Tuesday, October 24, 2006

98 Reasons For Blogging: 7

7. From the "Higher Education" section of The Australian:

The Oxford Street exodus

October 18, 2006

OXFORD Street is the homosexual heart of Sydney. Mardi Gras marches down it, gay clubs and shops have sprung up along it; it's a metaphor for the visible gay community.
I fear I'm slipping into pedantry here, or I would if Brad wasn't just plain wrong. What he describes is a metonym, not a metaphor. He should have said 'Oxford Street is metonymic of the gay community in Sydney', meaning it is one part of the gay community that is read as representative of the whole of the gay community. The gay community cannot take on the qualities of the gay community--which is the signifying process of a metaphor, by way of comparison--because it already is the gay community.

I don't know where to begin with the 'visible' bit. If the metonym had been named correctly then 'visible' would render the sentence a tautology since a part cannot stand for another part of the same thing. This whole first paragraph is nonsensical.


clare said...

Yes, I see what you mean. Good analysis. I guess these people have to rush these things out - but you do have to be careful with a word like metaphor.

Ampersand Duck said...

I don't think it's anything to do with rushing. I think journalists have an ever-shrinking vocabulary of what they think (and this is the important bit) readers will understand.

lucy tartan said...

He may have written something better to begin with but been overruled by a sub-editor with firml ideas about just how little troping the readers of the Higher Ed section can cope with!

Galaxy said...

I didn't want to be too harsh on the author, because I noticed he was a geography student, so probably an undergraduate, probably hasn't sat through the classes where an arts/humanities student learns these things (or at least those where a tutor/lecturer attempts to instill the difference between these two signifying processes). But as you've probably gleaned I've spent much time and effort explaining the distinction, so when I read this I thought, 'eeek!what a mess'.

I do feel a bit dishearted that The Higher Ed might have such a dim view of its readership, but they have demonstrated long before this that they don't think much of academic types.