You may have noticed my continuing fascination with words, especially their derivations and their usage. Today I extend my wordsmithing smile in your direction with a possible gift: How to craft *analogies that delight and elucidate. Ones that last…!
I’m fond of linguistic truisms. One of the most reliable: Analogies and metaphors enrich communications. Like an opossum that won’t loosen its toothy-grinned grip, I like to use verbiage that’s adorned with fresh comparisons—the kind that can attract and hold others’ attention. I know that novel verbal links invite listeners’/readers’ brains to discover, play with, create and remember conceptual relationships that bubble with eager-puppy possibilities.
At whatever age, most of us are verbally proficient in other ways that capture and hold the attention of others. (For example, spinning fascinating stories or showing conversational curiosity.) The use of lively analogies might add to that skill set. Here’s how I approach that possibility….
Reframing existing analogies.
“As bright as day” can become “As bright as butter on a pancake” or “As sparkly-clean as a new toothbrush.”
Playing around with a comparison’s core.
“Slow like a turtle” describes both slowness and turtles. By inserting different manifestations of the basic idea, though, I might come up with “A snail couldn’t be more sluggish” or its possible opposite, “As hyper as a caffeinated blue jay.”
Considering other attributes of an item or relationship.
A pair of old slippers is comfortable, but it’s also scruffy, happy to be valued, comparatively inexpensive or unobtrusive. Old dogs may not be capable of new tricks. They also know their place, use eye contact skillfully, forget their manners, snore, lounge with secret purpose.
Experiment with as-yet-unknown, tantalizing correlations.
Cold wind cuts to the bone. It might also be fighting with your overcoat! The love of your life possesses the wisdom of Solomon, but may also be smarter than a smoke alarm.
As you continue to produce and use analogies, remember that you are already attention-worthy, simply because you’re someone who speaks and listens—even writes?—with a smile!
*My family of origin possesses a lasting proclivity towards linguistic originality. My brother Paul created “….like Harold’s dog” to serve as a universally useful analogy. (Example, “Your penmanship is worse than Harold’s dog’s.”) Sadly, the wider culture has not yet acknowledged this utilitarian syntactical contrivance.
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