Archive for the ‘Variation’ Category

highfalutin

December 6, 2022

Today’s Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting, some diversion from the difficulties of daily life. I take my cue from Ann Burlingham, posting on Facebook on 12/4:

Last night I was watching Nick Cave being interviewed on the BBC when he used the word highfalutin. I looked it up to confirm my sense that that is a word Americans came up with, and it is, and it’s wonderful.

Now, you need to know, first of all, who this Nick Cave is and why it might be notable that he used the slang adjective highfalutin ‘pompous, pretentious’. Then on to the word and who uses it, with two wonderful bonuses, one supplied by OED3, the other by a winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

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anti-Semetic

November 24, 2022

On the spelling of this word with the letter E (rather than I) and its pronunciation with [ɛ] (rather than [ɪ]), both recently noticeable in my country because of the great increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions here: worth systematic investigation.

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Centennial moments in NYC

November 7, 2022

(On the brief, skeletal side; I continue to lose most of my days in irresistible exhausted sleep, so this is something of a Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting. My apologies.)

Two events of 1924. First, the Linguistic Society of America (hereafter, the LSA) was founded at a gathering in New York City (hereafter, NYC) on 12/28/1924 — at the very end of the year, but in 1924, so 1924 counts as the founding year of the LSA. Second, also in NYC, Harold Ross and Jane Grant (with the financial support of entrepreneur Raoul Fleischmann) embarked on the creation of a sophisticated humor magazine, with Ross as its editor. Their plans for this magazine, named simply The New Yorker (hereafter, the NYer), were realized in its first issue, of 2/21/1925. So 1925 counts as the founding year of the NYer.

A forthcoming event of 2024. The 2024 annual meeting of the LSA will be held at the Sheraton New York Times Square on 4-7 January. Meeting in NYC is of course no accident, and several centennial events have already been scheduled.

Now, since Ross and Grant (and their associates) were cooking up the NYer in NYC at the very same time the LSA’s founders were gathering there to formally establish that organization, and since the NYer’s one-panel gag cartoons — very often turning on linguistic points — were a central feature of the magazine, it’s natural to think about celebrating the LSA and the NYer together in some way. So there are modest plans for a display project at the 2024 annual meeting looking at cartoons in the NYer over the past 100 years that have to do with language. Cool. As an eminence grise versed in the ways of NYer cartoons, I’ve agreed to provide a bit of help to the young scholar who will be doing the actual work of preparing this display.

This posting is a rumble about things that are just now getting underway. More information to come, with an invitation to make suggestions about stuff for the display. Meanwhile, play with the idea.

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All about /aj/: the trisyllables

October 4, 2022

The Zippy strip of 9/29 interjects:


(#1) The strip is all about eyeglasses (with the wonderful name Thelma Nesselrode as a bonus), but this posting is about oh!, interjections / yeah!, exclamations / and, like, discourse markers and stuff

So, what’s up with eye-yi-yi!? This is presumably an orthographic representation of an English exclamation /aj aj aj/, with the accent pattern /àj aj áj/, and pronounced as a single phonological word /àjajáj/. In fact, I’m aware of — and at least an occasional user of — three English exclamations /àjajáj/, with three syllables: one a borrowing from (Latino) Spanish; one in Yinglish (taken from Yiddish); and one in PDE (Pennsylvania Dutch English, taken from Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch, that is, Pennsylvania Dutch / German). (There are probably more, in other German-based varieties of English, in particular.) They have somewhat different contexts of use and a wide variety of ad hoc spellings, though ay-ay-ay seems to be the closest there is to a conventional spelling for all three of them (my childhood spelling for the PD and PDE exclamation was ai-ai-ai / ai ai ai, and it’s still the only one that looks right to me).

So: something about the range of the phenomena in this exclamatory domain, with special attention to my personal history. In this posting, just about the exclamatory triples, but folding in the de facto national ballad of Mexico, “Cielito Lindo”, and some Texas klezmer music.

Then, in a later posting (bear with me, my life is over-full), my discovery that OED3 has relatively recent entries for the interjections ai, aie, and ay, and my subsequent disappointment in the content of these entries — as against, say, the rich OED3 entries for the interjections oh and ah. And finally, some aimless wandering about in the world of interjections, exclamations, discourse markers, and related phenomena.

