Duck!

Cidu Bill on Oct 5th 2017

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Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, Jim Benton, comics, humor | 42 responses so far

42 Responses to “Duck!”

  1. Arthur Oct 5th 2017 at 12:11 am 1

    Maybe the bad grammar also has something to do with its being a
    duck. [/pedant]

    But, yes, it probably has no keys because it’s a duck.

  2. Winter Wallaby Oct 5th 2017 at 12:12 am 2

    I don’t get this, but it made me laugh.

  3. billybob Oct 5th 2017 at 12:25 am 3

    on the one hand, it has no keys — BECAUSE IT’S A DUCK.
    on the other hand, it has no pockets — BECAUSE IT’S A DUCK.

  4. James Pollock Oct 5th 2017 at 01:00 am 4

    On the Internet, no one knows you are a dog.
    In cartoon-land, sometimes you forget you’re a duck.

    PS: What bad grammar?

  5. Arthur Oct 5th 2017 at 01:00 am 5

    I don’t get this, but it made me laugh.

    You seem to match Bill who categorized it as both CIDU and humor.

  6. Arthur Oct 5th 2017 at 01:06 am 6

    What bad grammar?

    “This has something to do with me being a duck” should be
    “This has something to do with my being a duck”.

  7. fleabane Oct 5th 2017 at 01:17 am 7

    I think this is meta. It’s a cartoon, we don’t really get it but it seems funny because it’s got something to do with it being a duck. So the duck doesn’t know where it’s keys are. But figures it has has something to do with being a duck. But he doesn’t really get it either. But it’s probably got something to do with being a duck.

  8. Mona Oct 5th 2017 at 01:39 am 8

    At the risk of gender stereo-typing, substitute the word “male” for duck.
    I was so naive when I was a newlywed. I actually bought one of those big brass keys with hooks on it and hung it right next to the door so Hubby could put his keys there as soon as he walked in and I wouldn’t have to hunt for them all the time. HA!

    If she were a marsupial, she would know where her keys were. (In her pocket.)
    If she were an elephant, she would know where her keys were. (In her trunk.)
    If she were a piano…..
    Sorry, it’s been a long, rough day.

  9. James Pollock Oct 5th 2017 at 02:10 am 9

    “‘This has something to do with me being a duck’ should be
    ‘This has something to do with my being a duck’.

    Because… ?

  10. James Pollock Oct 5th 2017 at 02:15 am 10

    “I was so naive when I was a newlywed. I actually bought one of those big brass keys with hooks on it and hung it right next to the door so Hubby could put his keys there as soon as he walked in and I wouldn’t have to hunt for them all the time.”

    I do not have such a hook. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had to look for keys because I didn’t know where they were. 2 of the 4 times, it was because someone else had needed my keys, used them, and then not returned them to me.
    My mother has such a hook by her door. The number of times she has had to go looking for keys is in the dozens of times (and she has TWO sets of keys to hang, so hunting for keys is limited to those times when TWO sets are BOTH elsewhere at the same time.)

    “At the risk of gender stereo-typing”
    Called and raised.

  11. furrykef Oct 5th 2017 at 02:17 am 11

    Because certain pedants impose rules from centuries ago and not from how people today actually talk.

    According to them, “me being a duck” is not a valid clause, I presume because it has “me” (an object pronoun) as the subject of a verb.

  12. Arthur Oct 5th 2017 at 02:33 am 12

    It is because it’s a duck. If it were a different fowl, the one
    traditionally served on Thanksgiving, it would know where its
    key was.

    Please forgive my posting on topic.

  13. Kilby Oct 5th 2017 at 04:23 am 13

    Speaking of ducks, today’s Rubes has a nice waterfowl joke.

  14. Carl Oct 5th 2017 at 06:44 am 14

    Agreeing with furrykef@10: “According to them, “me being a duck” is not a valid clause, I presume because it has “me” (an object pronoun) as the subject of a verb.” It’s a common “error” (I agree that it’s only an error because pedants say so) because one would say, “… has to do with me.” (where “me” is the object of the preposition “with”). However, in the cartoon “me” is the subject of the noun clause “me being a duck” (in Arthur’s analysis).

  15. Dave Van Domelen Oct 5th 2017 at 07:25 am 15

    It’s one of those things where neither me nor my really works. “Me” is grammatically incorrect, “my” just sounds wrong. Rephrasing as “it has something to do with the fact I’m a duck” would eliminate the problem.

    Well, the grammar problem. The duck still has no idea where his keys are.

