Friday, June 27, 2008

Lexical category confusion: Verbs and nouns

This just in from a reader, with the scan labeled 'lexical category confusion'.
I think the character here is 'Billy', judging from here. Of course, it's anything but weird: we all know that verb is a verb and, yeah OK, also a noun. Is it a prescriptivist jab at verbing? Another strip, Calvin & Hobbes, is where verbal verb is usually seen as having taken off, and that's no longer being written/drawn. It surely can't be a jab at them, can it? Maybe verbing is acquired after age 7, apparently Billy's age. Whatevs.

Hat tip to P.R.


Wishydig said...

I've never been a fan of Family Circus. It's basically Bil Keane repeating lines that he heard little kids say (his grandchildren when they were younger -- maybe his great-grandkids now?) that really aren't that funny.

With that in mind this one strikes me as a really obvious observation about the very slight cognitive dissonance that only a really young kid experiences on realizing that a word used to label one type of lexical class can itself belong to another.

I just don't trust that for the first time in my life one of Keane's observations is going to be clever insightful or at all funny.

Bill Idsardi said...

The scan should be titled use vs. mention.

The Ridger, FCD said...

It's another standard "oh, isn't Billy CUTE?" strip which might be cute if, as wishydig says, Billy were your grandkid. FC is usually not funny at all, and it's never really insightful the way, say, One Big Happy and Ruthie's word adventures can be.

Mr. Verb said...

Man, don't check for a while and miss a whole set of comments.

I don't read Family Circle or traditional comics at all -- Zippy, xkcd, etc. are cool and Dilbert and Doonesbury are about as traditional as I can stand.

And I liked PR's joke on 'lexical category confusion'. 'Use vs. mention' is clever too, maybe in a similar way.