A+ R A-

Figures of Speech

E-mail Print PDF

Share this article with a friend

As a boy, while leaving a church service, I heard a lady say to her husband who came to pick her up: "That sure was a good sermon." Husband: "What did he say?" Lady: "I don't know but it sure sounded good." Since spoken or written Ornamental Communications excite the Emotions or "touch the Heart," people use them daily. Some of the innumerable ones are designed to grab people's attention when there is the need to be dramatic or enliven comment points with richer and more colorful statements. Also, one can present ideas with greater force, compared to "Literal Language," in efforts intended for persuasion, pleasure, informing, entertaining, expressing, and sharing. Such are called "Figurative Speeches and Allusions in language." Allusions are roundabout, indirect, and suggestive mention or reference presented as: "by the way"; "or in passing"; or "on second thought." In other words, what or whom is alluded to is very lightly touched upon and without direct mention. This is an Ancient African practice called Indirection and whose power lies in suggestion and connotation.

Allusions serve to evoke emotions and establish an atmosphere, mood, setting, or character. Most illustrate, expand upon, or enhance a subject by relying on the Receiver's familiarity with what is thus mentioned--e.g. family jokes just among family members. Figures of Speech (FOS) are expressions whereby words are used out of the ordinary (out of their literal sense) so as to suggest a picture or an image or to secure some other special effect. The chief FOS are allegory, anticlimax, antithesis, cliché, climax, euphemism, hyperbole, irony, litotes, meiosis, metaphor, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, personification, synecdoche, syllepsis, and zeugma. Despite helping to provide order and clearness, when used to excite the Emotions or to move the passions they insinuate wrong ideas. Still, it is done so smoothly as to make them SEEM right. In general, any new thing or occurrence is apt to appear familiar, and so become acceptable, as soon as it can be linked up in some way with the general store of ones already acquired beliefs and knowledge.

Examples: Understatement (meiosis, litotes)--the real meaning being stronger than the statement: "Being the top of your class is not so bad"; Irony (suggesting something different from what is said: "I just love a warm soda on a hot day"); Ambiguity--a statement with two or more incompatible meanings; and Puns: "Its easy to have a stable diet when you live on a farm" has two or more different meanings of the same words which can be taken without spoiling the meaning of the whole sentence. In African Tradition there is much contrasting of opposites (Antithesis), as elaborated on in Ari (or Karma): "The evil people do lives after them; the good are interred with their bones." The same applies to Climax--the rising emphasis through a number of good or bad situations to one final assertion, as in daily living a Ma'at life is the way to reach the Heaven Afterlife. Metaphors have great variety. They are used for clarification; to dramatize a point; to get a complex idea across; to provide interest; to speak the language of the audience. In Analogy and Similie the comparison is partial ("Education is like a slingshot") whereas in a Metaphor two different things are equivalent ("Education is a slingshot"). Decorative Metaphors are beautifying. Functional, Organic, or Structural Metaphors are the only way to subtly and precisely convey a complex thought/feeling: "The body is the earth, of which the soul is the center." Reduction Metaphors subtract associations from the mix to lessen reality. Just as the greater differences in potentials of two live electricity wires, the greater the voltage, here the greater the disparity between Things compared, the more powerful the light. Dead Metaphors are clichés. An attribute or characteristic of one object applied to another suggests an Analogy or resemblance: "the arm of a chair." Mixed Metaphors' two elements are startlingly disparate by being inconsistent: "the long arm of the law has two strikes against it." The Tenor (a primary literal term) is an idea with which another idea (the vehicle) is identified. The vehicle is where forces of such a comparison lies: "The Road (vehicle) of Life" (tenor); "Life (tenor) is but a walking shadow (vehicle)." Though often misleading and though the least misleading of what is available, what supercedes Metaphysical Vehicles is having insight into the real nature and function of things to which Metaphysical Vehicles refer.


Add comment

By using our comment system, you agree to not post profane, vulgar, offensive, or slanderous comments. Spam and soliciting are strictly prohibited. Violation of these rules will result in your comments being deleted and your IP Address banned from accessing our website in the future. Your e-mail address will NOT be published, sold or used for marketing purposes.

Security code

BVN National News Wire