A figure of speech is a word or phrase that has a meaning other than the literal meaning. It can be a metaphor or simile. “My heart is beating.” is literal, an observable fact: 60 beats per minute.
A word or phrase used in a non-literal sense for rhetorical or vivid effect. “My heart is beating for you.” Is an expression of affection or support that does not have to have any knowledge of beats per minute. It sounds nice and can have a variety of effects related to real and imaginary situations. Metaphors are tricky.
Saturday our building manager volunteered to spike the 50 holes for milkweed with a large iron bar. I said, “If you hit a large rock, just move over a ways from the flag placed by the city conservationist. The flag does not represent the exact location for the hole.”
But the ground now has a number of large rocks on the surface. He did move over a ways. He put the bar at the edge of each offending rock and rolled it out rather than find a spot without a large rock. The rocks add something to the otherwise monotonous landscape. We thought we understood one another, but we did not. “Move over a ways” (1) to dig the hole and (2) to dig through rock, produce different results when accomplishing the same task.
Sunday I had this in mind when 30 members of the League of Black Collegians (LBC), MU, where here to plant the 50 milkweeds on the Provision Living Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. I never labeled a team member with a shovel as the digger.
Several members had their music playing. I asked one, “Is that from the Internet or stored on your phone?” “On my phone.”
There is then more to metaphor than a term or phrase that changes meaning over time within a culture. Meaning also is related to who is the speaker and who is the listener, and the immediate situation, along with what is known of the history of usage (Jaynes, 1990). We both heard the same words.
Time and knowledge are constantly evolving new cultures (and leaving others behind). Without a common language being taught in schools (a fad, not too distant in the past, was for some schools to teach with the jargon used in the community) and common experiences growing up, a nation can only hope for the best, that people will strive to optimize their perceived needs in the short term, that promote the long term general welfare (LBC).
The Multicultural Mizzou Timeline from creation of the University in 1839 until now points out that new people from different cultures do not disappear into one look-alike and act-alike group. These students cannot be exactly like me nor can I be exactly like them. We speak different (English) languages and use different metaphors or the same metaphors with different meanings stretched out over 60 years.
We can learn to be friends and help each to succeed. The volunteer workday was a success in several ways. I was shocked to finally realize that the first black student to enter MU was the year I enlisted in the air force in 1950.
That GI Bill got me a PhD. The CBL is also promoting education, as the way out of poverty, and the ability to control one’s own affairs.
CBL October 15 photos.
Jaynes, Julian, 1990. The Origin of Consciousness in the Break Down of the Bicameral Mind, 2nd Ed. 491 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York.