Simply put, a conflation is an amalgamation of two different expressions. In most cases, the combination results in a new expression that makes little sense literally, but clearly expresses an idea because it references well-known idioms. All conflations fit into one of two major categories: Congruent Conflations & Incongruent Conflations. Congruent Conflations are the more ideal (and more sought-after) examples of the concept. These occur when the two root expressions basically reflect the same thought. For example, Look whos calling the kettle black can be formed using the root expressions Look whos talking & The pot is calling the kettle black. These root expressions really mean the same thingthey are both a friendly way to point out hypocritical behaviour. Of course, without reference to a pot (which is just as black as a kettle), “Look who’s calling the kettle black” does not directly imply anything. Yet the implication is almost automatically understood because the conflation clearly refers to two known idioms.
Incongruent Conflation occurs when the root expressions do not mean
the same thing, but share a common word or theme. For example, a bull in a candy
shop can be formed from the root expressions a kid in a candy shop
& a bull in a china shop. The former root expression paints a picture
of someone who is extraordinarily happy and excited, whereas the latter root brings to
mind the image of a person who is extremely clumsy. The conflation potentially expresses
both of these ideas at the same time without making the speakers intention entirely
The basic premise of idiom conflation lies in a belief that the
logic and structures within language, rather than being a literal representation of
real events and ideas, are simply a self-insulated veneer. The salient function of
language is as a medium for making shared knowledge and experience explicit, rather
than functioning to express or communicate knowledge and experience. From this
perspective, the importance of language lies not in its particularities, but in its
forms. The conflations compiled here, then, represent a particularly sensible type
of nonsense, subjecting the factual logic of particularities to the loose and
unpredictable logic of reference and association. To use these expressions,
undetected, is to subversively inscribe and legitimize this abstract reality into
the collective consciousnessan ineffably revolutionary practice.
The purpose of this website is not to provide an inert list of
expressions that can be chuckled at and then put aside. We have compiled this
collection with the genuine hope that readers will deliberately use conflations
in their day-to-day lives. These expressions should be studied and memorized to
the point where the reader is comfortable using them in proper context without
hesitation or awkwardness. It should be pointed out that conflations are not to be slipped into conversation with the intention of fooling the uninitiated. Conflation is not an inside joke. Any pleasure gained from successful conversational usage should be derived from the knowledge that you are activating the evolution of language toward a vernacular of resistance.
The earnest conflation user will visit this website
frequently, taking advantage of the ability to search through hundreds of
conflations instantly using any web-browser's basic find function. Serious users will also want to begin constructing their own conflations for submissioninformation
on how to do so is available on the submissions page. To get oriented, take a look at the short list, a collection of the more popular congruent conflations.
As this practice becomes a part of your intuitive language, so too will the abstract
reality it relates become more visceral in your life.
Research related to the meaning of root expressions has been
accomplished by consulting The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, and by drawing
upon our own current conversational knowledge.