Archive for Humor

Tell the truth!

It was a linguistic maneuver that had possibly never been tried before in the history of real estate: tell the straight truth about the property, no varnishing, no slathering with adjectives like "stunning". Just tell it like it is. One brave firm of real estate agents, Scott & Stapleton in England, tried it as a way of getting rid of a run-down apartment in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. The manager, Rob Kahl, wrote the copy:

Not for the faint hearted this first floor flat is being sold as seen, rubbish and all!

Having recently just had to evict some charming (not) tenants the vendors of this property have had enough and can't even face setting foot in what used to be their sweet and charming home.

I can't flower this one up or use my normal estate agent jargon to make this sound any better.

The property is full of rubbish, there is mould on the walls and I think there may even be some fleas there to keep me company when I carry out the viewings.

To conclude, the advertisement advised those viewing the property to "wipe your feet on the way out".

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Love transformed

With the title "Yeah… that totally translates to 'love'", imgur presents the following image:

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The entertainment potential of regional varieties of American English has apparently hit the late-night TV zeitgeist. Here's a brilliant trailer, for the imaginary movie Boston Accent (posted on YouTube 1/21/2016):

And a new kind of competition, the Accent-Off (also posted on 1/21/2016):

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Malheur militia snark

The internet has responded with a wave of snarky hashtags to the self-appointed militia occupying the  visitors' center at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Many are inappropriately anti-rural (#YokelHaram, #YeeHawdists), or irrelevantly anti-southern (#YallQaeda), but in a case like this, snarky stereotype-based ridicule is a better weapon than gun battles, I guess.

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Notable corrections

Noted by Geoff Nunberg, some linguistically relevant examples in Robert Rector collection of "The best (or worst) news media corrections of 2015", Pasadena Star-News 12/28/2015:

“Norma Adams-Wade’s June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite.” — The Dallas Morning News.

“This post originally quoted photographer Tom Sanders as saying it takes him five years to get on the dance floor. It takes him five beers.” Slate magazine.

“Our panel listing the expected highlights at Glastonbury this summer catapulted into the festival’s headliners a band not so much obscure as unknown, even to those expert in Judaic contributions to rock. The group Frightened Rabbi should have been the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit.” — The Guardian.

And one that illustrates the potentially calamitous consequences of denasalization:

"Reporter Amanda Hess, in a story published Monday, acknowledges she wrongly wrote that ‘one in three black men who have sex with me is HIV positive.’ In fact, the statistic applies to black men ‘who have sex with men.’"— Washington Citypaper.

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Seasonal formulaic pun

From here:

$$\ln \left( \frac{e^{a_r} + p^2 H_a}{N} \right) = w – \ln (y) \\
\ln (y) + \ln \left( \frac{e^{a_r} + p^2 H_a}{N} \right) = w \\
\ln \left( \frac{e^{a_r} + p^2 H_a}{N} y \right) = w\\
\frac{e^{a_r} + p^2 H_a}{N} y = e^w\\
\left( H_a p^2 + e^{a_r} \right) y = N e^w\\
H_a ppy = N e^w – ye^{a_r}$$

Or in case MathJax doesn't work in your browser:

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Questionable wordplay of the week

"Trial set of Johnny Depp dog case in Australia", AFP 12/15/2015:

Johnny Depp's wife Amber Heard will face trial in Australia in April for allegedly smuggling two dogs into the country in a case dubbed the "war on terrier", a court ruled Tuesday.

Heard is facing two counts of knowingly importing a prohibited product in breach of the Quarantine Act.

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Bad sex writing: really really bad

I'm pleased to be able to announce on Language Log the winner of the Literary Review's 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction Award. The award went to the singer Morrissey for his debut novel List of the Lost. And it seems to have been honestly earned. The judges cited this sentence:

Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza's breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra's howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza's body except for the otherwise central zone.

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Corporate PR + correspondents on location

From last summer's pilot episode of What The Fox, put together by Zach Fox and a group of other Penn undergrads:

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C'est la vie ~

Chris P sent in the following emojis from WeChat:

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Ma-Xi –> MaXi

What is the message conveyed by this strange photograph and the unusual writing on it?


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Intentional mistranslation

From a student:

Here are very popular "emoticons" [VM: "image macros" might be more appropriate] that young Chinese people send each other while online chatting. They use "literal" translation of Chinese into English to achieve a comedic effect. I don't think they reflect the young generation's bad English; they actually suggest that the young Internet generation's English is good enough to understand that such translations are ridiculous and thus funny. My personal favourite is "I don't eat this condom."

wǒmen hǎoxiàng zài nǎ'er jiànguò 我们好像在哪儿见过
("it seems as though we've seen each other somewhere")

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Today's SMBC:

Somewhere Leonhard Euler and Kurt Gödel are having a good laugh.

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