06 August 2003

"Literal" used metaphorically

The other day I wrote of proportional representation:

It would dilute the impact of a single ideological vision and force its adherents to moderate its more extreme positions. This has implications for Quebec separatism, whose followers would not simply be able to run away -- both literally and metaphorically -- with the province.

After I wrote this I realized that I had meant the word "literally" to be taken metaphorically, if that makes any sense. The thought of people actually picking up the province, piece by piece, and running away with it brought to mind a series of rather humorous visual images which I had not, of course, intended.

One of my colleagues teaches an interdisciplinary course in metaphor. I'm not sure what she would make of my metaphorical misstep. She might use it as a bad example -- as something to warn her students not to do.

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