February 26, 2007

Another comic strip on the missing -ic

This one, from Darrin Bell's Candorville, explains why it's offensive.

Here's another Candorville strip that explores the relevant parallelism between presidential signing statements and graffiti:

Turning to the non-political linguistic arena, here's a strip on paralinguistic communication:

Every once in a while, Bell uses that format with subtextual footnotes explaining what people really mean. Usually, the subtext re-interprets ordinary English, but this time, the "text" is sighs and mouth clicks and grunts and coughs. The background joke is banal: you can communicate a lot, in context, without actually saying anything. But the much more subtle punchline makes a different point: the paralinguistic system isn't rich enough to express a real semantic anomaly. Or is it?

[Update -- John Cowan suggests:

Consider this passage from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Critic. Sneer is a drama critic, and Puff is the director (and author) of a play about the Spanish Armada that is in rehearsal. Lord Burleigh is one of the characters.

LORD BURLEIGH comes forward, shakes his head, and exit.
Sneer: He is very perfect indeed! Now, pray what did he mean by that?
Puff: You don't take it?
Sneer: No, I don't, upon my soul.
Puff: Why, by that shake of the head, he gave you to understand that even though they had more justice in their cause, and wisdom in their measures -- yet, if there was not a greater spirit shown on the part of the people, the country would at last fall a sacrifice to the hostile ambition of the Spanish monarchy.
Sneer: The devil! did he mean all that by shaking his head?
Puff: Every word of it -- if he shook his head as I taught him.


Posted by Mark Liberman at February 26, 2007 06:31 AM