Keeping tabs on the english language

whisper_ear.jpgLanguage Log is a site that keeps track of language science, and the changes in the subtleties of language use.

It’s updated daily, and discusses everything from curious new uses of words to archaelogical findings that shed light on the early development of language.

One of my favourite long-running themes is spotting what Language Log have called ‘snowclones‘.

A snowclone is a popular sentence structure which is recycled and adapted from the original quote by replacing key words.

For example, “On the internet, no-one can hear you scream” is a snowclone of the original movie tag-line “In space, no-one can hear you scream.” Of course, it could be endlessly recycled by replacing ‘space’ with whatever comes to mind.

I am guessing the name ‘snowclone’ is an allusion to the American ‘snowcone’ frozen deserts desserts, which consist of plain crushed ice to which flavour is added.

I, for one, welcome our new snowclone overlords.

Link to Language Log
Link to snowclone definition.

3 Comments

  1. reefflex
    Posted November 15, 2005 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    In which part of the world does one find frozen deserts, made of flavoured crushed ice?

  2. Posted November 15, 2005 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    any blog that features a breakdown of the semantics of “tighty-whities” has my vote. big time.
    also reeflex, japan LOVES snowcone type desserts. you can even get them with this super tasty green tea sugar syrup slathered on top.

  3. Posted November 15, 2005 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    For a moment I thought “snowclone” was a shortened version of “it’s no clone”.


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