If the zoo bans me from hollering at the animals, i will confront god and also walk backwards right into hell

What makes it for this reason poignant and memorable? I’m no sure. I understand others have actually talked about how dealing with god and walking backwards right into hell sounds favor it have to be a quote indigenous somewhere, however it just shows up in Google searches at the time it was originally tweeted.

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I did fast searches come prove the point: the very first google searches because that these phrases to be after might 2012. There space no printed attestations (no find results) for “walk backwards right into hell” in Google’s Ngram search.


“Backwards into hell” go exist, yet it’s mostly around falling backwards, and never otherwise done deliberately as rebellion, together the tweet suggests.


But lately, what’s been amazing me is the verb “holler”. Mine intuition is the “holler” plays a large roll in the popular of the tweet together well, in part because “hollering at” other evokes a very certain and unexplained image.

Hypothesis: The expression “holler at” is particularly evocative and unusual, hence playing a significant part in the tweet’s success…

Predictions: “Holler”…

is less typical than various other synonyms;occurs in under contexts, thus is an ext specific;rarely is adhered to by someone or something receiving the hollering (that is, choose “at the animals”).

To test these predictions, I went to the corpus of modern-day American English (COCA), i m sorry is a huge (520+ million words) corpus accessible here: http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/

The frequency the “holler” and its relatives (hollers, hollered, hollering, etc) is 375; which means in the body of end 520,000,000 words, it wake up 375 times. This is low, yet not an extremely low. Kind of normal-low, other you’d suppose for a indigenous you’d have on a middle school vocabulary list.

To come up through synonyms, I checked out thesaurus.com and checked out choices to “holler”, and also found your frequencies in COCA.

call – 170546cry – 19475scream – 7617complain – 7616shout – 4691cheer – 4208roar – 4072yell – 3489howl – 1545shrill – 1386wail – 1269shriek – 1127bellow – 964screech – 924hoot – 910squeal – 775yelp – 605whoop – 491holler – 375squawk – 358yap – 271bawl – 106ululate – 7vociferate – 3

Call, cry, complain, shrill, squeal, bawl, and vociferate don’t really fit the photo in my opinion. I think
dril is going much more for a scream, shout, yell, whoop, or ululation. So I’ll compare “holler” to the optimal three of those:

scream – frequency = 7617

shout – frequency = 4691

yell – frequency = 3489

All three of these words room an bespeak of magnitude more common 보다 “holler”; wherein “holler” and its relatives happen hundreds of times in the corpus, “scream”, “shout”, and also “yell” (and their relatives) occur THOUSANDS the times.

Result (1): holler is much less usual than most of its synonyms.

Does “holler” occur in fewer contexts? To check this, I’m looking in ~ what type of native are many often discovered near “holler” in the texts that this body searches. For now, I’m no going to worry around what kinds of indigenous are nearby (that is, i don’t care if they’re nouns or prepositions or anything). This words are dubbed collocates, i m sorry you can remember since they space co-located with the target native (in this case, holler).


First thing I noticed is the the top collocate isn’t a word, yet a dot mark! That’s not at all what ns was expecting, because I didn’t think that would be coded together something that might even be a collocate, yet let’s roll v it. Almost every one of these “!“s happen with some sort of reported speech act, like

Every so often he’ll pick an unsuspecting passerby, part the branches, and holler: ” Oogahboogah ! “

This argues that holler is frequently used as a much more descriptive synonym that "said” in dialogue, which is not what
dril is doing in his tweet. Hmmmm.

Hoot is additionally a fairly common collocate, but that’s due to the fact that of the phrase “hoot and holler”, which means they frequently occur together. This is a more similar meaning to what i think
dril is going for, yet he doesn’t usage “hoot” (maybe because of personality limits).


Going much lower down the list (entry 13) gets you collocates that happen only 2 or 3 time in every one of the 375 times holler occurs, i m sorry isn’t much at all. In comparison, you have to scroll down to entry 66 for collocates of scream to be the infrequent, entry 58 because that shout, and also entry 44 for yell. This words occur a lot an ext frequently 보다 holler does, so they have an ext opportunities come co-occur with various other words. The said, holler mirrors up alongside some pretty uncommon words (hoot and also whoop are both synonyms, too!).

Result (2): holler occurs in under contexts, yet that is mostly a role of the frequency. However, several of these contexts are in phrases that incorporate synonyms, which says it is being offered to evoke a particular image (related come hooting or whooping), i beg your pardon is a reasonably vivid image.

Finally, what around the structure of the verb – the syntax? I’m specifically interested in just how “holler at” compares come other comparable verbs. By using the same form of collocation search, i can straight compare “holler at” (and the relatives) to “scream at”, “shout at” and “yell at”.







In these results, however, I see something i didn’t expect: “at” complies with holler, shout, and also scream at about the exact same proportions! (The “SCORE” is very close to 1, which would certainly be perfectly same ratios.) that the proportion of time you’d discover “scream at”, “holler at”, and “shout at” room very similar to each various other if you account for the frequencies that “scream”, “holler”, and also “shout”. “Yell at”, on the other hand, is much, much more common (relatively speaking) than “holler at”.

Result (3): “holler at” is not that monster of a point to say, relatively speaking. Ns was dorn in my intuition about this one.

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The donation of “holler” to iconicity the the famous
dril tweet probably originates from the loved one uncommonness that the word and also how that is most frequently used to evoke a very specific manner of make sounds. “Hollering” is something that often co-occurs v “hooting” and “whooping”, which room energetic and also often directionless, but additionally with “scream”, “yell”, and “cheer”, i m sorry can easily be excellent at who or something. Therefore, I suspect it’s the imagery and an interpretation of words that contributes most, and not the grammatical structure connected with it.