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Breaking through the wall

August 30, 2022

Today’s Piccolo / Price Rhymes With Orange strip is a play on specific American tv commercials (with some gentle old-age mockery folded in), so will be baffling to any reader who doesn’t recognize the Kool-Aid Man mascot or know the wall-breaking “Oh Yeah!” tv ads featuring KAM:


(#1) There is, however, a hint to the reader in the “So not kool” (with kool instead of cool) in the title panel; note also the generational disparity reinforced by the GenX so there (see my 11/14/11 posting “GenX so“)

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O tasty Tweety! O Tweety, my prey!

July 26, 2022

… What a delicious Tweety you are!

The 7/24 Mother Goose and Grimm strip, with a police line-up of cartoon cats, for little Tweety to pick out the threatening pussy cat that he thought he saw:


(#1) The potential pussy predator perps on parade, left to right: 1 the Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss picture book), 2 Stimpy (Ren & Stimpy tv animation), 3 Sylvester (Looney Tunes film animation), 4 Catbert (Dilbert strip), 5 Attila (MGG strip — note self-reference), 6 Garfield (Garfield strip)

The number of domestic cats in cartoons is mind-boggling — there are tons of lists on the net — and then there are all those other cartoon felines: tigers, panthers, lions, leopards, and so on. Out of these thousands, the cops rounded up the six guys above — all male, as nearly all cartoon cats are, despite the general cultural default that dogs are male, cats female — as the miscreant. (It might be that male is the unmarked sex for anthropomorphic creatures in cartoons as for human beings in many contexts; females appear only when their sex is somehow especially relevant to the cartoon.) And that miscreant, the smirking Sylvester, is the only one of the six known as a predator on birds, though in real life, domestic cats are stunningly effective avian predators, killing billions of birds annually.

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The sequel to my allergic ass

May 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 pour le premier mai. A follow-up to yesterday’s posting “My allergic ass”, which was (mostly) about pronominal ass — possessive pronoun + ass, used of a person, to refer not to their buttocks but to that person: his ass ‘he, him’, your ass ‘you’, my ass ‘I, me’.

[Ambiguity may ensue: my ass is warm can mean either ‘my buttocks are warm’ or ‘I am warm’ (you have to figure out from context which was intended); while my ass is heart-shaped is probably about my buttocks (well, I might be Candy Man, shaped like a candy heart), and my ass is allergic is probably about me (though I might conceivably have buttocks afflicted by contact dermatitis).]

Now: through Facebook discussions, two different threads have emerged from that posting: one about material in a long citation in the 2006 Beavers and Koontz-Garboden paper on pronominal ass; the other about the source of the example — my allergic ass — that provoked my posting.

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The prank telegram

March 6, 2022

(A posting for my half-birthday, 3/6. When you’re  a child, half-birthdays are good things, because a year is a long time to wait till people celebrate your life on earth again. When you’re old and infirm, they’re good things again, because a year is a long time to hope you’ll live till such a celebration comes again. I’ve gotten through another 6 months: a small but significant accomplishment, though frankly it seems mostly to be luck.)

Choosing more or less randomly from the fish in the sea of unblogged postings: this wry Wayno / Piraro Bizarro from 1/28:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.) Like an antique prank phone call

The prank turns on an ambiguity, in this case on fresh as a predicate adjective: ‘(of food) recently made or obtained; not canned, frozen, or otherwise preserved’ vs. ‘(of a person) presumptuous, impertinent’ (with the mutton, preposterously,  personified).

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velour

February 26, 2022

Another too-cold day, no going outside, because it hurts too much for me to breathe (that’s been a problem for 40-50 years, it’s why I moved from Ohio to California, but now it’s much worse because I have some chronic respiratory thing, all sinus and bronchial distress, that might be long Covid, or just my body giving up), so I bundled up at 4 a.m. — breakfast time — in my excellent blue velour bathrobe, sweetly worn, smelling a bit like me, warming to my body, pleasing to the touch, bearing the satisfying luxurious name velour. A delicious word. Velvety amour.

I mused on the word. And its fabric family: velour, velvet, velveteen, plush.

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A collective cry

December 16, 2021

Monday’s (12/13) Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with five crows — one of them speaking on a cellphone — in conference:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

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