Archive for the ‘Lexical semantics’ Category

Tell me that you love me

October 21, 2021

Two very different occurrences from my experience.

The Fillmore plea. From the late 1960s, Chuck (Charles J.) Fillmore, tapped (as senior member of the linguistics department at Ohio State) to serve as acting chair of the department while Ilse Lehiste was on leave, hesitantly addressing the first faculty meeting of the year (I was one of those faculty):

(CJF) I can do this job if you all tell me, often, that you love me.

The Transue plea. From ca. 1990, my guy — my husband-equivalent — Jacques Transue, with some visible anxiety, pulling me aside for a moment of serious couple-talk, holding my hand, gazing into my eyes:

(JHT) I need you to tell me more often that you love me.

Two clearly different senses of the verb love (but both, of course, capable of different shadings in different contexts).

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Converse all-stars

October 13, 2021

The story starts with an instance of semantically reversed impervious (to) — a converse use of a predicate adjective. From Anat Shenker-Osorio, the founder of ASO Communications, interviewed on 10/11 on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. From the transcript:

… What we find in experiment after experiment is that when people have already cemented a world view, they in essence have a frame around what is occurring, then facts are simply impervious to it. They bounce off of it, right?

… And so it`s precisely as you said. If they have an existing story line about, quote, unquote, what Democrats do and how they behave, then facts are pretty much impervious to it.

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Flipping with the cowboys

October 3, 2021

(Substantial section on English syntax and semantics, but even that is about raunchy sexual vocabulary — so it’s pretty much wall to wall about sex between men, in street language, with photos: absolutely inappropriate for kids or the sexually modest)

What got me into this was the cover of a CockyBoys gay porn DVD Flipping Out (#1 below, after the fold), showing two men engaged in the variety of anal intercourse known as Asian Cowboy. More descriptively, Squatting Cowboy: the receptive man rides the insertive man’s penis roughly the way a cowboy rides his horse, by sitting on it — in this case, from a squatting position. In plain Cowboy, the receptive guy lowers himself onto his ride while kneeling, so in more descriptive terminology, that’s Kneeling Cowboy.

I was struck by the photo because the Cowboy sex positions hold a special resonance for me, and because I’d been looking for Cowboy illustrations in which the insertive guy is sitting up (in a chair or on a sofa), a position that invites the men to kiss, the way my man Jacques and I did when we enjoyed Cowboying together. The cover of Flipping Out gives me just what I was looking for, in an especially attractive and wonderfully intimate composition of bodies.

Then, as a linguistic bonus, there’s the verb to flip-fuck, played with in the DVD’s title.

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Bang!

September 29, 2021

(Men’s bodies and sex between men, sometimes in street language, so not for kids or the sexually modest)

Back in July, I started a piece that combined the celebrations of the Fourth of July in my country and a personal celebration on having an award for LGBTQ+ linguists named after me. The two parts of the piece take off from the same introductory material, a Falcon Big Bang 2021 sale ad (reproduced below).

Alas, the rigors of these pandemic times and of the twilight of my life being what they are, I wasn’t able to finish the first part of this posting, the Arnold Zwicky Award part, until 9/21. Now comes the second, the vulgar slang bang ‘to have sex’, part.

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Annals of commercial naming: Boy Smells

June 16, 2021

Smells like queer teen spirit.

Ads for the Boy Smells company have been popping up with some regularity in my Facebook feed — no doubt because I posted a while back on some fragrances for men, one of the two scented product lines the company offers, the other being candles. A third line is underwear, all of it explicitly labeled by the company, “This comes unscented”, but in an ad for Boy Smells products, it’s hard not to think of pungent teenager skivvies. Some ads combine the boy image of actor Tommy Dorfman with an Extra Vert Candle. Ad copy:

Discover the intimate world of Boy Smells with unique candles, fragrances & underwear. 10% of Proceeds From The Pride Collection Will Be Donated to Support the Trevor Project [providing suicide prevention efforts among LGBT+ youth].


(#1) The boyish Tommy Dorfman, something of a queer, and genderqueer, icon — attired in jade


(#2) French vert ‘green’ (suggesting the green herb tones in the scent) + extravert / extrovert ‘an outgoing, expressive person’

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gay therapy

April 13, 2021

An ad in my Facebook feed for a Gay Therapy Center, which briefly gave me pause because of an ambiguity in the Adj + N composite gay therapy. Now, Adj + N composites, like N + N compounds, are notoriously open to multiple understandings, even if we restrict ourselves to general patterns for the semantic relationship between the two parts. In this case, I had a moment of deep unease that gay therapy was to be understood as a treatment composite, parallel to treatment compounds: pain therapy, flu therapy, cancer therapy, etc. ‘therapy to treat condition or disorder X’. Thus viewing homosexuality as a disorder, which would make gay therapy here a synonym of the now-conventional label conversion therapy, for a scheme that proposes to treat homosexuality and cure it.

But, whew, no. The Gay Therapy Center in San Francisco (with a satellite center in Los Angeles) offers “LGBTQ therapy to help LGBTQ people love themselves and each other” — with the composite gay therapy understood as ‘therapy for gay people, to help / benefit gay people’. Indeed, the Facebook ad offered brief videos showing male couples embracing affectionately (other ads have female couples as well). A still from one of these:

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Scientific and non-scientific -ist

March 10, 2021

Yesterday, in my posting “And you thought -ize was complicated”, a Tom Gauld cartoon showing the great semantic versatility of the suffix –ist. And now, from the 2020 collection Department of Mind-Blowing Theories: Science Cartoons [from New Scientist magazine] by Tom Gauld, –ist as used for names of scientific fields vs. for a variety of other meanings (while showing considerable morphophonological variety in these words).


(#1) The cover of Mind-Blowing

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And you thought -ize was complicated

March 9, 2021

… but that was before you looked at –ist. The spur for this observation is Tom Gauld’s cartoon “The Characters in my New Play”, originally in the Guardian on 3/14/15, since reprinted in his 2017 collection Baking With Kafka:

Gauld starts with the play-relevant term protagonist, then moves to the falsely analogous term antagonist, then takes off on a flight of fancy through the vast –ist world.

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Ruthie misunderstands

February 21, 2021

Two One Big Happy cartoons recently in my comics feed. Originally from 1/29, a strip in which Ruthie misunderstands “Randi with an “I””, taking it to be “Randi with an eye”. And originally from 1/25, a Sunday strip in which Ruthie misunderstands “pole dance”, taking it to be “Pole dance”.

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Lobster bands, and other restraints

February 19, 2021

(The kinky sense of band — ‘restraint’ — in the Rhymes cartoon drifts into some hard-core sex between men, so that partway through, this posting becomes no longer suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

The Rhymes With Orange cartoon from yesterday (2/18) has two lobsters arranging a hookup for some kinky sex with lobster bands:

(#1)

The elastic bands in question are rubber or silicone bands referred to commercially as lobster bands. They function as restraints on the lobsters’ ability to use their claws — so that they’re roughly analogous to the cuffs / bands / restraints of bondage sex, hence the kinkiness in the cartoon.

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