Figures of Speech

A few years back, in an early blog, was a discussion of a metaphor for nervousness. It seemed that it had received a lot of response over “butterflies in the tummy” type of cliché and writing something new. What might have been reported in following blogs as a list of possible inventive examples never happened. Perhaps it was expected to appear here, but, I confess, I did not report that. What I can say is that while there was a huge response of viewer numbers, there were no comments from those readers.

Perhaps there was nothing more to say. But, it always irks me, somewhat, when I read a new author and there appears in the text a cliché of ancient metaphor or simile. I may have mentioned that if one must use a simile, then try to be original. There was a TV episode of M*A*S*H once, when Colonel Potter used a half dozen terms, consonance, and alliteration all for substitutions for a clump of horse manure. Funny episode.

It is also comical in the advice of Strunk & White’s book, The Elements of Style, [Macmillan Company 1959], Chapter V, page 66, … “Use figures of speech sparingly.” And, .. “similes coming in rapid fire, one on top of another, are more distracting than illuminating.” There was something more about not mixing up metaphors by using different comparisons for the same object.

The important thing is to be inventive and original, which is not easy. It is work, and there is simultaneous invention by others. Still the best advice holds. TRY to be ORIGINAL.

No, I don’t have butterflies in my tummy, and by the way is “tummy” a chick term, instead of stomach? But, I do admit I am a bit of a wreck at the beginning of an interview. It’s not jitters, but something else. More like … like edgy loins.


Timothy J. Desmond
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