Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

whom were never officially honored

October 18, 2017

From the annals of (more or less) unprovoked subject (Unsub) whom, as in the title of this posting. Unsub whom typically conveys positive symbolic associations (sketched below), and they’re pretty clearly at work in the case in hand, but there’s another factor at work in this passage from a 10/16/17 posting on PRWeb, “Jazz great, former Oscar Peterson drummer Alvin Queen, denied entry into USA” (instances of relative WHOM in boldface):

[1] The event marks the centenary of the US entry into WWI and specifically honors the Harlem Hellfighters. Ironically, these were the African-American soldiers who served in WWI, and who introduced jazz music to France and the rest of Europe, yet whom were never officially honored, until now.

This new factor is a consequence of a long-discredited piece of thoroughly confused dogma from traditional school grammar, according to which

The subject in a sentence is the entity that acts and the object in a sentence is the entity that is acted upon. (Agent Subject / Patient Object, or ASPO)

I don’t know whether to roar with laughter or weep in despair.

(more…)

Wrinkle cream

October 13, 2017

Today’s dialogue between Mother Goose and Grimm:

(#1)

It’s all about the semantic relationship between the two Ns in the N + N compound wrinkle cream.

(more…)

Performance ambiguity

October 10, 2017

A recent One Big Happy plays on play:

Play the Moonlight Sonata. Play the piano. Play the Moonlight Sonata on the piano.

(more…)

Noodling with formulaic language

October 6, 2017

Today is National Noodle Day. Yes, an event fabricated by people in the food indusry to showcase their products and sell them, on a date no doubt chosen only because it hadn’t already been claimed by any other food. But noodles are delicious, they’re multicultural, and they’re fun.

I celebrated the occasion at lunch with some porcini mushroom and truffle triangoli (stuffed ravioli, but triangular rather than square) from Trader Joe’s, with arrabiatta sauce (a spicy tomato sauce). Pasta in English food talk for Italian food, but  noodles in English food talk for Chinese (and other East Asian and Southeast Asian) food — so today they’re noodles to me. (I recommend a broadminded view on what counts as noodles.)

I also recommend that we adopt a symbolic figure for the occasion, something like the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Halloween pumpkins and witches, Pilgrims for Thanksgiving, the New Year baby, and so on. I suggest the Flying Spaghetti Monster, with his noodly appendages.

But first let’s get down to some recent noodling with formulaic expressions in the comics: One Big Happy (an idiom), Rhymes With Orange (a frequent collocation or an idiom, depending on who you read), and Mother Goose and Grimm (a proverb):

(more…)

Tower viewers

September 17, 2017

Today’s Zippy takes us to a scenic lookout and its technology, the tower viewer:

(#1) Binoculars / Telescope on a stalk

Bill Griffith exploits the anthropoid appearance of the device to turn this one into a speaking, grinning, yellow-haired, cheeky, creepy being.

(more…)

Revisiting 7: NL:W

September 17, 2017

Yesterday, a posting on the story of a joke (Not Lady: Wife, NL:W for short) whose canonical form is

A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: That was no lady; that was my wife.

The vector for the spread of the joke seems to have been the vaudeville team Weber & Fields, who allegedly used it in their stage routines over a century ago. But I found no first-hand reports, so I appealed to the hounds of ADS-L for attestations. This netted a clear occurrence from 1859, but embedded in a long and complex back story (though again with the stage German accent of W&F). And an earlier British antecedent.

Then Larry Horn chimed in with some astute observations on the semantics and pragmatics of NL:W.

All will be reproduced here.

(more…)

not agree with

September 16, 2017

The One Big Happy in my comics feed yesterday has Ruthie v Idiom, once again:

(more…)

The fan, the spathiphyllum, and the impressionist garden

September 10, 2017

Juan came by on Friday to replace the left fan in my laptop (it had reached airplane takeoff mode) and bring me small birthday presents: some mini-cheesecakes from Whole Foods (one berry, one espresso), an excellent but hard to pronounce houseplant, and a visit to the Gamble Garden to view ranks of gauzy late summer and autumn plants in bloom.

The computer repair took only a few minutes — I am now enjoying the silence of the fans — so I’ll focus here on the vegetative side of things: the birthday plant, a spathipyllum (say that three times fast!); and those seasonal flowers, which are gauzy only to a cataractive guy like me (but the Monet impressionist-garden effect is actually quite pleasing, one of the very few positive consequences of gradual vision loss).

(more…)

Runner ducks, runner beans, rubber ducks

September 9, 2017

Back on the 6th, in “Birthday notes”:

From Benita Bendon Campbell (and Ed Campbell) a Jacquie Lawson animated card of Indian runner ducks in the rain, ending with a duck and a rainbow. In medias res: [image #1]
To come, in a separate posting, on Indian runner ducks and Indian (or scarlet) runner beans, which are not at all the same thing.

And then to add to those, India(n) rubber ducks, which aren’t ducks, though they are duck-simulacra (runner ducks are ducks, and runner beans are beans — that is, bean plants).

(more…)

California fuchsia

August 29, 2017

A low-growing sturdy plant, now in bloom in many places around here. Observed yesterday in the Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, a small plot of city park land devoted to illustrating “Bay-friendly principles” of gardening.

(#1) Epilobium canum

The plant is commonly known as California fuchsia, a name that’s strictly speaking not subsective, since California fuschia is not in fact in the genus Fuchsia — but its genus, Epilobium, is closely related to Fuchsia, and you could argue that the common name fuchsia takes in a range of plants, not limited to the botanists’ Fuchsia., in which case California fuchsia would be a perfectly ordinary subsective compound, not a resembloid.

(more…)