X snob

First, I note a snowclonelet composite not discussed earlier on this blog: X snob, involving a specialized use of the noun snob. Then I summarize some ADS-L discussion of possible extensions of the snowclonelet, where it was suggested that the snowclonelet might in some cases be losing its pejorative tone.

NOAD2 gives a clear delineation of snob on its own and snob as the second element of a composite nominal. First, plain old snob:

a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and dislikes people or activities regarded as lower-class

This definition takes a negative view of a snob; it is pejorative.

Then, X snob:

[with adj. or noun modifier] a person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people: a musical snob [AMZ: or a music snob]

Most examples you can collect are N + N compounds (music snob, wine snob, etc.), and the examples with adjectival first elements have pseudo-adjectives, whose semantics evokes the semantics of a noun: a musical snob is not a snob who’s musical, but a snob with resect to music. In any case, the definition is again pejorative.

Now the ADS-L discussion, which began with Benjamin Barrett reporting two finds: a customer at a coffee shop who declared herself to be a “scone snob” and a printed announcement for a professional get-together that included the words “beer snobs”. Barrett didn’t see a pejorative sense here, seeing instead a reference to someone with a discerning taste in some area or even merely being “really, really into” that area — discerning about X or merely enthusiastic about X (a development that can be seen in some other snowclonelets, which have developed an enthusiasm sense in addition to an older sexual sense: X fag, X porn, and X whore, for example; see this posting; on X porn, this one; on X whore, this one; and on X fag, this one).

Other ADS-Lers detected some pejorative tone, though now more indirect: Jon Lighter wrote on 10/26:

By adopting the well-understood pejorative term, the disdained group asserts its power.

Larry Horn, also on 10/26, re-framed this position somewhat:

I see it … as a reclamation of a slur: “Yes, I’m an X snob, and proud of it!”

Later that day, Barrett reported a Daily Mail headline (from 9/14/15) that seemed to him to lack the negative tone, but merely expressed enthusiasm:

‘My vice is that I’m a salt snob – I like gourmet, hand raked salt’: Singer Belinda Carlisle under the microscope

I’m inclined to agree with him, though neither of us can know what was in Carlisle’s head. But certainly snowclonelets can lose connotations, whether sexual or pejorative.

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