Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Periphrasis Game for You

A while ago, DHawhee posted a bit on her blog (and in Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students) about her favorite trope: zeugma. Which is an Awesome Trope, btw--and is the rhetorical process of joining two very different phrases with the same verb (ex. "He ordered tea and the troops to invade" or, from "So I Married An Axe Murderer": She stole my heart and my cat.)

Anyway, another pretty neat-O trope is periphrasis, a form of circumlocution, in which one uses extra words to convey, talk around, and point to (but never actually say out loud) particular meanings. So, if you're a wordy bastard like me, you're gonna love periphrasis.

Hmmm, you may be wondering, what the hell prompted this blog entry? Well, I'll tell you. The other day my friend was telling me about this game he used to play with his buddies in college. The point of the game, he said, is to name different kinds of crazy based on characteristic. Delicious reference for tropes, I thought? Or super-fun way to pass the time on the bus to school? Well, dear reader, it is, in fact, both...

Here are a couple of the types we've come up with so far:

From his college buddies-

Marilyn-Manson-Crazy--used to mean someone who may look very very scary but is, in fact, from Ohio. Or Florida. And is mostly harmless.

Eating-salad-with-a-spoon-crazy--used to mean someone who is not super-clear on how to get things done in the most, um, expeditious (not to mention maybe culturally appropriate) manner.

Recent additions:

Probably-has-a-necklace-made-of-thumbs-crazy--this is the antonym for Marilyn-Manson-crazy, used to mean the type of person who everybody describes as quiet and polite until they find the bodies in his freezer.

No-passing-in-the-right-lane-crazy--used to denote a person suffering from slow-driving cars on the highway road rage. May lead to binge drinking and invention of new strings of curse words in a row. This happens between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa quite a bit.

Wire-hanger-crazy--violently OCD, used to denote the kind of person who must always be in control of even the weirdest details. Do not mess with this person. May not be quite as bad as the Thumb Necklace guy, but still not the most fun to have at slumber parties.

I'm sure there were more, but I cannot think of them right now, and I have to go to school and GRADE GRADE GRADE. There is probably another kind of crazy for that...


dhawhee said...

funny! i agree that this is one awesome trope. here's the zeugma post if ya want it:

james said...

Thanks! I'll put in the link.

Tera said...

Okay. This is really interesting, and not something I have ever heard of (since I am not any kind of authority on rhetoric). I am going to research and share this concept with my 9-year-old, Maggie. She really likes things like this, especially pointing out random things in the environment and labeling them for our intellectual benefit.