linguist humour

Who would have believed that the perfect Wikipedia photo caption could have been improved on? (Alan Ferrier on twitter)

I love this as an example of Gricean humour. Grice’s Maxims say to only say things that are relevant (i.e. interpret everything someone says as if it adds relevant information to the conversation). In this case, the caption is “improved” by adding (right) after the name of the bagpiper. In many photo captions, (left) or (right) is used to tell us which of several similar-looking people the caption is about. If there were several bagpipers or even humans, (right) would be a neutral, informative information. 

But here, the only entities in the photo are Piper Kerr and the indifferent penguin. It’s very easy to tell the difference between them. So adding (right) brings with it the absurd interpretation that (right) is relevant information, i.e. that the piper and the penguin are hard to tell apart. 

  • Romans: *steal the Greek Gods, only change the names*
  • Greeks: As artists who respect creative integrity and intellectual property, we are disgusted at how much you’ve copied. From the hair to the suit, do you not have any value for respect for originality? You’re a laughing stock. It’s cheesy, it’s disgusting, we personally found it artistically atrocious.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
—  Nelson Mandela

We have winners!

3rd place: “Instead of candy, the linguist gave out the OED to trick-or-treaters” by conversationswithautisticpeople and migolomaniac

2nd place: “Instead of candy, the linguist gave out unnecessarily violent passive voice example sentences to trick-or-treaters” by dukedirigible

1st place: “The scariest thing about linguistics is your long-suppressed inner prescriptivist” by dodgyboffin

Congratulations to all the winners!  And thanks to everyone who submitted – you guys are awesome!

Wishing you a linguistics-y Halloween,

The LAH Team