Figurative Language Versus Literal Language

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Figurative Language versus Literal Language
Maurice Mayo
Sonja Sheffield
Critical Thinking
1/25/13

It is important for one who speaks figuratively to take in consideration the audience might not be able to fully follow or understand them completely. Although figurative language can be entertaining, it can be interpreted in a way other that what was intended. Therefore, it will need some explanation.

The word “idiom” is an expression whose meaning is not literally what’s said, but it is what is to be understood based on its premise. The idiom functions as a substitute for could be considered a less interesting way of expression. “Play your heart out” is an idiom that literally be translated as someone’s heart is leaving their body while they are playing; but by my basketball coach used this idiom when he wanted us play to the best of our ability.

An analogy is a similarity between of two things that have common features, on which a comparison may be made (Harper, 2010). I use analogies when I am trying to explain an idea so that my audience will have a point of reference, and hopefully get a better understanding of what I am trying to explain. “Her tears ran like the waters of rushing river”, is an analogy that compares tears to waters of rushing river.

A metaphor is an implied comparison between two things (Kirby/Goodpaster, 2007). “Michael Jordan is a beast”, is a metaphor that describe his great ability as a basketball player. The literal translation could make the reader afraid to be around him because of the descriptive word beast.

A simile is a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared. “We are like sheep” is simile comparison that speaks to behavior, nature, and dependency of mankind. As sheep depend on mankind for their protection, likewise, mankind depends on God for its protection. The literal interpretation could suggest many other things such as, we look like sheep, we smell like sheep, we think like sheep…...
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