17 Comments

  1. Not to nitpick, but well, here goes…most of the Tomversation one isn’t really accents. Three of them are, but the rest are just idioms and phrases in foreign languages.

  2. @Stan and @Usual John, yes, although it’s a bit fuzzy what “accent” covers, it does seem to be mostly phonological. (Though I think it needn’t entirely exclude lexical choice, a different matter from idiomatic expression, which as you note is not usually included in “accent”.) And the phrases on Falco’s wallpaper are not mostly phonological. (Arguably fugget and the yo’ from the idiom bless your heart could be considered mostly about pronunciation.)

    But how much can we ask for? If the writing on the wallpaper had to illustrate pronunciation above other dialectal parameters, what kind of notation could he have used, without driving the joke into the ground? So I won’t join the complaint about “accent”.

  3. I recall an “accent pillow” comic somewhere.

    There’s an old joke with the punchline “It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan.”

    The Mayflower Compact comic reminded me of an early ’50s car produced by Triumph called the Mayflower, and it is indeed a compact. It’s actually kind of cute.

  4. “But how much can we ask for? If the writing on the wallpaper had to illustrate pronunciation above other dialectal parameters, what kind of notation could he have used, without driving the joke into the ground?”

    Well, since the joke was ‘accent’, I think we could have expected accents without asking too much. Off the top of my head I can think of several he could have gone with:

    Say “Hello” to my leee-dle frien’!
    Ve haff vays of making you talk!
    That’s not a noy-f. That’s a noy-f!
    ‘Allo, ‘Allo, ‘Allo!

    I think these examples may show my age. I’m sure there are many more up-to-date ones that would have made this joke work a bit better. I’m not terribly familiar with his work, but I imagine Borat would be a wealth of them, for one.

    On the other hand, as was pointed out earlier, he may not be too concerned with age as he’s using Valley Girl idioms.

  5. Knick-knacks remind me of Laurel & Hardy.

    Laurel: “What’s a knick-knack?”
    Hardy: “A knick-knack is the thing that sits on a what-not.”

  6. There’s an old joke with the punchline “It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan.”

    After all, his old man’s a Rolling Stone.

  7. Is this what they mean when it is said “He saw the writing on the wall”?

    Does anyone know what a What not/ What knot is? (I do, obviously.)

  8. @Meryl, I have always thought a what-not was just another generalized expression for a watchamacallit or thingamajig. But looking it up just now suggests a specialized meaning of a kind of open shelving. Which would fit precisely with the usage in the Laurel and Hardy excerpt that Mark in Boston gave us.

    Is that the sense you are talking about, or do you know another origin story?


    I like to phrase it “the handwriting on the wall” because in the original story given in the book of Daniel a separated disembodied hand appears in the air and writes the warning on the wall. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belshazzar's_feast .

    The message was “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” which I learned in a parody version, “Meany, Meany, tickle a parson!”

  9. I’ve got a what-not in my house. It has random stuff on it. Even if you have a china cabinet for your fine china, and a linen chest for your linens, and a cupboard for your non-china cups and saucers and plates, and a wardrobe for your clothes, and so on and so forth, there are going to be some things you have that you don’t have enough of to have a special place for. You’d have to have a lot of playing cards to have a special playing card cabinet for nothing but playing cards. So you have a cabinet or shelving unit where you put your playing cards, scotch tape, light bulbs, figurines your mom gave you, and what not.

  10. Open-air junk drawer describes it exactly. Which reminds me. My grandmother called her junk drawer the “Fibber McGee drawer” after the closet in the radio show “Fibber McGee And Molly.”

  11. Mitch4 – Yes, that it what I meant.

    In either one of the Little House on the Prairie books or a bio book about the author she talks about What nots out of old newspapers rolled up to make the spindles of the what not – it is a corner display place with shelves and spindles connecting the shelves.

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