Essay about Metaphor and Literal Language

Submitted By jenn0226
Words: 965
Pages: 4

Figurative Language versus Literal Language

Jennifer S. Cunningham

Philosophy 210

Professor Jenna Thrasher-Sneathen

January 24, 2013

The English language is filled with figures of speech that can make a foreigner often feel confused. If everyone spoke in literal language, conversation would be dull and boring. The key to proper usage is to know when to speak literally and when to use figurative speaking. Literal and figurative languages have been divided into two separate classes by more traditional system for analyzing language. Language is simply the way we bring our thoughts to light for others to understand.

An idiom can best be defined as a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deductible from those of the individual words. Idioms have grammatical stability which means that idioms possess indivisible completeness so all the components are bound within one idiom. While there are numerous examples of an idiom, my favorite is “a piece of cake.” Many people can misinterpret “a piece of cake” as food or something to eat. I love this phrase to express it as being something that is easy to accomplish. For example, “that math test today was a piece of cake.”

An analogy is a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. An example of an analogy is “I am to dancing what Roseanne is to signing and Donald Duck to motivational speeches. I am as graceful as a refrigerator falling down a flight of stairs.” [1] Many speakers and writers use analogies merely as a communication tool. An analogy allows a speaker to clarify a new idea by invoking some similarity it has to some idea with which we are already familiar.

Metaphors are a figure of speech which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. “The light of my life” is an example of a metaphor that is not really providing physical light but rather describes a person who brings another individual happiness or joy. Metaphors are said to have three discourse functions. They express a meaning in the surface of the text, they embody an idea or represent a situation in the situation model, and they convey a message or an act in the context model, all at the same time.

A simile is another kind of figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind. “The water is like the sun” is an example of a simile because water and the sun have little in common, and yet they are being compared to another. The “is” is also part of what makes this stanza an example.

A cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful. [2] Many clichés are worn out and overused, such as “easier said than done.”

Amphiboly is an ambiguous grammatical construction such as “they are flying planes” can mean either that someone is flying planes or that something is flying planes. [3] It can also be defined as a sentence or phrase that can be interpreted in more than one way. A great example of an amphiboly is “Teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to drive. It’s getting too dangerous on the streets.” This could be taken to mean the teenagers will be in danger, or that they will cause the danger.

There are different “flame words” that trigger our emotions. Sometimes it is not the word itself that triggers the emotion, but is rather the tone in which it is said. The tone in which someone says a word is the deciding factor if the meaning and outcome if it triggers a positive…