Aug 7th 2019

What are Metaphors?

Definition of Metaphor

A metaphor is a word or phrase that describes something in a way that isn’t literally true yet works to help our understanding by way of providing comparison. A metaphor refers to someone or something to show that they are alike. Sometimes we refer to metaphors as figures of speech, meaning they should not be understood in a literal sense but are instead used to explain something in a more vivid way. In fact, at times a metaphor could be an object (in the non-linguistic sense) used as a symbol to explain something else. Metaphors are often used in poetry and literature, but they also play an important role in everyday language, adding both color and context to speech.

Of course, the best way to understand the metaphor definition is to see some examples:

  • This bedroom is a pigsty. The bedroom is not literally a pigsty (a pen or enclosure for pigs), but the metaphor is used to stress how untidy or dirty it is.
  • The wheels of justice turn slowly. They aren’t literal wheels, but the metaphor serves to illustrate that justice, normally in a legal sense, can take time.
  • Dad is my rock. Nobody is literally a rock, but the metaphor is used to convey that a person is solid, dependable.
  • Tim is an animal in the courtroom. Tim is not really an animal, but the metaphor is used to convey that he is wild and aggressive when he is in court.
  • Molly is up to her neck in paperwork. Molly isn’t really covered in papers, but the metaphor is showing that she has a lot of work to complete.
  • The movie Wall Street is a metaphor for the extreme greed of the 1980s. This sentence is not itself a metaphor, but serves to highlight that an object, like a film or painting, can be interpreted as one.

Types of Metaphors

Language experts will often argue as to how many different types of metaphors exist, with up to 15 sometimes cited. However, we can whittle it down to three main areas – direct metaphors, implied metaphors and sustained (extended) metaphors. The first two, direct and implied, are much more common in everyday language than sustained metaphors.

Direct Metaphors

Direct metaphors are used in comparisons, basically saying that one thing is another thing. They are perhaps the easiest to spot and understand in a sentence.

  • Those children are angels. The children are well-behaved.
  • Congress is a circus show. Congress is unruly, dramatic.
  • My mother is a lioness. My mother is strong and protective.

Implied Metaphors

Implied, or indirect, metaphors do not explicitly say that one thing is another, but they hint at a connection in a subtler way than direct metaphors.

  • The witness crumbled under the pressure of giving testimony. A person wouldn’t literally crumble, but the metaphor is used to create an image of falling apart – like a cookie, something brittle – to stress the difficulty of the situation and how the witness fell apart.
  • The sergeant barked orders at the troops. A person wouldn’t literally bark like a dog, but the metaphor indirectly compares the sergeant to a dog to create an image of sharp, abrupt commands.
  • Julie sailed confidently across the dancefloor. The implied metaphor uses the verb sail to give the subject smooth, boat-like qualities, hinting at grace, speed and poise.

Extended Metaphors

Extended metaphors are more common in poetry and literature than everyday speech. As you might expect, they are often comprised of more than one sentence, perhaps encompassing an entire paragraph or passage. One of the most famous extended metaphors is Shakespeare’s ‘world’s a stage’ metaphor at the end of The Tempest. In the metaphor, Shakespeare makes several metaphorical references to life being a play, and thus the passage itself becomes an extended or sustained metaphor.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”

Dead Metaphors

Dead metaphors are phrases that have become so commonplace that the imagery they used to create no longer has any impact. In fact, some academics claim dead metaphors are not metaphors at all, such is the loss of their imagery and visual impact.

  • It’s raining cats and dogs. A common phrase meaning it’s raining heavily. It’s been so frequently used that the imagery of falling animals is no longer important.
  • He has kicked the bucket. A once gruesome metaphor to convey that someone had died, with the bucket falling over referencing hanging. Now the phrase has become so commonplace, although it’s still a crude reference to death, that we no longer think of the imagery of its origins.

Mixed Metaphors

Special mention should be made of mixed metaphors, which aren’t really metaphors, but linguistic errors made by confusing and combining more than one metaphor. Mixed metaphors are often comprised of dead metaphors, and can be, somewhat ironically, celebrated in modern pop culture.

  • “Labour are fighting like rats in a barrel”. Spoken by a UK member of Parliment in 2014, it seems to confuse the metaphors of rats fleeing a sinking ship and shooting fish in a barrel and comes up with a sentence with an unclear meaning.

Simile vs. Metaphor

There is often some confusion over the difference between similes and metaphors. In short, a simile is a type of metaphor that uses the words like or as to compare things. Metaphors, as we have seen above, can directly state a comparison or imply a comparison, but similes use like or as to compare two or more things.

