"What's that got to do with the price of pickles in Park Slope?"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sat Oct 22 23:31:46 UTC 2011

On Oct 22, 2011, at 1:50 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 10:39 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:
>> On Oct 21, 2011, at 3:41 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>> From Law & Order. Probably artificial.
>> what does "artificial" mean in this context?  this is either a playful variation on the "price of tea in China" expression or an instance of a Price of X in Y snowclone (developed from the tea-in-China version), and like many occurrences of playful variations and snowclones, it was intentionally devised by a user.  how does that make it "artificial"?  (what would a non-artificial example be like?)
> I mean that, very likely, a scriptwriter, who could easily have used
> the banal "price of tea in China" bit that's been around "since mother
> was a girl," as my mother used to say, instead, being familiar with
> the 'hoods of The City, _consciously_ decided to concoct a snappier
> version - with three-part alliteration - and use that, instead, as he
> sat at his computer.

yes, as i said, both playful variations and snowclones are for the most part intentionally chosen. i don't see how that's something bad ("artificial"). but maybe you're assuming that people should always use off-the-shelf formulas rather than varying them to serve their purposes. (i hope not.)


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