Archive for the ‘Euphemism’ Category

Wet words

November 15, 2017

In a Law & Order episode (S8 E15), a character explains that he’s going inside his house because he has to tap a kid — short for the idiom tap a/my kidney ‘urinate’, with kidney clipped to kid.

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Ostentatious euphemisms

July 15, 2017

A recent tv commercial for Jack Link’s beef jerky builds up to the punch line, the claim that the jerky

beats the snack out of other snacks

ostentatiously using snack as a euphemism for shit.

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Verbal magic in the workplace

June 2, 2017

Today’s Dilbert:

Your people are distressed about the cell-like connotations of cubicle? Easy solution: change the term, to something that sounds more substantial. Yes, they’ll still be working in cell-like spaces, but they might feel better about it. Apparently, the magic of euphemistic, elevating jargon can sometimes work even if the audience knows that it’s jargonistic invention.

Larkin and the Gray Lady, again

May 17, 2017

I’ve been on break from remarking on some of the obsessions of the New York Times — its periodiphilia, its taboo avoidance, and so on — but I’m moved to return to the second of these topics because the Gray Lady has managed to reproduce, in deail, one of its previous encounters with taboo vocabulary, a tussle with poet Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse”.

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Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit: three cartoons for the 1st

May 1, 2017

It’s May Day, an ancient spring festival — think maypoles and all that — so, the beginning of the cycle of the seasons. (Everybody knows the Vivaldi. Try listening instead to the Haydn, here.) And it’s the first of the month, an occasion for still other rituals, including one that calls for everyone to greet the new month, upon awakening, by saying “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” (or some variant thereof). There’s even a Rabbit Rabbit Day Facebook community, with this page art (not attributed to an artist):

(#1)

The three-rabbit variant is the one I’m familiar with. (I got it as an adult from Ann Daingerfield Zwicky. Since she was from the South, I thought it was a specifically Southern thing. But today I learned, from an astonishingly detailed Wikipedia page, that that is very much not so.)

Today also brought a Facebook posting from my friend Mary Ballard, to whom the whole inaugural-rabbit thing was news, and, by good fortune, three cartoons from various sources: a Bizarro I’ve already posted about; a Mother Goose and Grimm with an outrageous bit of language play; and a Calvin and Hobbes reflection on the meaning of the verb read.

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fudge

January 31, 2017

(It starts with tasty stuff, but eventually there will be some distasteful stuff. Be prepared.)

Yesterday it was Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies, which drew a giggle from me (because I have a dirty mind), So let’s start with fudge and brownies, the foodstuffs.

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Linguistics and its orthographically related disciplines

August 26, 2016

Nathan Sanders writes on Facebook to display the nameplate for his new position at Haverford College:

There are few people in LINGUISTICS who have not been afflicted by the spelling LINQUISTICS, or else LINGUSITICS. But it is a little-known fact that these are actual names of academic disciplines quite distinct from linguistics.

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Fixed expressions

August 7, 2016

Two recent cartoons turning on fixed expressions, compounds in fact: a Rhymes With Orange and a One Big Happy:

(#1)

(#2)

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Cereal mascots

August 1, 2016

Today’s One Big Happy, with the kids’ grandparents at breakfast, contemplating the cereals on offer, with some dismay:

(#1)

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Morning name: Baskit

December 31, 2015

My recent “boxboys and transitive bottoming” posting led me to the informal English vocabulary for talking about the male genitals euphemistically: package, box, basket, junk, stuff, sack, unit, … (photo #1 there is an entertaining presentation of packages and boxes) — what you might think of as packagecabulary or boxcabulary. (NOAD2 has package ‘a man’s genitals’, but none of the other boxcabulary.)

That posting probably primed me to think of the premium underwear company Baskit; in the very crowded field of homoerotic underwear marketing, the company manages to be profoundly gay, starting with its name.

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