Archive for the ‘Lexical semantics’ Category

An infestation

January 19, 2020

A quirky Joe Dator cartoon from the January 20th issue of the New Yorker:


(#1) “We’re not a seafood restaurant–this building has a pretty severe lobster infestation.”

NOAD‘s account of the everyday usage of infestation (with notes added by me in square brackets):

noun infestation: the presence of an unusually large number of insects or animals [not plants or microbes] in a place, typically so as to cause damage or disease [of concern to human beings]: infestation with head lice is widespread | efforts were made to deal with an infestation of rats in the building.

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There was a singer had a dog

January 8, 2020

The Epiphany Rhymes With Orange is an exercise in cartoon understanding:

(#1)

Without the title and the comment balloon (on the left), the cartoon is still compensible, and funny — this material adds some extra humorous depth — but none of it works at all unless you know the song.

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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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Space Candy

October 14, 2019

(Highly sexualized men’s underwear, leading to blunt talk of men’s bodies and mansex. Lots of other content, but this is enough to put it out of bounds for kids and the sexually modest.)

Today’s Daily Jocks ad, for a new line of underwear for the PUMP! company — the image is meant to be outrageous, fey, macho, and funny, all at once — with their ad copy:


(#1) The all new Space Candy Collection from PUMP! has launched. A new take on PUMP’s classic shape, available in Space Candy Pink & Purple. [available as a boxer (boxer brief), (low-rise) brief, and jock]

An image crammed with content — incuding those little candy-themed patches on the front (on the hip or pouch) and the back (on one cheek) of the garments.

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The verb of the American moment

October 12, 2019

The verb is depose — actually two homophonous verbs, with very different senses (though they share a history). Currently in the US news in one sense because of Helmet Grabpussy’s shrieks that movements towards impeaching him are attempts at a coup, attempts to overthrow him, depose him from office; and in another sense because House committees have been summoning witnesses to give sworn testimony, to be deposed formally.

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