Metaphors All Around and Pedestrian Poetry

RE: David Brooks article:  “Poetry for Everyday Life”, Wednesday, April 12, 2011

Dear Editor:

This fascinating article by Mr. Brooks celebrates “metaphors all around,” and “pedestrian poetry,” a quote by Mr. Brooks from Steven Pinker of Harvard.   One uses metaphors to make a point, or to quote Mr. Brooks again, “to capture what is really going on, and to “transmit a culture’s distinct way of seeing and being in the world.”

Metaphors are pervasive in American English, particularly sports metaphors, which  may   be particularly difficult for foreigners, because they may not know the derivation of such idioms, not knowing the games.  The use of such metaphors seems to correlate with the season of the sport.  The end of April is draft time for the NFL.  Perhaps the authors of the following pieces in The Times were thinking of football season.

1) Editorials, Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Republicans Maneuver Toward a Shutdown  “ But Speaker John Boehner and his negotiating team have continually moved the end zone.”

2)Tuesday, April 5, 2011, Editorials

Cowardice Blocks the 9/11 Trial  The administration gives in to Congress’s baseless arguments, punting justice offshore.”

 Mr. Brooks states that war metaphors are used frequently in argument.  Here is an article rife with sports and war metaphors published on April, 13, the date of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, the siege of Fort Sumter.

New York Times, Wednesday, April 13, 2011: Business Day

Countering the Siege, by Steven Greenhouse

Washington: Gerald W. McEntee, leader of the largest union of state and local government workers for three decades, has surfed the rising tide of public sector unions to success and power, and has a huge campaign war chest that he has not hesitated to use to advance his union’s interests.  Meanwhile, Mr. McEntee “is doing his utmost to serve as national field marshal and megaphone for the counterattack.”  The biggest challenge, Mr. McEntee apparently is facing is to avoid a wipeout.

But,still combative at Age 76, Mr. McEntee has pushed away talk of retirement and plunged into battle to defend his union… “in  what is largely a decentralized union, Mr. McEntee is doing his utmost to serve as national field marshal, strategist and megaphone for the counterattack.”




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