Archive for the ‘Euphemism’ Category

Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.

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I gotta go

September 11, 2018

The catch phrase of writer and performer Merle Kessler’s alter ego Ian Shoales, just a bit short of the more vernacular I’m outta here. That’s motion go. Then there’s elimination go, and an ambiguity between the two, as exploited by Calvin in this (recently re-cycled) Calvin and Hobbes strip:

(#1)

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Mud, shit, and chocolate

July 30, 2018

Caught on re-run tv yesterday, in the Law & Order S19 E10 episode “Pledge” (from 1/21/09):

Your entire case rests on this girl’s testimony. If her only impetus to cooperate is greed, you’re in trouble. Who dangled money in front of her in the first place?

The cops. They knew she was in debt, so they pressed her pretty hard.

It’s going to look like we bought her testimony. What a mud sandwich this is turning into.

And only a few months before that, in an emotional  9/29/08 speech on the floor of the U.S. Congress by Rep. John Boehner in support of the TARP bill bailing out big banks:

None of us came here to have to vote for this mud sandwich!

(You can watch it here.)

Yes, mud sandwich. A euphemism for shit sandwich.

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Lusty days

May 5, 2018

(Sexual plain talk, in street language. Later, some gay porn described in plain terms. Mostly not for kids or the sexually modest.)

John Baker, in a comment on my posting yesterday “Then, if ever, come lusty days” (about the month of May), catches the reference to the musical Camelot’s song “Lusty Month of May”:


(#1) The scene from the 1967 movie; you can listen to Julie Andrews sing the song here

This is about lusty.

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Up in every way

February 13, 2018

“Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up”, the song goes, and it manages to pack a whole bagful of uses of up into a few verses.

(#1) “All the Way Up”, with drugs, bitches and hoes, sex (“I’m that nigga on Viagra dick”), bling, success

And then Mountain Dew (the soft drink) extracted just a bit of the song for its own purposes.

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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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