Archive for the ‘Snowclones’ Category

Or what?

May 22, 2015

A Meg Biddle cartoon in the June 2015 Funny Times:

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Yes-no questions with the tag or what? are regularly used to emphatically assert the truth of the questioned proposition. So

Is this a great country, or what?

has the effect of proclaiming that this is indeed a great country. But the question has at least one other reading, merely asking for an alternative answer to Is this a great country?, and that’s the reading Biddle is playing with in the cartoon.

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Artificial elephants and X Must Die! movies

April 18, 2015

Today’s Zippy:

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This cartoon links to a long series of strips on the invented cartoon character Happy Boy in the town of Prosaic (a “normal” place close to the surreal Dingburg) — a series that I find tedious (and linguistically uninteresting) and haven’t posted about. But here we get amazing elephants (note the cartoon’s title “Tusk, Tusk”, a play on tsk tsk) and a pointer to movies with titles using the snowclonic pattern “X Must Die!”.

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Lab mix

March 22, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy:

If you don’t know the snowclonelet template X mix for dog hybrids (poodle mix, shepherd mix, etc.) and don’t know that Lab can be a clipping of Labrador Retriever, then you’re thrown back on things you do know  and have to treat lab mix as a compound meaning something like ‘something mixed up, created, in a lab’. Cue Frankenstein.

The Zippyclone again

February 21, 2015

Today’s Zippy:

Barreling from a first date towards mid-life in three panels. And then we get “Am I th’ divorced father of 2.3 kids with visitation rights yet?!”, a 1sg variant of the Are We X Yet snowclone with a complex X — both features Bill Griffith has exploited before.

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Name that stuff!

February 13, 2015

So what is this stuff?

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Useless hint #1: It’s from Australia.

Useless hint #2: It’s organic.

Useless hint #3: It’s vegetable rather than animal.

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X bar

October 18, 2014

Yesterday’s Bizarro:

The compound hippo bar, with head bar ‘establishment where alcohol is served’ — so it’s subsective: a hippo bar is a kind of bar. It’s also an instance of a snowclonelet composite X bar, a snowclonelet I hadn’t previously looked at — in this case a subtype of X bar in which X characterizes (directly or indirectly) the patrons of the bar. The model for hippo bar in the cartoon is gay bar ‘bar catering to gay people (esp. men)’, and that adds to the humor in the cartoon: to start with, a hippo in a bar; then the idea of a bar catering to hippos; and then, the zinger, the guy who didn’t know the place was a hippo bar, the way some guys turn up in a gay bar maintaining that they had no idea the place was a gay bar.

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No stinkin’ budgies

October 15, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

A famous cultural reference here, worked into a pun on badges and budgies.

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Eskimo N goes south

October 7, 2014

The New Yorker has been on an Eskimo N kick in its cartoons: in the 9/29 issue, a snow cone snowclone by Joe Dator (#2 here, “My people [the Eskimos] have more than five hundred different words for snow cone”), and now, in the 10/6 issue, a Matt Diffee cartoon in which Nanook of the South reports having over a hundred words for ‘grits':

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Two linguistics cartoons

September 28, 2014

… in the latest (9/29/14) New Yorker: a Zach Kanin on writing systems and a Joe Dator with a snow cone snowclone:

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(#2)

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Clickbait schemes

July 17, 2014

Andras Kornai wrote me on Tuesday to comment on a prominent pattern he’d seen in online clickbaiting, exemplified by:

You Won’t Believe What This Cop Did When The Cameras WEREN’T Rolling. WOW!

Man Attempts To Hug a Wild Lion. What Happens Next Stunned Me

He’s collected hundreds of similar examples and wondered whether others had noticed the pattern (many have in fact been annoyed by it) and whether it had gotten a name (not so far as I know). In this particular schema, the “hook” is an expression of astonishment or surprise, which can be expressed in a number of ways, referring to the reader (“you won’t believe”, “you’ll be amazed”) or to the presumed writer (“… stunned me”, “I couldn’t believe”), in a variety of syntactic constructions. As a temporary expedient, I’ll refer to this as the SURPRISE! clickbait scheme.

The scheme is “semi-formulaic”, in a way that’s reminiscent of the precursors to snowclones (see “The natural history of snowclones”, here): a culturally significant idea is given a number of formulations; one version achieves special status (in a formula); and then this formula serves as a template for new expressions. The SURPRISE! scheme hasn’t yet crystallized as a formula, but it’s nevertheless recognizable by its form(s) and functions.

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