June 27, 2007

Snowclone of the day

On Monday it was words for cheese ("Cheeseclones", 6/25/2007); today it's philanthropists. This is the last panel from J. Jacques' Questionable Content (#913), sent in by Alain van Hout. Note that in this case, the rhetorical force is not the traditional "just as the Eskimos have N words for snow, so the X (should) have M words for Y". Instead, the idea that the X have M words for Y, by itself, is used to imply an excessive amount of experience with Y.

Somehow Brendan O'Neill resisted the temptation to use this trope in his June 13 Spiked editorial "Welcome to the People's Republic of Bono", whose last paragraph begins:

Bono is a celebrity colonialist. His patronising campaign to single-handedly ‘save Africa’ is actually damaging the continent. It is painting Africa as a pathetic place whose wide-eyed, infantile populations need a loudmouth rock star to fight their corner.

[Tim McKenzie writes:

It mildly surprised me that you made no mention of the cartoon's implication that the entire continent has only one language. "Their language" may have twenty words for anything it likes, but apparently English has no words at all for any distinct parts of Africa.

I interpreted "those poor Africans" as referring to the particular group that Thaddeus spent his time among, not the inhabitants of the continent at large.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at June 27, 2007 06:12 AM