19.269 anthropomorphism (personification)

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 9 Sep 2005 07:08:30 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 269.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Fri, 09 Sep 2005 07:02:51 +0100
         From: "pjmoran" <noci_at_cox.net>
         Subject: Anthropomorphism

Re: 19.259 personified software. Yes, anthropomorphism is the same
phenomenon as personification, but the "hard sciences" needed to have
their own terms for it. "The Humanities" terms couldn't be used in a
science description--heaven forbid. Metonymy (talking about
something close to the actual subject); synecdoche (talking about the
part as though it is the whole); personification (speaking of
something as though it is human); metaphor (implied comparison of two
things); and simile (explicit comparison of two things) are all
subdivisions of figurative language. Examples:
Metonymy ("The White House said today"); synecdoche ("he's my
right-hand man " or "I'm dating a redhead"); personification ("the
trees just spoke to me"). The dfference between metonymy and
synecdoche, according to one of my literature students is, "If you
call your car your 'wheels,' that's synecdoche; if you call your car
your 'ride,' it's metonymy.")

The whole metaphorical/literal thing is fraught with idiosyncratic
interpretations. I was always interested to hear my adult students
say, "Man, I don't get this figurative language stuff. Do you,
Baby?" Swearing they didn't understand, they used the figurative
language to make themselves understood.

"The eagle flies on Friday" means pay checks come out the day before Saturday.
A "gig line" (buttons, belt buckle, fly of trousers) must be straight
or punishment will be dealt out.

Metaphorical has become generalized to refer to all figurative
language, much to the chagrin of us (English teachers).

Dr. Cousins' mother is speaking metonymy.

Patricia J. Moran, FSU
Graduate Student
(ABD, Adult Education)
Received on Fri Sep 09 2005 - 02:22:56 EDT

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