Archive for the ‘Style and register’ Category

CORN/BEEF

July 14, 2020

Following up on NO PENGUINS (my 12/4/19 posting here), another adventure in food signage, also initially presented almost entirely without context. This one takes us into the mysteries of punctuation, t/d-deletion in English, and the food practices of modern America.

The impetus:

(#1)

This is available as a symbol conveying NO PENGUINS, meaning that penguins are not allowed in the signed area or will not be admitted to the signed area (under a penalty of some sort). The slash is the slash of exclusion.

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Morning tum

March 3, 2020

(There will be penis allusions, but nothing actually raunchy.)

My morning names of 2/26, which arrived three in a bunch, all tum-words, all body-related, but in two different ways:

(a) noun tumor, a tissue growth

(b) adj. tumid, enlarged or distended (as applied to erect penises in particular, but to other things as well)

(c) adj. tumescent, ditto, but more strongly evoking penises

(a) has a somewhat medical tone, but has been taken into everyday usage. The other two are elevated in tone, distanced from carnality; they sound literary or technical. When I came fully to consciousness, I realized that all three traced back to the Latin tum– stem in tumere ‘to swell’. It’s all about swelling; (a) has gone in one direction of semantic specialization, (b) and (c) in another.

And then, of course, there turned out to be more, stuff I hadn’t anticipated at all: the nouns tumulus ‘ancient burial ground’ (they are mounds) and tumult ‘loud noise, disorder’ (the sound rises).

Where will it end? Is a tummy so called because the bellies of babies are often rounded and the bellies of pregnant women are distended? (No. So the antacid Tums is irrelevant to this story.) What about the bodyparts scrotum and rectum, or even the proper name Tatum, suggesting Channing Tatum and his impressive endowment? (No, a thousand times, no. And you should be ashamed of yourselves for having suggested it.)

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Rent Spikes / Stoke Dread / By the Sea

January 19, 2020

That’s the head:

Rent Spikes
Stoke Dread
By the Sea

The subhead:

Coney Island Businesses
Fear Being Priced Out

The story is that increases in rents have promoted anxiety on the part of seaside business owners on Coney Island.

This from the national print edition of the NYT on the 15th (p. A19), story by Aaron Randle.

A story I have then playfully travestied:

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NOOKY at Poundland

November 23, 2019

On the shelves at the Poundland on the London Rd. in Brighton SX, for £1, this item that Lynne Murphy came across recently:


(#1) She posted her astonishment yesterday on Facebook at finding BLUE PILLS FOR MEN — called NOOKY! — at Poundland, of all places, in there with hair gel and the like

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Comedic NomConjObj

November 12, 2019

Tell it to Kim. Tell it to me. Tell it to Kim and I.

The new paradigm for case-marking of pronouns, including the nominative conjoined object (NomConjObj) in to Kim and I — now judged to be the correct form by a large population of young, educated American speakers, as against the judgments of older speakers, who use instead accusative conjoined objects (AccConjObj), as in to Kim and me.

Entertainingly, the new paradigm is evidenced in tv comedies in which grammatically fastidious characters freely use NomConjObj and even admonish those who use AccConjObj.

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High steel Escher

October 25, 2019

A brief celebration of one of my favorite cartoons, on the occasion of a reproduction of it being installed in the Empire State Building. Rob Leighton’s Escher on high steel:

I’m trying to imagine the blueprints. Also, of course, how the workers got up there in the first place.

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Him wear saurian monitor

September 10, 2019

The Scott Hilburn cartoon from 10/26/16, with a bit of caveman dialogue:

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Three things: the Caveman cartoon meme; the simplified register the two cavemen  talk in; and the juxtaposition of two parallel worlds, everyday life vs. a remarkable fictive alternative.

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with all the fixin’s

August 28, 2019

The One Big Happy from 7/28, all about fixin’s (also known as fixings):

(#1)

The cartoon turns on a culinary distinction between main, or principal — essential — ingredients and accompanying, or accessory – in principle, optional — ones, the fixin’s. Without the leafy greens it’s not a green salad (though it could be a chopped salad), but if it’s got the leafy greens and no fixin’s (with nothing else except dressing), it’s a green salad.

From AHD5:

noun fixings: Informal Accessories, trimmings: a holiday dinner with all the fixings.

The example here has the full conventional collocation, or stock expression, with all the fixings, usually pronounced as informal (esp. Southern) fixin’s (spelled with or without an apostrophe). Simplifying considerably: nominals in –ing (as in beatings and singings) do have variants in /n/ rather than /ŋ/, but these pronunciations are mostly characterstic of South Midlands and Southern speech, especially in informal speech.

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individuals, people, persons

February 13, 2019

From a mail pointer to a 1/30/19 article in the journal Psychological Science, “Similarity Grouping as Feature-Based Selection” by Dian Yu, Xiao Xiao, Douglas K. Bemis, & Steven L. Franconeri:

Individuals perceive objects with similar features (i.e., color, orientation, shape) as a group even when those objects are not grouped in space.

Point at issue: individuals rather than people, a mark of a consciously formal, “scientific” way of writing, appropriate (some believe) for reporting on research in psychology.

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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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