Butterflyblue

金曜日, 7月 23, 2004

Snowclones

Snowclone - a phrasal template. Now-famous Internet search examples include "The new black," "The hidden epidemic" and "I, for one, welcome our new * overlords". That is, you can do a search for any commonly-used phrase or grammar pattern and enjoy making the results seem significant in some way.

This catchy word was apparently cloned--um, I mean coined--by Glen Whitman on January 15, 2004.

I wondered whether any Japan-related snowclone searches would yield any interesting results.

First I tried "The Japanese love of *" on Google.

The Japanese love of small hand-held gadgets
The Japanese Love of Robots
The Japanese love of the abstract
The Japanese love of bathing in hot springs
The Japanese love of nature
The Japanese love of simplicity
The Japanese love of plants
The Japanese love of ritual
The Japanese love of American junk culture
The Japanese love of internal tourism
The Japanese's love of "long working hours, refusal to take vacation time, and marathon commutes to cramped housing." (But is this really love?)
The Japanese love of ceremony and obsession with predictable courtesies
The Japanese love of Anne of Green Gables
The Japanese love of water sculpture
The Japanese love of sound effects
The Japanese love of soft food
The Japanese love of eating contests and their superior munching technique (huh?)

...and so on. "Love of nature" seemed to come up a lot. Of course this search is in English and thus reflects only English speakers' stereotypes about what Japanese people love.

Notice how some of these are somewhat contradictory; "simplicity" and "nature" would seem to be at odds with "robots," "American junk culture," and "long working hours."

It would only be fair to search for The American Love of:

naming
automobiles
high-tech medicine
the land and its identity
the open road
athletic competition
beauty
liberty
the gadget
baseball
killing
competition
freedom
these lists
coffee
commerce
the marketplace of ideas metaphor
neologism
mail-ordering nearly everything
elective procedures
the mall
violence
casual living
leaving the lights on all night
firearms
matched sets of bedroom furniture
white meat
bigness
boasting

...and so on. Plainly these lists are not terribly accurate; as an American I don't love most of those things. The only things I love on the list above are liberty, freedom, coffee, and perhaps neologism if it's cleverly done (after all, look at the topic of this post.) I like casual living and mail-ordering nearly everything, but I don't think I love them. As for beauty, I usually appreciate it but probably no more than the average person.

Other freshly coined words I like - cabbit and meh.

My feelings for most of the things on the American list are closer to hatred or indifference. To illustrate this, let's repost the list with my personal preferences included:

naming    -  depends on what you're naming, but I think naming is a necessity rather than a cultural obsession
automobiles -    nah, I don't like them
high-tech medicine -    it's OK I guess
the land and its identity -    Never having lived "on the land," I'm not really sure what this means, but I'm picturing Scarlett O'Hara on Tara, and that's not me.
the open road -    indifferent
athletic competition -    hate it
beauty -    ok in its place
liberty -    love it
the gadget -    indifferent to most of them
baseball -    hate it
killing -    hate it
competition -    most schools, jobs, and social groups are too competitive and I don't like it, but a little fun competition can be good
freedom -    indispensible for a happy life
these lists -    well, I don't know...
coffee -    love it
commerce -    meh
the marketplace of ideas metaphor -    meh
neologism -    like it
mail-ordering nearly everything -    I wouldn't say I love it
elective procedures -    it's important to vote
the mall -    hate it on principle, but tolerate it if I have to go shopping
violence -    hate it
casual living -    like it, but probably because I don't know how to live formally
leaving the lights on all night -    hate it
firearms -    I wouldn't want them in my house
matched sets of bedroom furniture -    ew, tacky
white meat -    don't eat it
bigness -    um...
boasting -    a bad habit

   Then I did a snowclone search for It's like *, only different! My favorites - see if you can imagine what these can possibly be describing:

It's like swimming, only different
It's like worms, only different
It's like chess, only different
It's like fun, only different
It's like science, only different
It's like parsley, only different
It's like December, only different
It's like Japanese, only different (in reference to the Greek script; more English speakers now are probably familiar with Japanese writing than Greek, you think?)
It's like 13, only different (About the number "31")
It's like reality, only different
It's like Chinese, only different (referring to Finnish)

I am trying to think of more Japan-related ones I could do that wouldn't promote stereotypes...let me know if you have any ideas. Thus ends my foray into pop linguistics.

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