Monday, September 03, 2007

Conceptualizing New Vocabulary

From some posts this weekend, it seems that we may need some new strategies for incorporating unfamiliar words and phrases into our shared vocabulary.

I often find that using diagrams to illustrate shades of meaning can be helpful. It helps the person learning to think about the underlying concepts and their relation to each other, rather than a strict sign-signifier relationship.

Anyway, I hope this helps.


Tyson said...

Not bad. I would offer up the suggestion that "buttering" is more indicative of a back and forth motion performed by hand, and thus is conceptually more similar to self gratification than muff diving, which, while similar, evokes images more closely involved with your face (IE holding your breath, being submerged, etc.)
Conceptually, then, hands vs. face is the central analogous signifier, and as a result, its being a euphamism for self-stimulation is more correct.

Elaine said...

Apparently B can manage the back and forth "buttering" motion with his tongue just as effectively (if not more so) as with his hand. I can send you some instructions if you need them, Tyson.

Pity there isn't a word for tongue that is synonymous with ambidextrous.

Cool graphic!

Tyson said...


Nice try Elaine, but my lexicographical point is this; would you butter toast with your tongue?

Elaine said...

No. But I would damn sure do a man how could! :P

Erin said...

You, honey, are wrong wrong wrong. While I agree that the "diving" part of "muff-diving" is indeed related to the physical action of diving, or to the part of the body connoted, I don't think that the "buttering" part is derived in the same manner.

I believe this because there are appriximately 50 actions that more closely resemble those hand motions a woman might use to make a lonely afternoon go a little more quickly. Polishing silverware, for example, or tamping a lawn. I could maybe see some similarities between female stimulation and scraping burned parts off toast, that is, short, stacatto movements, but a buttering motion is more evocative of the clean-up-afterwards hand movement, not the pleasurable act itself.

I also think it is simplistic to say that because it's specifically a hand motion means it has to refer to a hand job.

I think the key to a close read of the whisker biscuit euphemism lies in the proprietary qualities of butter, more than the hand gesture, and understanding that the allusive meaning comes from the end result (a buttered biscuit and a "buttered biscuit" [Aren't quote marks--and nested parenthetical statements--amazing?]).

Tammy said...

Finally, someone has embraced the "biscuit-buttering" euphemism that I TRIED to introduce several weeks ago on my blog.

Sadly, mine did not include a genius-quality graph... or very engaging grammar... and, okay, so it kind of sucked... but still!

Elaine said...

Erin wins.

Tyson said...

You have a point baby! However, though your use of the words "proprietary qualities" in reference to butter are dead-on, the euphamism never the less uses the verb, "buttering" and therefore refers to the action of getting the butter on the biscuit, so to speak. This isn't to say the euphamism excludes in totality a reference to oral sex, (as your Venn plainly shows,) only that it is more commonly used to refer to self-stimulation on the part of the ladies. That, and the fact that it's listed as such on the site originally cited by Elaine. ;)