Catchphrase: Automatic Detection of Cultural References

Nir Sweed, Dafna Shahaf

A snowclone is a customizable phrasal template that can be realized in multiple, instantly recognized variants. For example, ``* is the new *" (Orange is the new black, 40 is the new 30). Snowclones are extensively used in social media. In this paper, we study snowclones originating from pop-culture quotes; our goal is to automatically detect cultural references in text. We introduce a new, publicly available data set of pop-culture quotes and their corresponding snowclone usages and train models on them. We publish code for Catchphrase, an internet browser plugin to automatically detect and mark references in real-time, and examine its performance via a user study. Aside from assisting people to better comprehend cultural references, we hope that detecting snowclones can complement work on paraphrasing and help to tackle long-standing questions in social science about the dynamics of information propagation.

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