Stock Phrases: do we want or need them?:

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That One Troper Guy
NO. What's wrong with Stock Phrases? They're tropes!

edited 28th Jun '11 11:07:58 PM by SergeantLuke

Do loafing!
Yeah, we don't need to kill them off/avoid new ones from being created just beacuse two of them got really out of hand.

edited 28th Jun '11 11:10:36 PM by nuclearneo577

Stock phrases are valid tropes. True, sometimes it comes in the form of a very specific Shout-Out, which is trivia instead. But there are lots of others that are real tropes that simply always use a similar phrase.

Maybe I shouldn't drag another discussion into this, but let's look at What Year Is It?. The trope is about a time traveler (or similar time-lost individual) walking up to someone and trying to determine when they are. They do this by asking some variation of "What year is it?" That's a valid Stock Phrase, with a very real trope behind it.

Ninja'ed twice. Wow, I'm slow.

edited 28th Jun '11 11:10:54 PM by Discar

The thing is that the trope is behind. We want the trope out front.
Goal: Clear, Concise and Witty

Stock phrases are, at a basic level, no different than any other trope. You can't just nuke the whole page because it got "out of hand"—never mind that "out of hand" is completely arbitrary and not actually based on anything tangible, but I digress.

Also, frankly, it's nice to say "tropes aren't cliches" and call this a cliche hunt but, really, that's splitting hairs. EVERYTHING is a cliche in some way or another, just like pretty much everything can be a trope. And when I say everything I mean EV-ER-Y-THING. I'm one of the guys who would wholeheartedly and full-throatedly argue the legit value of tropes about shipping...I'm a die hard. So no I don't find it a cliche hunt.

So, for as much as my vote matters, I vote no to deleting the page. Though I guess I wouldn't be adverse to retooling it per se, as long as that's not going to become a euphemism for blanking the whole thing and starting over.
The problem I see with a lot of Stock Phrases is that they're not tropes. They're just things people say, without a consistent and well-defined pattern or meaning. Just picking one off the top of the index right now, look at Anything but That!. The examples are all over the map. We have a variety of examples of it being used as a response to a Cool and Unusual Punishment, we have Bugs Bunny using it for Briar Patching, we've got some dramatic examples like the gangster screaming because he's about to be drowned in concrete, and a bunch of them are just people saying the phrase (like an annoyed Scar telling Zazu to sing a different song in The Lion King, or Penfold telling Danger Mouse not to take a direct approach). This is textbook People Sit on Chairs and most certainly not a trope.
Rhymes with "Protracted."
[up]A character saying something is not chairs, it's usually plot related.
Lover of masks.
Gotta ask. What is the difference between the qouted and non-qouted phrases?
10 SilentReverence28th Jun 2011 11:25:30 PM from 3 tiles right 1 tile up
adopting kitteh
While I understand the rationale behind the first intervention, the third is just pffffft. At least when a Stock Phrase is used to name a trope the right way. But we all know what happens with Eddie's pfffffft's anyway.

In my opinion, the key thing with Stock Phrases is whether the saying (that currently names the trope) concurs with the trope in both definition and instance. Precisely the example of What Year Is It?, from where Eddie's quotations come from, does that — the trope is about having to ask someone for the timeframe you're in (which is quite distinct from Newspaper Dating due to plot and characterization issues) and the phrase is pretty much precisely the way that the trope runs. There's no loss of information because the trope name can be used in dialogue, which several other trope names can anyway regardless of whether they are stock phrases or not (Cats Are Superior and The Resolution Will Not Be Televised spring to mind right away).

Other examples are "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name (although the metaphor there saves from the dialogue issue), Carry the One and I Can Explain. Some others are broken but still usable though, such as A Dog Ate My Homework (due to tenses used when the trope instantiates).

All in all, I see why Stock Phrases could pose a problem being used for trope names, but with a tighter definition on what do we accept as a Stock Phrase, I don't see that turning into a problem because the phrase is used where you want the trope anyways (or viceversa). If the problem is them being able to be used to pothole in "inadequate places" (where "inadequate" seems to mean "this is just a random conversation for which, or whose context, the trope does not apply"), then I'd not worry at all, as it's the default and most useful state of most trope names anyway.
The issue isn't using dialogue to name tropes. The issue is whether we want articles about specific bits of dialogue in the first place.
It is not pfft. It is the main point. We're blowing our wad talking about a line when we could be doc'ing a trope.

