Archive for the ‘Spelling’ Category

A snowfall of diacritics, an avalanche of röck döts

July 12, 2021

Like most publications about science news for a general public, the weekly New Scientist has a notable sense of humor: two cartoons about science in every issue (see below), bits of word play inserted all over the place, and the occasional wryly funny news brief, like this one (“Bleak, very bleak”) in the 29 May 2021 issue, p. 56 (a note in “The back pages / Feedback” section):

We are grateful, for some value of grateful, to Michael Zehse for drawing our attention to the music of Nænøĉÿbbœrğ VbëřřћōlöKäävsŧ. We discover, as the extensive use of röck döts [AZ: and other diacritics] was perhaps inviting us to conclude, that this is “an extremely underground band that plays a dank, bleak, light-void music commonly referred to as either ‘ambient cosmic extreme funeral drone doom metal’ or ‘post-noise’.”

Having begun listening to one track, 10^100 Gs of Artificial Gravity, from their album The Ultimate Fate of the Universe, we can’t confirm the accuracy of the first description, but the second seems pretty fair.

The “windy, staticy” tone was achieved by the two band members, researchers who describe themselves as having met while studying carnivorous Antarctic predators, loading a bass, an amp and a laptop onto a dog sled to sample at the precise geographic South Pole during a long winter. Whatever we think of the outcome, this is true dedication to art. Rëspëkt.

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Omega Omega Top

June 14, 2021

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro of 6/11, a cartoon that’s totally incomprehensible if you don’t know know one piece of American popular culture:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

I would have entitled the strip Ω Ω Top, but Wayno and Dan went for Omega Omega Top instead. (More on the title below.)

In any case, to have any hope whatsoever in understanding the cartoon, you need to know that there’s an American rock band named ZZ Top. (The name of the band is pronounced /zi zi tap/, which is written as ZZ Top. Contrast this with the statistical test whose name is written as the Z-test, a name is pronounced as /zi tɛst/ by American speakers, but /zɛd tɛst/ by British, Australian, and most Canadian speakers. The band’s name is pronounced /zɛd zɛd tap/) only as a joke, or as a mistake by someone unfamiliar with the name.)

To begin to understand why the cartoon might be funny, you need to know that Ω is the (upper-case form of the) last letter of the Greek alphabet, just as Z is the (upper-case form of the) last letter of the Latin alphabet (as we use it in writing English); that the figures in the cartoon are playing ancient Greek musical instruments (two stringed, one percussion); and that the instruments and the appearance of the players match those of ZZ Top (two guitarists, one drummer; sunglasses for everybody; stetson hats and long beards for the guitarists). So the cartoon provides a complex mapping between ZZ Top today and music-making in ancient Greece.

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An inscrutable comic strip

March 4, 2021

From Dana Kuhar on Twitter, yesterday’s Baldo en Español by Hector D. Cantú and Carlos Castellanos:

(#1)

Not just not funny; it’s inscrutable, entirely baffling.

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Acronymic mnemonics

October 18, 2020

Yesterday, in “One Big Happy mnemonics”, the distinction between expression mnenomics and name, or acronymic mnemonics, providing three spectacular examples of the former for spelling English words: among them, for ARITHMETIC:

 rat iTom’s house might eat Tom’s ice cream.

Now, a revisit to my 9/8/10 posting “NICE ‘n’ RICE”, with examples of the latter type.

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One Big Happy mnemonics

October 17, 2020

The One Big Happy of 9/13, in which Ruthie and Joe exhibit their prowess in spelling though mnemonics:

Spectacular examples of expression mnemonics, in which

The first letter of each word is combined to form a phrase or sentence — e.g. “Richard of York gave battle in vain” for the colours of the rainbow. (Wikipedia link)

… versus name, or acronymic, mnemonics, in which

The first letter of each word is combined into a new word. For example: VIBGYOR (or ROY G BIV) for the colours of the rainbow or HOMES (Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Superior) the Great Lakes. (also from Wikipedia)

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Hola Queridx

August 28, 2020

Back on 3/4 on Facebook, from Peruvian linguist Ernesto Cuba, with a photo of him

[Cuba phrase] con mi queridx Iván Villanueva Jordán, traductor queer … lingüistica marica


(#1) Ernesto (right) with his Peruvian student Iván (who’s studied drag queens in Lima)

(Google at the time didn’t try to translate queridx but translated lingüistica marica as ‘faggot linguistics’)

Cuba’s queridx posting led me to discover Dario Cocimano’s song “Hola Queridx” from his 2018 Digno album —

(#2)

— and so to query Cuba about the linguistic usages involved.

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On Vadim Temkin’s surname

March 24, 2020

(A guest posting from Vadim Temkin, reproducing (without editing, so I can hear Vadim’s actual voice in all of this) a note in his Facebook notes yesterday about a section in my posting “Mourning Son” on  that same day)


Portrait of a thoughtful Vadim, by Sergey Zhupanov

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Mourning Son

March 23, 2020

… or Social Distancing. More art of the pandemic: a CGI homage to Edward Hopper’s Morning Sun (1952) by Vadim Temkin:

(#1)

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Two old cartoon friends

October 9, 2019

… in recent mail: border-collie-bereft medicos (from Scott Hilburn on 8/12/14) and Egyptian spelling contests (from Rhymes With Orange today), bringing the return of two familiar cartoon themes:


(#1) The POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) from Doctors Without Borders + border collies


(#2) A spelling bee done with hieroglyphs

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Musclemen from Mars

September 29, 2019

(There will be rampant male shirtlessness. Just a friendly warning, or an invitation, depending on your tastes.)

It’s a Zippy strip (today’s!). It’s another gender note (about masculinity). It’s yet another shirtless posting (shirtlessness as a prime masculinity display, in fact.) It’s about umliterature (physique magazines, in particular). And about camp (Flash Gordon). And of course, since the arousing shirtless campy musclemen are from Mars (or possibly Mongo), about SF. And finally, tucked in there inconspicuously in the last panel is an antique Griffithian self-referential surprise (from 1973):

(#1)

Male superheroes are extravagant embodiments of masculinity: they are, to start with, embodiments of great human power (conventionally associated with men), and then they have superhuman powers beyond that; their costumes are designed to encase their bodies, but tightly, so as to suggest, reveal, or exaggerate every bit of gendered anatomy (the broad shoulders, the musculature of the arms, torso, and thighs, and the genital package). (Beyond the powers and the costumes, there are the conventionally hyper-masculine faces.)

The strip begins with superheroes on this planet, but it ends, in the lower right corner, with (hunky) superheroes in space — “Musclemen from Mars” is what the Dingburgers are reading — and it turns out that space-traveling superheroes (as exemplified by Flash Gordon) are given to frequent bouts of shirtlessness (mostly while performing their feats of manly derring-do, but sometimes during the virtually obligatory shirtless torture scenes).

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