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1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:09 am UTC
by vortighast
Image

Title-Text: "My all-time favorite example of syntactic ambiguity comes from Wikipedia: "Charlotte's Web is a children's novel by American author E. B. White, about a pig named Wilbur who is saved from being slaughtered by an intelligent spider named Charlotte."

Must be a VERY intelligent spider to slaughter a pig...

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:10 am UTC
by rhomboidal
Further along, Frodo finds that Charlotte has "web"-logged about how Wilbur was the best pig she ever had.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:12 am UTC
by Draco18s
Took me a while to understand the alt text:

Wilbur who is saved from being (slaughtered by an intelligent spider named Charlotte).
Wilbur who is saved (from being slaughtered) by an intelligent spider named Charlotte.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:15 am UTC
by Tirian
Thank you. I thought he was trying to parse that it was E.B. White who was saved from slaughter.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:17 am UTC
by vortighast
Interesting, the current article for Charlotte's Web has that exact sentence, except moved "by an intelligent spider" to before "from being slaughtered." I wonder if Randall did that...

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:20 am UTC
by Draco18s
vortighast wrote:I wonder if Randall did that...


Nope. ZombieRamen did. Change note indicates it was done to "remove ambiguity as to who is doing the slaughtering"

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:21 am UTC
by whateveries
obviously charlotte rolled well on the bite crit table.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:32 am UTC
by Quicksilver
A panda eats, shoots and leaves?

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:39 am UTC
by Jorpho
Seven comments in, and I see no one cares to explain what Cirith Ungol is.

Yes, the alt-text is funny, and the art is kinda nice, I guess, but otherwise this is flying way over my head.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:46 am UTC
by Number3Pencils
I didn't know Cirith Ungol either, so I looked it up. Turns out it's the name of the place where the giant spider Shelob lived in The Lord of the Rings. So there you go.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:59 am UTC
by Djehutynakht
Most of this is lost on me this time (I'm not even quite getting the syntactic ambiguity despite the explanation), but I do like the artwork.

So there you go.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:00 am UTC
by scottgoblue314
Jorpho wrote:Seven comments in, and I see no one cares to explain what Cirith Ungol is.

Yes, the alt-text is funny, and the art is kinda nice, I guess, but otherwise this is flying way over my head.


I was going to give you a hard time about not having the nerd-cred to know a LotR reference, but then I remembered this comic: http://xkcd.com/1053/

So go read your Tolkien! It's wonderful.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:07 am UTC
by Bartimaeus
Technically it isn't where Shelob lurks(it's the nearby watchtower), but close enough I suppose. I'm just happy for a LoTR reference! At first, I actually thought that the comic was the drawing, rather than a joke(I didn't see the writing on the web). Funny punchline as well, though, when I saw the alt-text. A+

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:09 am UTC
by tetromino
Jorpho wrote:Seven comments in, and I see no one cares to explain what Cirith Ungol is.

In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Cirith Ungol is a little-used mountain pass leading from the Morgul Vale into Mordor.
Spoiler:
The pass is little-used because it's guarded by a giant spider called Shelob. Gollum leads Frodo and Samwise via Cirith Ungol, hoping that the nasty hobbitses would get eaten by the spider so that he would be able to loot the One Ring from Frodo's remains.
Also, obligatory Wikipedia link.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:17 am UTC
by Jorpho
Ahh, but the first Google hit (and several of the images that turn up) are for a metal band.

This comic is of course the tenth hit at the moment and will only rise further.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:55 am UTC
by ysth
I'm not surprised. You can't expect a writer of mere kids books to be an expert on writing style, right?

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:59 am UTC
by CleverDick
I actually read the alt text and thought "Wait, that's Charlotte's Web? I thought that was a kid's book."
But a novel about a sinister spider setting out to slaughter a sow sounds sensational.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:02 am UTC
by Eutychus
I'm not convinced that Shelob would be writing on her web in English.

Still less convinced that Frodo would be able to read it.

(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:24 am UTC
by Simplex
Reminds me of something i stumbled across recently...

Image

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:25 am UTC
by Ardee
I *really* want to post a great Wikipedia ambiguity, but if I do, it'll get fixed, which would make the world a lesser place. So I'll just sit here and let you imagine what a terrific joke you're missing.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:30 am UTC
by RJFerret
Eutychus wrote:(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).

Why wouldn't it be, since the books are presented as "translated" from common speech. It certainly wouldn't have been in Sindarin or Quenya or the Black Speech. Tolkien didn't even develop Westron (common speech) as a language like he did the others (and didn't publish some works of it during his life apparently).

It makes more sense to me to present the translation, rather than fabricate something false.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:53 am UTC
by mfc
It would have been nice if the skull in the comic were a pig's skull ... :-)

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:58 am UTC
by TheoGB
Eutychus wrote:I'm not convinced that Shelob would be writing on her web in English.

Still less convinced that Frodo would be able to read it.

(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).


To be poindexter-like in accuracy, that would be Sam not Frodo. And there's even less chance he could read it.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:01 am UTC
by TheoGB
Ardee wrote:I *really* want to post a great Wikipedia ambiguity, but if I do, it'll get fixed, which would make the world a lesser place. So I'll just sit here and let you imagine what a terrific joke you're missing.


I *still* want to know what Gaiman is referring to here: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2010/05/o ... ering.html

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:46 am UTC
by sotanaht
Quicksilver wrote:A panda eats, shoots and leaves?


That's not ambiguous at all in text form since we can see the comma or lack thereof.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:11 am UTC
by Oflick
Another case of the alt-text being better than the comic.

