Archive for the ‘Subsectivity’ Category

Parade of Fangs, Eye of the Pumpkin

May 12, 2019

I’ll get to the fangs and the pumpkin eventually, but first a taxonomic puzzle in botany and two botanical puzzles in (Mexican) Spanish, triggered by this Pinterest photo from a while back:


(#1) [as captioned by its (Mexican) poster] Lirio plantasonya

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Lilacs in California: Lavender Lady

March 29, 2019

Yesterday at the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, a small stand of rather sparse shrubs, blooming gorgeously and giving off the heady scent of lilacs. So they were, and that was notable: you don’t see a lot of lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) in California. What you see instead are what are called California lilacs — California lilac is a resembloid compound referring to plants in the genus Ceonothus, not even in the same plant family as Syringa; see my 6/20/13 posting “Poppies, lilacs, and lilies”, with a section on Ceonothus vs. Syringa. (Of course yesterday’s flowering shrub was in fact a California lilac: subsective California lilac ‘lilac from or in California’.)

But why are lilacs rare in California? Because they’re cold-winter plants. Then why are there any at all? Because there are now some hybrids that are relatively tolerant of warm winters.

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Reubens, kale, and Cales

March 22, 2019

It starts with a monstrously meatless “Reuben” sandwich and ends in the villages of England’s East Midlands in the 19th century. The links: Reuben the sandwich and Reuben the name, kale the leafy green and Cale the name.

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carnitas

March 5, 2019

Meaty thoughts for Mardi Gras, the culmination of Carnival, today: not the fasnachts of my Pa. Dutch childhod, delights of sugar-coated fried dough, but the slow-cooked pulled pork of Michoacán.

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fried chicken waffle Benedict

March 2, 2019

One of the breakfast specials at the Palo Alto Creamery this morning was (FCWB):

Fried Chicken Waffle Benedict

That’s parsed:

[ [ Fried Chicken ] Waffle ] [ Benedict ]

‘eggs Benedict on a fried chicken waffle’, that is, on a waffle with (Southern) fried chicken on it. (Actually, the original is short for Fried Chicken Waffle Eggs Benedict, but that would have been too long to get on the specials board.)

Immediately, I wondered if FCWB was a subsective compound — did this thing count as an instance of a Benedict, that is, as eggs Benedict? — or was its name resembloid, the dish merely (metaphorically) Benedict-like? (See the Page on this blog about postings on resembloid composites.) My immediate judgment  was clear: for me, FCWBs are just too far from the BENEDICT category: the waffle too distant from an English muffin, the fried chicken too distant from a slice of ham, and anyway the thing came with maple syrup, as (soul-food) chicken waffles do, and sweet Benedicts are way over the line for me.

But then I looked at recipes on the net, where the world of things called Benedict is far larger than my Benedict world, and where cooks make FCWBs and restaurants serve them. And I felt obliged to entertain the possibility that there are people who think that the BENEDICT category (with dishes called Benedicts in it) includes FCWBs in it. The answer to the query about the status of the compound might well be: resembloid for some, subsective for others. That wouldn’t be unparalleled.

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hunter gatherers

January 27, 2019

The Bizarro from 2/7/15, noted on Facebook today by Nancy Caplow, who commented, “Potentially ambiguous compounds; subtly different prosody”:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

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Peppernut Day

December 24, 2018

Having tackled the Christmas season as a whole, Sandra Boynton examines one specific day: on FB yesterday, with “A helpful tip on National Pfeffernüsse Day” (December 23rd):

(#1)

On peppernuts. And on the recipe register (here: Recipe Object Omission in roll thoroughly in confectioners’ sugar).

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Taffy was a Turk

October 23, 2018

… well, sort of Turkish. In fact,

Taffy was a sweetmeat,
Taffy was a Turk,
Taffy came to my house
And shattered with a jerk.

From Ned Deily on Facebook yesterday, this vision of Bonomo Turkish Taffy, one of the vintage candies available at the (new) Hotel B Ice Cream Parlor on Main St. in Bethlehem PA (the place sells ice cream from the Penn State Creamery — yes, the commercial dairy division of Pennsylvania State Univ. in University Park PA):

(#1)

Affectionate childhood memories of Turkish Taffy — I remember only the vanilla variety — hard and soft at the same time, pleasantly sweet and chewy. Its relationship to (salt-water) taffy was unclear to me (beyond their both being chewy candy), and I had no idea what made the stuff Turkish (the presumably Ottoman minaret on the package might just be imaginative marketing).

So: about the candy; about the name and its semantics; and a bonus bit about Bonomo’s Magic Clown (on tv when I was in my teens).

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Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.

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Stormy compounds in English

September 23, 2018

(Extensive references to male genitals, with photos of phallic simulacra, so not to everyone’s taste.)

About a hitherto unstudied class of English N + N compounds that I will call Stormy compounds (in honor of Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Gregory Clifford), or Stormies for short. In a stormy, one N is mushroom and the other is a N referring to the penis (penis, phallus, dick, cock, in particular). For example, the subsective resemblance compounds mushroom penis ‘penis resembling a mushroom’ and penis mushroom ‘mushroom resembling a penis’.

Resemblance is one of a small set of canonical semantic relations between the head N2 and the modifier N1 in an N + N compound — relations that are in some sense always available for interpreting such compounds (within the bounds of  real-world and contextual plausibility). Otherwise, there’s an essentially open-ended universe of interpretations specific to the context and the shared experiences of speaker and addressee. In my writing about semantic relations in compounds, I’ve referred to the first set of relations as O-type (to suggest ordinary-type) and the second as X-type (to suggest extraordinary-type); others have used other terminology.

But even for O-type relations, there’s some room for specificity in how particular compounds are understood, and this fact is signficant for stormies.

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