Archive for the ‘Lexical semantics’ Category

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’:

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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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Amoeba humor

July 17, 2017

A classic Gary Larson cartoon, which came up on Pinterest this morning:

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Pun time at the protist corral, playing on Anglicized Spanish adios, amigos ‘goodbye, friends’ (perhaps better in AmE: ‘so long, buddies’).

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pretzel dog

July 13, 2017

It’s about the N + N compound pretzel dog, and its many possible understandings: a dog that delivers pretzels, a dog that likes pretzels, a dog twisted into the shape of a pretzel (or merely contorted), a dog-like object made of pretzels, and so on.

If I tell you that the dog in pretzel dog is to be understood as short for hot dog ‘frankfurter’, you’ll come up with another set of possible understandings: a contorted hot dog, a hot dog with pretzel bits on it, a frankfurter-like object made of pretzels, and so on. But unless you’ve actually experienced something marketed as a pretzel dog (at a Sonic Drive-In or from the Auntie Anne’s company, say), you probably woudn’t think of interpreting pretzel as a reference to pretzel dough. But that’s where we’re going.

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Words on a wall

July 8, 2017

The latest xkcd (#1860):

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That’s Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty on that wall, discoursing on semantics as in Through the Looking-Glass. The stand-in for the baffled Alice in the book is the aggressively disputatious Science Girl of xkcd.

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Fellows

June 29, 2017

A Dilbert from 9/7/91 (passed on by Tom Limoncelli):

Betty balks at the title fellow — because she thinks of only one of the three lexical items fellow, informal ‘man, boy’. But there are two others, and the one she’s thinking of is the most recent.

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The homely pigeon

June 23, 2017

Well, that’s the sense Ruthie (in One Big Happy) makes of an expression unfamiliar to her, and she’s indignant on behalf of the pigeon:

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Trailers

June 13, 2017

… in NOAD2’s third sense:

3 a thing that trails, especially a trailing plant.

The occasion was an errand-running walk in Palo Alto a little while ago with Kim Darnell, on which we came across a plant I identified as a fuchsia, remarking that they were often planted in hanging baskets, where their down-hanging flowers spilled attractively over the sides of the basket:

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Making fun of Batman

June 11, 2017

Two Batman cartoons have just come to me. Passed on by Chris Hansen, this uncaptioned (and unsourced) cartoon:

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Batman at a bustop with four old women: what to make of the scene?

And in today’s comics feed, this Bizarro:

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(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 13 in this strip! — see this Page.)

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