The Penultimate Penn Ultimate Ultimate Penn Pen



36 Comments

  1. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

    There needs to be a game where players on one team try to catch a pen in the other team's end zone. Maybe played in prison.

  2. Brian said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    Not just any prison, though. It should be played in the most famous prison of all time.

  3. Mark Young said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    //the most famous prison of all time.//

    Alcatraz? Devil's Island? The Tower of London?

    Surely it should be played in a prison you never get to leave….

  4. Irina said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

    Hotel California? Oh wait…

  5. Yuval said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    Oh, why the post-title spoiler?…

  6. Confused said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    Erm, can someone explain the sequence of premodifiers in the penultimate panel, specifically both ultimates? I'm usually quite good at getting such nuances, but what are those two words doing right there? Shouldn't 'ultimate' be placed right after 'penultimate' because the peerless writing tool is, after all, the second to last among ultimate pens?

    Full disclosure: I'm not a native speaker.

  7. Kasper said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

    "CLICK TO EMBIGGEN"?? here ought to be a law against that kind of thing!

  8. Peter S. said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    @Confused: the first "ultimate" means "peerless", and the second "ultimate" is for "ultimate frisbee", if that's what you're confused about.

  9. Peter S. said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    @Confused: the first "ultimate" means "peerless", and the second "ultimate" is for "ultimate frisbee", if that's what you're confused about.

  10. Nadnerb said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

    Confused: one 'ultimate' is the common usage with the sense of 'best, peerless, utmost' while the other is a refererence to the 'team frisbee' in th earlier panel (officially Ultimate Frisbee, tm). As a modifier, it indicates a functional or possessive relationship: the pen writes about ultimate, the game, thus it's an 'ultimate pen'. Similarly: apple tree, paint bucket, rocket scientist.

  11. Confused said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

    Thanks, it's much clearer now! I simply didn't know about the frisbee sport (which goes to show once again that understanding the message depends on the semantic content more than the syntax). Still, why was 'Penn' put before 'ultimate' (the one meaning 'matchless')? To simplify the phrase, why do we see 'Penn ultimate pen' instead of 'ultimate Penn pen'? You would say about your fine pen from Illinois that it's 'an amazing Illinois pen', not 'Illinois amazing pen', wouldn't you? This order just bugs me.

  12. great unknown said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

    re Jerry Friedman et seq:
    the cartoonist should be confined in a maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania: penned in an ultimate Penn pen. Pending penitence…

  13. Lazar said,

    May 27, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

    @Confused: I agree that the word order's a bit puzzling. I think I would have gone for "penultimate ultimate Penn Penn ultimate pen", with the first "ultimate" being the adjective and the second being the sport.

  14. Confused said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 8:19 am

    Or it could have been grouped nicely and said 'penultimate ultimate Ultimate Penn Penn pen' :>.

  15. zythophile said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 8:42 am

    Thank heavens no America bison from New York State's second-most populous city were bullying their fellow bison while all this was going on.

  16. Breffni said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 9:08 am

    If I'm getting this right, Lazar would say:

    last peerless Sorbonne Clooney backgammon pen

    …while the cartoonist is proposing:

    last Sorbonne peerless backgammon Clooney pen

    I'm with Lazar.

  17. marie-lucie said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    I still am not sure I understand all the jokes (being unfamiliar with most of the elements of the whole context) but I think that the first "Penn" had to come before "ultimate" because of the echo with the preceding "penultimate".

  18. bks said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 9:55 am

    No pig pen?

    –bks

  19. is said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    The only way the order makes sense to me is if he plays frisbee for the University of Pennsylvania, and the "Penn Ultimate" part is short for "the University of Pennsylvania's Ultimate Frisbee team" (in which case it would be the second "ultimate" that means "peerless"). But I don't know if that's the intended interpretation…

  20. cs said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 10:50 am

    It's not really the penultimate [Sean] Penn pen, because (apparently) the other pens have different people on them. So maybe that's why the first "Penn" comes earlier in the phrase than it might.

  21. Ellen K. said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    I think of it as, "ultimate ultimate Penn pen" is being treating as a proper noun, the name of the kind of pen (Ultimate Ultimate Penn Pen, I suppose). Then Penn in front of it for where he bought the pens. Thus, for me it works.

  22. Bjorn said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 11:05 am

    Minor nit-pick @ Nadnerb: the game is actually officially called "Ultimate", not "Ultimate Frisbee", precisely because "frisbee" is a registered trademark in many places.

  23. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 11:06 am

    Nadnerb: Not to get pedantic about comments on a cartoon, but the official name of the sport is "ultimate disc". Back when I used to play, most players I knew preferred the Discraft Ultrastar, and USA Ultimate lists that and some other flying discs as approved, but no Wham-O products.

  24. Robert said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

    @zythophile Don't forget if you want to use the scientific nomenclature it's "Buffalo Bison bison bison buffalo Buffalo Bison bison bison buffalo buffalo Buffalo Bison bison bison."

  25. Ben Rosenberg said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

    This reminds me of seeing a bag of Doritos in the store yesterday, with the Taco Bell Doritos Locos flavoring, in Cool Ranch, of course. Thus, the official name for such a product would be:

    *Taco Bell Doritos Locos Cool Ranch Taco Doritos*

  26. Ben Rosenberg said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

    This reminds me of a bag of Doritos I saw in the store that were Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco flavored; Cool Ranch, of course. This makes the official name for such a product "Taco Bell Doritos Locos Cool Ranch Taco Doritos".

  27. Ben Rosenberg said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

    And that's how you write the same comment in two different ways, after thinking the first one didn't post. Your welcome, SNOOTs.

  28. Ben Rosenberg said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

    **You're**! That's embarrassing.

  29. Rubrick said,

    May 28, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

    Man, wordplay that strained makes me feel like I just ate an illegal, horrible, uncooked Belgian breakfast food made from fried chickpeas.

  30. Neil Dolinger said,

    May 30, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

    @Rubrick
    Unlawful awful felafel waffles? Can I up the ante by offering illegal, horrible, uncooked Belgian breakfast food made from fried chickpeas AND organ meats?

  31. Neil Dolinger said,

    May 30, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

    I'm thinking I missed the "uncooked" part. "Rawful"?

  32. Zubon said,

    May 30, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

    @Neil Dolinger: just "raw" should work, as the third word. It brings the first "fel" of "felafel" into pattern.

  33. KevinM said,

    May 30, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

    I ate them too. I felt awful.

  34. Neil Dolinger said,

    May 30, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

    @Zubon
    Oo yeah, that works! Now I'll up the ante a lil' more. I feel like I have a stomach full of illegal, horrible, uncooked Belgian breakfast food made from fried chickpeas AND organ meats shaped like Quidditch balls

  35. link love | Grumpy rumblings of the (formerly!) untenured said,

    June 1, 2013 @ 2:37 am

    [...] The language log brings us The Penultimate Penn Ultimate Ultimate Penn Pen [...]

  36. Richard said,

    June 1, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

    An appropriate comic and post for the day that a Pennsylvania school (University of Pittsburgh) won the national college Ultimate championship.

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