This X is something you need a Y to understand
December 17, 2007 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Snowclones (as you may know) are "some-assembly-required adaptable cliché frames": for example, "X is the new Y," "He's a few Xs short of a Y," or "If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z." The Snowclones Database collects and traces the origins of lots of these.
posted by tepidmonkey (28 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Im in your FPP using yo snoclones
posted by Rubbstone at 1:22 PM on December 17, 2007

closetphilosopher clued me into the existence of these back in April. It was the first I had heard that there was a specific term.

I love that the neologism came from the old trope: If the Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have M words for Y.
posted by quin at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2007

It's interesting how many of these have what at least sound at first like grammatical mistakes (the "me no" in "X me no Xs", the "got" in "got X?") - maybe key to their memory-sticking power?
posted by gottabefunky at 1:26 PM on December 17, 2007

I also very much enjoy misusing them.

Whatever Xs your X (e.g. whatever jiggles your Jello) is so much more fun as:

Whatever dry-humps your carpet.
Whatever stabs your refrigerator.
Whatever verbs your noun.
Whatever walks through your valley of death.
Whatever juggles your chihuahuas.

[Use of these in a corporate meeting is guaranteed to provide you with dirty looks from senior management.]
posted by quin at 1:29 PM on December 17, 2007 [7 favorites]

If loving snowclones is wrong, I don't want to be right.
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2007

"I'm thinking of digging a trench around the house and filling it with thousands of weasels."

"Whatever stoats your moat, buddy."
posted by cortex at 1:38 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Reviewing LanguageLog on the subject, I think linguists may finally need to get down with some computer programming methods here...

"X-y McXerson", e.g. "Drinky McDrinkerson" for someone who likes to drink a lot

THis would be much better expressed as ${X}y Mc${X}erson.
posted by GuyZero at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2007

1. X
2. ?
3. Profit!
posted by drezdn at 1:43 PM on December 17, 2007

Snowclones are the new black.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:49 PM on December 17, 2007

Metafilter: X.
posted by kyrademon at 1:52 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Metafilter doesn't do X well.

X is used to being Y'd ALL HIS LIFE.

posted by cortex at 1:57 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: We've got X.
posted by smackfu at 1:59 PM on December 17, 2007

Fun with Metafilter
Bleach is the new Naruto
India is the new Latin America
Snowclones are the new black
posted by Rubbstone at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2007

posted by iamkimiam at 2:16 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

This post is a few characters short of 289 characters.

Important corollary:

A few is the new 4.
posted by rusty at 2:16 PM on December 17, 2007

I was hoping it had something to do with Snow Goons.
posted by Hicksu at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2007

Snowclones are extremely fun. I discovered one once without even knowing what it was, blogged it, and it got picked up by Language Log, because a friend/acquaintance happens to be plugged into that community. Glad to know there's a repository!
posted by Stewriffic at 2:38 PM on December 17, 2007

Ooooh! Mine's not in there yet! ::toddles off to suggest an addition::
posted by Stewriffic at 2:43 PM on December 17, 2007

Snowclones? We don't need no stinkin' snowclones!
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:44 PM on December 17, 2007

Pitt D., Katz J. (2000) Compositional Idioms. Language, Vol. 76, No. 2 (Jun., 2000), pp. 409-432. (Full text only from university networks, probably.) ^ Is an interesting try to solve semantics of these things, but my googling claims that it has never crossed paths with snowclones.

Some compounds have similar idiomatic and generative properties as snowclones, for example 'plastic X' is very often not genuine X at all: plastic gun, plastic soldier, plastic flower. With suitable hosts, they are not only 'X made of plastic', but 'imitation of X made from plastic', and it can be stretched to mark something that is not even plastic, just very fake. It is plausible that there is one process behind both sentence-long snowclone templates and two-word compounds, but it is tricky to formulate that process so that it doesn't try to do too much: it easily gets computationally heavy trying to match for every sentence if they fit to some known idiom-frame. Or then, maybe that's what language mostly is, idiom frames abstracted to syntactic rules. (See Ray Jackendoff).
posted by Free word order! at 2:56 PM on December 17, 2007

Also inspired by Language Log, the Eggcorn Database, a compendium of eggcorns, or words and phrases commonly misheard or misunderstood (eg "in arrears" → "in the rears").
posted by adoarns at 4:10 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nifty. I'd not encountered the term snowclones before, though of course I've used them.
posted by sotonohito at 4:50 PM on December 17, 2007

I really hate X-y Mc-X-erson. It's such a bland excuse to say X. Be creative:
X-y McY-erson. at least.
posted by Brainy at 5:18 PM on December 17, 2007

Surrealism is the new hockey stick.
posted by Scoo at 6:13 PM on December 17, 2007

bacon is the new ambrosia.
posted by bruce at 6:46 PM on December 17, 2007

I love snowclones but I wish they'd named them after a different example, since that one is so long and unwieldy and not really common enough for people to instantly recognize what you're talking about.

"X is the new Y" is a perfect example. It's short, common, and makes it pretty obvious what the phenomenon is you're referring to. Jorn just called it ClicheWatch.
posted by straight at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2007

...the new ambrosia, bruce?

to hear folks around here tell it, bacon has been fruit of the gods for an age.
posted by CitizenD at 8:54 PM on December 17, 2007

posted by iamkimiam at 8:56 PM on December 17, 2007

« Older I'll have the ham   |   Jan Terri, where are thee? Newer »

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