Archive for the ‘Style and register’ Category

Exercises in high macho style

December 11, 2017

Passing between channels on my tv on the 6th, I caught a moment from the show Mr. Robot (S3 E9) in which Terry Colby, an exec at the Allsafe Corporation, spins out a riff in high-macho figurative language, a piece of crude poetry:

That’s all teddy bears and hand jobs, but what are your financials?  We can’t wake up one day and find ourselves tits up, dicks blowing in the breeze.

The masterstroke in all this is all teddy bears and hand jobs, an invention intended to convey an ironic, dismissive version of the high-toned all sweetness and light or, better, the vernacular all beer and skittles ‘all fun and pleasure’ (skittles, the game of ninepins)

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??That is aliens for you.

November 21, 2017

From Mike Pope on Facebook a few days ago, this excerpt from Ian Frazier’s “New York’s Majestic Passage in the Sky: Revamping the Bayonne Bridge to make space for megaships” in the 11/13/17 New Yorker:

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Mike wrote:

I can’t decide here whether this is weird. In the New Yorker, a sentence where I think I’d expect a contraction (“That’s xxx for you!”). Is this an editor bending the idiom to house style, or is this a not untypical variant?

Two things: the acceptability of the example (at best, it merits the stigma ?? of great dubiousness); and the circumstances that might have given rise to ??That is aliens for you (not at all clear, but advice on style and usage might be part of the story).

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Exercises in commercial style

November 6, 2017

Two recent pieces of p.r. ad-talk: one over the top with business jargon; one framed as a lifestyle or fashion ad. Both touting a preposterous product: a podcast about the “facets and opportunities” of death; a notebook of paper infused with the proprietary scent of a tech company.

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The perils of parallelism

October 9, 2017

Passed on to me by Ben Zimmer, a tweet, entitled “To Whom Is Responsible for This”, from author Colin Dickey (most recent book: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places) with this photo of extraordinary whom on the hoof:

I see three contributing factors here: (A) a preference for fronting rather than stranding Ps in extraction constructions; (B) a mechanical application of a principle calling for (formal) parallelism in coordination; and (C) an irrational reverence for the case form whom (rather than who) of the (relative or interrogative) pronoun WHOM.

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BBC for Labor Day

September 1, 2017

(Men’s bodies and talk of mansex, unapologetic and carnal, in street language. So not for kids or the sexually modest. Not without linguistic interest, but still…)

The Michael Lucas gay porn firm has sent around its Labor Day sale ad, an exercise in minimalism. As I said in a posting on AZBlogX, where the hard-core stuff lives:

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On offer at Daily Jocks

July 19, 2017

(Men’s bodies, underwear, snarky captions, and some slang.)

A recent offer from Daily Jocks, SUP BRO t-shirts from the Australian company Supawear:

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That’s my shirt bro
It comes from A U
I’m Buster Brown
Look for me down there too

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The maiden, the monster, and the hero

April 15, 2017

In the LGBT precinct of Facebook recently, this Jim Benton cartoon (eventually this posting will be about Benton, but first the folktale scenarios):

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The basic scenario is Beauty and the Beast: a beautiful maiden (that is, a virgin), often a princess; and a monster, a grotesque creature, either literally an animal (a gigantic ape, a dinosaur, a mutant lizard, a dragon, whatever — but male) or a man animalistic in form, sometimes in nature as well. The monster desires the maiden: to devour her (literally), to despoil her (sexually), or merely to love her (romantically).

A third character, the Knight, figures in an extended scenario: a hero, a handsome and virile young man, often in armor, often a prince, whose role is to challenge the monster in battle and overcome him, thereby rescuing the maiden — for himself; she is his prize. In the extended scenario, two males are rivals for the maiden.

In Benton’s version, the hero challenges the monster, demanding that the monster deal with him rather than the maiden. And so the monster does. Sometimes in a love triangle, the rivals become lovers. (Combat between men is sometimes a route to mutual respect, male bonding, and friendship; in this case, the relationship goes one step further.)

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Tough talk

March 4, 2017

The most recent One Big Happy:

A not uncommon theme in strips with kid characters: the kid who’s learned how to “do” characters, mimicking styles and registers, prosodies, jargon, and so on. They practice from a very early age, talking in imaginative play in imitations of motherese, for instance.

Here, Ruthie does Tough Cop, except for the panel 3 side business in her own voice, with her own opinions (the soothing raisins are a nice touch).

Ten language cartoons

February 25, 2017

On the Comic Kingdom site on the 21st, “Tuesday’s Top Ten Comics on Language” (where language is understood broadly), with comments from the site.

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Demented p.r. pitches, absurd ad copy

February 24, 2017

Recently the admirable Margalit Fox has been posting on Facebook a series “Demented P.R. Pitch of the Day” (Margalit seems to read more of her nonsense mail than I do). I’ll give the two most recent examples and then turn to some long-standing advertising themes in my own postings: absurd ad copy for premium men’s underwear and for gay porn. (So, yes, in the second case there will be some incidental sex talk.)

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