Tag Archives: language

Bar Jokes for English Majors

 

I am once again thankful to FOAF (friend of a friend).  These are too good not to post.  They come from the bluebird of bitterness blog and the image from the story reading ape blog to which I give credit.*

Bar jokes english major

 

A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

 

A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

 

An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

 

Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

 

A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

 

Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

 

A question mark walks into a bar?

 

A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

 

Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a war. The bartender says, “Get out — we don’t serve your type.”

 

A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

 

A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

 

Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

 

A synonym strolls into a tavern.

 

At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar — fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

 

A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

 

Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

 

A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

 

An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

 

The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

 

A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

 

The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

 

A dyslexic walks into a bra.

 

A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

 

An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television getting drunk and smoking cigars.

 

A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

 

A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

 

A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.

 


*A footnote reference walks into a bar and has no cash.  The bartender gives him credit.

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Are you an Atholl?

 

Before you say no, consider “What’s in a name?”

“A rose,” said Juliet to Romeo, “by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Oh, yeah?  What if your local nursery had a beautiful looking rose named “Garbage Dump on a Hot, Humid Day (or G’Day)?”  The nursery notes that: “The G’Day rose was found at our local land fill among over-ripe vegetables, used condoms, rotten meat and what appears to parts of a victim of The Sopranos.  It is a healthy, compact, low growing plant that has buds that open to dainty, altogether charming flowers.  It is vigorous, heat tolerant and disease resistant with long-lasting flowers of deep blood-red and velvety petals.  Its fragrance – well – denotes its origins and would make a wonderful addition to your garden, especially if you hate your neighbors.”  I think that most of us would pass and settle for roses named Double Delight or New Dawn.

Those of us with long or unpronounceable or phonetically-challenged names suffer consequences from birth not unlike the G’Day rose.  These are consequences not experienced by people named Smith or Jones.

Consider the plight of the Bater’s. It is an English (Devon) occupational name from Old French bateor “one who beats,” possibly denoting a textile or metal worker.  How appropriate when you receive mail addressed to Master Bater.

There is the fine old German family name of Fuchs; In English, it is better that is rhymes with books and not with ducks.

Names do not have to be long to be difficult to pronounce.  Consider Przbrz.  No, it is not priz-biz.  It is Polish and pronounce (phonetically) sheb-bish.

Which brings us to the unfortunately named Peerage of Atholl.

Areyou1

The Duke of Atholl, named after Atholl in Scotland, is a title of peerage in Scotland held by the Clan Murray.  It was created by Queen Anne in 1703 for John Murray, 2nd Marquess.  Now there are a number of perfectly respectable peerages in Scotland – Hamilton, Argyll, Montrose, Huntly and Queensberry to name a few – so what did the head of Clan Murray do to have Queen Anne elevate him to such ignoble status?

According to Wikipedia, the town of Blair Atholl is built about the confluence of the rivers Tilt and Garry in one of the few areas of flat land in the Grampian Mountains.  The Gaelic place-name Blair or field refers to this location while Atholl, which means “new Ireland” refers to the surrounding district.

Aha!  Is it possible that this is how Queen Anne regarded anyone from Ireland?

Keep that in mind when you decide to submit to Ancestry DNA to find your true roots and discover that you are, in fact,

… an Atholl.

 

 

Surprising Words

surpring-words

Dr. Language Guy here. After a long hiatus, I was brought back to life by a recent Reader’s Digest article about surprising words recently added to the dictionary.  While I cannot improve on them, I can give my own alternatives.

Humblebrag

Often found on social media, the humblebrag is a boast disguised as self-deprecation: ‘I’m so nervous about picking up my Nobel Peace Prize, I’ll probably trip on my way up to the podium!’ Most legitimately used in job interviews to answer the dreaded trick question, ‘What is your worst quality?’ There is no other answer but a humblebrag: ‘I’m such a perfectionist, and I work too hard. My boss has to make me go home at night to take a break.’

[Dr. L G: I am familiar with humblebrag.  I am often asking people to look for my lost Congressional Medal of Honor at dinner parties.]

