I mentioned previously that I think I’m becoming a fan of Language Log’s Mark Liberman.
Well, now I know I am. Look what he did today!
The Simpsons has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture’s greatest source of idioms, catch phrases and sundry other textual allusions. It’s especially rich in those meta-cliches that Glen Whitman dubbed snowclones. One that we’ve discussed previously is “I, for one, welcome our new __ overlords”.
According to an apparently authoritative list, Homer Simpson uses the meta-cliche “mmm… ___” 97 times in 14 seasons, including 83 different values for the appreciated object.
One thing bothered me: “donuts” was repeated in the list. But Liberman made up for it with his conclusion!
There are many common non-authentic values: “mmm… coffee” with 865 hits, “mmm… scotch” with 224, “mmm… licorice” with 124, “mmm… bourbon” with 107.
And even “mmm… linguistics” with 23. A new slogan: “Linguistics: almost 1/4 as popular as bourbon”. As if, alas.
I love this guy.