Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Things That Might Interest Klund: Snowclones and Ferdinandea

1.) What's a horse's favorite band? Snow Patrol! I posit that this might actually be an example of a snowclone, and that Klund has cleverly used a named piece of language.

"A snowclone is a type of cliché and phrasal template originally defined as "a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different variants".

An example of a snowclone is "gray is the new black", a version of the template "X is the new Y". X and Y may be replaced with different words or phrases – for example, "comedy is the new rock 'n' roll". Both the generic formula and the new phrases produced from it are called "snowclones".

The term was coined by Glen Whitman on January 15, 2004, in response to a request from Geoffrey Pullum on the Language Log weblog.[3] Pullum endorsed it as a term of art the next day, and it has since been adopted by other linguists, journalists and authors. The term alludes to one of Pullum's example template phrases: If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z.

2.) Ferdinandea - I once wrote a lengthy post about how I suspected Terry Pratchett had a old book of particularly uncommon words. He knows his peculiar history as well and Jingo is based on an island that sometimes crests above the sea near Sicily, and sometimes sinks, and was once a source of contention among four different nations who all laid claim to it. Our own government once dropped depth charges on it, believing it to be a Libyan Submarine. I thought the idea of a Libyan submarine was nonsense, but apparently they own six, although none of them was consistently at sea between '85 and '94, so the U.S. attack in '86 wasn't even a potential victory, despite misidentifying an island. However, it seems fitting that if we don't know what it is, we declare it to be from a rogue nation and ask questions later. I quote from Third World Submarines: "Libya's submarine crews have a reputation for being poorly trained, and their boats are so shoddily maintained that only one or two out of six may be operable--not one has routinely gone to sea since 1985." I can't remember if Pratchett mocked the Libyan navy in Jingo.

1 comment:

klund said...

Color me interested. It pleases me to know that I have used a snowclone - albeit a more complex version. I'm brilliant that way.