If stock phrases were just listed alphabetically on the stock phrase page (their would need to be more pages), as was originally the case, we could live with them. A page per phrase just collect a bunch of line instances and loses us a chance to get at a real trope.
Goal: Clear, Concise and Witty

Planescape Hijack
I'm against stock phrases being done away with. I don't see the distinction being drawn between stock phrases and other tropes. I understand what you're getting at with "in front/behind", but to me, the words (for instance) "What Year Is This??" are so closely identifiable with the story action that putting one "behind" or "in front" is splitting hairs, if it can be done at all. Or, in cases where the story action isn't as closely linked with the phrase, I think using the phrase is reasonable because it's already a concise way to put the trope into words, and hence perfectly suited to the title.

To take a look at what may be a better example: "Is That What He Told You?" Here, the use of the stock phrase is the trope that's being carried out: the story pivots on those words, on the act of saying them, which means those words are the discrete unit we capture as a trope.

What I do think is a problem is trope pages whose examples sections are just full of copy-pastes from IMDBs, without context or explanation of how those words change the story they're in. But I don't think this is a problem with stock phrases themselves, just a lazy editing style; the same thing as examples which are just "This happens in Series X". (That's a wider problem which I'm not sure how to start addressing, but I don't think it would go away by nuking stock phrases. Maybe a new editing tip: "Be sure to give context when writing an example", or something to that effect?)

edited 28th Jun '11 11:39:17 PM by Haven

Productivity is for people without internet connections. -Count Dorku
The trope in "Is That What He Told You?" is Misleading Half Truth. The line is one way to introduce it to a story.

The trope in "What Year Is This?" is the need to establish what year the character is now in. The line is one way to do it.

edited 28th Jun '11 11:39:08 PM by FastEddie

Goal: Clear, Concise and Witty

15 SilentReverence28th Jun 2011 11:47:05 PM from 3 tiles right 1 tile up
adopting kitteh
But we are doc'ing a trope. Using a line that clearly identifies it as a name. If "collect a bunch of line instances" is the problem, that has nothing to do with the names of the tropes, but with the usual problem of people's minds doing weird shortcircuitery to have their favourite work in a trope listing, and should be treated accordingly, as misuse — at no point is it stated that trope pages are places to collect what essentially amounts to quotes, for which the Quotes namespace is there if such practice was allowed...

Preview ninja'd: Bottom line, the problem is what was documented two posts above,, which is extraneous to "a trope being named in a way in which its name can be used in a literal context". And taking the two examples above, heck, it even works by following the so called "clear,concise,witty" guideline. I mean, there is not much conciser and clearer than having the name for the trope that corresponds to such instances "What Year Is It?".

Use "What year is it?" as a noun that names this trope you are referring to, please.
Goal: Clear, Concise and Witty

Planescape Hijack
Fast Eddie: The trope in "Is That What He Told You?" is Misleading Half Truth. The line is one way to introduce it to a story.

I don't think that's what that trope is about.

With the best of intentions (usually), your mentor or someone else you trust has been less than honest with you. Maybe he told you a half-truth, maybe an outright lie; maybe he just never mentioned something critical. Either way, you're about to learn the whole truth from someone else — and probably in the worst way possible.

The trope is not about the misleading half-truth itself. It's not even only about the deception coming undone—it's about, very specifically, the lie coming undone through one character telling another character about a third character's deception. The third character is a trusted one, and the first character probably isn't. Furthermore, this specific moment of dramatic revelation is accomplished through dialogue.

All of this is succinctly and evocatively encapsulated in the title Is That What He Told You?, which has the further advantage of being a commonly used line for this moment. (Does it have to be the exact phrase, no, but I think that fits within the wiggle room we give almost every trope.)

Many other stock phrases are the same way. Perhaps we could find more suitable names for all of them, perhaps we could even change those such as Are We There Yet? where it is almost always the exact phrase for that trope, but at best it would be an unproductive use of time.

edited 29th Jun '11 12:14:36 AM by Haven

Productivity is for people without internet connections. -Count Dorku
Gotta trope, dood!
Against deletion. Even if the phrases themselves aren't tropable, the situations they're used in ARE, and they fit the CCW naming guideline we have.

