Language going up the wall

Garden Path Sentences – a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader’s most likely interpretation will be incorrect, ie. a one sentence plot twist. Examples:

  • The old man the boat
  • The cotton clothing is made of grows in Mississippi
  • We painted the wall with cracks
  • The man who hunts ducks out on weekends
  • The man who whistles tunes pianos

Zeugmas – a literary term for using one word to modify others, ie. action + physical noun + abstract noun. Examples:

  • Our teeth and ambitions are bared
  • He fell out of her favours…and the window
  • She kicked that bad habit and soon after the bucket
  • The storm sank my boat and my dreams
  • He firmly held his tongue and her hand.

Malaphor – an informal blend of two or more idioms ie. a chaotic mess. Examples:

  • We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it
  • The road to hell wasn’t paved in a day
  • To make an omlette, you need to break a leg or two
  • You hit the nail on the coffin
  • Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, give a fish a man and he’ll eat for a week

So here’s a quick collection of some of my favourite language things. Garden path sentences can be really funny. The cool thing with zeugmas is that, if you put the material noun before the abstract noun, then you get an epic vibe, eg. Our teeth and ambitions are bared. Whereas, if you put the abstract noun first, you get a more humorous effect eg. He fell from her favour … and the window. As for malaphors, well, they’re a bit on the crazy side but then again so is language. Feel free to comment any that you know of!

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