Examples of similes:

  • He is as strong as an ox.
  • Jamie ran, swift like the wind, across the field.
  • Your words cut like a knife.
  • The boys laughed like hyenas.
metaphors

Examples of Metaphors

The beauty of metaphors is that they are limitless in number. Indeed, it’s important to understand that metaphors are not just established sayings or idioms. New metaphors are created all the time and those created by you or I are just as valid as those created in established literature and linguistics, and maybe even Shakespeare! However, here are some more examples of metaphors:

Direct metaphors

  • Those boys are little imps.
  • My brain is a computer.
  • She is a delicate flower.
  • This job is a prison.
  • He is a monster.

Implied metaphors

  • The cogs whirred in her mind until she found the answer.
  • The defense crouched behind the quarterback, snarling and bearing their fangs.
  • Mom buzzed around the kitchen getting things ready for the party.
  • The kids chirped in delight.
  • The flowers danced in the wind.
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Jul 25th 2019

The Cost of Poor Writing in Business (and What Management Can Do About It)

Guest post written by Carol Duke.

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Let’s face it: Poor writing is costing your business BIG time.

 Writing is a vital skill that can be applied to many areas in our life. But how exactly does it impact the success of your business?

In this day and age, where most people are communicating in 140 characters or less, you tend to become counter-culture if you can actually write, which, by the way,  is a great advantage. But this lack of formality can come at a heavy price. With frequent use of emojis and text-speak, writing skills are declining at an incredibly fast pace.

Businesses aren’t immune to this trend. Bad writing – one that’s exceedingly informal, vague, or riddled with meaningless jargon, has made its way into the workforce as well. In a business context, it’s essential to have a firm control of the way we express our message.

What is the cost of poor writing in your business?

According to an article published by the Harvard Business Review, bad business writing is “a hidden source of friction that is slowing your company down”.

For the first three months of 2016, the survey targeted businesspersons who wrote at least 2 hours per week, including writing emails. These individuals spent an average of 25.5 hours a week reading for work – about a third of which was email.

Of the 547 businesspersons surveyed, 81% agreed that poorly written content wastes a lot of their time. Many admit that what they read is often ineffective because it’s too long, very poorly organized, unclear and imprecise, and filled with technical jargon.

Instead of speeding up communication, a poorly written email, business proposal or instruction memo slows down productivity, and confuses the content of the message. In turn, the time spent to work out the true meaning of a badly written message means:

  • Additional expenses
  • Unfinished/incomplete work
  • Missed due dates
  • Additional costs that are mostly avoidable

 

Poor Business Writing: What You Can Do About It

Write Clearly and Accurately

 Fuzzy writing leads to fuzzy thinking. Inaccurate and passive language facilitates gaps in thinking. On the other hand, clear writing makes use of organized, active-voice sentences that effectively explain what’s happening, what’s about to happen, and what the team needs to do.

There are two advantages to using clear, direct, and active language. Firstly, it forces writers to carefully think through the message they want to convey and the arguments they can use to support it. Secondly, it makes the smart writers stand out. If you value clarity in writing, clear thinkers will surely rise to the top!

The good news is that you and your employees can learn better writing strategies in less time. For example, if you’re planning to create a website or a brochure for your business, you may want to use the service of a consultant or copywriter to work on your written material. You can check out various top writing service reviews for expert help.

 

Make a Good First-Impression

 Falling victim to spelling and grammatical errors is an easy way for customers to discount the credibility of your business. You can’t always rely on built-in spell check features as a lot of companies don’t have an in-house editor. This makes it all the more important to proofread your content at all times.

In business, first impressions always matters. You need to make sure you come across as a professional. Yes, you need to grab their attention, but you’ll also want to earn their respect. The use of correct grammar, appropriate spelling, and proper use of punctuation goes a long way in boosting the confidence of a person (and the company itself).

Increase Productivity Through Better Writing

As mentioned earlier, it takes employers more time to read through and understand poor business writing – about 25.5 hours weekly on average. Just imagine what your company could do if you reclaim even just 2% of that lost time.

For example, if you have 500 people on your team, they would have over 250 hours free every week to dedicate to more productive activities.

A lot of businesses rely heavily on written materials (i.e. memos, emails, proposals) among employees. With proper grammar and spelling usage, your workforce will understand instructions better. This avoids any unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding about what’s expected of them.

The result? Less time wasted trying to figure out poorly written content and more time spent doing their job. What’s more, better writing can help establish harmonious relationships between colleagues, thanks to better communication!

 

Good writing means a writer is able to craft a message that’s not just attention-grabbing, but clear and interesting, as well. A well-written message stands out, boosts the company’s productivity, and establishes a trustworthy reputation. With good writing, customers and prospects are more likely to trust a business that’s able to communicate clearly and correctly.

 

Equally so, employees in-charge of communications are expected to be proficient in their job. Therefore, it makes sense for them to be provided with proper training and support.

About author:
Carol Duke is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on education-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling, taking immense pleasure from visiting new countries.

