Monday, July 24, 2006

July 24: Freeze Day

Today is the anniversary of the final performance of one of the most famous comedy duos of all time: Martin and Lewis. The partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis began in 1946 and continued successfully on stage, screen, and radio until their final performance together at New York's Copacabana Club in 1956 (1).

Of course, Martin and Lewis are not the only famous duo in entertainment history. Below are just a few examples of names that for better or worse are frozen in time.

Abbott and Costello
Burns and Allen
The Captain and Tennille
Cheech and Chong
Laurel and Hardy
Donny and Marie
Lennon and McCartney
Penn and Teller
Simon and Garfunkel
Sonny and Cher

One interesting aspect of the duos above is that the order of the names is fixed and seldom altered: who ever heard of Teller and Penn or Costello and Abbott? This same phenomenon happens with word pairs in English called freezes. Freezes are "pairs of words which have been apparently frozen in a fixed order, such as bread and butter, husband and wife, knife and fork" (2).

Because these three-word expressions are frozen in the language, they sometimes become idiomatic -- that is they become metaphors. For example, in the sentence The quality of the school is the bread and butter of town property values, the freeze bread and butter does not refer to literal food but to anything that is a basic, essential, and sustaining element.

A less obvious examples it the freeze warp and woof. It means "the underlying structure or foundation of something, as in He foresaw great changes in the warp and woof of the nation's economy." The expression goes back 1500s, alluding to woven fabric and its "threads that run lengthwise (warp) and crosswise (woof)" (3).

Today's Challenge: Fresh Frozen Freezes
Cool down during the dog days of summer by trying to identify the freezes below. Use the clues from The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms to identify the 10 freezes below. Then, see if you can brainstorm a list of more examples:

1. More than is required: a____ and b____

2. The beginning and the end: a____ and o____

3. Unlike objects: a____ and 0____

4. A burden or restraint: b____ and c____

5. Badly bruised: b____ and b____

6. Ceremonial dress worn at graduation: c____ and g____

7. A decline and increase, constant fluctuations: e____ and f____

8. All right, excellent: f____ and d____

9. Defined, fixed, invariable: h____ and f____

10. Strict enforcement of statutes to fight crime:
l____ and o____ (3).

Quote of the Day: All minds quote. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not twist of these two strands. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Answers: 1. above and beyond 2. alpha and omega 3. apples and oranges 4. ball and chain 5. black and blue 6 cap and gown 7. ebb and flow 8. fine and dandy 9. hard and fast 10. law and order

1 -The History Channel. This Date in History - Entertainment - July 24

2- Aitchison, Jean. A Glossary of Language and Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

3. Ammer, Christine. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

1 comment:

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