Sunday, December 20, 2009

Low Back Merger humor

When Jon Stewart declares something the "most immature montage ever", he's certainly got our attention here in Verbville. So, the president of these United States argued a few days ago that we should support weatherization. Building on 'cash for clunkers', and the fact that much weatherizing is done with a caulk gun, this was labeled 'Cash for Caulkers'. As someone with a robust distinction between /a/ and /ɔ/, I never would have thought to see this as grade school joke material, but lo and behold, if you have the low back merger (pronouncing 'cot' and 'caught' the same, for example), this is the old comedy goldmine …

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Most Immature Montage Ever - Cash for Caulkers
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H.T. to R.C.


John Cowan said...

<sigh> Those poor linguistically impoverished Californians. They just can't hear the difference that makes our lives so rich, can they?

What makes this whole megillah particularly funny is that Jon Stewart grew up in New Jersey and lives in NYC, like me, and is only four years younger than me, which means that his personal /a/:/ɔ/ contrast is probably every bit as robust as mine (and yours). Which means that he himself doesn't hear the guy with the caulking gun (who undoubtedly comes from around here too) saying what Stewart implies he is saying, at all! Stewart is doing the whole shtick on the basis of a joke he doesn't actually get, except intellectually.

ackramer said...

I got a kick out of this entry; for the past few summers, I have worked with a few guys who remodel homes. My position there was relatively low on the totem pole. One day, while I was removing the excess caulk from the surface of a support column I was about to paint, a loving colleague gave me a nickname that featured no such /a/:/ɔ/ distinction. I was thereafter known as: 'the caulk rubber'.