  16. Dave Van Domelen Oct 5th 2017 at 07:25 am 16

    Also, the keys might not be too useful if found. After all, we’ve all heard of rubber duck keys.

  17. Terrence Feenstra Oct 5th 2017 at 08:09 am 17

    A duck walks into a bar . . .

  18. Terrence Feenstra Oct 5th 2017 at 08:11 am 18

    James Pollock @10 - What does your wife do with her keys?

  19. Powers Oct 5th 2017 at 10:01 am 19

    I don’t understand the “my being a duck” construction. What’s the grammar rule that allows a verb phrase to be the object of a possessive pronoun?

  20. Mark Jackson Oct 5th 2017 at 10:26 am 20

    “I have no keys. And I must duck.” - Harlan Ellison

  21. mitch4 Oct 5th 2017 at 11:11 am 21

    Not to duck the issue, but of course both forms are workable in modern speech.

    Powers, maybe you are having trouble with the “my” because you are taking “being a duck” as a verb phrase. But in a slightly older vocabulary, there were things derived from verbs or verb phrases, hence called “verbals” as a cover term, but in use with the functions of other kinds of phrases … for instance gerunds (a verbal form) can fill many places a noun phrase could, and verbal participials can fill spots where you expect nominal-modifiers (such as adjectives) or again as nominals.

    Now look at “Being a duck is a wonderful condition!”. Here “being a duck” is in the place you would expect a nominal, namely the subject of the sentence. So equally it is like a nominal in the role of object of “my” making the larger nominal or full noun phrase “my being a duck”.

  22. James Pollock Oct 5th 2017 at 11:11 am 22

    “James Pollock @10 - What does your wife do with her keys?”

    As I do not have one, nor current intentions to obtain one, we’ll probably never know.

  23. Rasheed Oct 5th 2017 at 11:27 am 23

    Sometimes a duck is just a duck

  24. Mel Oct 5th 2017 at 12:43 pm 24

    @3 And on the third hand, ducks don’t have hands

  25. Kevin A Oct 5th 2017 at 12:47 pm 25

    The comic feels much more humorous to me than it did before this conversation. (poor Jim Benton; he probably knew the concept was already tricky without the grammar/punctuation distraction)

    I would allow “me, being a duck”, I think, in the “It’s not you, it’s something about me” way of referring to one’s awareness of being. It would have a different meaning (even if only slightly) from “my being a duck”.
    I feel “me being a duck” without the comma, is incorrect; if it’s spoken without the comma pause, it would be the mistake of substituting “me” for “my”.
    I’m going to dig deep into the corners of mitch4’s comment (20) to see if I can relax in the presence of this form.

    loving cidu…

  26. Brian in STL Oct 5th 2017 at 01:16 pm 26

    “A duck walks into a bar . . .”

    Because it forgot to duck?

  27. Greybeard Oct 5th 2017 at 01:29 pm 27

    @billybob (3): on the third hand, it has no hands — BECAUSE IT’S A DUCK.

  28. Scott Oct 5th 2017 at 01:49 pm 28

    So, why a duck?

  29. fleabane Oct 5th 2017 at 01:50 pm 29

    “being” is a gerund.

    Gerunds can be thought of as quasi-noun. We can possess nouns.

    Then again gerunds can also be thought of as quasi-adjectives and quasi-verbs to.

    What are you doing? Being a duck.

    Who is being a duck? I am.

    What quality about you caused you to lose your keys? Being a duck.

    What were you doing that caused you to lose your keys? Being a duck.

    I’d say they are all correct.

  30. Winter Wallaby Oct 5th 2017 at 01:50 pm 30

    mitch4 #20: So why is “me” also OK? Sure, from a descriptivist point of view, anything that sounds like good grammar is good grammar, but why does “me” sound right (to me, at least)? Is it just because, as Carl suggests, I’m mistakenly making “me” the object of the preceding part of the sentence? Or is there a desriptivist grammar rule that explains more consistenly why “me” is OK?

  31. Winter Wallaby Oct 5th 2017 at 01:51 pm 31

    I can never guess which comics will inspire long, sprawling comment threads, and which ones will die out after just a few comments.

  32. mitch4 Oct 5th 2017 at 05:36 pm 32

    WW #28, I get what you’re asking about, and pace both Carl and yourself saying it is mistaken, I would agree that in “That involves me being a duck” the “me” has taken up the object-of-the-verb position, and so takes the form (objective case) appropriate to that position.

