Sunday, January 07, 2007

Snowclones for Everyone!

I love finding a new word, and the new word (still a toddler at three years old) is snowclone.

You know them. You use them. You didn't know what they were. Here are a couple well-worn examples:

"I, for one, welcome our new X overlords"
"In space, no one can here you X"
"Men are from X, women are from Y"

Slip in your choice of X and Y (and sometimes N and Z) and you have an instant mini-quote, punchline, or bit of sloppy thinking, which sounds good only because your listener is familiar with format.

Snowclones have been around for a good long time ("If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they X"), but only were named recently. The name itself comes out a discussion about the Eskimo Snow Hoax - a snowclone which runs "If the Eskimos have N words for snow, then X have N words for Y", which has been debunked but remains part and parcel of our cultural lore.

Snowclones have already gotten their own page on the Wikipedia, which of course, is only a stepping stone to The American Heritage Dictionary, and then the big time of Webster's! So do your part and spread the meme. It is a celebration of both American Language and American Pop Culture. Because, are you know, in Soviet Russia, Snowclones overuse YOU.

X later,