** If you are looking for a place to suggest a snowclone, please go to the Queue.**
The Snowclone(s)1 Database was inspired primarily by Mark Liberman et al’s Language Log and Chris Weigl’s Eggcorn Database. If you are here, you probably already have some idea of what a snowclone is, but in case you’re not sure, here’s some quick review.
A snowclone is a particular kind of cliche, popularly originated by Geoff Pullum. The name comes from Dr. Pullum’s much-maligned “If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z”. An easier example might be “X is the new Y.” The short definition of this neologism might be n. fill-in-the-blank headline. The phenomenon is real enough to have 90,000 Google hits as of this moment and a Wikipedia entry.
The definition of snowclone is somewhat fluid, by its nature, but there are some ground rules. I consider a high number of google hits with significant variation evidence for a phrase’s snowclonehood. Snowclones are a subset of cliches, but not all cliches are snowclones. (Depending how how strictly you define “cliche”, not all snowclones are cliches, either.) Your favorite Simpsons quote is not necessarily a snowclone.
I first discussed snowclones here.
Who’s responsible for this thing? My name is Erin O’Connor, and I have a B.A. and (almost) an M.A. in linguistics, specifically computational linguistics for the latter degree. Generally, I am interested in sociolinguistics and discourse, which I think snowclones illustrate a bit of each of. I wrote the original snowclone article on Wikipedia, but it was immediately nominated for deletion on the basis of being too neologistic. I’m glad there’s a thriving snowclone article there now, but I’m a little bitter that it isn’t mine anymore. (Not that anything on Wikipedia ever really belongs to anyone.)
I also drew the snowman with a snowcone hat with his clone army you see on the main page.
1 July 2007: more adminstrative notes
As of today, I have at least 40 more snowclones queued up to be posted. I am holding off on taking suggestions until I get through them, although comments are open as you can see. I intend to post at least one snowclone a week until I get through my queue. All posts should be searchable, so if you do have a suggested addition to the database, please do a search before sending me a suggestion!
I am trying to make this comprehensive and consistently formatted, but as a blog getting it to that state is an organic process. You will see it get prettier as we go, I hope. I haven’t ironed out the formatting exactly, and I don’t always remember everything I want to say about a particular snowclone when I write its post, so I hope you can help me by commenting when you see information missing.
31 August 2007: The queue
I have now added a “Queue” page for all the as-yet unblogged snowclones. If you don’t see the one you’re thinking of there, please suggest it in comments.
1 My usage varies freely, as far as I can tell, between “the snowclone database” and “the snowclones database”. Be welcome to use either.