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

Donny and Marie

Laurel and Hardy

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.”  These idiomatic combos are sometimes called Siamese twins or irreversible binomials. (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 example is 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).

Here are ten more examples of freezes:

above and beyond

alpha and omega

apples and oranges

ball and chain

black and blue

cap and gown

ebb and flow

fine and dandy

hard and fast

law and order

Today’s Challenge:   Dynamic Duos

What duo from either fiction, myth, or history would you say is the most important or influential?  Why would you argue that your duo rates as the most influential duo ever?  Brainstorm a list of famous duos.  Try for a variety, such as duos from literature, myth, religion, history, music, film, or television.  See the list below for some examples:

Ben and Jerry

Bonnie and Clyde

Cain and Abel

Calvin and Hobbes

David and Goliath

Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Hall and Oates

Hansel and Gretel

Jack and Jill

Laverne and Shirley

Lewis and Clark

Laurel and Hardy

Romulus and Remus

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Romeo and Juliet

Simon and Garfunkel

Tippecanoe and Tyler too

Once you have settled on your single greatest duo, write your argument, giving reasons, evidence, and explanation for what makes your duo the greatest.

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 a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. -Ralph Waldo Emerson “Quotation and Originality”

 

1 – Big Bands and Big Names.

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

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

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