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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
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    Naked Is the New Clothed

    earth-water.jpgQuote:  “X is the new Y.”  Erin O’Connor in the Snowclones Database.

    Figure of Speech:  snowclone (SNO-clone), the retrofitted cliché.

    Figaro loves screwing up clichés (see page 213 of his book).  His mouth waters at the very thought of the snowclone, which takes a cliché and adapts it to a new purpose.  “Have X, will travel” is a snowclone.  Remember the stupid “Close encounters of the X kind?”  Another snowclone.  “X is the new black,” an expression that continues to infect women’s magazines, derives from fashion guru Diana Vreeland who said, cryptically, “Pink is the navy blue of India.” 

    Thanks to Jeff Sexton for sending us the Snowclones link.  The name comes from the hoax that the Eskimos have N words for snow.  (Just so you don’t think Figaro makes all this stuff up, the term was first proposed on the blog agoraphilia and promoted on the highly influential Language Log.)

    Aristotle would scratch his hoary head and ask how the snowclone differs from his commonplace — received wisdom that counts as a rhetorical axiom in an argument.  And we would say to A-man:  The commonplace doesn’t change.  The snowclone is new and improved.

    Or, perhaps, new and abused.

    Snappy Answer:  “Y thinks X is tacky.”

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    Reader Comments (14)

    Wikipedia has a great list of snowclones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_snowclones. My favorite: "That and X will get you Y."
    July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMary
    Stop! in the name of X.
    July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFanboy
    ...before you break my Y.
    July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Baby, it's X outside! LOVE your site, Fig. It makes me warm inside.
    July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRoberta
    Aww. You make me feel like an X in Y.

    July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Thanks for the link, Figaro. I don't know the "X thinks Y is tacky" one--can you tell me where it comes from? (I.e., it seems like a perfectly ordinary statement of fact, rather than a cliche. I assume there's context I'm not aware of.)
    July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterErin
    I don't want to see another "Got X" promotion for the rest of my life.
    July 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
    X? Priceless...Argh.
    Figaro is the new Confucious.

    July 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAmp
    Figaro thinks figures make the world go round, so thanks for the contributions. Keep 'em coming, emoticonized or not!

    Erin, the tacky quote comes right out of Figaro's mouth. It's his idea of a snappy answer to the quote of the day. Like lutefisk and treacle tart, the site takes some getting used to. Especially for readers who hate sentences that end in a preposition.

    July 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Hi, Lisa.

    I love your last name. We should do what our ancestors did, and name ourselves after our work or circumstances. Lisa Who Works With Sherry could be shortened to Lisa Sherrywork, for instance. And Figaro (whose real last name is Speech) could be Figaro Timewaster.

    Oh, and say hi to Sherry.

    July 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    A proposed classified listing:
    "Have Great Sex! Will Travel!"
    July 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterthe riddled sphinx
    According to his book, rhetoric is the new logic.
    August 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAvi
    Close, Avi. It's more like: Rhetorical logic is the new logic. Except it's not that new. And it's not the same logic.

    Um, never mind.

    August 24, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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