Archive for the ‘Semantics of compounds’ Category

Higashi Day cartoon 5: hoods and newts

March 15, 2020

(Little kids, but I pursue them into the weeds of sexual anatomy, though without the photos or raunchy talk. Take appropriate cautions.)

The One Big Happy cartoon from 2/9:


(#1) Once again, about the kids finding a word (un)familiar in a particular sense: the apparel noun hood

And the OBH from 2/17:


(#2) And minute ‘extremely small, tiny’

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Revisiting 43: the Socka Hitsch nominal on the rural Swiss roadside

February 15, 2020

In my “Socka Hitsch” posting yesterday, Christian Zwicky / Socka Hitsch described by the nominal

old eccentric rural Swiss roadside sock vendor ‘old, eccentric sock vendor on the roadside of rural Switzerland’, ‘seller of socks along the road in the countryside of Switzerland who is of advanced age and exhibits unconventional behavior’

An unusually long nominal — I was showing off some — but not one with unusual components, put together in unusual ways. In the middle of it, rural Swiss roadside, with the complex adjectival rural Swiss, modifying the compound noun roadside — a perfectly routine and unremarkable expression    (compare rural Dutch in the attested rural Dutch landscape, urban English in the attested urban English roadworks, etc.), but one of some interest to people who fret about how the form — the morphology and syntax — of expressions (like rural Swiss) links to their meaning — their semantics and pragmatics.

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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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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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BOY Party!

September 12, 2019

E-mail from the Stanford linguistics department on the 10th, under the header:

Save the Date: BOY Party 9/27

Whoa! I thought, conjuring up images of a department party featuring attractive young men — as entertainers (maybe some lesser-known boy bands), as guests of honor (very young up-and-coming NLP entrepreneurs, perhaps), as party staff (a phalanx of Ganymedes, in costume), purely as eye candy (twinks on parade), whatever — things are really loosening up in Margaret Jacks Hall!

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bricks ˈnˈ mortar

August 31, 2019

Roz Chast in the September 2nd New Yorker:

(#1)

An exercise in the semantics of N + N compounds, exploiting an ambiguity that might not have occurred to you:

in the semantics of the modifying N, N1 (here, the coordinate N bricks and mortar);

in the semantics of the head N, N2 (here, the understood N store);

and in the semantics of the relation between N2 and N1  (here, ‘N2 for N1, (specifically) N2 selling N1’, in this case ‘store selling bricks and mortar — rather than the ‘N2 (made) of/from N1’ relation in the familiar conventionalized compound brick(s) and mortar store ‘store (made) of/from bricks and mortar’.

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Annals of category labels: food from a hole in the ground

August 28, 2019

… or edible roots (with root covering any underground plant organ), or whatever you call the stuff. In the 7/30 One Big Happy, Ruthie, confronted with /hol fudz/, takes it to be just such a label, hole foods, when her mother is referring instead to a grocery store, Whole Foods:

(#1)

The conventional (semi-technical) label for the category in question is root vegetables.

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shaker of salt

August 26, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo:


(#1) A parade of unidiomatic prepositional alternatives (with the P of) to the synthetic compounds cheese grater, nutcracker, meat cleaver, egg timer

(Wayno’s title: “Rhyme & Punishment”; see comments below)

To understand the relevance of these nominals, you need to know not only who Jimmy Buffett is and that his most famous song is the notoriously ohrwurmisch “Margaritaville”, you actually need to know a crucial couplet from the song:

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Sexy Dark Swiss

August 22, 2019

Specifically “pinksalt floyd rocks” Sexy Dark Swiss. Oh, it’s chocolate and it’s really trendy, because it’s prebiotic, and it’s whimsical too (the name Gutsii playing on gutsy and alluding to the gut, the playful allusion to the rock band Pink Floyd), plus it parades itself as dark and sexy, like a forbidden lover who steals into your bed in the dark of night. It came to me from the snack drawer at LiveJournal, brought by Kim Darnell, who works there.

From the Food Navigator site, the piece “Prebiotic chocolate? Gutsii enters US market on a mission to make gut health simple” by Mary Ellen Shoup on 2/11/19:

(#1)

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