Archive for Humor

Intonation in "human emulation mode"

Dave Itzkoff, "Elon Musk Hosts a Mother’s Day Episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’", NYT 5/9/2012 ("The much-discussed Tesla and SpaceX executive took a self-deprecating approach, telling viewers, 'I’m pretty good at running human in emulation mode.'"):

Musk, the billionaire chief executive of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, appeared in several “S.N.L.” sketches this weekend, playing characters that included a doctor at a hospital that caters to Generation Z patients, the producer of an Icelandic TV talk show and the video game villain Wario.

He used his opening monologue to share some personal details about himself, introducing viewers to his mother and discussing his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome —  […]

Musk took a self-deprecating tone in his “S.N.L.” monologue, telling the audience: “Sometimes, after I say something, I have to say, ‘I mean that,’ so people really know that I mean it. That’s because I don’t always have a lot of intonational variation in how I speak. Which I’m told makes for great comedy.”

The question of intonational variation in the speech of people on the autism spectrum is an interesting one. In the literature and in clinical presentations, I've seen phrases like "As is well known, autistic individuals have monotone intonation", and also "As is well known, autistic individuals have singsong intonation".

This apparently reflects the fact that most observers of intonation only notice differences between what they expect and how people talk. So depending on  their relationship to the speakers and the contents and contexts of interaction, they might perceive the same speakers' intonation as inappropriately monotone or inappropriately varied. There may also be relevant subgroups within the large and extremely varied space of people "on the spectrum" — autism is one of the many DSM-defined behavioral categories that are "phenotypically diverse", which a clinician friend explains is the Greek translation of "We have no f-ing clue"…

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A new derivation of the Sinogram for verb "fly"

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Xy McXface wins again

Mary Divine, "Plowy McPlowFace plows through the competition to win snowplow naming contest", Pioneer Press 3/2/2021:

After all the votes were tallied, it wasn’t even close. Plowy McPlowFace won the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s inaugural “Name a Snowplow” contest with 65,292 votes. The next-closest vote-getter was Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya, which garnered 29,457 votes.

[For those who don't know ope,  Wiktionary glosses it as "(Midwest) an exclamation of surprise; oops", and Tod Van Luling discussed it at length a couple of years ago in the Huffington Post.]

Plowy McPlowFace will soon be plowing streets in the Metro District; Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya will make its home in District 4 in west-central Minnesota.

The other winning names, in order of vote totals, and their future homes are: Duck Duck Orange Truck in District 1 (northeastern Minnesota); Plow Bunyan in District 2 (northwestern Minnesota); Snowbi Wan Kenobi in District 6 (southeastern Minnesota); F. Salt Fitzgerald in District 7 (south-central Minnesota); Darth Blader in District 3 (central Minnesota); and The Truck Formerly Known As Plow in District 8 (southwestern Minnesota).

MnDOT officials invited people in mid-December to submit possible names for snowplows. Among the submissions were a number of Minnesota-themed names, including Joe Plow-er, Justin More-snow, Kent Brrr-bek, Raspberry Brrr-et and Purple Snow.

One of the most popular suggestions was the phrase “Abolish ICE,” according to an analysis by the Minnesota Reformer, an independent news website, which obtained the almost 23,000 entries in a public-records request. The name, a play on the rallying cry of critics of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ranked No. 2 among the entries, the Reformer determined.

But MnDOT officials excluded it from its list of 50 finalists.

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Oxymoronic metonymy?

Robinson Meyer, "Texas Failed Because It Did Not Plan", The Atlantic 2/21/2021:

The Texas grid is named after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the agency in charge of managing it. (Yes, reliability is in the name—making ERCOT perhaps the sole instance of oxymoronic metonymy in English.) 

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Under standing

As we start a new year, and yet another election-reversal case is dismissed for lack of "standing", it's appropriate (or at least amusing) to revisit what Herbert Brün once wrote about (some other senses of) standing and understanding:

Not many people know how passionately dedicated they are to the society which they can not stand. Unaware of their living in contradiction they live in conflict.

Not many people know how passionately dedicated they are to the society which can not stand them. Unaware of their living in conflict they live in contradiction.

Nobody can stand not being stood.

Nobody wishes to admit that.

Everybody, therefore, searching for an admissible degree of relative comfort resorts to proper English and falsifies the issue, thus: It is difficult to understand why one is not understood.

This proper English falsification underlies the prose and poetry written about Arnold Schoenberg by those of his friends and followers who, once his apologetic avowers, today, equally apologetically, disavow him. It is an underlie, because it is not at all difficult to understand why one is not understood, and that one is not stood because one is understood, and that one can not stand that which one understands precisely because one does.

 

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Creative kanji

[The following is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

The results are in from the 11th Kanji Creation Contest (Sōsaku Kanji Kontesuto), sponsored by Sankei Shinbun newspaper and the Shirakawa Shizuka Institute of East Asian Characters and Culture at Ritsumeikan University. Out of a total of over 26,000 entries in the general, high school, and elementary and middle school divisions, the overall winner was a very 2020 take on the character 座 (za, “to sit”).

Example 1

Fig. 1 Standard (left) and prizewinning creative kanji for “to sit.”

The character (in both its standard and creative forms) is made up of three elements:

  1. 广

Of these, it is the last that is subtly manipulated here. That element, also an independent kanji in its own right, means “person.” By moving the two “people” apart, the contest winner expressed the idea of “sitting apart,” or social distancing.

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"Spelling" Chinese characters without an alphabet

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No more plosive consonants: flay your fart!

A video by Peter Prowse has been making the rounds:

You might recall a similar French-language video last spring, which Mark Liberman shared in his May 1 post, "Rire la Rémumligne!" In fact, there were several versions of this floating around, all based on a text originally shared on Facebook by the physicist François Pla under the pseudonym Sam Anchman. (More information here and here.)

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"Under plenty of perjury"

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I have a joke, but …

A new (?) joke-rhetoric pattern has appeared recently on twitter, e.g.


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Liberté, Égalité, Gritté

I'm a few days late with this, but better late than never — Gritty as La Liberté guidant le peuple:


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Fur Seasons Total Landscaping

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Mandarin tongue twister

Trending on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website:

[So as not to give anything away, all syllables are separated and not divided into words.]

Nǐ de huò lā lā lā bù lā lā bù lā duō? Huò lā lā lā bù lā lā bù lā duō yào kàn nǐ de huò lā dé duō bù duō. Rú guǒ lā dé bù duō jiù lā nǐ de lā bù lā duō, rú guǒ lā dé duō jiù bù lā nǐ de lā bù lā duō.

"你的货拉拉拉不拉拉不拉多?货拉拉拉不拉拉不拉多要看你的货拉得多不多。如果拉得不多就拉你的拉不拉多,如果拉得多就不拉你的拉不拉多。"

Google Translate:

"Your cargo pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls, pulls more? If you pull too much, it won’t pull you.

Before turning the page, if you know Mandarin, try to parse and translate the above sentences.

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