    When I say “has taken up a new position” I’m using 60’s to 80’s Transformational Grammar vocabulary and ideas, in particular the schismatic offshoot sometimes called “Generative Semantics” which I studied under McCawley. But you could look up “Raising” which was in the Standard Theory even in the late 60s and early 70s — there is a book by Paul Postal called just “On Raising” or something like that.

    The idea is that at Logical Level (something like Deep Structure) there is a non-topmost S[entence] node in the labelled tree structure representing the utterance, covering what would become “I BE a duck”. This S node is tucked into the toplevel sentence under a NP (Noun Phrase) node in the object position. So the meaning is that this sentential meaning — like “the fact that” — is the object of “THAT involves ..”.
    One optional stylistic transformation would put it on the path to “… my being a duck”. Otherwise, the “[I]” can be Raised to sit as the NP node in object position, deplacing the S node which gets demoted and is attached in some disputable way — and probably no longer has a subject NP. (Some theorists said there was a way the I/ME could sort of be attached in both positions.)

    At another level, that of morphology, since the I/ME is sitting as an NP-Pronoun in verb-object position, it picks up case and is output as “me”.

    [So pleased I was able to use “pace” in that sense, just a couple days after learning the standard pronunciation! I’ve been reading-familiar with the term but may not have heard it, and usually said it to myself like PAH-chay. But a dictionary or usage mailing list recently informed me it is standardly PAY-see.]

  33. mitch4 Oct 5th 2017 at 05:47 pm 33

    At the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_(linguistics) there is some discussion and tree diagrams. The theoretical underpinnings are from a bit later than what I was using, but should be easier to follow.

  34. Mark in Boston Oct 5th 2017 at 11:18 pm 34

    Based on Mona @7, the correct sentence would be:

    “I bet this has something to do with me being a drake.”

  35. Kevin A Oct 6th 2017 at 12:45 am 35

    @Mark in Boston :-)

  36. B.A. Oct 6th 2017 at 01:43 am 36

    WW (29), that’s like trying to figure out what throws us into moderation.

  37. Terrence Feenstra Oct 6th 2017 at 08:34 am 37

    “As God is my witness, I thought ducks could drive.”

    Cheers to MiB!

  38. Lord Z Oct 6th 2017 at 02:12 pm 38

    That looks like a goose to me. No wonder the poor guy is confused.

  39. Mark in Boston Oct 7th 2017 at 07:24 pm 39

    The word “being” is not a gerund in this case. It is a present participle. It takes an object, which is “a duck”. It is not being used as a noun.

    Here’s the difference.

    1. “He looked at my dirty clothes and said ‘Get that basket of clothes out of here!’ He had an issue with my washing.” Gerund. “He had an issue with my smelly washing.” Never “He had an issue with me smelly washing.” You can substitute the noun “laundry” for the gerund “washing.”
    2. “He saw me up to my elbows in the soapy hot water and said ‘Stop that! That’s not your job!’ He had an issue with my washing.” Present participle. “He had an issue with my washing my clothes at the office.” Or: “He had an issue with me washing my clothes at the office.” It does not mean “He had an issue with my laundry my clothes at the office.”

  40. Winter Wallaby Oct 7th 2017 at 07:28 pm 40

    mitch4 #32/#33: Thanks for that detailed explanation. I’m afraid much of it was over my head, but I’ll try taking a look at some background material. Linguistics is pretty interesting.

    I think I asked before, but what’s your background? Did you do work in academic linguistics?

  41. Carl Oct 7th 2017 at 08:47 pm 41

    “… being a duck …” is a participial phrase, a phrase which acts as an adjective.

  42. Meryl A Oct 10th 2017 at 03:06 am 42

    Mona - I wish I had thought of a big key.

    We decided to buy a locking mailbox - a large rural delivery type one, even though it is next to our door, not at the road - as we have been having trouble with our Post Office and do not want to stop delivery as they often keep delivering anyway. (One day they delivered the neighbor on one side’s mail to us. The next day they delivered the mail from two houses down on the other side to us. Post office’s response when I complained was that I should not deliver the mail to the correct house, I should call (like I am always home before they close for the day) and they will send the employee back to fix it and redeliver the mail - yeah, right. And other odder problems.)

    So now we have a key which we have to take out to get the mail. Robert says that we have to get a nice hook for it. I had visions of shopping for months for a hook (I know him). Luckily I remembered we had a nice brass hook from the Bombay Company -not sure why, I think it must have been a gift as it was Victorian not 18th century style - luckily that did the job.

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