Wednesday 24 May 2023

Grammar: Zeugma and Syllepsis

The Greeks had a word for it – they classified everything, including rhetoric and figures of speech.

The classic examples of syllepsis/zeugma are sentences like this:

She served the soup with a ladle and a scowl.
He left in a cab and high dudgeon.
He lived in hope and Crouch End.
She's raised the ceiling height and expectations.
(Homes under the Hammer)

Sometimes the writer or speaker moves from literal to metaphorical meaning, or vice versa:

You, sir, will die either on the gallows or from the pox!
That depends if I embrace your principles or your mistress!

This dialogue has been ascribed to many people from Disraeli and Gladstone to... Read all about it here.

Vigil for Missing Mom Steps up Pressure on Husband. Armed with anger, hope and candles, participants in a vigil for a former police officer's missing fourth wife left a pink placard reading "Where's our sister Stacy?" on the man's porch Saturday. (2007, CNN)

The air was thick with shrieks and fruit. (P.G. Wodehouse on an orange-throwing incident.)

She made no reply, up her mind, and a dash for the door. (Flanders and Swann)

They are sworn to secrecy and to protect the poor.

George III is predominantly remembered for losing the American colonies and his sanity. (Telegraph, 2013)

MissVietnam is my favourite to win Miss Universe 2015 tonight. She comes in peace — and a pink bikini! (William Lee Adams)

Those who confront him end up in the wrong, or Poland. (Nancy Banks Smith)

In 1868, at Walham Green, Edward Colbeck broke the world record for running 440 yards and the leg of a passing sheep. (Lee Jackson/LF)

Newsnight has learned the current clinical lead for the Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service – handed a key role in the new services – has questioned the need for change and the integrity of Dr Hilary Cass. (@hannahsbee, 2023)

More here, and links to the rest.

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