Comparatio


Comparatio (com-pa-ra’-ti-o): A general term for a comparison, either as a figure of speech or as an argument. More specific terms are generally employed, such as metaphor, simile, allegory, etc.


The bottom is like the top—a terminal point in the world of up and down. Up and down are value-laden words—as George Lakoff tells us, “up is good, down is bad.” Throwing up. Growing up. Showing up. Blowing up. Screwing up. Turning up. All these “up words” can represent a range of values on the good-bad continuum. I don’t see how screwing up can be a good thing. I guess blowing up can go either way, depending on the context. For example, blowing up an inflatable adult doll can be a good thing for those who find them attractive. But blowing up your home might be a bad thing, unless it is a planned demolition. Also, the same goes for the doll: if it’s being blown up as evidence in divorce court, then, it can be seen as a bad thing for its owner. Context matters more than the words in determining their good-bad valence. But of course, you need the words to make meanings.

What about down? Down the hatch. Down the road. Down to the beach. Downtown. Down and dirty. Down and out. Down my spine. So, down is less nuanced than up. I don’t know what that means beyond an abundance of the negative attaching to “down.” I like “get down” quite a bit. It reminds me of the 70s when it was a key catch phrase among cool people. It was usually yelled at disco dancers wearing white disco suits, male or female high-heeled shoes, and males, with unbuttoned shirts showing off five-feet of gold chain coiled around their necks. There was cocaine snorted and pot smoked by everybody in the disco joints. Everybody got down! Sometimes that did include falling down and passing out on he floor, but the “faller downers” were quickly dragged out the back door where they would usually be robbed of their wallets and high-heeled shoes, and sent home in cabs.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve misrepresented Lakoff here. Basically, he says that metaphors (which are comparisons) provide us with our orientation toward life. So when you’re “fit as a fiddle” you should be “happy as a clam.” As a violin with mollusk-like sentiments, get down! You’re di-nohmite!


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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