Implicit restriction of temporal quantification

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Today's Zits:


  1. Skullturf Q. Beavispants said,

    October 2, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

    Similar to how if you're a smartass, the correct response to "Have you eaten yet?" is always "Yes."

    [(myl) What I like about this strip is that Jeremy is (portrayed as) completely unironic, snarkless, sincere. Of course, this is a parent's fantasy of a 15-year-old's sudden epiphany about listening.]

  2. Lazar said,

    October 2, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

    And if somebody requests something in the form "Could you X?" or "Can you X?", just say "yes" and then proceed not to do the thing.

  3. Nicholas Waller said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 7:14 am

    This reminds me of the old joke…

    Brian: I really wish I had listened to my mother when I was young.
    Sandy: Why, what did she say?
    Brian: I don't know, I wasn't listening.

  4. Jeff DeMarco said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 10:34 am

    That really should read:

    Arthur: I really wish I had listened to my mother when I was young.
    Ford (or maybe Zaphod – not quite remembering…): Why, what did she say?
    Arthur: I don't know, I wasn't listening.

  5. mgh said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 11:12 am

    another sort of implicit temporal restriction being violated, from Jimmy Fallon's monologue last night: "It was announced today that Rio would host the 2016 Olympics and, boy, are they excited. The announcement was made at 1 pm, and they have been celebrating for the past 50 years."

    also brings to mind the classic, "Have you lived here all your life?" "Not yet!"

  6. peter said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

    And that brings to mind:

    Newly-arrived school teacher in Seattle to one of her pupils:

    "Does it rain all the time here in Seattle?"

    Response from pupil: "I don't know, Miss. I'm only 10 years old."

  7. Jerry Friedman said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

    I'll bet you're not American, Peter. Not only did you say "pupil" where most of us would say "student", but you had the student call the teacher "Miss". "Ma'am" or "Miss/Mrs./Ms. Doe" or no vocative would be much more likely here. (Also, some American prescriptivists frown on hyphens after -ly adverbs, but lots of Americans put hyphens there anyway.)

    @Mark Liberman: I'm not a parent, but I think the fantasy may be finding out for sure that one's child hasn't listened to anything for a few years and doubts that one said anything interesting during that time. The epiphany doesn't look very promising.

  8. Jerry Friedman said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

    And I meant to say that my mother used to use the even more tempting, "Do you want to set the table now?"

  9. Bob Lieblich said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

    My wife, from the Bronx, uses the New York "Yawanna" — meaning, of course, "Please." For many years I would take her literally and respond "I'd rather not" or similarly. In retrospect I'm amazed our marriage survived.

  10. Crimebill said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

    Jerry, some of the teachers in my kid's school prefer to be called "Miss" or "Mrs" — mostly the women. But seriously, I always had trouble remembering whether my female teachers were "Miss" or "Mrs," and now my kid has to remember "Miss," "Mrs" AND "Ms."

  11. Keith Troester said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

    It's nice to still see a comic strip that is stylistically substantive. Our ever-increasing distractions are tightening everything around us. What does everyone think of the "Vook"? The book is such an indelible product, but I suppose our lack of attention makes that a tougher sell.

  12. Ellen said,

    October 3, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

    Crimebill: I believe Jerry's point was that we don't use Miss or Mrs without the last name, when addressing teachers. And, to me, a child adressing anyone as "miss" sounds downright wrong. "Miss Lastname", fine, but simply "miss", no.

  13. Janice Huth Byer said,

    October 4, 2009 @ 8:00 am

    Ellen, my sense, too, is American children don't address anyone as "miss", it being instead heard only from adults politely addressing strangers younger than themselves. Interesting that the reverse dynamic seems to be customary in England.

    Admittedly, my source is limited to fiction, but, hey :) – can a thousand detective stories be wrong? Dororthy Sayer's Gaudy Night – sometimes called "the first feminist novel" – seems to spoof the status deference implied in the English but missing from the American custom. She makes her minor character, the hardworking porter-watchman-handyman-lone-guy-on-Oxford womens-college-campus unable to reply to any of the ladies without saying "miss" to an extent anticipating that of MASH TV character Radar's use of "sir" or "m'am". That would be "sir"" AND "m'am" when addressing the lovely but inflammable "Hot Lips".

    [Gaudy night is set in 1938. MASH during the Korean War.]

  14. Breffni said,

    October 4, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

    There's a funnier New Yorker cartoon that makes much the same joke in a single frame: "I’m sorry, dear. I wasn’t listening. Could you repeat what you’ve said since we’ve been married?".

  15. Steve F said,

    October 6, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    The British use of 'Miss' is rather complicated. Used by a pupil (yes, that's definitely the British word for someone at school – a 'student' is at college or university) to a female teacher (married or unmarried), it is a mark of respect – the equivalent of saying 'Sir' to a male teacher. Used by an adult to an another adult, it is at best patronising and possibly slightly offensive. I used to know a female teacher who strongly objected to being called 'Miss', because 'that's what you call a shop assistant.'

  16. April K said,

    October 8, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

    It's not just children. Over the course of our 12-year marriage, I have discovered, and frequently remarked on, the fact that I speak at a frequency my husband doesn't hear.

    Regarding the Miss, Mrs. or Ms comments. I attended junior high and high school in south Texas where hispanics are a near majority. It was common practice for students to raise their hands and call out "Miss" to get the attention of female teachers. I always assumed that was a result of the very family-oriented, respectful culture.

    On the other hand, my father, who grew up in Texas and came from Southern stock, never responds to a half-heard question with a "what?" but with "Sir?" or "Ma'am." This drives my Philly-native husband, a former enlisted Marine ("Don't call me Sir I work for a living"), crazy.

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