Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

A Ceci disavowal

April 24, 2019

From Jeff Bowles on Facebook on the 12th, this Magritte-based composition:

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Apparently a Magrittean disavowal (there’s a Page on such disavowals here), playing on Magritte’s wry late 1920s painting La Trahison des images (The Betrayal / Treachery of Images which shows a pipe, with the painting labeling itself Ceci n’est pas une pipe ‘This is not a pipe’. Here we get Louis Flint Ceci, on the left, objecting in astonishment that what’s on the right is not (a) Ceci; instead, it’s (a) Davisson.

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Will the real Zippy please stand up?

April 20, 2019

Yesterday’s Zippy takes us to Littleton (NH, not the more famous CO — or, for that matter, IL, IA, KY, ME, MA, NC, or WV), where our Pinhead falls into an identity crisis:

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Everybody, including the counterman, is Zippy, or at least a Zippy. And the strip begins with a stretch that is both two panels, each with a Zippy in it, and one full-diner-view panel, with two Zippys in it. We’re in the nightmare world of clones — who am I?

Then there’s the observation in the last panel: No one brings small problems into a diner. Certainly, an interpretation of what happened in the strip before this, though as that it’s crucially ambiguous. But maybe also a moral that we should take away from those events, a piece of advice about what we should or should not do.

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She got pinched in the As … tor Bar

April 16, 2019

A celebrated example of word breaking or splitting (from the 1959 movie High Society), giving a joke turning on an ambiguity in how the the first part of the split word is to be understood: on its own, giving the off-color She got pinched in the ass; or as merely the first part of the split word, giving the less risqué She got pinched in the Astor Bar (in one or another sense of pinched).

Then I note that the first understanding has the in of body location, the second the in of event location — a distinction I’ve explored in three previous postings. This is the fourth, with some illumination in it, I think.

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Easter egg quotations

April 13, 2019

[The body of this posting vanished from WordPress on 4/23/19. I am working on restoring the text. If anyone has pieces of the text, please e-mail me at zwicky@stanford.edu.

If you’re looking for my posting about Louis Flint Ceci and Magrittean disavowals, that’s “A Ceci disavowal” at:

https://arnoldzwicky.org/2019/04/24/a-ceci-disavowal/ ]

Athletica Sport Dick, how I admire thee

April 9, 2019

(Today’s Daily Jocks dude — call him Jock — showing off his lean muscled body in nothing but a Helsinki Athletica Sport jock, while earnestly appreciating his gorgeous penis (not shown here). Lots of penis-talk, eventually some notes on sculpture — but of naked athletes. Kids and the sexually modest might want to avoid the scene.)

Beautiful penis, wake unto me,
Arousal and dewdrops I am waiting from thee

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Do you have a dick that you really love,
One that you feel so groovy with?
You don’t even mind if it’s a bit worn,
That only makes it nicer still.
I love my dick, I love my dick,
My dick is so comfortably lovely.

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Science, charity, and adverbial ambiguity

April 5, 2019

Through a chain of people on Facebook, who passed it from one hand to another, this painting (captioned by an unknown wag):

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Ah, in a different genre of art, a version of this joke that I’ve posted on a couple of times:


(#2) A One Big Happy strip

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Ed (the) Ped

April 4, 2019

In yesterday’s Zippy, the Walking Man — Zippy knows him as Ed Ped — returns to Zippytopia:

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First theme: Ed used to be otherwise, but now he’s naked, amanous, and apodous: Deal with it! Get over it! Get used to it! We are everywhere.

Second theme: Zippy moves the focus to France, causing Ed to morph into a stereotypical Frenchman (with beret and cigarette, probably Gauloises), who announces Je suis partout ‘I am all over, I am everywhere’.

Side effect:  French Ed evokes, in Zippy’s mind, Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor. (Zippy is a wildly associative thinker.)

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Lilacs in California: Lavender Lady

March 29, 2019

Yesterday at the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, a small stand of rather sparse shrubs, blooming gorgeously and giving off the heady scent of lilacs. So they were, and that was notable: you don’t see a lot of lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) in California. What you see instead are what are called California lilacs — California lilac is a resembloid compound referring to plants in the genus Ceonothus, not even in the same plant family as Syringa; see my 6/20/13 posting “Poppies, lilacs, and lilies”, with a section on Ceonothus vs. Syringa. (Of course yesterday’s flowering shrub was in fact a California lilac: subsective California lilac ‘lilac from or in California’.)

But why are lilacs rare in California? Because they’re cold-winter plants. Then why are there any at all? Because there are now some hybrids that are relatively tolerant of warm winters.

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Reubens, kale, and Cales

March 22, 2019

It starts with a monstrously meatless “Reuben” sandwich and ends in the villages of England’s East Midlands in the 19th century. The links: Reuben the sandwich and Reuben the name, kale the leafy green and Cale the name.

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The moving sale

March 21, 2019

From Karen Chung on Facebook a while back, this complex pun in the 9/25/15 Bizarro, illustrating (among other things) a nice contrast in accentual patterns: front stress (or forestress), the default for N + N compounds, in MOVING saleback stress (or afterstress), the default in Adj + N nominals, in moving SALE:


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

So the hinge of the pun is the ambiguity of moving: as N, (roughly) ‘the act or process of changing residence’; or as Adj, (roughly) ‘causing strong emotion, esp. of sadness’ (both senses are ultimately semantic developments from the simple motion verb move, intransitive or transitive; but they are now clearly distinct lexical items). Then from the difference in syntactic category follows the difference in accentual pattern.

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