Archive for Linguistics in the comics

Communicating with cats and dogs

On twitter a few days ago:

Today's Liberty Meadows:

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Totebag conversation

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Washington and Beijing; Trump and Xi

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The birth of obscenicons

Back in 2010, I went in search of the earliest examples of cartoon cursing characters — those playful typographical symbols that have been called "grawlixes" (a term coined by "Beetle Bailey" creator Mort Walker) but which I prefer calling "obscenicons." I detailed my quest in two Language Log posts: "Obscenicons a century ago" and "More on the early days of obscenicons." (The posts were later adapted for Slate's Lexicon Valley blog: "How Did @#$%&! Come to Represent Profanity?") I was able to find obscenicons going all the way back to Dec. 14, 1902 in Rudolph Dirks' pioneering comic strip "The Katzenjammer Kids," followed shortly thereafter by Gene Carr's "Lady Bountiful" comic starting in Feb. 1903.

I was pleased to learn that my obscenicon posts inspired Phil Edwards of Vox to do his own searching on newspaper databases, and the results can be seen in an entertaining new video, "How #$@!% became shorthand for cursing." Turns out obscenicons can be pushed back even further, to 1901.

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Dialect map

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover text: "There's one person in Missouri who says "carbo bev" who the entire rest of the country HATES." alt="Carbonated Beverage Language Map"

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Alex on the evolution of linguistic culture

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The correct amount of bad

The last two panels of today's Dumbing of Age:

Walky has a good point about "too bad". But the last panel is also a good example of emphatic even — see

"What does 'even' even mean?", 2/8/2011
"Can they even prove that?", 5/24/2011
"Even again", 10/21/2011
"Annals of even", 10/4/2013

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Robot love

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New ideas in social media

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Philosophical CAPTCHA

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Functional naming

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Inductive logic

Today's SMBC:


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Style? Stance? What?

Yesterday's SMBC:

Mouse-over title: "The emeritus will take 4 hours telling you about a trip to Africa that happened 40 years ago."

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