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Using METONYMS; was: O Duty (Was: "If")

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Monday, May 24, 1999, 5:20
Speaking of DUTY...

Translating "Verimak" has reminded me how impressed I used to be with
Elizabethan writing, especially Shakespeare's penchant for metonymy and
personification.  I had always thought that that was something I wanted
to achieve in Teonaht poetic diction... not just to speak of love, but
to invoke Love as an entity, a being capable of enfolding you in her
arms; fortune as an entity that can turn her back on you, make a face
at you; prosperity that can strew coins in front of you; the muse that
can breathe inspiration into you, and so forth.  Not just poetry would
profit from these metaphors, but everyday expressions.  There's such
a paucity of the old uses of metaphor in modern English (although, yes,
I've read Lakoff's _Metaphors We Live By_... but an underlying
of the book is that it's such a surprise that we use metaphors at all in
everyday parlance)  I was wondering what some of the rest of you
did with personification in everyday expression... and better yet...
metonymy or senechdoche... making the part stand for a whole, or a
related object stand for a concept:  In "Fear No More the Heat o'the
Sun," SCEPTER stands for monarchy, for instance.  I extended it by
making CADUCEUS stand for medicine, and BOOK for education.  I had
thought that instead of or besides having words like "agriculture,"
business, "commerce," "education," "religion," etc. in Teonaht, that I
would make it possible for metonymies to express these concepts instead
of compounds ("money-system," for instance.)  I realize that all
our seemingly abstract words derive originally from concretions, but
why not try to reinvoke some of the economy of the old-fashioned phrase
"No cross, no crown," a sign hung in taverns requesting patrons to
refrain from getting into arguments about religion or politics.  So
what have any of you done along these lines in your conlangs?  If
"caduceus" stands for "medicine," and "book" for university education,
and "crown" for monarchy or government, and "plough" for agriculture,
"coin" for commerce, or some such term, "ship" for trade, "sword" for
then what for religion (Teonaht is eclectic in its embracing
Islam, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and retaining its own pagan
there are Jews in Tsorelai Mundya, but they are not Teonim)?  What other
metonyms could I come up with?  The obvious problems are knowing when
a sword is a sword and not an institution, but I'm all for having the
"wyf" words as well ("defense-system," etc.).  Or special or poetic
words to stand in for the institution.

One of you wrote about using your gods in this way, as of course
Chaucer did constantly:  Fortune "made a face" at Troilus, Mars
smiled upon Arcite, and so forth, meaning that Troilus was unlucky
and Arcite violent.  And not just Chaucer of course.  There's an
entire classical tradition behind this.

Sally Caves

Sally Caves wrote:
> > FFlores wrote: > > > I found this famous poem and I thought it'd be > > a nice translation project -- tho a difficult one > > probably. > > Nah... I prefer the one by Ogden Nash. shorter, a littleless didactic: > > O Duty, Duty... > Why hast thou not the visage of > A sweetie or a cutie? > Why glitter thy spectacles > So ominously? > And why art thou dressed > So abominously? > Why aren't thou different from Venus? > And why do thou and I have so few interests mutually in common > Between us? > > .... <G> > > That's all I can remember! > > Sally Caves > >