Take, say, "But Sir, It's Not Ready." Without looking at the page, it's about that situation where the mad scientist/evil genius/government guy/coporate guy wants to activate the untested machine that, I dunno, makes sandwiches or something. Their assistant/subordinates/other guys in the room tell them "But Sir, It's Not Ready" or some variation thereof, he activates it anyway and bad stuff goes down.

A boss tells his minion to release the x (where X is the new computer program/superweapon/mecha-robot/biological experiment/all of the above). The minion replies "It's not ready yet!" or "We haven't worked out all the bugs!" or "It's never been tested" etc etc etc etc. Boss then says something to the effect of "do it anyway," "I don't care," "We have no choice!" etc. If the characters are heroes, this serves to point out how cutting edge the weapon is and may involve a Million to One Chance. If the boss is a villain, then it shows how desperate he is to defeat the heroes, and if they are just clueless NP Cs then this is the cue for the experiment to Go Horribly Wrong and prove that Science Is Bad (and that scientists are idiots).

Not quite 100%, but it wouldn't be misuse to list what I just used as an example, either. Whether the exact phrase is a trope is irrelevant, the phrases as names evoke the situations they occur in.

They lost me. Forgot me. Made you from parts of me. If you're the One, my father's son, what am I supposed to be?
Of course, we both want and need them. Geez.

edited 28th Jun '11 11:57:34 PM by EnglishIvy

20 SilentReverence29th Jun 2011 12:06:26 AM from 3 tiles right 1 tile up
adopting kitteh
I really don't get why, or where from, are you imposing a "use as noun" threshold test on naming a trope off a Stock Phrase, Eddie. Anyone can use a trope via a verb or noun form if they need to. That's something that redirects can be used for, and are used for. They don't preclude that the current names describe the trope.

edited 29th Jun '11 12:07:03 AM by SilentReverence

Gotta trope, dood!
Why do tropes need to be named in noun form? That's one of the many things potholes are for. "Bob activates the machine against his subordinates will, despite it being untested, with predictable results." gets the point across just as well as "Bob activates the trope machine, amidst cries of "But Sir, It's Not Ready", with predictable results."

edited 29th Jun '11 12:13:37 AM by Wulf

They lost me. Forgot me. Made you from parts of me. If you're the One, my father's son, what am I supposed to be?
22 captainbrass229th Jun 2011 01:24:58 AM from the United Kingdom
I think this might be a situation where both arguments are half-right. True, we are supposed to be documenting tropes, not collecting lines of dialogue. If there are pages that are just that, they should be cut.

However, there's nothing wrong with using a Stock Phrase as a trope name because it's a good, clear way into the trope. It's a phrase that's always used where a particular trope is in effect, and everyone's Seen It a Million Times and will recognise the situation from the phrase. It may be that the problem is more descriptions that are along the lines of "This phrase comes up when..." rather than "...and when this is happening someone often says...". It's really a question of emphasis.
"Well, it's a lifestyle"
23 Catalogue29th Jun 2011 01:49:38 AM from where the good times are
A pocketful of saudade.
Agreeing with captainbrass. I don't think using a trope's stock phrase as a trope name is that harmful (noun form is neat, but still), yet we shouldn't collect them. Stock phrases indicate a trope behind them, and it's that trope we must catalogue (heh) and not the phrases.

For example, in the What Year Is This? discussion, some chose to limit the trope to the occurrence of the phrase instead of "finding out what year is this after some time travel thingamajicks." That is indeed cliché-hunting and it's not what we want.
The words above are to be read as if they are narrated by Morgan Freeman.
24 Deboss29th Jun 2011 02:09:22 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
I think Stock Phrases are decent trope names provided they actually relate to the trope. There was a time when people seemed to want to come up with the most obtuse name possible. I'm also cool with puns on stock phrases like Tank Goodness.
25 Bailey29th Jun 2011 02:37:17 AM from Next Sunday, A.D.
^^ Judging from the description, What Year Is This? covers the case of time travelers attempting to find out what year it is by directly asking strangers, which is a bit more narrow than trying to so by any means possible. But yeah, that's still broader than the phrase itself.

On the larger issue, I agree that many of these (or most?) appear to be valid tropes that would perhaps have a better description if people weren't in the habit of troping stock phrases for their own sake. That problem isn't really limited to phrases, but if that's what we want to focus on, perhaps we could launch an effort to go through the list rework them as 'tropes associated with stock phrases', clearing up descriptions as needed and cutting anything that's completely Chairsy.

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