You might be aware that the classic early 90s TV programme Twin Peaks is returning tonight. In an era of so many different viewing choices, in terms of both content and medium, it’s hard to imagine how much it was talked about when it first aired. Even though I was only six at the time, I still remember everybody talking about it, and have never forgotten the image of a bloody and battered Ronette Pulaski walking along the train tracks.
I can still clearly remember watching an old episode of Friends when I was much younger, which featured a scene in which Chandler explained that he had dumped a girlfriend because she pronounced supposedly as supposably. I immediately had a moment of panic until I reassured myself that I had been pronouncing the word correctly. I had doubted myself for a second because supposably actually sounds quite natural, and I could easily imagine pronouncing it that way without really thinking about it.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this for a year now. It really only feels like a few months ago. A really big thanks to everyone who’s been reading and commenting. I hope you’ve found something interesting and perhaps illuminating every now and then. It makes it much easier to put in the work to write regularly when you know someone’s going to read it, so thank you.
It’s a strange thing, writing.
You might know the story of the word Eureka. Or at least that it involves an old man in a bath. The ancient Greek scholar Archimedes reportedly stepped into his bath, noticed the water level rose. Realising that the water displaced must be equal to the volume of his foot, and that he had figured out a way to accurately measure the volume of irregular objects (which was a big deal at the time), he exclaimed Eureka! twice.
… and says Ow!
It was an iron bar!
Sorry, I do love a good bad joke. But seriously, isn’t it interesting that this joke only works because we use the same word for two very different things? And if you think about it, the word bar has a lot of uses.
Synecdoche (the E is pronounced like in recipe) is a literary device in which a part of something is used to refer to the whole (or vice versa). It’s mainly considered a poetic device, and most examples that people provide are from poems. In this passage from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” for example, the word wave stands in for the sea:
The western wave was all a-flame.
The day was well was nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun
We use the word wave similarly when we use the phrase on the wave. Similarly, we can say a bird is on the wing when it’s flying. These are the two examples I was given when I was introduced to the term, back in, I believe, my final year of primary school. I was intrigued by this strange-sounding and -looking word, and wanted to think of other examples, though nothing really came to mind. I soon came to think of it as a purely literary device that was interesting, but not hugely relevant to my life. But now wiser and with a wider vocabulary, I can see that synecdoche is actually fairly common.
I’ve decided to continue looking at some of the basic aspects of the English language, as I began before. From now on it’ll be a little different, as I won’t go into much detail about what a lesson might look like, mainly because the principles remain largely the same. If you’re a native speaker, you might find this enlightening, and if not, it might be a useful refresher of things you’ve already learned. Before looking at some of the main past tenses, let’s have a quick recap of the present simple and continuous, which I looked at before, but not in much detail: