Saturday, October 12, 2013


A friend called and asked, "Doesn't it just drive you crazy when you hear the newscasters say 'the White House said' or 'the office said'?"

I answered, "I know, I hate that!"

She asked, "What do you call it, personification?"

I answered, "No, I think personification is when inanimate objects or events are given human characteristics, such as saying time is a great healer."

She said, "I thought that was pathetic fallacy."

I said, "I think pathetic fallacy is giving things in nature human traits such as babbling brook or moaning wind."

She said, "I thought THAT was personification!"

I said, "Maybe it's metonymy; that's when we say Hollywood when we mean the whole film industry or The Pentagon when we mean all of the military. I know it's not synecedoche, because that's when one says ABCs instead of saying the alphabet."

She said, "I thought I was smart; I don't even know those two words!"

I guess "THE WHITE HOUSE SAID" is a combination of personification and metonymy!

Oh, Miss Digman, I wish I could call you!

OK: here are the definitions from Merriam Webster:

PERSONIFICATION: giving human qualities to non-human things; can be objects, events, ideas or even living, non-human things, such as saying: "hunger was left standing by the road."

PATHETIC FALLACY: attribution of human feelings and responses to inanimate things or animals, such as saying, "angry clouds, cruel wind, or smiling skies."

METONYMY: something is referred to not by its own name but the name of something closely related, such as saying The Pentagon instead of saying all branches of the service.

SYNECEDOCHE: a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, such as saying "the law" when meaning a police officer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I swear to God I thought you just made up SYNECEDOCHE to test us! ML