October 12, 2005

What is this Harvard?

On come the snowclones.  Recently, in the pages of the New Yorker (October 10, 2005, p. 80), Malcolm "Blink" Gladwell reflected on his experience in applying for college in Canada, contrasting it with the American experience of applying to, and going to, elite colleges:

Once, I attended a wedding of a Harvard alum in his fifties, at which the best man spoke of his college days with the groom as if neither could have accomplished anything of greater importance in the intervening thirty years.  By the end, I half expected him to take off his shirt and proudly display the large crimson "H" tattooed on his chest.  What is this "Harvard" of which you Americans speak so reverently?

Two snowclone-attentive correspondents (Benita Bendon Campbell and Matthew Hutson) have pointed me to this Gladwell passage, harking back to my July Language Log postings on this formula, here and here.  Nice to see this variant of it in the pages of the New Yorker.

I know, I know, this is just a tiny bulletin in the snowclone annals.  But the fact is that I've been collecting comments on earlier snowclone postings, and nominations for new snowclones, for many, many months (don't ask how many), intending to assemble them all in one big summary posting.  At this point, I'd have to carve out a whole day in my life to do it.  So the above pathetically brief Gladwell reference is the best I have to offer right now. Now to work back through all the earlier stuff.

zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at October 12, 2005 01:36 AM