Monday, February 6, 2017


With all the "leaking" coming from The White House, a friend asked, "Doesn't it just drive you crazy when you hear the newscasters say 'the White House said'?"

I answered, "I know, I hate that, along with 'the office said', etc."

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 that 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 a babbling brook or a moaning wind."

She screaked, "I thought THAT was personification!"

Struggling, I said, "Well, maybe it's metonymy."  She asked what that was and I said, "That's when we say Hollywood when we mean the whole film industry.  I know it's not synecedoche because that's when we say ABCs instead of saying the alphabet."

She answered, "Hell, I thought I was smart but I don't even know those two words;  did we learn them in school?"

I said, "Oh, Miss Digman, I wish I could call you;  I guess "THE WHITE HOUSE SAID" is a combination of synecedoche and metonymy!"

My brother, hearing my side of the conversation, asked, "What the Hell was that about?"

WHEW!  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 eyes".

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...

Oh, my, knowing you is my liberal arts education! ML