Catchphrases for sale

(I’m struggling with medical issues and sleeping away much of the day, so this posting will serve as a kind of intro to a host of related topics having to do with formulaic expressions. Bear with me.)

Yesterday’s Zippy strip has our Pinhead (accompanied by Claude) selling fresh catchphrases from a van:

(#1) Zippy’s Guaranteed Random Phrases — meaning, in this case, fresh phrases (not already in circulation as catchphrases, sayings, proverbs, slogans, famous quotations, well-known names and titles, and the like) chosen at random; and not, say, strings of (in some sense) randomly chosen words, like can building of lease my out if I zombies get legally my bought (the 13 words of Zippy’s fresh catchphrase in random order) or level righteous quicksand join sedate nine songs murky promise arrange blind man voice (13 content words selected at random from the English vocabulary)

But in the air we can sniff the sense ‘(informalodd, unusual, or unexpected’ (NOADof the adjective random. So we can wonder about expressions like see how they snide and semolina pilchard (from the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”; or Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh (Frank Zappa album titles from 1970); or runcible spoon (Edward Lear nonsense verse) and slithy toves (Lewis Carroll nonsense verse); or portmanteau jam and Jelly Roll Morton’s saltwater Taffy was a Welshman (a POP chain / portmanteau jam from my 1/31/22 posting “The portmanteau truck”).

Meanwhile, Claude asks, “How do you make money out of stringin’ a few unrelated words together?”

Zippy’s love of catchphrases. Zippy is an appreciator of formulaic expressions of all sorts, words and phrases he can savor, especially by repeating them. An earlier posting on “Catchphrases” (from 1/23/15) has Zippy memorizing annoying ones:

(#2) For reference, NOAD on the noun catchphrase: ‘a well-known sentence or phrase, especially one that is associated with a particular famous person’: the movie gave the world the catchphrase “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”

More to come in a future posting.


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