Mixed metaphors and muddled minds

Having recently written a post about bad grammar versus evolving grammar, I had to share a few corkers from a post my colleague, Gareth van Onselen, wrote on Inside Politics about the vicious circle of poor language and poor reasoning.

The post provides quite a detailed critique of the language used by Sunday Independent journalist, Edwin Naidu. For my part, I merely want to share a selection of some of his particularly bizarre turns of phrase.

As Van Onselen notes:

A good test of any metaphor is to imagine what it would look like as a picture. If it is a mixed metaphor, or confused in any way, the picture one conjures up will be bizarre and, most likely, humorous which, if that is not your intention, will have the effect of distracting from the central narrative, undermining the strength of the argument and, ultimately, lowering one’s opinion of that particular piece of writing.”

So, for a laugh, try to imagine how Zapiro or Tony Grogan might illustrate each of these 🙂

“…Vodacom would be able to spread its tentacles without the handicap of having a government parastatal using it as a cash cow while not doing much to reduce the red tape that has limited Vodacom’s potential for growth on the continent.”
“Instead of barking up Leon’s tree, Zille should take the bull by the horns…”
“…the supermarket group is losing market share to other retail food chains because it has not boldly gone where its rivals have already planted their seeds.”
“…wearing two frocks – one as mayor and other as opposition leader – can sometimes blur the vision.”
“Zille seems to be picking up Leon’s stompies. Is this not the pot calling the kettle black?”

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3 Responses to “Mixed metaphors and muddled minds”


  1. 1 H. Frielinghaus 4 July 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Many years ago I heard the mayor of Uitenhage urge citizens to keep their grass virgins tidy. No metaphor was intended, but he certainly arrived at one!

    One of my favourites: you may be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can’t make it drink.

  2. 2 ahazell 4 July 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for the comment. Love the Uitenhage mayor’s appeal – what a gem.
    🙂

  3. 3 H. Frielinghaus 15 July 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Heard on the radio, and elsewhere, often, ‘the proof is in the pudding’. Well, I tried the Zapiro test, shook the hell out of the pudding. All that dropped out was currants (in the case of Spotted Dick)and a few coins (in the case of some leftover Christmas pud). Would this be a case of slipped metaphor, and would the proof of this be in the soup?


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