaphorical) muscle [a penis]’. Salacious smiles ensued.

I doubt that a sexual reading occurred to the makers of Muscle Milk, but then they didn’t reckon with people like me. (And in their defense, I should say that though the sexual senses of muscle and milk are both attested, the combination muscle milk seems to have been used only in the name of their product and not to be attested in a sexual semse.)

As a bonus, most of their original flavors are crèmes.

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A regular festival of ambiguity

November 20, 2019

(Later in this posting there are a couple of raunchy men’s underwear ads, and some cautiously worded references to men’s bodies and mansex, so some readers might want to exercise caution.)

Ruthie and Joe in the One Big Happy from 10/9:

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Three senses of (ir)regular in just four panels. All traceable ultimately to the Latin noun regula ‘rule’, with rule understood as in¬†NOAD:

noun rule:¬†1¬†[a] one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere:¬†the rules of the game were understood. [b] a principle that operates within a particular sphere of knowledge, describing or prescribing what is possible or allowable:¬†the rules of grammar.¬†…

The range of senses of regular is impressively large, and illustrates a whole variety of mechanisms of semantic change; the three senses above are a microcosm of this greater world.

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Revisiting 37: pie charts

November 15, 2019

Follow-ups on two themes: pie chart¬†referring to a graphic display of information; and categories and labels in the domain of desserts, notably in the PIE, SWEET-PIE, and CAKE categories. Spurred by a link (from Kim Darnell) to this posting on the¬†edible Austin site¬†(as in Austin TX), “A Guide to Deciphering Dessert” by Bambi Edlund:


(#1) Another sense of pie chart: ‘chart of pies, a charting of pies, a chart showing pies’ (parallel to flower painting, room diagram,¬†and¬†part(s) list), vs. pie chart ‘chart resembling a pie’ (parallel to penguin suit,¬†penis mushroom, and mushroom penis)

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Ruthie plays with Joe

November 3, 2019

A recent — 10/7 — One Big Happy has Ruthie willfully misunderstanding a usage, something she does every so often, sometimes as a joke, usually to annoy her brother Joe:


(#1) Joe asks about /plen/ plane vs. plain, and Ruthie mischievously shifts to a pun on /pl√©…™n/ playin’.

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Annals of burritio

October 29, 2019

(It starts with burrito-savoring, but immediately spreads to flagrantly carnal acts described in plain terms, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

An old ad campaign for Taco Bell’s beefy burritos, drastically pornphotoshopped so as to illustrate techniques for tackling those tasty tortilla tubes (10/12 hat tip to Chris Hansen):


(#1) Eat my burrito, dude!

Is this queer, or what? One shirtless guy takes tube lying on his side on a bed, the other eats it on his knees. Both have a hand wrapped firmly around the base of the object of their desire. Both have their eyes closed in the ecstasy of oral pleasure.

What do we call this act of sensual gratification? I’m going for¬†burritio /b«Ěr√≠Ň°i√≤/:¬†New Latin for¬†‘burrito-eating’, on loose analogy with fellatio¬†/f«Ěl√©Ň°i√≤/ ‘cock-sucking’, encouraged by the physical similarities between the two objects and between the two acts.

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