December 17, 2007

It's not just to God's ear(s)

Kyle Hutchinson writes:

I read your Language Log posting about "From X's mouth to God's ear" and you had me pretty thoroughly convinced that the phrase is not very snowclonish at all, until a few moments later when I happened to read a post from (writer/actor/Mac guy) John Hodgman's blog. In response to a email hoping for an end to the screenwriters' strike, he writes, "FROM WALTER'S ELECTRONIC MOUTH to the writers' and producers' ears."

So it's not just to God's ear(s); for some writers, there's now an open Recipient slot as well as an open Source slot:

From X's mouth/lips to Y's ear(s). 

It's looking pretty snowclonish.

Hutchinson (who was of course primed by my posting to notice such things) continues:

... a Google search on "from your lips to the" (or similar truncated versions) makes it look like the entity to whom the ears belong is a second open slot in the phrase. All the alternates for the "God" slot do seem to be authority figures or at least entities with decision-making power.
Here are a few of the ear-owning entities I came across:

the Hockey Gods
the Flying Spaghetti Monster [the deity of the Pastafarian religion -- AMZ]
the CIA
the Florida legislature
the publisher
TPTB [The Powers That Be -- AMZ]
my Muse
my editor
my seller

The X slot seems to be mostly second-person, but here's one like the Hodgman example, with inventive items in both slots:

From [Paul] Krugman's lips to the Flying Spaghetti Monster's ears... Hopefully, Mr. Krugman's words are not just the ravings of a wild-eyed economist.  (link)

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at December 17, 2007 07:52 PM