My favourite piece of poor wording on Wikipedia was changed a few months ago (I stalked the page for a while hoping no one would pick it up). From the article on Karen Carpenter (6 January 2012):

Her death was attributed to heart failure, from complications related to her illness, which caused her to believe mistakenly that she needed to lose weight.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:31 am UTC
by pff
So... the ambiguity of the wiki entry makes you think that the spider slaughtered the pig, which the art is about (see the text in the web)?

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:57 am UTC
by Arariel
sotanaht wrote:
Quicksilver wrote:A panda eats, shoots and leaves?


That's not ambiguous at all in text form since we can see the comma or lack thereof.

We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin?

(Oxford comma ftw)

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:32 am UTC
by Qaanol
One of my favorite Wiki-wordings is from the article Mast (botany), which contains the sentence, “It has been traditional to turn pigs into forests to fatten on this form of mast.” In this case the ambiguity is semantic rather than syntactic, but nonetheless it gives rise to a strange mental image.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:07 am UTC
by Dave
Am I failing to 'get' the drawing because I've not read Charlotte's web?

I kinda get the title text. And I get that Cirith Ungol is a LOTR reference to Shelob. I'm just not sure why 'Some Pig' on a web is funny, but I suspect that's due to the above. :?

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:31 am UTC
by LordHorst
Dave wrote:Am I failing to 'get' the drawing because I've not read Charlotte's web?


No.

The drawing pictures Frodo (or was ist Sam?) inside Cirith Ungol. Complete with the one Ring and the veil he got from the elves.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:04 am UTC
by Wlerin
LordHorst wrote:
Dave wrote:Am I failing to 'get' the drawing because I've not read Charlotte's web?


No.

The drawing pictures Frodo (or was ist Sam?) inside Cirith Ungol. Complete with the one Ring and the veil he got from the elves.

*Yes.

"Some pig" is from Charlotte's Web,
Spoiler:
one of the phrases she wrote on her web to generate publicity for Wilbur, which in turn made him too famous to slaughter.
The comic combines the two, presumably on the inspiration of the ambiguity in the alt-text.

Also, it's a phial.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:09 am UTC
by LordHorst
Wlerin wrote:
LordHorst wrote:
Dave wrote:Am I failing to 'get' the drawing because I've not read Charlotte's web?


No.

The drawing pictures Frodo (or was ist Sam?) inside Cirith Ungol. Complete with the one Ring and the veil he got from the elves.

*Yes.

"Some pig" is from Charlotte's Web,


Thanks for enlightening me.

Also, it's a phial.


Oh boy. Better I quickly add that meaning to Veil to cover up my horrendous mistake... :|

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:23 am UTC
by SerMufasa
How to add an extra layer of humor to the comic:

Imagine that Gollum impelled Shelob to write the comment, and notice that Sam is absent.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:00 pm UTC
by Schiffy
Randall must be pretty popular if the text on the actual Charlotte's Web article was changed the same day the comic was posted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Charlotte%27s_Web&action=history

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:01 pm UTC
by The Moomin
Qaanol wrote:One of my favorite Wiki-wordings is from the article Mast (botany), which contains the sentence, “It has been traditional to turn pigs into forests to fatten on this form of mast.” In this case the ambiguity is semantic rather than syntactic, but nonetheless it gives rise to a strange mental image.


Pig iron exists. It makes sense that before developing pig iron, they would have had a pig wood based culture.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:05 pm UTC
by rmsgrey
TheoGB wrote:
Eutychus wrote:I'm not convinced that Shelob would be writing on her web in English.

Still less convinced that Frodo would be able to read it.

(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).


To be poindexter-like in accuracy, that would be Sam not Frodo. And there's even less chance he could read it.


It would be Frodo who bore the ring and Galadriel's Phial through Shelob's Lair - the events that led to Sam taking the ring took place after they'd emerged from the tunnel on the far side.

I loosely translate Cirith Ungol as "Spider Pass" (Cirith is a cleft, crack or chasm, and Ungol, I assume, is related to Ungoliant, the spider-demon who spawned the race of which Shelob was the last known survivor, and who helped Morgoth steal the Silmarils and blighted the Trees of Valinor in the days before the dawning of the First Age of the Sun)

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:06 pm UTC
by SerMufasa
The Moomin wrote:
Qaanol wrote:One of my favorite Wiki-wordings is from the article Mast (botany), which contains the sentence, “It has been traditional to turn pigs into forests to fatten on this form of mast.” In this case the ambiguity is semantic rather than syntactic, but nonetheless it gives rise to a strange mental image.


Pig iron exists. It makes sense that before developing pig iron, they would have had a pig wood based culture.


+1

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:13 pm UTC
by blowfishhootie
scottgoblue314 wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Seven comments in, and I see no one cares to explain what Cirith Ungol is.

Yes, the alt-text is funny, and the art is kinda nice, I guess, but otherwise this is flying way over my head.


I was going to give you a hard time about not having the nerd-cred to know a LotR reference, but then I remembered this comic: http://xkcd.com/1053/

So go read your Tolkien! It's wonderful.


You should mock Jorpho not for not knowing what Cirith Ungol is, but for taking the time to type the question here but not putting it into Google where (s)he could have answered the question pretty easily.

Situations like this are why the Web site Let Me Google That For You exist.

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:17 pm UTC
by Wlerin
Apparently the google results are less than informative.

edit: Well, mine are fine, but I choose wikipedia links and Tolkien/fantasy related results quite often, so it may be search engine bias.