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Figurative Language versus Literal Language - Essay Example

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Figurative language versus literal language Instructor Name Class Title October 24, 2011 Figurative language versus literal language Every language comes with a plethora of ways to color a message that someone is trying to convey or else to provide a creative way to help prompt an understanding between people…
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Figurative Language versus Literal Language
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Figurative Language versus Literal Language

Download file to see previous pages... Not only will this lead to a misunderstanding of what is being said, but can also make it hard for people to engage in productive and critical thinking. Idioms are one of the most commonly used types of figurative language primarily because they consist of phrases that people have become familiar with. An idiom is a word, phrase, or expression that cannot, or should not, be taken literally. “Break a leg” is a well-known, excessively used idiom. Literally, this phrase means to actually break a leg, but its figurative meaning is to wish another person good luck, which is usually geared more towards stage actors or performers. “Break a leg” is appropriate to say when a friend is about to perform in a play, but it could lead to a misunderstanding if the person it is being said to is not about to do anything that warrants a wish of good luck. An analogy is when two completely different things are compared in an attempt to find similarities. The function of an analogy is to help people understand something new by comparing it to something that they are already familiar with. “I am as graceful as a refrigerator falling down a flight of stairs (Turner, 1998)” is an example of an analogy. An appropriate circumstance to use this analogy would be to help a person visualize how ungraceful someone is. Since a refrigerator would tumble and crash down a flight of stairs, it makes it easier for a person to understand the lack of grace that someone may have. This analogy could lead to a misunderstanding if a person thinks that someone will literally fall down stairs in the same way that a refrigerator would. A metaphor is a direct comparison of two unlike things that share a similar important concept. Metaphors are used to strengthen the meaning of something. “His marriage was a noose around his neck” is a metaphor. He does not literally have a noose around his neck, but this metaphor implies that his marriage is a complicated and painful situation. An appropriate circumstance to use this example would be if the man were explaining to his friend that his marriage is facing some difficult times. This phrase could be misleading if the man did not elaborate on the fact that he had trouble with his marriage, otherwise it could be mistaken as a threat of suicide brought on by his marriage woes. A simile is when the characteristics of two things are compared by using the words ‘like’ or ‘as.’ The purpose of a simile is to help prompt understanding about one thing by comparing it to a characteristic of something else. For example, “her parents were acting like teenagers” conveys that her parents were acting rowdy and silly. Her parents were not literally teenagers, but were behaving in a similar manner. This phrase would be appropriate if her parents were texting each other across the dinner table, but it could be misleading if the girl did not go into detail about how her parents were acting like teenagers since teenagers come with a range of behaviors, many of which would be inappropriate for adults to adopt. A cliche is a phrase or expression that is overused and “betrays a lack of original thought (Glucksberg, 2001).” A common cliche is “keep your chin up,” which figuratively means not to become upset or discouraged by something, or to stay positive. It can be used when a person is having a bad day and their friend wants them to know that life will get better as long as they remain positive. It can ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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