Thursday, September 20, 2007

Morphological analysis in pop culture

I keep expecting to read an insightful analysis of this ad somewhere on a language-related blog, but haven't seen it pop up yet. It's the new "More Taste League" commercial for Miller Lite, yes, for the record, Wisconsin's lamest single product.

At one point in the commercial, they give a set of snowclone-like phrases:
  • the yin and the yang
  • the oy and the vey
  • the bada and the bing
  • the chimi and the changa
Look at the ordering … a known phrase to build from, then a phrase pressed onto the template, then one of those rhyming reduplication deals (dear readers, and you know who you are, please give us the lowdown on such phrases), then finally a monomorphemic word. And the phonological weight increases over the set too. We go from Chinese (traditional 陰陽, I think), to Yiddish, American pseudo-Italian (?), and American Spanish (see here for one history of the word — I had my first one in Tucson just after 1980, I think). Man, that's freaking poetry.

Does this also feel vaguely related to the degrammaticalization stuff? These writers are slicing up words and treating the pieces as nouns ... playfully.

1 comment:

Wishydig said...'s a fade into the punchline instead of the sudden break that's usually used because of the rule of 3 in comedy.

Peta is protesting cruelty to animals. They're focusing their energy on-
1.Restaurants serving meat
2.People wearing fur
3.That thing on Shatner's head

I've always liked the sudden break. But the fade structure is pretty common in broad comedy--remember the SNL in the early 90s? Conan O'Brien still? It works more along the lines of you see where we're going...but look how far we can take it.

[full disclosure: I got the Shatner joke from a newspaper article I read about 15 years ago.]