Archive for the ‘Lexical semantics’ Category

ON in the comics

February 20, 2017

A Zippy I’ve been saving since it came out on 11/25:

Another piece of what’s turning into a very large project on the English words normal (Adj), normality (N), and normalize (V) — plus related vocabulary — and the conceptual (and sociocultural) categories associated with them. The Zippy involves only long-standing senses of normal and normality — what I’ll call O (for old (senses of)) N (for the three normal-related words) — plus the Adjs abnormal and deviant. (The contrast is between ON and what I’ve called IN, for innovative senses of the words.)

(more…)

They don’t get it

February 18, 2017

Short, very common words tend to have a great many senses — more exactly, in such cases there tend to be a great many homophonous lexical items from the same historical source (thanks to semantic shifts and syntactic changes). So, in its main entry for the verb get, NOAD2 has 32 subentries (and then there are lots of idiomatic phrases with get and phrasal verbs with get). And we, um, get things like this scene in a recent One Big Happy:

  (#1)

(more…)

Felix d’Eon: on normalizing gay

February 17, 2017

On Wednesday, in “The news for penguins and, oh yes, penises” on this blog, image #5 has a “Love Rocket” image by the artist Felix d’Eon. Now on AZBlogX I’ve posted seven of d’Eon’s gay gay gay works. Here’s an eighth, which is penisless:

“The Little Death 4”, in a series showing men’s O-faces, their faces at the moment of ejaculation, of le petit mort.

(more…)

re-up syntax

December 28, 2016

From Jon Lighter on ADS-L early in the month:

CNN advises us … to “get re-upped on” our MMR [measles / mumps / rubella] vaccinations. I.e., join the crusade against vaccine avoidance: get the kids their booster shots, you nut-case parents!

And W Brewer recalls the connection to

re-up ‘to re-enlist’ (U.S. military slang), with possibility of getting a re-enlistment bonus

The military usage we’ve looked at on this blog. It goes back over a hundred years, with early cites having especially simple syntax: no object, either direct or oblique, but interpreted as having an oblique object referring to a branch of the service: to re-up understood as ‘to re-enlist in/with (branch of service)’, with the specific branch understood from context. Call this the objectless re-enlistment use.

My earlier posting was primarily focused on the issue of external vs. internal inflection for this verb (PST re-upped vs. re’d-up). Here I’m interested in the syntax and semantics of the verb, getting from the objectless re-enlistment use to the oblique-object renewal use in get re-upped on.

(more…)

And venison is from Venus

December 19, 2016

Marsupials are from Mars, according to Ruthie in One Big Happy:

Faced with marsupial, which looks like it has Mars as its first element (and sounds pretty close to that), Ruthie chops out the Mars and comes up with a second element upial. So she’s treating the whole word as a N + N compound, which means that upial is the head N, and if the compound is as simple as possible, it’s subsective: a marsupial is then a kind of upial — a variety from Mars.

Ruthie has then given marsupial the demi-eggcorn treatment, analyzing Mars in it and flying with the possibility that upial is an English noun (with a meaning she doesn’t happen to know).

Calvin in chains

December 10, 2016

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes replay:

(#1)

Calvin gets a chain letter directed right at him.

(more…)

Domain-relative labeling

October 29, 2016

Halloween advances upon us, and there are sales of all kinds. As always, sales in the gayverse, including men’s underwearworld, where Daily Jocks made an offer today:

A bright orange C-IN2 strap jock (with that criss-cross effect), on a black body. Or at least what we describe as a black body, though outside the domain of skin color, the (absurdly fit) model’s body would be described as dark chocolate brown.

(more…)

Bring out your lukewarm etymythologies

October 26, 2016

The instructions said to use lukewarm water, and Kim, being a linguist, wondered about the luke of lukewarm; we don’t, after all, have luke + anything else, even lukecool, lukecold, or lukehot.  I said that she wasn’t going to be satisfied with the standard story, and she wasn’t. A brief version, from NOAD2:

(of liquid or food that should be hot) only moderately warm; tepid. ORIGIN late Middle English: from dialect luke (probably from dialect lew ‘lukewarm’ and related to lee [‘shelter from wind or weather’]) + warm

This account is suppositious, and unclear on many points (what dialects, how, and why? and is lukewarm really etymologically ‘lukewarm’ + warm?). So it occurred to us to just invent more satisfying etymologies — or, better, to invite others to invent them, to devise etymythologies. This is that invitation: to suggest better stories than the truth (as far as we know the truth), IN A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG (I will disregard e-mail to me or Kim and comments on Facebook or Google+ or ADS-L or wherever else; I cannot possibly spend time amalgamating suggestions from half a dozen sources). But before you jump in, read the rest of what I have to say about lukewarm and about etymythology. And, eventually, some suggestions as to what you might use to play with for ideas about lukewarm etymythologies.

(more…)

Unfetching cats

October 5, 2016

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

An instance of the  No Word for X meme, here applied to cats’ deep resistance to obeying commands: there’s no word for ‘fetch’ in Cat.

(more…)

A compound puzzle

August 21, 2016

Thursday on ADS-L, a report from Wilson Gray, with his baffled reaction (shared by others in the mailing list):

Headline of political ad: “Meet TPP Champion [Name]!”

Body of political ad: “Among a handful of shining examples of fighters for social, economic, and environmental justice stands [Name], who has opposed the TPP and TTIP since before most of us had even heard about them!” [TPP: Trans Pacific Partnership; TTIP: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership]

Is this headline meant to convey the idea, somehow, that [Name] is a “TPP champion” not in the obvious sense that he champions the TPP against the left, but, instead, in the opposite sense, that he champions the left against the TPP?

How are we to interpret X champion? It’ll be helpful to get away from the particulars of this particular example by introducing an X that (I hope) will have no political associations for my readers: Fosdick. What might Fosdick champion refer to? In NPs like:

a Fosdick champion, the Fosdick champion, our Fosdick champion

an early Fosdick champion, the celebrated Fosdick champion, our greatest Fosdick champion

(more…)