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Mandatory justification of over-used metaphors

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The phrase 'perfect storm' is now never used for anything meterological but as a shorthand for "Something's gone wrong" or "We didn't see *that* coming!". Users of this phrase (and other similarly over-used metaphors) should be forced to explain exactly how this metaphor fits their current situation, and what things represent global weather patterns, the jetstream, the coriolis effect, humdity, sea temperatures, wind speeds, etc.
hippo, May 26 2010

The definitive reference work Overused_20Metaphor_20Thesaurus
[theircompetitor, Nov 11 2011]

Wikipedia: Perfect Storm http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Perfect_storm
Good indicator of overuse: phrase has its own wikipedia entry. [jutta, Nov 12 2011]

Peak Peak Reached http://www.thedaily...ached-2014060287103
[calum, Jun 03 2014]


       It does seem like an odd phrase - I've never looked at a storm and thought "Oh, 8 out of ten for stormyness on that one."   

       And what series of events makes up a perfect storm anyway?
zen_tom, May 26 2010

       Dear sir or madam:   

       Please justify your metaphorical use of the word "shorthand."   

       Yours very truly,
mouseposture, May 26 2010

hippo, May 26 2010

       could a new law be termed a "lets all"?
po, May 26 2010

       my colleague has just told someone - my computer has frozen.
po, May 26 2010

       Heh, I'm so far back on the sweating hilt that I've never even heard the phrase bleeding edge before.   

       This ideas sounds most agreeable until one considers what it might potentially spawn. If people are forced to defend their metaphors they may become self-conscious and instead revert to inaccurate similies, causing a perfect storm of likes and as'.
rcarty, May 26 2010

       //revert to inaccurate similies//   

       Hang on - IMO inaccurate similes are better than the increasingly popular "null simile", which is just lazy as.
pertinax, May 26 2010

       //faulty meme// faulty what ?
FlyingToaster, May 26 2010

       I remember some sci-fi book and the guy travels into the future and the kids are all speaking this language that consists of an insanely meshed framework of gestures and clicks and words and facial expressions and... eventhough the guy didn't really hear anything but a word or phrase here and there, after a while he was able to understand them perfectly as if speaking in whole scentences. I think this sort of thing already goes on, anyways, but my point is that contextual meaning is far more important than primary meaning, so I'll never give a damn if I'm using the metaphor improperly just as long as we all got our chickens laying baskets on the same fence.   

       I am that guy, [Ian]. The one you despise. However, there is a little secret: about half the time I know I'm fucking things up bad and could even correct myself, or provide knowledge of the nonprimary usage, but I just don't want to. That would break my flow, and also allow in a whole new opportunity to fall on my face in words... Better to just keep going, let the river do the work.
daseva, May 26 2010

       We need to hit this nail on the head before the horse gets to water under the bridge too far.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 26 2010

       //... before the horse gets to water under the bridge...//
Fortunately, there's no danger of anyone making it drink.

       //the sweating hilt// I am *so* using that at the next opportunity.
mouseposture, May 26 2010

       Neologisms are an efficient way of communicating. Rather than standing in the way of language evolution, I think it would be better to shape how it evolves. So accept that perfect storm is being used more widely than weather, but only use it when you mean "confluence of unfortunate circumstances which will end in a bad way" rather than any bad situation.
xaviergisz, May 27 2010

       Hippo, would I be justified in suggesting that you might be a Language Nazi? :) Or would that only be if you'd also suggested that anyone who didn't justify their metaphors be sent to a concentration camp and gassed? :)
goldbb, May 27 2010

       //faulty meme// Ironicallyº, the current common use of the word "meme" is itself a successful, rapidly reproducing faulty mutation of the original meaning of the word, as coined¹ by Richard Dawkins. And, irony of ironies, it's not possible even to be miffed, as Dawkins himself wrote of the proliferation of corrupted, but more fertile², versions of memes - although he did not anticipate what would become of his "meme" meme!   

       º Ironically: Strictly, irony is a rhetorical term (i.e. literally used in rhetoric - no metaphor here); I use it to denote situational irony, which is metaphorically derived from verbal irony, but no alternative term exists.   

       ¹ Coined: Perhaps a little weak, as the word would imply the production of multiple, identical items, rather than the invention of a new one.   

       ² Fertile: giving rise to many progeny. An apt metaphor, as the concept of the "meme" is analogous to that of "gene", including the property of reproduction.
spidermother, Nov 11 2011

       Why thank you! Although, strictly speaking, pedant means teacher, so I assume you are using the word metaphorically.
spidermother, Nov 11 2011

       Just wondering: would this justification result in conservative metaphors piling up over on the right side of the page?
lurch, Nov 11 2011

       Metaphors become cliches and these can become part of language. I have used the phrase "perfect storm" once in the past two years to describe the match between someone who had a fetish for something whereof the other had a phobia, and i think that was justified.
nineteenthly, Nov 11 2011

       The point that spidermother seems to me to have been making is that "overused metaphor" is a transitional stage in the life of a word or phrase, as it passes from one apparently non metaphorical meaning to another. But I must confess that that might be my mind struggling to keep up.
calum, Nov 11 2011

       Or thunder & lightning.
pocmloc, Nov 11 2011

       nigglifying something.
FlyingToaster, Nov 11 2011

       It was balloons, [bigsleep].   

