April 12, 2005

FLoP is not?

In response to my post about "FLoP and anti-FLoP", Lance Nathan sent email to Neal Whitman and to me, calling Neal's original terminology into question. And Lance has citations from the classics to support his point:

I realize I'm probably too late to change the terminology, but I was just reading Mark's recent "Flop and Anti-flop" LanguageLog post, and I realized I'm not convinced by the canonical example: "where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away."

I think I'm OK with the idea of drowning something away. Robert Johnson was OK with it, too; Google tells me his song "Preachin' Blues" contains the line "Started raining - drown my blues away".

Johnny Lang also found it acceptable enough for him to write "I keep drinking malted milk / Tryin' to drown my blues away." And the chorus of "Quicksand" by Travis is

Everyday sinking into quicksand
Follow me down the drain
Everyday drinking in the same bar
Drowning my sorrows away

(Google gives other results for "drown * * away", "drowned * away", and so forth.)

The "Flop" coordination is definitely quite real; I find the other examples of floppage convincing. Just not, unfortunately, Garth Brooks's.

Among the "other examples" (from various of Neal's posts):

There is little or no incentive for the contractor to reduce or keep the cost down.
After using dishes, please wash, dry, and put them away in the proper place.
A Monroe County man, convicted yesterday of raping, beating and stuffing a 7-year-old girl into an abandoned well, could be executed by lethal injection.
Please move from the exit rows if you are unwilling or unable to perform the necessary actions without injury.
Led by France and Canada, a majority of countries are asserting the right of governments to safeguard, promote and even protect their cultures from outside competition.

As Lance suggests, Robert Johnson never wrote a lyric about promoting his culture from outside competition.

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 12, 2005 05:52 AM