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Video transcript

hello readers we've got a bear of a lesson today and it's all about figurative language sorry I should back up I know I said we have a bear of a lesson I don't literally mean that I've got a bear that would be extremely sweet love a bear love bears whole thing with the snacking in the sleeping in the eating of fish but no a bear of is a figurative expression that means something difficult so a bear of a lesson is a difficult lesson and that's what we're talking about today not bears sorry but non-literal uses of language which we call figurative language or figures of speech figurative language says one thing but means another I could say that my colleague Allison is an eagle-eyed editor and when I say that I don't mean that she literally has an eagle's eyes in her head that would be a terrifying achievement of medical science no I'm saying that she is sharp and attentive in the same way that an eagle is so I'm saying something that is not literally true in order to express something that is true that Allison is good at editing would you call that a lie I'm not sure I would it's just a non-literal way of expressing myself so having gotten the question of whether or not I'm a dirty rotten liar out of the way let's talk about some different varieties a figurative language first the simile a simile is a comparison between two things that uses like or as if I were really hungry I could say that my stomach was gurgling like a tar pit or that I was as hungry as a ravenous wolf and again neither of these things are literally true if my stomach we're making actual tar pit noises I would probably need to go to a hospital but what do those examples tell you about the way that I the speaker think about my hunger animals and people get stuck in tar pits they're gloppy they pull things into them they slow things down sorry t-rex therefore I'm saying that my hunger is slowing me down or if I'm comparing myself to a wolf you can imagine me looking lean and desperate saliva dripping from my jaws at the mere thought of food I could really go for a cheese danish come to think of it so that's simile the second figure of speech I want to talk about today is the metal and what's a metaphor cows and sheep sorry I couldn't help it no a metaphor is not a meadow for metaphors are another way of comparing two things but this time there's no like or as we're walking this language tightrope without a net now you aren't signaling with like or as that you're making a figurative comparison so you have to use context to communicate clearly at the beginning of this video I said this was going to be a bear of a lesson that's a metaphor there's a Linda Ronstadt country song from the 70s called love is a rose which is all about how to take care of a relationship through the metaphor of tending a flower with thorns on it the difference between my stomach is gurgling like a tar pit and my stomach is a gurgling carpet is the difference between simile and metaphor simile uses that like or as comparison whereas metaphor just straightforwardly says thing X is the thing Y love is a rose my tummy's a tar pit which was not nearly as successful of a song another way to use figurative language is personification which let's just break that word down it means to describe something as though it were a person to say that differently it's ascribing human characteristics to nonliving things the wind howled through the mountains the car grumbled as I threw it into gear the storm raged these are things that people do but I'm applying that language to inanimate things like wind and cars and storms in order to express the way these things are behaving the car is not literally grumbling on man I can't believe David has that drive me today it's making noises that I am choosing to identify as unhappy the greatest kind of figurative language in the entire universe is hyperbole by exaggerating I'm expressing emphasis and importance this summer I'm going to read a million books and eat a literal actual ton of hot dogs this is not true in fact this is impossible that is too many hot dogs those are too many books each of which are sentences I never expected to say but I'm trying to express my enthusiasm for both books and encased meats and I'm doing that by being you know extra the final kind of expressive language I want to talk about today isn't exactly figurative language it's the language of allusions and references where you make comparisons to characters or events from literature or movies or culture also note that it's allusion with an a as opposed to allusion with an eye an allusion with an eye is like a magic trick here are some examples of illusions oh you'd have to be Superman to lift that fallen tree or you have a golem like obsession with that stuffed animal now these comparisons only work if the person you're talking to understands the reference Superman has super-strength Gollum from The Lord of the Rings can't stop talking about how much he loves this one object of the Ring if you don't know the reference then it's all just noise one tip is to read up on mythology you'd be surprised how many times ancient gods like Zeus Poseidon and Apollo come up as you read so that's what we're working with here simile love is like a rose metaphor love is a rose personification my car grumbled hyperbole my mom grounded me for eight trillion years and illusion I feel mightier than Hercules that's figurative language folks you can learn anything David out