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  1. #1
    tanned_Nataly is offline Newbie
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    Default Modification of idioms

    Hi,

    I am an English language student and now I am prepearing a work "Modification of idioms in modern English"

    So, I need hepl with it.

    Maybe you could help me in searching modified idioms or just write here some examples of them.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Charlie Bernstein is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    Can you give us an example?

  3. #3
    tanned_Nataly is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    So, I have no good examples for the moment...

    But I will try to explain...

    It is when one or two words are changed in an idiom in oder to attract people's attention to a headline or smth else.

    I'm searching and searching...

  4. #4
    pyoung is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    Dear Nataly:

    Perhaps you are looking for something like this headline:

    "'Winners of Elks' writing contest win bucks"

    The Elks are a service organization. They sponsored a writing contest for schoolchildren. The winners received money. As you know, 'bucks' is an idiom for 'dollars.'
    So there is a play on the word 'bucks,' because a male elk is a buck and the money won by the students is 'bucks,' too.

    Is this the kind of thing you were thinking of?

    Petra

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    The Sun newspaper has a very well-known example- search for 'Stick it up your Junta' and you'll find the most famous/notorious example in recent decades in British English.

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    Another quite common one is based on the idiom 'to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat' (itself quite a complex metaphor - you have to imagine that the 'personification' of defeat is a wild animal with its jaws open, with 'victory' about to disappear down 'defeat''s throat) - used when seemingly certain defeat is cheated at the last minute - like Man Utd scoring twice in injury time at the Neucamp.

    The reverse is very common now - perhaps more common than the original (meaning to lose at the last minute when victory seemed certain): 'to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory'.

    b

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    Modifying commonplace expressions is frequently a form of black humor. As in, "It's always darkest just before it gets pitch black" (instead of "darkest before the dawn"). "If at first you don't succeed, pretend you were just joking" (instead of "try, try again"). Or a more absurdist example, "If at first you don't fricassee, fry, fry a hen". One often hears that "No good deed goes unpunished" when someone's attempt at altruism leads to a setback; presumably this is derived from the commonplace sentiment that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds punished, even if there is no particular phrase this references. Consider the line from Chief Wiggums in The Simpson: "I'd rather let 100 guilty go free, than chase after them" (instead of "than put one innocent in jail"). Mark Twain's "Familiarity breeds attempt" (instead of "contempt"). These are spins on popular wisdom (not necessarily idioms) to express a different and sometimes contrasting sentiment. An example referencing a true idiom might be, "Rome wasn't destroyed in a day" (instead of "built in a day"), to comment on a slowly deteriorating situation

    An idiom may be modified with a pun which applies it to a particular situation; for example describing America's position in the Middle East as "stuck between Iraq and a hard place" (instead of "a rock"). An aphoristic example would be "A friend with weed is a friend indeed" (instead of "a friend in need"), referencing in particular a need for cannabis.

    There is also a large class of jokes which makes a pun from a common expression. For instance there is a long story about a tribal chieftan living in a thatch hut; he captures his enemy's throne and displays it on top of his house, only to have the throne break through the roof and crush him. The moral is, "People who live in thatch houses, shouldn't stow thrones" (instead of "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"). Another humorous twist is, "People who live in glass houses should change in the basement".

    If you troll through the joke web sites you should find more examples.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    That last one reminded me of one I heard recently:

    If you're not part of the solution you're part of the precipitate.

    Notes:
    • In the usual version, the last word is "problem".
    • The last word here is a noun often used in chemistry. A precipitate is that which is precipitated.


    b
    Last edited by BobK; 09-Mar-2009 at 19:22. Reason: Fix typos

  9. #9
    pyoung is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    Dear BobK:

    Thanks for the first chuckle of my day

    Petra

  10. #10
    tanned_Nataly is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Modification of idioms

    Many thanks for all of you)))

    You've really helped me.

    So, now I have some new material for my work.

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