Archive for Linguistics in the comics

Charlie Chaplin in French class

In addition to a proto-regular-expression for English monosyllables, Benjamin Lee Whorf's 12/1940 Technology Review article has a weird diagram showing how a linguist (?) would organize French language instruction along the lines of mid-20th-century factory work:

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Theosophical racism

Today's SMBC:

Those first four panels resonated with my recent experience skimming Helena Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy. Vol II — Anthropogensis (1888). I learned of Blavatsky's existence due to the restaurant located in her former residence, and my sense of her influence in Philadelphia was reinforced by years of walking past the United Lodge of Theosophists.

I expected The Secret Doctrine to be nuttier than squirrel poop, as indeed it is. But I wasn't prepared for its extreme mythic racism, endorsement of (fantastical versions of) eugenics, and so on. In retrospect, I should have realized that late 19th-century fantasy would be like that. I'll spare you the details of Blavatsky's theories of lost continents and their associated "root races" — you can read Wikipedia's summary, or dive into the 1888 tome yourself if care. But I'll reproduce a few illustrative quotes from the book.

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Rebuttal depth and the mainvisionist dogstream

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Sam Altman and King Blozo

We're all waiting to learn the story behind Sam Altman's firing as CEO of OpenAI. Or at least, many of us are.

Meanwhile, there's possible resonance with an on-going drama in the daily Popeye comic strip, concerning the fate of (former) King Blozo of Spinachovia, now the Superintendent of Royal Foot Surfaces:

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Empiricism as a New Year's resolution

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "The problems started with my resolution next year to reject temporal causality."

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The necessary levels of narcissism

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AI insults

No, not what you get by asking GPT-4 for insults — for that, see below…
This is the SMBC comic from a few days ago:

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"Hurting the feelings of the Chinese people", part 3

Shared by John Rohsenow and David Cahill / Isham Cook:

From Arthur Meursault (@emptymeursault)

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PRC-style censorship of "Oppenheimer"

[link to full tweet here]

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Semantic drift of the week

…or maybe we should call it a "semantic jump"? It's a pun that illustrates how word meanings can evolve along sensible paths that become obscure as time passes and culture changes. Which is one of the reasons that the reconstruction of linguistic history gets harder as time depth increases.

Here's the upper scene in the latest Perry Bible Fellowship comic:

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Mark Twain's new novel?

Today's Non Sequitur:


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Copyright-safe AI Training

Today's SMBC starts like this:


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Progress

The next-most-recent xkcd:

Mouseover title: "Slowly progressing from 'how do protons behave in relativistic collisions?' to 'what the heck are protons even doing when they're just sitting there?'"

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