Archive for the ‘Use and mention’ Category

Hu on base

March 30, 2014

Pointer from Dan Everett on Facebook to this image:

(#1) (more…)

Use, mention, anaphora

September 2, 2013

Noted in an episode of the old tv show The Rifleman, this bit of dialogue. The main character, Lucas McCain, has just explained to his son, Mark, that Mark is quite a psychologist (after Mark’s deft handling of  difficult situation). Lucas explains (in brief) what a psychologist is, and Mark struggles to pronounce the word psychologist. Mark:

I may be one, but I’ll never be able to pronounce it.

Ok, one ‘a psychologist’ plus it ‘the word psychologist‘. Use, mention, and an anaphoric connection between them.


Noun incorporation in Gayland

December 10, 2012

For some time now, I’ve been analyzing gay male porn flicks from several points of view: the construction of various gay identities, genre conventions, and so on. Every so often, points of linguistic interest turn up in the flicks; well, they are, after all, sources of data like any other, and I’m giving them very close attention, so I pick up things I might have missed in other data. A recent find, in a long-running analysis of Jeff Stryker flicks — on b/t (roughly, bottom/top relations between men), the Total Top role, functions of mess in depictions of (fantasy) gay sex, the organization of sex talk, etc. — is a striking bit of syntax from the Falcon Studios description of Stryker’s first movie, Bigger Than Life:

Jeff Quinn watches superstar Jeff Stryker showing his rock star charisma as he struts his stuff on stage with his big-haired band. And like his song says, he’s “Bigger Than Life!” The infatuated fan waits like a stagedoor Johnny hoping to realize his dream of meeting his hero, and better yet, getting starfucked by Stryker’s monster cock.

The datum is: get starfucked by Stryker’s monster cock. Could have been just fucked, but the writer went for the more colorful starfucked instead.


Proper anaphoric islands

August 11, 2012

Posted by Victor Steinbok on ADS-L:

When it was announced that Romney will “unveil” his VP pick Paul Ryan on/in front of USS Wisconsin, I knew someone was going to say it. And [political commentator] Steve Benen did not disappoint–within minutes, his post on the Ryan pick [on the Maddow blog] included this line:

The announcement will be in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin – which just happens to be Ryan’s home state.

(Actually, Benen was quoting Domenico Montaro and Mark Murray on NBCNews, here.)

Victor noted that the meaning was clear, but still the sentence seemed problematic to him, adding that “the number of examples of this type is not negligible”.



July 22, 2012

In a comment on my recent Pogo posting, Bob Richmond gave a link to a posting of his (“Hum a few bars and I’ll fake it”) on the joke template that begins with the question “Do you know X?” and has some variant of the “Hum a few bars” reply as the punch line. (Several of these are from comic strips.) The joke turns on the ambiguity of the verb know, a use-mention ambiguity, and the speech-act ambiguity of Do you know? questions.


From talking about the word to using it

November 10, 2011

Heard this morning on KQED, in an opinion feature about African-American males in Oakland schools, by Pendarvis Harshaw, a teacher in one school program: a report on “I don’t give an f-bomb” and “I don’t give a flying f-bomb” heard from students in the school’s hallways.

F-bomb has an entry in Jesse Sheidlower’s The F Word, of course, but as a (euphemized) mention of fuck, not as a (euphemized) use of it:

the word FUCK or one of its variants or compounds, esp. with reference to it as a shocking or inappropriate term. Often in to drop the F-bomb. (3rd ed., p. 36)

and all the cites (from 1988 through 2008) are for this sense. But Harshaw’s piece has F-bomb (euphemistically) quoting an expression used by people, including high school students, not mentioned by them.

Plenty of cites on the net (14k raw ghits for {“don’t give a flying f-bomb”}), mostly spelled f-bomb. For example,

The thing that REALLY galls the elitists about the South: We Southerners TRULY don’t give a flying f-bomb about your opinion of us.
We are very happy with our simple lives and want to be left alone…. (link)

Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t give a flying f-bomb about the games. I can’t stomach to watch such unstructured and talentless basketball. (link)

I don’t give a flying F-bomb what it [a guitar] looks like if it sounds good. I think I’ll have to get the hot pink one so no one steals it. (link)

Pretty much bound to happen. There are a few hits for “oh, f-bomb it!” ‘oh, fuck it!’ and “f-bombing idiot” ‘fucking idiot’, more for “what the f-bomb!” ‘what the fuck!” Even a report of a t-shirt with the legend “F-bomb that S-bomb” ‘fuck that shit”; now, that’s really ostentatious avoidance.

Porn name up for grabs

April 23, 2011

From the latest entry in a series of postings on my X blog on orgies in gay porn, the cast list of the orgy scene in The Other Side of Aspen VI:

Roman Heart, Landon Conrad, Adam Killian, Tony Buff, Brandon Bangs, Shane Frost, Angelo Marconi, Gavin Waters

I commented on the two porn names boldfaced in this list:

Tony Buff (who is both buff and in the buff) and Brandon Bangs (who does)

resisting the temptation to say of Tony Buff, “who is and who is in it”, but happily committing the anaphoric island violation for Brandon Bangs. But then it occurred to me to wonder if the name Barry Bangs, playing on Barry Bonds, had been taken.

Apparently not. A search on {“Barry Bangs” gay} dredges up some amusing stuff, but nothing on a pornstar of that name. So, if you’re looking to break into the porn business as a heavily muscled, testosterone-drenched stud, the name is up for grabs.

The search did prompt Google to ask if I meant {“Barry Bonds” gay}, which struck me as ingenious on the part of Google’s search engine but incongruous as an image. It also pointed me to a straight porn movie Night of the Giving Head (a tortured play on Night of the Living Dead). And to this passage from a description of the gay porn flick Hot to Trot:

Barry bangs him from behind

which is nicely alliterative, and a line of trochaic tetrameter (with a truncated final foot) to boot. (The banger is Rod Barry, and the bangee is Jacob Scott, both veteran porn actors. Barry also appears under the names Rob deBaer, Rod Berry, and just plain Rod, and Scott under the name Mikel.)

Trochee-trochee, Grelling-Nelson

April 17, 2011

Sending copies of an xkcd cartoon on the plague of trochees, especially double trochees (Language Log discussion here), to friends, I reflected, not for the first time, that trochee is indeed a trochee (´ˇ), but so are dactyl and iamb, while anapest is a dactyl (´ˇˇ). Well, there’s no reason to expect that a predicative word (an adjective, or, in this case, noun) should be self-descriptive, but there’s a certain intellectual pleasure in playing with the fit or misfit between different properties of linguistic expressions when the semantics of their use vs. mention is involved.


for Mod values of Adj

August 22, 2010

At the last minute, a weekend cartoon. From Scenes from a Multiverse:

Two points. First, “for infinitesimally small values of huge”. (Later, “sausage party”.)