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I came across @Randal'Thor's creative "edit summary"

ring a ding dillo, hey Puzz, merry Puzz, Work a place illo

on this question and it got a chuckle out of me, but also got me thinking whether there is any technical term for this kind of writing.

  • The structure is clearly intended to point strongly to the original work, in the case a song sung by the character Tom Bombadil from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
  • It is derived only by modifying certain phrases, and not wholesale rephrasing or rewriting.
  • It is not (necessarily?) intended to mock the original work, but it instead takes the original work and applies it to a new situation, or extends the scope of the original work. I'm not sure if this is a characteristic feature, though.

For some reason, my brain is telling me that there's a word/phrase that describes this kind of writing, but I can't find it. If I can find more examples describing what I have in mind, I'll add them to this question.

Rand suggests that the word I'm looking for could be "parody", but I'm not sure. Perhaps there is something more specific.

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The closest term I can think of is pastiche. According to Wikipedia,

the term denotes a literary technique employing a generally light-hearted tongue-in-cheek imitation of another's style; although jocular, it is usually respectful. The word implies a lack of originality or coherence, an imitative jumble, but with the advent of postmodernism pastiche has become positively constructed as deliberate, witty homage or playful imitation.

The term does not imply that the author only modifies part of the words found in the original, but that may be one of the ways to create a pastiche.

"Pastiche" appears to be a closer fit than parody because a parody usually implies exaggeration or ridicule, whereas a pastiche does not. (The English Wkipedia article about parody cites Linda Hutcheon as saying, "parody ... is imitation, not always at the expense of the parodied text", but unfortunately without a source.)

Another term that is interesting in this context is what German literary theory calls Travestie:

eine komische Gattung, bei der der Inhalt eines Werks oder eines Mythos beibehalten, aber in eine unangemessene sprachliche Form gebracht wird.

Translation:

a comic genre, in which the content of a literary work or myth is retained but delivered in an inappropriate linguistic form.

For example, the content of a classical work of literature may be rendered in slang instead of its original high-literary style. Conversely, an entirely trivial story may be rewritten in a lofty exalted style. However, this technique typically goes beyond "modifying a few words in critical places", so Travestie appears to fit the requested technique less well.

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  • I really like the suggestions in this answer. 'Pastiche' does seem to be what I'm looking for!
    – user5387
    Aug 24 '20 at 14:45

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