Snollygoster

A snollygoster may sound like a Dr. Seuss character with a topknot, but it’s actually a shrewd, unprincipled politician who is only out for himself. First popularized by President Truman after World War II and fallen into disuse for decades, this colorful insult has been almost single-handedly revived by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

[Dr. L G: I am more likely to think of a snollygoster as snot that gets hidden under the coffee table.]

Fast fashion

Fast fashion doesn’t necessarily involve roller blades, peekaboo necklines, or racing goggles. Instead, it refers to an elaborate system of producing cheap, trendy garments in sweatshops that are designed to fall apart quickly: the perfect excuse to buy next season’s fad. Like fast food, it’s cheap, temporarily satisfying, but not especially good for you.

[Dr. L G: To quote Dolly Parton, “It took a lot of money to look this cheap.”]

Collapsar

Have you been wondering what to call an old star that’s imploded under the pressure of its own gravity to form a white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole? Try collapsar, which may sound like a Marvel super villain or an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, but really just means ‘collapsed star.’

[Dr. L G: Collapser also describes my investments.]

Mumblecore

Everyone knows about hardcore and software, but what about mumblecore? Lena Dunham’s TV show Girls is a prime example of this genre, which focuses on the private lives of earnest young slackers who talk a lot but don’t understand themselves and, frankly, sometimes don’t speak clearly enough for the audience to understand them either.

[Dr. L G: It is what you say under your breath when your spouse announces that a dear friend, who you cannot stand, is coming to visit for three weeks.]

Abandonware

If you’re one of the many fans who pines for discontinued software, especially games from PacMan to Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now, you probably know all about abandonware. For the rest of us, it’s a revelation to discover that third-party suppliers are keeping thousands of orphaned programs alive online—enough to justify a new word in the dictionary!

[Dr. L G: Tupperware party purchases, anyone?]

Yowza

Sometimes it takes a new word a while to catch on. Yowza, an exclamation of surprise or amazement, was first introduced in 1933. It never died out, probably because it’s just so much fun to say, and this year it finally made the cut.

[Dr. L G: See Gig Young in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? “Yowza, yowza, yowza.”]

Woo woo

Woo woo may remind you of courtship, cheerleaders, or baby talk, but it actually refers to any mystical, paranormal, and generally unscientific claim, from alien abduction to the telekinetic bending of spoons. But as Julia Moskin, a New York Times reporter, puts it, ‘One man’s woo-woo, of course, is another’s deeply held belief system.’

[Dr. L G: Some of you may be familiar with Curmudgeon-at-Large’s assertions on alien anal probing.]

Conlang

A conlang has nothing to do with three card monte, Ponzi schemes, or the lost wallet scam. It’s an invented language with a real vocabulary and consistent grammatical rules. And though conlangs arise from elaborate fictional worlds like Klingon from Star Trek, Elvish from Lord of the Rings, or most recently, Dothraki from Game of Thrones, these languages have taken on a life of their own, with thousands of fantasy fans around the world using them in real life.

[Dr. L G: It’s also the language used after six or more stiff drinks.]

Supercentanarian

Anyone older than 110 is supercentanarian, and we’ll probably be seeing that word a lot more often as human life spans continue to grow. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Probably depends on the supercentanarian!

[Dr. L G: “Look, down on the ground!  It’s a stuffed bird!  It’s a stalled plane!  No, it’s Supercentanarian Man!”]

Beestys and Fowlys

 

Dr. Language Guy here.

It has come to my attention that many of you face a grammatical dilemma when encountering strange wildlife in your own backyard. Now I know that, if you sight wolves, deer or locusts, you will immediately call out “There is a pack of wolves or a herd of deer or a plague of locusts in my backyard!”  Packs are common to a number of creatures – wolves, hounds and other dogs – as are herds – asses, buffalo, deer, elephants, giraffes, moose and zebras.  Plagues only apply to locusts and politicians.

But what do you say if, for examples, you encounter baboons, sheldrake or wombats? Never fear. Thanks to the Book of Saint Albans of 1486 entitled Companys of Beestys and Fowlys, aided by Wikipedia and abcteach, you will correctly and properly identify any group of animals that cross your path.  The animals will respect you for this attention to detail.

