March 19, 2004

Putting the X in Y

Bert Cappelle of K.U. Leuven sent in his collection of "we put the X in(to) Y" snowclones. Bert explains that "I'm not a native speaker but do watch the Simpsons a lot." With respect to Geoff Pullum's question "where did you first hear this pattern?", Bert cites a Simpson's episode:

We put the spring in Springfield. (Dancing girls from Springfield's controversial "Maison Derrière")

The rest of Bert's collection:

Individuality is yours alone and we put the YOU in YOUnique.
Deliverease 2001. Where we put the ease in deliveries
We put the Cool in Afterschool
We put the "funk" in DysFUNKtional
We put the k in kwality
We put the sin in Cinema (or in business, or in Wisconsin)
We put the "OH" in "Ohio"!
We put the ass in Massachussetts
We put the sex in Sussex (or in Essex)
Welcome to California, where we put the mock in democracy
"Springfield Christian Academy: Where we put the FUN in FUNDAMENTALIST DOGMA!"
We put the fun in fundraising.
We put the fun in funeral.

Geoff observed that the Wall Street Journal corpus seems to be devoid of examples of this particular pattern, but the internet (being larger and less staid) yields quite a few. Various groups, for instance, claim to put the fun in:

dysfunctional, fundamental science, fundamentalist extremism, fungus, funky, phonetics, phonology, profundity, unfunded, Funchal, your function

Others put the fu in fun, the dumb in fandom, the ho in holiday, the eek in geek, and even the A in "hoasting." The only relevant thing that gets put in blog is "blah" -- come on, guys, what about "lo" and "log"?

[Update: John Kozak emails:

There must be vast numbers of these. The first I know of is a old (1940s or earlier?) advertising slogan from a tea vendor:

"Typhoo puts the T in Britain"


"X puts the mental in fundamentalist" (which needs the cockney sense of "mental" (psychotic) to work)
"X puts the scatology in eschatology" (1970s Cambridge student mag)
"X Jones puts the jones in cojones"

In the spirit of " On the shoulders of Giants", I wonder what the earlier use of this trope was? Perhaps Uncle Jazzbeau can track down a case in Plautus...]

Posted by Mark Liberman at March 19, 2004 09:29 AM