Some kind of strict police

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Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "* Mad about jorts".

Some resonance with "Some kind of grammar, um, strict police", 2/24/2009.


  1. Kate Gladstone said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

    What are jorts?

  2. Kate Gladstone said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

    What are jorts, please?

  3. kd said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 3:46 pm

    jean shorts!

  4. Helen said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 3:47 pm

    @Kate, 'jorts' are jean shorts. Apparently they're unfashionable.

    I especially liked Randall's offensive use of 'literally'. Funny stuff.

  5. Chris C. said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 3:50 pm

    Randall must read this site, given the mouseover text.

  6. Francois Lang said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 4:21 pm

    explains "jorts".

  7. D.O. said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

    (Mis)spellings represented as "grammar"… I'm sure Mr. Munroe knows that it is generally a poor synecdoche. Deliberate choice?

  8. Laura Morland said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

    Obviously they are not "the same people": we grammar policepersons clearly skew older.

  9. Guy said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 6:37 pm

    I know SMBC is sometimes discussed here as well. I forget if this tangentially related one was posted.

  10. Weltanschauuung said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

    Most contexts make it clear whether mad means "crazy" or "angry", but here both meanings are available. The fashion police may well be enthusiastic for the garments, while the grammar police are probably angered by the ugly portmanteau formation.

  11. chris said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 10:27 pm

    The alt-text relies on a use-mention ambiguity: the fashion police are mad about jorts (the actual objects), but the grammar police are mad about "jorts" (the word). On top of the ambiguity of "mad" already pointed out.

  12. tangent said,

    September 19, 2016 @ 11:09 pm

    The "to seem cool and casual" entry offends me as a member of the Pragmatics Police. All of the others create an expectation that these phrases apply to the Fashion/Grammar Police, but this one is a recommendation for civilians. Improper!

  13. Guy said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 12:58 am


    I was actually caused some discomfort by the fact that I wasn't able to determine whether the "appreciate" and "understand" points are predicates applied to the two police groups or instructions to the reader about what they should do. This ambiguity was heightened to the level of irresolvability for me by the "to seem cool and casual" point.

  14. SlideSF said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 1:30 am

    It's usually Descriptivists who compare language usage to apparel and what is appropriate to the occasion. "You wouldn't wear gym trunks to a job interview. You probably shouldn't use slang either", and suchlike. Here it seems the Prescriptivists (Grammar Nazis) are the ones compared with clothing usage (Fashion Police). I wonder: is there a polarity of viewpoints in the sartorial world analogous to the Prescriptive/Descriptive schism in the linguistic one?

  15. Graeme said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 5:00 am

    I don't mind the sentiment (though that cartoonist can be a bit precious sometimes).
    But does it make sense to suggest the distinction between homophones is all arbitrary spelling conventions? 'Their hear' instead of 'they're here' in a text is unfortunate in a way no useful but daggy garment is.

  16. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 6:21 am

    I'm struck by the use of 'literally' here. The claim that they are the same people doesn't seem to be straightforwardly either hyperbolic or metaphorical, so just what does it mean?

    I also wonder whether what is being said could be said without the 'literally' – if it just said 'they're the same people', I think we would be forced to read it (literally) literally. Is this a case where 'literally' actually is being used to mean 'figuratively'?

  17. flow said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 7:33 am

    @Andre Ntso: "they're literally the same people"=="they're really the same people (as I've found out lately". Can do same with, say, "hey, the're the same people", or "OMG they're ALL the SAME people, after all!". Literally.

  18. flow said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 7:36 am

    Sorry, 'Andre' was wrong for 'Andrew'. My German ('der andre' == 'the other one' == 'not the same one') must have gotten the better of me.

  19. Faldone said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 12:00 pm

    The most cogent argument I have heard against Crocs is that they come in a lot of colors and a lot of people like them.

  20. Stephen Hart said,

    September 20, 2016 @ 3:33 pm

    I took "literally" in this context to mean "figuratively," and/or a play on that now-popular usage.

  21. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 6:18 am

    The point is this: 'literally' is often used where what follows is in fact figurative, but generally it is not being used to mean 'figuratively', in a strict sense of 'mean'; it is being used to mean 'extremely' or the like. However, this may be a case where plain 'P' would have to be read literally, but 'literally P' can be read figuratively, which would be an odd reversal of expectation.

    I agree that the use here is figurative, but I'm still a but puzzled as to just what the figure is – not either metaphor or hyperbole.

  22. Ellen K. said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 1:23 pm

    I find "literally" often means "not exaggerating". Like "literally at death's door". Which might possibly apply here.

  23. Kenny Easwaran said,

    September 22, 2016 @ 10:38 am

    "I wonder: is there a polarity of viewpoints in the sartorial world analogous to the Prescriptive/Descriptive schism in the linguistic one?"

    I'm pretty sure there is. Some people say that you should wear whatever feels comfortable to you and is appropriate to the context you're in, while others think that certain clothing is always wrong and other clothing is always right. And this is especially true when we're talking about either clothing or grammatical usages that are common in non-wealthy non-majority ethnic communities.

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