Figurative Language Versus Literal Language

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Figurative Language versus Literal Language
Critical Thinking – PHI 210

Figurative Language versus Literal Language
Figurative language is a language that uses embellished words or expressions to convey a message different from the literal interpretation. They are not to be taken literally but instead are meant to be imaginative (creative, inventive, offbeat), vivid (intense, flamboyant, dramatic) and evocative (suggestive). Poets (and writers) frequently use figurative language as a way to make their words jump off the page. Case in point, “it's raining hard” is literal; however, “it's raining cats and dogs” is figurative – unless animals are literally falling from the sky. So in short, figurative language is used to add spice to text/words that would be uninteresting (dull, unexciting) otherwise. Executed (delivered) well, it can shrewdly (ingeniously) get a point across. However, an improper delivery can potentially lead to confusion. An idiom is a catchphrase (expression) that deviates from the usual meaning of the words used. Idioms would be nonsensical if taken in a literal context. For example, “don’t bring sand to the beach” is a clever way of telling someone not to take something that will already be supplied – such as taking alcohol to a bar. Using this idiom on someone not proficient in English would cause a delay in communication since the person would not understand the contextualization. They would be stumped and wonder why anyone would actually take sand to the beach in the first place. An analogy is a logical argument used to illustrate how two disconnected (disassociated, separate) things (concepts) share similar (certain) characteristics. This form of figurative language is used with the intent of helping individuals grasp the concept of complex (ideas). For example, a teacher might instruct a confused student to think of pizza slices when trying to solve fractions; pizza slices are something the student can easily compare and...
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