A Troop of Baboons

A Sedge of Bitterns

A Sounding of Boars

A Drove of Bullocks

A Tok of Capercaillie

A Quiver of Cobras

A Covert of Coots

A Bask of Crocodiles

A Murder of Crows

A Trip of Dotterel

A Fling of Dunlins

A Mob of Emus

A Fesnyng of Ferrets

A Bloat of Hippopotamuses

A Clattering of Jackdaws

A Deceit of Lapwings

An Ascension of Larks

A Plump of Moorhens

A Pod of Pelicans

An Ostentation of Peacocks

A Congregation of Plovers

A Rhumba of Rattlesnakes

A Crash of Rhinoceros

A Dopping of Sheldrake

A Walk of Snipes

A Pitying of Turtle Doves

A Wisdom of Wombats

Beestys

A WTF? of Weird Wildlife

 

We should start applying such terms to groups of people as well:

A Brace of Bloggers

A Klump of Kardashians

A Really Good Deal of Used Car Salesmen.

Do you have any suggestions?

If you can’t improve your health, improve your writing

 

Hypertextbook.com says that an average educated person knows about 20,000 words and uses about 2,000 words in a week. Most sources say that the English language contains between 600,000 to over 1 million words depending upon how you count.  (Thank you, Captain Obvious.)  Not only do most of us use less than 3% of available words, we employ them poorly.  And when I say “we,” I mean “me, myself and I.”

As a charter member of the Failed Writers Society, I recognize my repetitive, trite speech and writing patterns especially when I come across informative reading matter.

A recent article from The New Yorker entitled Alone in the Alps by James Lasdin described the connection between the Via Alpina trail in Europe and its rich culture as follows:

“That sense of multiplicity is still strong. The Rockies may offer wilder wilderness, but you don’t experience the pleasure of sharp cultural variegation as you move from place to place…   It’s there […] in the freshly incomprehensible road signs, which is Slovenia are clotted with consonant clusters, as if vowels were an indulgence.”

This description of a consonant-rich Eastern European language is the best I’ve come across since a Car Talk episode called Vowels to Bosniahttp://www.cartalk.com/content/vowels-bosnia

So what’s the connection between not improving your health and improving your writing? Well, if nothing else, not improving your heath will give you less time to improve your epitaph* when that inevitable day comes.

[*Dr. Language Guy wishes to point out that he word “epitaph” comes from the Latin epitaphium, which, in turn, comes from the Greek epitaphion, meaning “over or at a tomb.”  This is derived as epi (“on” or “over”) + taph(os) (“tomb”).]

Here are some better examples.

In a London cemetery:

Here lies Ann Mann,

Who lived an old maid

But died an old Mann

Dec. 8, 1767

 In a Ribblesford, England cemetery:

The children of Israel wanted bread;

And the Lord sent them manna.

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,

And the Devil sent him Anna.

In Boot Hill, Tombstone, Arizona:                          

Here lays Butch,

We planted him raw.

He was quick on the trigger,

But slow on the draw.

 Also in Boot Hill:                          

Here lies Lester Moore

Four slugs from a 44

No Les

No more.

 Of a hanged sheep thief, in Lame, Ireland:

Here lies the body

Of Thomas Kemp

Who lived by wool

But died by hemp.*

 * A witticism from Cervantes’ Don Quixote states:  “One does not speak of hemp in the house of the hanged.”

A lawyer’s epitaph in England:

 Sir John Strange

Here lies an honest lawyer,

And that is Strange.

 In Newbury, England (1742):

 Tom Smith is dead, and here he lies,

Nobody laughs and nobody cries;

Where his soul’s gone, or how it fares,

Nobody knows, and nobody cares.

 In a Welland, Ontario cemetery:

Here lies all that remains of old Aunt Charlotte,

Born a virgin, died a harlot.

For sixteen years she kept her virginity,

A marvelous thing for this vicinity.

 

And finally, in Hollywood Forever cemetery:

Improveyourwriting