The Bong Tree – Again

Over at the Language Log Bill Poser has a post, prompted by the recent Supreme Court decision on “Bong hits 4 Jesus,” on the different meanings of “bong”.

In a previous post I connected the “bong tree” to the Buddha’s “bo tree,” or Indian fig tree. The etymology provided for “bong” as a smoking implement in Wikipedia — from Thai baung meaning (1) marijuana pipe, a bong, and (2) a section of hollow bamboo stalk (see the dictionary entry at thai-language.com) — also refers to some kind of tree, though I think the meanings listed by Poser have little or no relevance for Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.”

Among the many posts Language Log has devoted to the case, you should also read The Supreme Court Fails Semantics, which discusses “utterances that have no semantic interpretation,” i.e. nonsense.

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