 

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Jun 25th 2019

How Better Communication In English Can Contribute To Your Business Environment

Guest post written by Frank Hamilton.

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Every business person should remember one thing and one thing only: communication is the foundation of everything. If you look at any kind of business or any small detail of the processes that go behind the scenes, you will quickly realize that proper communication is what lets us convey information coherently and do our corresponding jobs effectively.

Consequently, being good at communicating, which means being good at the language you are using for it, is the key to being a good businessman or businesswoman. Here are ten reasons why improving your English is important for your business environment.

  1. English Is the Language of the World, the Internet, and Pop Culture

English is perhaps the most important language in the world. Most major industries such as media, banking and finance, agriculture, information technologies, pharmaceuticals, and others rely on English on a daily basis.

English also dominates the Internet, and that’s a fact. Even though the number of Spanish and Chinese speakers is growing at an insane speed, English remains the language used by the majority of the world’s population.

Moreover, English has now become the universal language of pop culture. From movies to songs to memes to literature, English is the language used to create these works. People use English to share their experiences with each other and find people who understand them.

  1. Modern Technologies Use English

There is no denying that China, Japan, and South Korea are very advanced in terms of technology. These countries are investing tons of money into this sphere every year. Which, in turn, leads to mind-blowing developments that they contribute to industry.

On the other hand, we have North America and Europe that continue making innovations too. Believe it or not, but the information technologies sphere is still largely dominated by English. After all, the biggest market for anything from earphones to smart homes is primarily English-speaking, either as a native or as a second language.

  1. Going beyond Basic Standards Gives You Leverage

Nowadays, you are expected to know English. If, before, it was a nice addition to your resume, now it is practically a standard. And, even if you come from a country that doesn’t speak English, your employer will still be surprised if you don’t know the language.

This is why taking your English to a different level will give you leverage over others. If you can display your outstanding skill in it and maybe support your claim with an official document too, you might be able to impress your boss before they become your boss.

Knowing the difference between day-to-day English and business English is also very important. You must be able to switch to more professional words when dealing with colleagues or business partners.

  1. Communicating With Colleagues Is Crucial For Good Relationships

As mentioned above, communicating with your colleagues should be done in business English. These are not your friends or family, but people you work with which means there will be completely different relationships between you and them than between you and your loved ones.

Moreover, using the right words, while talking to people that are in higher positions than you, can help you establish good relationships with them. If you address your boss in the appropriate way and use professional terms, you are more likely to be respected by him or her.

  1. English Helps You Deliver Presentations and Speeches

While working in a team or with potential business partners, there will often be times when you have to make a presentation or prepare a speech. This is the time when knowing English perfectly will help you tremendously.

If you need to include translations in a different language, you can use The Word Point, a professional localization service. This can be very useful if you are making a presentation for foreign investors.

After all, such conferences or team collaborations are the time to showcase your leadership skills as well as your professionalism and eloquence.

  1. Travel Is Easier With English

When you go to a different country, what is the first thing you worry about? Right, understanding the locals and communicating what you need. If you can’t find a common language, there is no way you will be able to navigate their country.

Luckily enough, English has been accepted as the language tourism. So even if you are German and are visiting Italy, you will probably be expected to speak English rather than German.

But when it comes to business trips, professional English is more important than ever. If you can’t convey why your company sent you to your foreign business partners, you will simply fail on your mission.

  1. Good Pronunciation Equals A Good First Impression

Everyone knows the value of first impressions, especially in business. This can, either be your ticket to a new life, or your one-way trip to the slums. Making a good first impression is crucial for any leader in any industry.

So how does English play out here? Well, depending on how good your pronunciation is, you can either appear as a newbie or as a professional. And, of course, the second one is what you’d want to go for.

If English is not your native language, getting rid of the accent can also help you blend better into your environment. Besides, nobody would want to be misunderstood because of how bad they pronounced a few words.

  1. Business Leaders Believe That English Is Vital For Communications

As the 2018 LinkedIn survey showed, business leaders value three skills the most: leadership, communication, and collaboration. English is the foundation of each of these, and if you are not well-spoken in it, you are more likely to fail.

Knowing English well is not just about your professionalism. It is about others respecting you. By showing your expert knowledge, you can easily establish yourself as an authority and inspire trust and loyalty.

  1. Language Is Directly Related To Branding

When a company uses English to name their products or services, it directly influences the way people see it. Keeping documentation in English is also a way of branding as is using the language in the workplace.

Moreover, employees of a company often represent the brand even when they are not in a work environment. This means that by using proper English you indirectly increase the authority of your employer.

  1. English in Trade and Commerce

Last but not least, English is important for trade and commerce. Long before this language became universally accepted as a way of communication, merchants would often have to either find a translator or convey their thoughts by gestures. Now, since a lot of companies are expanding globally, they have to convert to English.

