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March 29, 2005


That's it, I've taken out a contract on your life.

(imagine me saying this with an exaggeratedly rustic intonation)


You're fucking ridiculous.

oh, I get it now. how droll.

Very good. Your next assignment is to construct a sequel to which the punchline is "Hot Ligeti!" (courtesy Noel, and this came up independently of your comment this morning).

I think the phonological gap between "Ligeti" and "diggety" might be too great to be bridged by a mere pun.

I concur. But Ben, wasn't Ligeti Hungarian?

As it turns out, he was and is! Not only that, but he left Hungary in 1956. I think I thought he was Polish because both his name and Gorecki's have the accent on the first syllable. Also I thought I remembered reading in the liner notes to one of the albums of his music that I have that he his colleagues were cautious about congratulating him after a performance of his Ten Pieces... because of their avant-gardist tendencies. And, uh, that that took place in Poland.

It seems I am not the only one to have made this mistake.

OK, that ruined my morning. Thanks.

I assumed the emphasis was on the second syllable and I fell into that trap.

What's the matter, Dan, you don't like being delighted and instructed?

I think the phonological gap between "Ligeti" and "diggety" might be too great to be bridged by a mere pun.


You commented on that post, too. I'm collecting the royalties on this one.

Especially after what I said in the last comment to the post before that one.

Wait—was "no Ligeti" supposed to be a play on "no diggety" (a phrase I've never heard, being more of the "hot" than the "no" type)? If so, I'm afraid it only confirms my contention.

Given that I commented on that post, I probably should have known that he was Hungarian, though.

In the comments that's explicitly explained to a prominent meta-ethicist, with a link. If you haven't heard the song, the fault lies with you. And I'm afraid you can't beat the serendipity of the comment, "I also hate to let the jokes I actually think of go to waste." And it's "diggity."

Make that, "And, it's 'diggity.'"

Ok, that is pretty serendipitous, but you have no evidence that you thought of the above joke. You still haven't produced any evidence that the phonological gap between "Ligeti" and "diggity" is short enough to be bridged by a pun, since apparently no one, neither those who knew the referent nor those who did not, understood your attempt.

Blitzey D. Medishee understood the joke. Check the comments, and check the lyrics of the song. You may not have understood her indication of understanding, but again, that's evidence of your epistemic and cultural negligence rather than a flaw in my joke. (I think what I mean is: Kids today, probably don't know about "I'm too sexy" either.)

Also, there's pretty good reason to think that it's harder to make a "Hot Diggity!"/"Hot Ligeti" pun than a "No Diggity"/"No Ligeti" pun. In "Hot Diggity" the 't' and the 'd' are extremely similar sounds--you're lucky I'm feeling relatively mellow, or I'd look up exactly what sort of similar sounds they are--and so "Hot Diggity" flows off the tongue in a way that "Hot Ligeti" does not. In "No Ligeti" the diphthong 'o' flows into the 'l' just as easily as it flows into the 'd' in "No Diggity."

I grant that I didn't think of the "Ligeti split" joke. You can have the royalties back if you want.

"t" and "d" are dental stops, I think, unvoiced and voiced respectively.

Anyway, there's an outstanding commission for a joke whose punchline is "hot Ligeti!" which I'll pass on to you if you agree to give me 10% of the proceeds. I think you're up to it.

Oh my. Has it come to this?

[t] and [d] are really alveolar in American English (try actually touching your tongue to your teeth for these sounds; you will sound like Apu the Kwik-E-Mart guy), and moreover, [l] is an alveolar lateral. They all have the same place of articulation, so I think Matt's argument rests on false premises. Perhaps the real impediment to tongueflow at which you take umbrage is the temptation to aspirate the t before an l as in "Hot Ligeti." But there is no need for this! Swallow that good old stop, I say, in the grand American tradition, and your joke will be up and coming.

Yeah, I thought dental was wrong, but cursory googling revealed some hits for "t" being a dental stop (including some that distinguished between postdental (which those sites that made the distinction classified as American English) and dental simpliciter).

I was going to attempt a defense of my claim here, but I think the wiser course of action may be to call the apostropher in on this advice:

Swallow that good old stop, I say, in the grand American tradition, and your joke will be up and coming.

I wonder what grand American tradition has people telling others to swallow stops.

OK, I'm taking up my own challenge.

On a sweltering August afternoon, a celebrated string ensemble gave a performance of Ramifications in the dark, bohemian basement of a small Vienna taproom. The concert had been highly anticipated by everyone in the local avant-garde scene, and the composer himself was in attendance.

The audience fanned themselves and perspired in the heat as the musicians began to play. But no sooner had the opening notes sounded than a large pipe along the back wall, under stress from the recent extremes of temperature, burst, spraying a fat stream of water over the performers.

Undaunted, the musicians continued to play. The composer was so inspired by this show of devotion that he leapt up and ran to the back of the stage, stripped off his shirt, and flung his body over the gaping hole, where he remained, sweating and straining from the effort, for the duration of the performance. At its conclusion, he and the musicians received a standing ovation. The incident was later referred to in admiring tones by the media as the Hot Ligeti Dam.

But why was it hot?

I'm going to out-nitpick Ben in an attempt to draw fire: "Hot diggity dog" is more common than "Hot diggity damn."

The punchline of the joke should thus be "Hot ligety log."

I am unable to construct a joke with this punchline.

Ben, your reading comprehension seems lax. It was hot! Sweltering, even. The audience was perspiring. I was at pains to point this out, so it would be unmistakable, like.

I've never said "hot diggity dog," but you could certainly make a bathroom joke with the revised punchline suggested.

I was imagining a joke whose punchline was just "hot diggity!", myself. I think you should run it past Noel and see what he thinks (does Noel spell his name with a diaeresis?).

Matt, after just invoking Apostropher w.r.t. a perhaps unwitting opportunity for oral-sex jokes, you can't think of a joke whose punchline is "Hot Ligeti log!"?

(rolls eyes)

also, if you really wanted to nitpick, you could point out that pipes generally burst in the cold, not the heat.

Me=dork. Crap.

Maybe the notes were playing at the resonant frequency of the pipe, and that's what made it burst.

With Ligeti, that seems entirely possible.

Just to contribute to general pronunciation abilities: *all* words in Hungarian have the stress on the first syllable. It's one (perhaps the only) thing easy about trying to learn Hungarian--the stress is the same on every single word in the entire language, even adopted ones (KOMputer, AMerika, etc) (as opposed to in Russian, which I tried to learn, where all hell breaks loose...).

Also, if you translate it into English, I think his name, Ligeti Gyo:rgy, is "George Park." Franz Liszt, or Liszt Ferenc, is "Frank Flour." (I had a music theory prof who liked calling Verdi George Green)

I take it too that family names come first.

Is there a rule for where secondary stress goes in very long words?

(Giuseppe) Verdi would be Joe Green! which is even funnier.

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