Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 13 17:15:26 UTC 2006

At 11:06 AM -0500 12/13/06, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>Hey, dInIs, you know you're feeding the "SAE" ego of our prescriptivist
>correspondent, don't you?!  I doubt that he'll get your irony.
>But anyway, another nice merger example was said by (the other) Dennis the
>Menace some years ago:  Dennis was looking at some reindeer on a Xmas
>display and asked, "Which one is Olive the other reindeer?"  Most of my
>students, mergers and non-mergers alike, don't get this joke either.  Ditto
>for a similar cartoon on picking out a "naughty pine" Xmas tree.  'Tis the

Not just a Dennis the Menace cartoon, but a bonified (yup) artistic
endeavor, originating as a book published 10 years ago and Christmas
TV special a couple of years after that and now available in VHS and
DVD at a video store near you.
See,_the_Other_Reindeer for details.

>At 10:08 AM 12/13/2006, you wrote:
>>In Alberta somewhere I saw a car lot named Otto's Autos. Since I am a
>>speaker of Standard English, it took me a bit to get the joke too.
>>I also remember way back in foreign language teaching when the
>>oral/aural method was touted, and, again, someone had to explain to
>>me that it was funy that they sounded the same; of course; they don't
>>for those of us who care about the language (no more than for-four or
>>horse-hoarse do)
>>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
>>>Subject:      auto/Otto
>>>Last night on NCIS (CBS-TV), the murderer was an AI-operated robotic
>>>car named Otto.  My wife had to explain the joke to me, since it
>>>never occurred that "Otto" and "auto" would be pronounced alike.
>>>Once I grasped the joke, however, it seemed pretty funny:  ANY car
>>>(of course) is an auto, but Otto was an auto auto.
>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>It should be the chief aim of a university professor to exhibit
>>himself in his own true character - that is, as an ignorant man [sic]
>>thinking, actively utilizing his small share of knowledge. Alfred
>>North Whitehead
>>There are many different religions in this world, but if you look at
>>them carefully, you'll see that they all have one thing in common:
>>They were invented by a giant, superintelligent slug named Dennis.
>>Homer Simpson
>>Dennis R. Preston
>>University Distinguished Professor
>>Department of English
>>15-C Morrill Hall
>>Michigan State University
>>East Lansing, MI 48824-1036
>>Phone: (517) 353-4736
>>Fax: (517) 353-3755
>>preston at
>>The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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