"(speech) balloon", as in the comics

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Sat Jan 1 08:02:18 UTC 2011

On Fri, Dec 31, 2010 at 9:44 PM, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:
> Â  Â  Â  Â The air balloon, thought to be the model for "speech balloon,"
> dates back only to 1783, so it seems quite unlikely that "speech
> balloon" was used any earlier than that, even though "balloon" was used
> in other senses prior to that time. Â I'm pretty sure that Griffy was
> referring to speech balloons themselves (which, as claimed, date back at
> least to the 18th century), and not to the term.
> John Baker

"Speech balloons" are sometimes called "speech bubbles" or "text
bubbles." And then (off-topically) there are the "dream bubbles" of
the kibyoshi comics in Edo Japan. Adam Kern has interesting things to
say about them on pages 237-238 of this book:



Paul Frank
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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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