Verity Stob and the super subjunction

Excuse me, Miss, but your pronouns need upgrading

Stob Just downloaded the beta version of English V3.31, and I have to say I am very excited about it. This is definitely going to be a feather in the cap of Anglophones everywhere, and way better than the notorious V2.99 release of French (or the 'deux point neufty-neuf' as it has become known). There's a ton of new features to talk about, so let me dive in right away with some toothsome details.

The parameterised cliché

Known as the 'snowclone' in some commercial implementations, this feature is an old friend to any journalists among you. Initially devised as an effortless method of generating magazine headlines and blog article titles, it has now been generally adopted as a way of churning out a thixotropic literary substance that partially-deaf listeners may mishear as 'wit'..

The form is quite simple. Take a familiar phrase - for preference a metaphor whose metaphorical qualities have dropped below long term viability, or a catchphrase whose time has been and gone - and substitute one or more parameterised parts. The canonical example ('canonical', by the way, having changed its meaning in 3.31 to 'the one used in Wikipedia') is

x is the new black

which can be easily varied as required: 'pink is the new black', 'iPhone is the new black' &c. But note this is in fact an example of a curried parameterised cliché: the base phrase

x is the new y

can be parameterised with y set to a different value: 'sex is the new golf'.

The maximum arity currently supported by the 3.31 implementation of parameterised clichés? is four (trivial pronoun and article variations don't count), for example Peter Greenaway's

The w, the x, his y & her z

which can be instantiated to make headlines such as 'The Footballer, the Housemate, the Sun & his Super Injunction'. Attempts to construct a 5-arity example based Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich or a 6-arity from Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb have so far not proven stable, generally falling foul of the 'who that, Grandma?' problem.

The emphatic period

English V2.72 introduced the multiple shriek stop, intended to allow subtle distinction in emphasis. In practice this facility has been abused, and has lost its force. In the following dialogue, it is not clear whose presence is more surprising, Julie's or Wayne's:

Who did you see on the High Road???

It was Julie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who was she with?????

She was with Wayne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Long term users will recall English V2.96 attempted to persuade heavy emphasisers to group their emphatic punctuation in bunches of five for easy counting

It was Julie !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!

and a V3.03 offered system using a suffix convention to denote the intended repetition

It was Julie !33

but neither has ever been much taken up by the big public.

Now, top punctuation boffins have come up with a solution that reintroduces the power of exclamation but has a built-in mechanism that defeats attempts at repeated-stop hyperbole. Here is the emphatic period in action:

It. Was. Julie.

Ooof. Pretty emphatic stuff, eh? Now watch what happens when the user attempts to introduce more emphasis by tripling the number of full stops used:

It... Was... Julie...

Instead of increasing the impact, the repetition activates the safety feature and introduces an effect of hesitancy - not what the writer intended at all.

However, I have to warn you that this feature may not make the final release of V3.31. There has been a legal challenge from the telcos, who stand to lose many £millions per annum if it goes through. Apparently a significant proportion of text traffic comprises teenagers sending !!!s to each other.

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Biting the hand that feeds IT ? 1998–2017

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