Thursday, June 22, 2017

Yes, some people literally did not understand that Steve Brust was speaking metaphorically

A footnote to Ideology makes you confuse the literal and the metaphorical--a bit about the 4th Street Kerfuffle:

I completely understand why people find it hard to believe anyone did not understand that Steve was speaking metaphorically. That croggled me, too. But the difficulty of understanding metaphor began with the first comments at 4th Street Fantasy Society:

David Cummer Are you saying Steve intended to make people feel threatened?

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ReplyJune 17 at 2:29pm
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Alex Haist David Cummer He said so explicitly, so yes.

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ReplyJune 17 at 2:30pm

I answered,

Will Shetterly Alex has trouble understanding metaphors, so she did not hear what he was saying. This would not have been a problem had she asked him if what she inferred was what he intended to imply.

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June 18 at 12:30amEdited

Even after considerable discussion about metaphors, there were exchanges like this:

Karen Osborne Because he literally said that we should feel threatened. Good heavens.

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June 20 at 3:54pmEdited
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Will Shetterly Karen Osborne Did he say it literally or metaphorically?
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Will Shetterly I asked Matt Smit this, and he hasn't answered yet: Is it no longer possible to use "threaten" as a metaphor? I'm old, and language changes, so if that's so, it'd be good to know. In my day, anything could be meant literally or metaphorically.
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Matt Smit You asked Reuben, not me, Will.

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June 20 at 3:58pm
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Karen Osborne Will - You already know what he said.

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June 20 at 3:59pm
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Will Shetterly Karen Osborne Yes, I do, and I know it was a metaphor.

ETA: At Steven Brust’s Fourth Street Fantasy Remarks Generate Heat | File 770, Hampus Eckerman doubles down on the idea that Steve's metaphor was a literal threat. I replied, "All metaphors are said literally. That does not mean metaphoric speech is literal speech, even though English would let us say that."