What are … snowclones?

I describe myself from time to time as a “Snowclone Maker”.  On the one hand, this is an accurate description of the majority of my humor.  On the other hand, it really is a big hint for all the non-linguists in the crowd to ask me “what’s a snowclone?.

… come on, it’s a big big hint.  You know you wanna know.

Well, ok then.  If you really wanna know, I s’pose I can tell you.

A snowclones are the new eggcorn, as the Snowclone Database will tell you … which means just about nothing to anyone but linguists, right?

Well, just think about that phrase for a moment.  It is, itself, a snowclone.  Have you ever heard someone say that something is the new something else?  Say, ‘pink is the new black’ or ‘Facebook is the new Myspace’?

Each of those are also snowclones, in the form “X is the new Y”.  That, in essence, is what snowclones are – they take a phrase that is part of the cultural landscape and twist it a bit with word substitution.

There are great big giant heaps of snowclones already out there in the world, from “I [heart] X” (including variants like “I [godzilla] Tokyo”) to “Got X?” to “Have X, Will Travel”.  There’s a great big index over at the Snowclones Database for one and a multilanguage list over at yalocats.org (Yet Another List Of Confirmed And Tentative Snowclones).

When I first thought about reinventing this website as a blog, the Snowclones Database had been on hiatus for a long long time, and I considered taking on their work here.  However, when I went to go take a look at it, it had started updating again, so I don’t have to.  It’s just as well, since I’d rather make up new snowclones like “Will do stuff for things” or “Carpe manana” than analyze them.

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