12 feb. 2007

I discovered a new snowclone recently, courtesy of C. Dale Young, who said I give good brain.

"X gives good Y."

If you don't know, a snowclone is a formulaic phrase that allows substitutions like [X is the new Y]. It's all the rage on the linguistic blogs. There are numerous snowclones out there, and the terms came from the "mother of all snowclones," which was the "X people have Y words for Z." [Eskimos have 17 words for snow--not true by the way but that's harina de otro costal.]

So if one were to say, "he gives good blog," that woud be an example. Or "she gives good web."

Y has to be a word that seems anomalous in its context. For example, *"He gives good advice" is not an example of this snowclone. Or *"She gives good presents." "We give good parties." In other words, it has to be understood as a variation on the matrix phrase, which in this case refers to the act of "giving head." In other words, to "give x" is a slang variety of giving head, but transfered to another context. If it is not understood as "slang," then it is not an example of this particular snowclone. "They give good party" would be an example, but "They give good parties would not be." If I were a linguist I would understand why this is the case.

Maybe it's because we can't use a singular noun in this context unless we conceive of that singular noun as a general, repeated activity.

He plays good ball.
He gives good advice.
We compose good prose.

But not

*He cooks good pizza. [I'm not sure if this is acceptable or not; it is if we are thinking of pizza as colletive noun like pasta]
*I write good book.
*They deliver good poem.

So the grammatical rule for the snowclone is reversed: the singular noun referring to one, singular *object* is understood in a second, slang sense with the sexual innuendo.

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