       So there's an intermediate stage during which it's infradig to use it? Sounds like the fashion thing: daring - fashionable - ugly - amusing - quaint - beautiful or however it goes.
nineteenthly, Nov 11 2011

       [bigsleep] That derivation is speculative (though interesting).   

       [calum] No, I was mainly just having fun. Although, when you look into it, language is so steeped in metaphore that it is almost nothing else.   

       For example (and this is partly speculation by me), the word 'mum', 'mummy', 'mother', etc. with similar sounding equivalents in many languages is a good candidate for the most primitive word; it uses the mouth movement of a suckling infant as a physical metaphor for the mother herself.   

       However, I agree with [hippo] that certain metaphors are tedious and overused or misused.   

       One interesting example is 'sea-change', another meteorological term. It has been used metaphorically for any large change in conditions or circumstances.   

       An Australian TV series about a family that left the city and moved to a small coastal town was called 'Sea-change'; here, it was a pun, but using the term for changing one's lifestyle by literally moving to the sea caught on, so that later the word 'tree-change' was used (in the media) for people who move from the city to the country. Fine as a once-off joke, but pretty tedious if used repeatedly.   

       To me, a tree-change still signifies Autumn or the outcome of an Entmoot.
spidermother, Nov 11 2011

       The time might come when the word "change" changes to "sea-change", and at that point the word will no longer be a cliche but simply the main word for "change".   

       [Spidermother], the word "atta" or "tata" and similar- sounding words such as "dad" are widespread words for father in many apparently unrelated languages. In Georgian, it's the other way round: mother is "deda" and father is "mama".
nineteenthly, Nov 11 2011

       //In Georgian, it's the other way round: mother is "deda" and father is "mama".// I did not know that.   

       In Georgian singing, the third harmonic created the most fundamental interval (rather than the second, or none at all, as in nearly all other harmonic traditions).   

       I picked the 'mama' collection only because of the obvious suckling association; well, I completely made up that association (hence the disclaimer), but it seems obvious.
spidermother, Nov 12 2011

       //fundamental// justification please!
pocmloc, Nov 12 2011

       The interval class 3^n*2^m was well-tuned and formed the basis of harmony. The interval 3/2 was divided into four, approximately equal, melodic intervals; these intervals did not contribute directly to harmony. The interval 2/1 was not used at all; the nearest interval to it was too distant to be remotely acceptable harmonically.   

       I could translate all of that into modern Western musical terms, but that would be about as informative as saying "The French system is based not on the foot, but on the yard, only the French yard is longer than a yard, and is divided into inches, only there are 100 inches in the French yard, and they are quite a bit shorter than an inch ... " etc.   

       [edit] Sorry, a bit slow there - just worked out you meant "justify the metaphorical use of fundamental". Fundamental: lowest or deepest. Other aspects of the music are (metaphorically) built on that interval, which is not built on anything else in turn - hence it is fundamental.
spidermother, Nov 12 2011

       Yes, i have a friend who's quite into Georgian singing but ironically, i know very little about music. The chanting is a possible link, i suppose (Georgian as opposed to Gregorian), which i seem to recall Georgian singing sounds like.   

       There's another language where they're swapped over, possibly Basque, but both are the exception which proves the rule.
nineteenthly, Nov 12 2011

       Sadly, though, modern Georgian singing has abandoned the ancient practice I described - which is thought to be so old that it predates, and has almost no points of contact with, the whole of Western harmony, to the extent of not really using a 'scale' in the sense that we use the word.   

       Instead, they now base their singing on the Western scale, which, to me, is a loss of the same sort as if they abandoned the Georgian language and both spoke and sang in English. I tried to reconstruct the ancient Georgian music system once; it is very alien, and I would love to hear it performed, but have been unable to find any examples.   

       There are some surviving ancient Pygmy and Balkan singing styles, which again are totally different from Western music (neither uses 'notes' in the Western sense, let alone scales). They are, in each case, deeply alien and stunningly beautiful.   

       I once offended someone by expressing a lack of commitment to the expression "music is a universal language". However, once you get a good look at what music really is, and how it works, that statement becomes as empty and meaningless as "language is a universal language". IMHO.
spidermother, Nov 12 2011

       [sm] I have a friend who does Georgian choral singing. Yes, very alien interval families.   

       I appreciate your learned disquisition on the topic but I am somewhat disappointed since I was setting you up for hours of fun chatting about arses.
pocmloc, Nov 12 2011

       I've heard various African instruments and couldn't work out what the hell was going on.
nineteenthly, Nov 12 2011

       I'm enjoying this discussion, but feel that it is [marked-for-deletion] advocacy.
jutta, Nov 12 2011

       , metaphorically speaking.
rcarty, Nov 14 2011

       There's some Georgian singing on utube... I'm not a non-Western tuning person, but that sounds different: Hey that's out of tune... no it isn't... yes it is... no it isn't... ... ...
FlyingToaster, Nov 14 2011


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