November 11, 2006

Unblogged snowclones

On returning to the world of snowclones with my discussion of The New Y, I was dismayed to see how many figures or formulas had piled up in my files of unblogged snowclones; the first came in in 2000!  Here's the inventory, with my sources, and very minimal commentary. 

Note: some of these are without question snowclones, but others might be patterns of playful allusions, idioms, playful morphology, or clichés; several of them deserve a discussion of some length, which I'm not now able to provide.  Nor do I have the time now to trace the histories beyond what I say below.  This is the best I can do at the moment.

1.  "Now if you will excuse me I have a X to Y", e.g. "... I have a plane to catch" (Aaron Dinkin, mail of 9/24/05)

2.  "I'm from X and I'm here to help (you)", e.g. Ronald Reagan's mockery of "I'm from the government and I'm here to help (you)" (Ben Zimmer on ADS-L, 7/13/05, citing a query of the March before from Geoff Nunberg)

3.  "not the Xest Y in the Z", e.g. "not the sharpest tack in the box" (me to Language Loggers, 8/30/06, with a response from Ben Zimmer pointing to on-line lists of "what to call dumb people", for instance this one)

4.  "Don't X me because I'm Y", e.g. "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful", from an 80's shampoo commercial that is possibly the source for the snowcloning (mail from Tim Shock, 10/13/05)

5.  "X-y McXerson", e.g. "Drinky McDrinkerson" for someone who likes to drink a lot (mail from Don Porges, 10/13/05; playful morphology)

6.  "Hardly/Not a X goes by without Y", e.g. "Hardly a week goes by without a Nunberg citing in the New York Times" (mail from Benita Bendon Campbell, 10/13/05; possibly an idiom?)

7.   "We don't need no stinking/stinkin'/steenkin' Xs", e.g. "We don't need no steenkin' snowclones" (mail from Chad Sanders, 10/17/06; discussion on the Subjunctivitis blog, and a whole web site devoted to the figure and its history)

8.   "If that's X, every Y should be so lucky", e.g. "If that's being discriminated against, we all should be so lucky" (mail from Marilyn Martin, 10/23/05)

9.   "Yes, Virginia, [mildly improbable statement is true]", e.g., "Yes, Virginia, the moon isn't made of green cheese" (mail from Vishy Venugopalan, 10/26/05; the source of this one -- an 1897 editorial in the New York Sun -- is well known)

10.  "X does not a Y make" and assorted variants, e.g. "One chapter does not a dissertation make" (mail from Brendan McGuigan, 11/2/05; this one turns out to go all the way back to Aristotle, on swallows and summers)

11.  "X-lorn", e.g. "luck-lorn" (ADS-L posting by Ben Zimmer, 12/15/05; playful morphological extensions from "lovelorn")

12.  "X gone wild", e.g. "Greco-Roman boys gone wild" as a description of Fellini's Satyricon (William Salmon on ADS-L, 5/1/06, with follow-ups by me and Larry Horn; based on the Girls Gone Wild videos)

13.  "Take X and shove/stick it", e.g. "Take this job and shove it" (Doug Wilson discussion on ADS-L, 10/22/06, with examples going back over fifty years)

14.  "There's a lot we don't know about X", e.g. "There's a lot we don't know about the unconscious" (Lee Rudolph on soc.motss, 1/22/04, citing my use of the figure and suggesting that the original had "mirrors")

15.  "As a X, N is a great Y", e.g. "As a baseball player, he's a great linebacker" (Mark Mandel on ADS-L, 8/22/00)

16.  "busier than a X [someplace]", e.g. "busier than a one-armed man in an ass-kicking contest" (Barry Popik on ADS-L, 5/1/04, citing some "busier than a cranberry merchant" examples going back to the 19th century)

17.  "That's not an X; this is an X", e.g., "That's not a screw-up; this is a screw-up" (Jason Parker-Burlingham in conversation, 12/15/05)

18.  "N is the M of X", e.g. "Eric Raymond is the Margaret Mead of the Open Source movement" (e-mail from John Cowan, 9/13/05, and previously blogged here)

19.  "There's no rest for the X" and variants, e.g. "There's no rest for the Clinton-obsessed" (me on ADS-L, 5/21/06; this goes back to Isaiah and "no rest for the wicked", with later variants with "peace" for "rest" and/or "weary" for "wicked")

20.  "Whatever Vs your X", e.g. "Whatever bangs your shutters" (many participants on ADS-L, 10/10-11/04)

21.  "X me no Ys", as in "Petition me no petitions" from Fielding (Mark Mandel on ADS-L, 8/22/01; David Crystal in his 2006 Words Words Words, pp. 70-1, takes it back to Shakespeare)

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Posted by Arnold Zwicky at November 11, 2006 02:28 PM