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  1. #1
    Judge Brybe is offline Junior Member
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    Default Lean, mean ... machine

    This is definitely some kind of stable 'word-frame'. What's its stylistic value? Many thanx.

  2. #2
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Lean, mean ... machine

    Not sure what you mean by 'stylistic vale'.

    It combines two features, which often go together, Pairs of rhyming words often go together: 'lean and mean', 'doom and gloom. Often, pairs are based on alliteration - a 'bonny, bouncing baby', 'good as gold', 'boon and bane', 'weal and woe' - (you'll have noticed that alliteration often protects a word that has become extinct ('weal', 'bane'...) from being lost entirely - as in its alliterated context it survives.

    'Machine' combines these two features - it rhymes with both 'lean' and 'mean' and it alliterates with 'mean'.

    Alliteration has been a huge influence on Engish literature. Look it up!

    Five years ago I made a list of alliterative expressions with their meanings. If I find it I'll post it.

    b

  3. #3
    Judge Brybe is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Lean, mean ... machine

    Thanks, BobK. I think I've got a kind of gut feeling for rhymes and alliterations 'cuz, in addition to contemporary English, I used to study Old English and Old Icelandic poetry as well. And of course rhyme (and, to some extent, alliteration) bulks large in the idioms of my native language as well
    What I'd like to know is, is this really a popular, productive 'frame' (I've come across: 'lean, mean, killing machine', 'lean, mean reproductive machine' etc.) and what stylistic stratum does it belong to (slang, slightly colloquial or maybe even vulgar and rude)?
    Yours, Sincerella.
    Last edited by Judge Brybe; 17-Jun-2012 at 20:45.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Lean, mean ... machine

    Neutral or slightly colloquial to me, but it depends on what is added to it- the reproductive example could well be considered vulgar.

  5. #5
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Lean, mean ... machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Judge Brybe View Post
    Thanks, BobK. I think I've got a kind of gut feeling for rhymes and alliterations 'cuz, in addition to contemporary English, I used to study Old English and Old Icelandic poetry as well. And of course rhyme (and, to some extent, alliteration) bulks large in the idioms of my native language as well
    Just as well I didn't try to deliver a lecturetrte on alliterative poety
    Quote Originally Posted by Judge Brybe View Post
    What I'd like to know is, is this really a popular, productive 'frame' (I've come across: 'lean, mean, killing machine', 'lean, mean reproductive machine' etc.) and what stylistic stratum does it belong to (slang, slightly colloquial or maybe even vulgar and rude)?
    Yours, Sincerella.
    I agree with Tdol. I think the 'reproductive' case could be considered vulgar is that this frame implies money-making intent.

    I found the list. It doesn't try to be comprehensive - you can no doubt find more in the UE list; for example, I've just thought of a couple that use an intial /ʧ/: 'cheap and cheerful' and 'cheap as chips'. And some of them are fairly recent (which supports the idea that it's a productive mechanism). For example, 'naughty but nice' was an advertising slogan for cream (written, reputedly, by a young Salman Rushdie - who no doubt knew about alliterative poetry).

    b
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails scan0002.jpg  

  6. #6
    Judge Brybe is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Lean, mean ... machine

    Thanks for the list of paronyms, I liked the 'bonnie bouncing' one most.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Lean, mean ... machine

    You're welcome. I could be making too much of this. But in the languages I've learnt, although alliteration has a role in all of them (for example - I think I mentioned this before - Sp has De popa a proa, Fr has bel et bien...) I get the impression that languages with a tradition of alliterative poetry have more alliterative idioms. (If anyone's looking for a research project... )

    b

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