Archive for the ‘Lexical semantics’ Category

Taking it easy

November 17, 2017

Today’s Bizarro, on the opposite of easy chair:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

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Environmentally responsible derivation

November 13, 2017

It starts with an ordinary noun source and an ordinary verb sustain and eventually works its way to the adverb sustainably as a modifier of a verb source, strikingly in the split infinitive construction to sustainably source, which Wilson Gray reported in an ADS-L posting on the 11th, citing a General Mills ad in which to sustainably source oats figures prominently.

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A processed food flavor

October 20, 2017

That’s from the NYT on the 17th (on-line), Frank Bruni’s op-ed column “Will Pumpkin Spice Destroy Us All?”:

(#1) In the labyrinth of pumpkin spice

It’s invention run amok, marketing gone mad, the odoriferous emblem of commercialism without compunction or bounds. It’s the transformation of an illusion — there isn’t any spice called pumpkin, nor any pumpkin this spicy — into a reality.

Pumpkin on its own is bland. What to do, if you’re not fond of bland? Pumpkin pie can get some pizazz from spices — especially cinnamon and nutmeg, also used to flavor eggnog, for similar reasons.

Such spice mixtures have been around for centuries, but only in recent years has pumpkin (pie) spice achieved commercial superstardom. Leading to Bruni’s comic savaging above, and to a Kaamran Hafeez cartoon (yesterday’s daily cartoon for the New Yorker).

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Ruthie on meanings

October 19, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips:

(#1) What does /sǽtǝn/ mean?

(#2) What does anaphoric do that refer to?

#1 plumbs Ruthie’s knowledge of the English lexicon (satin is unfamiliar to her, so she does the best she can with it from what she knows), #2 her ability to use anaphoric elements in context (she’s an ace at wielding “sloppy identity”).

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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.

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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.

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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):

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Nazis and neo-Nazis

August 21, 2017

Discussions on many Facebook pages about the use of the term neo-Nazis to refer to marchers in Charlottesville VA on August 12, with their swastikas, torch-marching, Hitler salutes, chanting anti-Jewish slogans and “Blood and Soil” (Blut und Boden) — plus specifically American touches like the Confederate battle flag, KKK hoods, and open displays of assault rifles. Some participants in these discussions maintained with some passion that they called the marchers Nazis, because that’s what they were.

I can’t of course legislate how people talk — but if you want both accuracy and punch, neo-Nazi is the way to go.

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Kangaroo Paste, the Australian hair gel

August 10, 2017

Viewed the morning of the 8th, S2 E9 (“Bounty Hunters!”, 2007) of the tv series Psych, with several references to a (fictional) Australian hair gel for men, Kangaroo Paste, which the central character of the series, Shawn Spencer, really likes. This bit of mischievous product placement led quite a few people to ask where they could get the stuff.

For the record: there is an Aussie brand of hair-care products for women, which offers (among other things) Aussie Instant Freeze Gel, Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Gel, Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Mousse, Aussie Mega Gel, and Aussie Headstrong Volume Spray Gel (I have no idea how these products are distinguished from one another); and there is a product called Kangaroo Paste, but it’s a Korean shoe polish (a Korean knockoff of Kiwi Shoe Polish).

To come: the tv show (with a digression on the actor Kevin Sorbo); hair gel; the Aussie brand; Kangaroo Paste shoe polish (with a digression on compounds like Kangaroo Paste shoe polish); Kiwi Shoe Polish; and product placement.

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Ovaltine mornings

July 20, 2017

On Facebook, from several sources, these vintage ads for Ovaltine, notable (these days) for their use of the adjective gay ‘light-hearted, carefree’:

(#1)

(#2)

Two things here: the lexical items gay; and the beverage Ovaltine. Along the way we’ll pick up some Los Angeles lesbian rap.

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