Archive for the ‘Lexical semantics’ Category

I do like a bit of cowboy butter to my meat

July 17, 2019

The original spur was this Pinterest item:


(#1) [ cowboy butter ] [ dipping sauce ]

On the dipping sauce in #1; the cowboy butter that is its basis; the interpretation of cowboy butter and other cowboy X compounds (cowboy casserole, cowboy rub); the combination of cowboys, butter, and meat (each with possible sexual associations); Jackson Hole Cowboy Cream; and cowboy cheese bites.

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The clown barber of Custard Street

July 12, 2019

Friday’s Wayno/Piraro collabo Bizarro strip (titled “Shaving Cream Pie”):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Ordinary barbers use shaving cream; clown barbers use cream pies. It’s just like spas: ordinary spas use facial creams (for moisturizing); clown spas use cream pies.

Bonus: the cartoon shows a clown barber twice over: a barber who is a clown, and also a barber for clowns.

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Books on tape

June 26, 2019

More word play in John Atkinson’s Wrong Hands:

(#1)

Exploiting an ambiguity in the preposition on and a concomitant ambiguity in the noun tape — an ambiguity that’s been around ever since magnetic tape was first used to record readings of books (quite some time ago, though audiobooks didn’t become a significant business until the 1980s). Meanwhile, the Books on Tape company was founded in 1975, but book on tape is still commonly used as a synonym of audiobook.

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Fashion notes for Pride 2019

June 25, 2019

This year on the Pride catwalk, it’s shorts and one-piece garments. In stunning show-off colors.

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You shouldn’t have done that

June 22, 2019

Today’s Zippy, with Mr. Toad’s chide … deride … upbraid — a one-line poem and an exercise in lexical semantics:


(#1) Mr. Toad condescends to the counterman at the Nameless Diner

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The clown facial

June 18, 2019

Today’s Rhymes With Orange, with a clown facial:

(#1)

From NOAD, the nouning of the Adj facial ‘of or affecting the face’:

noun facial: a beauty treatment for the face.

Then the noun facial ‘facial treatment (for beauty)’ serving as head in the N + N compound clown facial (for a pieing — a pie-in-the-face — involving a clown or clowns), which contrasts in interpretation with the compounds cum facial (for a sexual practice in which semen is ejaculated onto the face) and beauty facial (used to clarify that the ‘facial treatment’ sense is intended).

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High 5 from a bison

May 25, 2019

(After the cartoons and the lexicography, John Rechy will take this posting into the world of mansex, in some detail and in very plain talk; that section is not for kids or the sexually modest, but I’ll warn you when it’s looming on the horizon.)

Two bison greet each other in a John Baynham cartoon with a wonderful pun:

(#1)

That’s numbers (roughly ‘amount’, but as a PL C noun) — and indeed large numbers of buffalo did once roam the plains of North America — vs. numbers referring to physical models, or simulacra, of symbols for certain abstract mathematical entities — in this case, the natural numbers. Such physical models are also familiar: think of the letters in the HOLLYWOOD sign, or the numbers on the building at 666 Fifth Ave. in NYC (with its own kind of fame as a Jared Kushner property). But people don’t walk around with, much less inside, giant versions of such models. That’s deliciously absurd.

Looking at the lexical items involved will take us deep into the lexicographic weeds and then to the secret places of mansex, starting with the dim recesses of Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

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homeworks

May 21, 2019

A facebook exchange back on the 6th, between Andrew Carnie (professor of linguistics and dean of the Graduate College at the Univ. of Arizona) and Karen Chung (associate professor at National Taiwan University, teaching courses on linguistics and English).

Andrew: [Student], who only came to class less than 50% of the time, and turned in a bunch of assignments (really) late: These homeworks are way. too. hard. It’s unfair.

Karen: “Homework” as a countable noun? Is he/she a native speaker of English?

Academics will recognize Andrew’s note as the plangent lament of a professor facing the grading tasks at the end of a term, confronted with a self-entitled student who believes they are really smart, so preparation outside of class shouldn’t take much work (and they should be able to ace the final without much studying).

But what Karen picks up on is the use the noun homework as a C(ount) noun, clearly so because it occurs in the plural form homeworks here; for the M(ass) noun homework, the usage would be: This homework is way. too. hard. Or else: These homework assignments are way. too. hard.

Much as I sympathize deeply with Andrew’s lament — having had nearly 50 years of similar experiences (fortunately far outweighed by students who were a delight to teach) — what this posting is about is the C/M thing. There’s a fair amount to get clear about first, and then I’ll have some analysis, some data, and some reflections on larger matters (language use in particular communities of practice, the tension between brevity and clarity as factors in language use).

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Is Timmy in trouble?

May 16, 2019

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from the 14th shows us Lassie trying to deliver a message about Timmy:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

Ah, a variant of the Lassie-Timmy cartoon meme. With a play on the senses of be in trouble. From various dictionaries:

(i) ‘in a problematic situation or state of hardship’
(ii) ‘in peril, danger’
(iii) ‘subject to or due for punishment’
(iv) (euph.) ‘pregnant and unmarried’

In the usual cartoon meme, Timmy is in trouble in sense (i) or (ii) — classically, he has fallen down a well — but in #1, it’s sense (iii). I haven’t found an instance of the meme that bends gender to take advantage of sense (iv), but it’s certainly imaginable. (And for a possibility torn from the headlines, if you’re in trouble in sense (iv) and get an abortion, in Alabama you’re now in trouble in sense (iii).)

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All ˈlaundry ˈis a ˈblur of ˈstatic ˈcling

April 28, 2019

(This message is brought to you by Frolic, Romp, Frisk, Gambol, Cavort, Caper, & Prance, Ltd.,  purveyors of iambs and orgies.)

Today’s playful Zippy:


(#1) Drying clothes engaged in an orgy of cavorting and gamboling, playfully, sensually sliding against one another: inhale the freshness!

With one satisfying line of enigmatic iambic pentameter:

All ˈlaundry ˈis a ˈblur of ˈstatic ˈcling

Words to live by. If you can only divine their deeper lesson.

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