Archive for the ‘Subsectivity’ Category

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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therapist dog, dog therapist

September 22, 2018

Exercises in English N + N compounds (for use in another context), illustrated in cartoons exemplifying the Psychiatrist cartoon meme, with dogs either as patient or therapist (or both): therapist dog ‘dog that is a therapist’ (also ‘dog for therapists (to use, for example as companions)’, a sense I’ll disregard here); dog therapist either ‘therapist that is a dog’ (sense 1) or ‘therapist for dogs (taking dog as patients)’ (sense 2).

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Rainbow. Sharks. Rainbow sharks.

August 16, 2018

First, rainbow: from Andrew Winnard on Facebook, a photo of a rainbow-lit Metro escalator in Stockholm.

Then, sharks: in my posting earlier today “Central Shark”, about Sharknado Week on the SyFy channel (Trailer Park Shark (2017) is just about to begin!).

Which led me to the Italian clothing company Paul & Shark, with its sharky logo — and its line of rainbow shark t-shirts. And to a slew of artworks depicting rainbow sharks. And to a popular aquarium fish, the rainbow shark.

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The nacho cart

August 13, 2018

Drew Dernavich in the August 20th New Yorker:


(#1) “Would you like to sample something from the nacho cart?”

An office cart conveying a gigantic heap of nachos, with hot cheese dripping over the side. Underneath are who knows what astounding toppings for the taco chips, your choice.

A demented dessert cart, transporting horror-movie foodstuffs. The fanciest of high-end dining  juxtaposed with low-end cheap thrills and street food, smelling of Mexican food trucks.

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Nacho flies are back

July 26, 2018

That’s what I heard in a Taco Bell television commercial on Tuesday the 24th. I visualized insects with tortilla chip wings. Decidedly odd: was Taco Bell being besiged by these nacho flies, and, if so, why were they telling us about it?

Then I realized it must be nacho fries; my confusion stemmed in part from the fact that I’d never heard of nacho fries — I don’t keep up with the fast-food business — and though I know what nachos are, I had no clear idea of what something called nacho fries would be would be like.

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furūtsu sando

July 23, 2018

From the bon appétit magazine site on 7/19/18, “A Fruit Sando Is a Dessert Sandwich Filled with Joy and Whipped Cream: I’m obsessed with this Japanese dessert and was dying for a recipe. Now we have one.” by Elyse Inamine:


(#1) furūtsu sando ‘fruit sandwich’: strawberry, kiwi, peach (or mango) (photo from the magazine)

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Swiss steak

July 13, 2018

First, it’s American.

Second, it’s simple, homey food, designed to use tougher and cheaper cuts of beef.

Third, it’s unclear where the modifier Swiss comes from.

Fourth, its preparation involves two cooking techniques that are used in other dishes. One of these is tenderizing and flattening by pounding, a technique also used in the preparation of elegant dishes of veal, beef, pork, or chicken in the Schnitzel / Milanesa family.

Fifth, the other technique is braising: searing meat and then cooking it very slowly with liquid (and, usually, vegetables) in a closed container. Sharing this technique makes Swiss steak and pot roast of beef culinary cousins.

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Swiss cheese isn’t Swiss

July 10, 2018

(And Swiss steak isn’t either, but that’s a topic for another posting.)


(#1) A wedge of American Swiss

But then the expression Swiss cheese is ambiguous. NOAD recognizes this, but not in the way you were probably expecting:

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