What does that mean? 你真的瞭解這個慣用語嗎?

Imagery buries itself in language and takes on new meaning. The transplanted and transformed word or set of words is called a “figure of speech.” For a figure of speech to be effective, however, a writer must first understand the original meaning of the word or phrase. The following sentence contains a common figure of speech. Its original meaning is explained.

“The branch’s grip on the river oak leaves was loosened by wind gusts, and first one, then 100, then 500 cartwheeled through the sky to smother the ground.”

Cartwheels are relatively tall, slender wheels with long, slender spokes emanating from the axle. When a cart moves forward, the wheels turned and the spokes rotated with increasing speed as the cart moved faster. This motion of revolving spokes is replicated by the arms and legs of children and acrobats who move laterally by alternately standing on their feet and then their hands and then their feet and so on. The circular sweep of the extended arms and legs catches the eye, just as the spokes of a wheel do, with the center part of the torso functioning as an axle.

By saying that the leaves “cartwheeled” to the ground, carried along by gusts of wind, the writer calls upon the image of spinning wheels (and similarly spinning acrobats). Many leaves float gently, rocking slightly from side to side, when they ride a gentle breeze to the turf below, a movement commonly described as “fluttering.” But when the leaves are yanked from a branch by a more violent wind, they often are seen spinning end over end, the stem acting like a single axle in its rotation. Choosing descriptive words carefully separates spirited writers from ho-hum ones.


Posted at 2012-11-30 12:59:31

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