November 2, 2012

The figures of wordplay

In reading Killingsworth's article "Appeal through tropes" it became apparent to me that the various ways in which we use the constructions of words to communicate complex messages with one another are much more dynamic and fundamentally grounded in the conception of a shared reality than I was previously aware. Killingsworth defines tropes as being "figures of speech"(123) that we use, often times unintentionally implying the meaning behind these figures of speech, in everyday language as a means to communicate the complex meanings of which we identify with our shared conceptions of reality.

The use of figurative language goes beyond the simple construction of the metaphor, but as lakoff and Johnson so eloquently elaborated upon in their article "metaphors we live by", the metaphor itself is a fundamental componet which shapes and is shaped by our shared recognition of the symbolic power of the words we use to emphasize an element of our reality beyond the readily interpretable definitons of the words we use themselves. The construction of a metaphor is fundamental to our conception of the nature of the world, and metaphorical construction serves as a "crucial way of thinking, an attempt to bridge conceptual gaps, and a mental process that is at the very heart of rhetoric"(123). The construction of the metaphorical statement attempts to bridge such "conceptual gaps" by "relating unfamiliar things with the familiar experience of physical existance"(124), and therefore in essence creating a relation between abstract concepts which represent elements of our reality in one way or another and the definite existance of the physical body as a point of reference that the metaphor is derived from or returns to.

We also use tropes, or figures of speech, to form associations between similar elements of our reality in order to better emphasize their nature, a concept of which Killingsworth labels "metonym" (126). Killingsworth claims that we use commonly accepted associations, such as queen of england as the "crown" to elaborate on the nature of the subject, although the association between the words themselves isn't necessarily grounded in the nature of the subject itself. "metaphors are about shared attributes of different things, metonyms do not" (127). We use Metonyms to form "habitual associations" for the identification of a subject as it is perceived to be in our world, rather than by associating the trope with any manifested similarity.

Through the use of these two "master tropes", we form figurative interpretations about elements of our reality of which can only be directly communicated in the form of a figurative construction, such as "love is a rose" to emphasize that love is beautiful and delicate, but not necessarily a rose itself at all.We form interpretations of the world itself through the appeal to figurative constructions such as the metaphor or metonym, and therefore these "figures of speech" allow us to form a subjective individual interpretation of elements of our reality through the appeal to commonly recognized constructions of figurative language within the communication medium of written and spoken words.

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