Bizarre Grammars of the World, Vol. 70
Any linguist worthy of attending SALT knows of the linguistic myth that eskimos have hundreds of words for snow. There was even some sort of vocabulary-
On the other hand, one thing a lot of linguists don’t like very much at all is a certain science fictional language in which an alien race spoke only in metaphorical (untemplated!) clichés. Of course such a system is, on the face of it, infeasible. That obviousness has driven one culture, and their language, to the brink of madness.
The Igloovian tribe
And then came The Day of the Dhaar-
Ever since the Igloovians read that now little-
This focus has led the Igloovians to have the richest and most complex terminological system known for discussing templated language, cliché transmission, and cultural contagion.
Unfortunately, the Igloovians use clichés, templated clichés, terms for templated language, templates for describing templated language, meta-
eks: a thing
fees’ship: an allusion to a literary source one has not actually read
skimo’e: a comparison with a common misconception
tshi’pshop: a dreadful pun based on a snowclone (e.g., “The Plaice That Launched A Thousand Chips”)
wy: another thing
Fortunately, we are familiar with the Slater Method® and the Igloovians have parlayed their parley-
At first they wanted to share several of their wisest proverbs with us. After a small handful, we had to cut them off. They were making us dizzy. Here are a few of the least vertiginous:
In Igloovian, no one can hear you scream. They prefer to wait until you quote an unknown literary source.
Is this the face that launched a thousand ships? Because that would explain the bruises.
You had me at “newt”, but I got better.
Of great interest, of course, are the concepts the Igloovians have devised for discussing snowclones and their ilk. Below are freely translated and explained
Monoclonal snowclones have only one slot, e.g., “I, for one, welcome our new X overlords”. Also, biclonal, triclonal, tetraclonal, and, rarely, pentaclonal. Polymonoclonal snowclones have multiple slots, but all are filled with forms of the same word, as with “X’s, we don’t need no stinking X’s!”
Polyoptal snowclones have multiple slots, one or more of which can retain the word from the original cliché: “X is the new black” or “X is the new Y”; “In space, no one can hear you Y”, “In X, no one can hear you scream”, “In X no one can hear you Y”.
Octogenarial snowclones remind you of cultural references you haven’t heard since the 1980s: “Don’t hate me because I’m X”. Other forms, like septuagenarial and nonagenarial snowclones are attested, but don’t seem to get nearly as much use.
Temporomisatributational snowclones are those that have had a surge in popularity in recent years, such that younger speakers are unaware of either the original source or the time depth of the source. For example, ”In Soviet Russia, X Y’s you!” is technically octogenarial, but speakers born after 1990 seldom realize this.
Snowsocial snowclones mark the speaker as belonging to a particular social group. As popularity waxes and wanes, this marking can change over time. Originally, “X is the new black” came from the fashion world, and “All your X are belong to us” belonged exclusively to computer gamers. Both now enjoy more widespread currency. “X’s, we don’t need no stinking X’s!” still marks the speaker as a fan of cheesy 1970s screwball comedy-
Folkal snowclone: one designed to enhance the speaker’s air of rustic authenticity
— such as “Xer than a(n) AdjPhrase Noun in a Location NP with a catchy PP.” Instantiated, for example, as, “Jumpier than a Republican PR flack in a room full of statisticians”.
Prestige snowclones demonstrate knowledge of elite canon; e.g. “the absolute phrase”.
Covert prestige snowclones get you local coolness points. We’re not saying it’s because coolness, but it’s because coolness.
Dr. Noclones are characteristic of megalomaniacal villains: “Who will X you now, negative-
affect- Adjective Noun?”
Coclones require one person to start, another to finish.
Sighclones are multi-
modality and require heavy breathing or eye- rolls: “Oh sarcastic- Adjective, now Pronoun gets to Verb.”
Phonoclones are snowclones requiring that terms have matching sounds, e.g. extensions of “pogo till you nogo”
The Igloovians further categorize certain subtypes of snowclones that emerge from the attempt to realize a snowclone
Cupertino snowclones are ones derived from a mal-
spellchecked version of a different snowclone, such as “pogo till you nougat” or “Deictic expression is a defiant Y.”
Snowcorns are snowclone/
eggcorn hybrids, as in “in lame man’s terms”, which could be analyzed as either.
English snowclonology is popular among Igloovians, and they even have names for particular constructions:
The naïve copular snowclone: To X you is to Y you.
The fatal visualization snowclone: See X and die!
The fœtal visualization snowclone: X, honey, X! Almost there, you’re doing great!
The fractal scale snowclone: There is an X, such that X contains, sustains and retains X, and conversely.
For-Mr./Ms. X, I presume? The- Life- Of- Me- Remember- Their- Name snowclone:
The X-rated snowclone: What the F is going on here??
After a certain number of days of this kind of talk, everything becomes a bit of a blur, and honestly we sometimes forget which are the real snowclones, which are the simplified snowclones, which are the artificial snowclones, and where the Igloovians keep their snow cones.
As is so often the case, English has
We worry that before long, we will discover to our dismay that English is the new Igloovian. To interfere or not to interfere, that is the question.
More X is necessary to unravel the intricacies of this Y. Said research will require more and abundant Z.
0 This paper was partially made possible by LAME grant 2X||¬2X, the numeral ↈ, and the letter ƣ.
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