Conclusion
All in all, improving your English, especially your business English, will definitely help you with your job. Whether you are an office worker or the CEO of a big company, English remains the primary means of communication for everyone and it is important to know it to the best of your abilities.

 

About author:
Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education.
He also loves travelling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

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Apr 18th 2019

How to Write a Perfect Graduation Speech

Guest post written by Regine Ward.

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Graduation is an event that every student anxiously anticipates. But as graduation day nears, it becomes obvious that writing a powerful and convincing speech is not as easy as it seems.
Of course, every speech should be genuine, personal and unique. However, there are tips and tricks that can be applied to any graduation speech which are gathered in the following article. So, keep reading to learn more about how you can write a memorable speech.

#1 – Consider Your Audience

When you start writing your graduation speech, you usually think about your classmates who will be listening to it. But there will also be parents, teachers, and the administration. So, your speech must be adapted to every member of your audience.
Keep in mind that students vary – some of them have honors, others – sport achievements, and some who simply struggled to finish studying. So, make your address speak to every person and consider their experiences.

For example, if you want to use some complicated words or terms, you can gently accompany them with clarifications or with more widely accessible words. This way, you will make your speech relatable to your listeners.
Also, avoid using phrases like “now we know what we are going to do in our lives,” or “we all had our best experiences here,” as these phrases might not apply to all your classmates.

#2 – Always Proofread

Finishing your speech in the nick of time, just before getting on the stage is not the best way to prepare a persuasive delivery. When you have all your thoughts organized on paper, reread your text, and make your edits. Pay attention to the logical flow of the text, transitional sentences, and repetitions. Even though your teacher or professor won’t rate your literacy, keep your speech free of grammatical mistakes, and typos as you might become confused in the process. In this case, Ginger is what you need for a backup.

If you don’t know what to talk about in your speech, or how to organize your thoughts, especially if you have no experience in writing a speech yourself, you can turn to a freelance writer from platforms like, Take My Class.

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Mar 17th 2019

How to Ace a Job Interview in a Foreign Language

Guest post written by Rachel Jackson.

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Handling a job interview in a foreign language can make you feel twice as anxious – not only do people naturally get nervous before a job interview, but, incorporating a foreign language, adds a whole new layer of complexity by making the situation feel extra stressful. Although it’s easier said than done, it’s absolutely possible to ace a job interview in a foreign language. It’s all about the time you spend preparing.

Tell the Truth About Your Proficiency

Getting off on the wrong foot with a potential employer by being dishonest might be a mistake you can’t come back from. If you aren’t fluent in the foreign language at hand, be honest with the company and your interviewer. Sometimes, it’s a show of good faith to demonstrate that you recognize your shortcomings and you’re eager to learn. Tell them how you intend to continue studying and refining your proficiency.

Familiarize Yourself with Niche Terminology

Get all the niche terminology that you can and make sure you understand it. Whether you found the job on a corporate website or a job board, a description of the duties, titles, and responsibilities should exist somewhere online. These niche terms are unlikely to be common knowledge if you aren’t an expert speaker of this foreign language. Making sure, that you understand special terminology before the interview, will help you communicate with grace and ease.

Rehearse Common Questions and Answers

Some questions are routine and commonplace in job interviews, no matter what language they’re being conducted in. Look these questions up and rehearse your answers. Employer review websites may mention the exact questions candidates were asked during their first interview. These questions typically probe at vital information, such as qualifications, education, career background, and why you’re drawn to the position. While, you can’t possibly prepare for everything they’re going to ask you, you’ll significantly limit the amount of time you have to think on your feet if you’re able to keep a few responses on the backburner.

Bring as Many Visual Aids as Possible

The more you can show, the less you have to explain. If you can type up documents and create presentations or example portfolios in the foreign language, you’ll have enough time to check your translations before you show them off. You won’t need to explain or scramble in the moment to get your point across. Showing, is sometimes more valuable than telling, and going the extra mile to bridge gaps in communication and transcend language barriers, will show your commitment to securing the position.

Spend Extra Time Speaking the Language

If you haven’t spoken the language aloud in a very long time, you’re going to wind up warming up in real time. Start thinking in the language a few days before the interview. Make an effort, when appropriate, to speak your thoughts aloud. If the language is very different from your native tongue, the accent may be contrary to the way you’re usually speaking. Without a proper accent, the things you say may be difficult to understand or not make sense. Immerse yourself in the other language. If you can watch a TV show or listen to music where the foreign language is spoken, you’ll keep everything fresh in your mind.

 

It’s never too early to start preparing for a foreign language job interview. The more you practice, the better off you’ll be. Worse case scenario, you can always equip your phone with a live translation app that will help you get through the harder parts.

About author: 

Rachel is a mother of 2 beautiful boys. She loves to hike and write about travelling, education and business. She is a Senior Content Manager at Brighter Finance – a place where you can learn how to manage your finances.

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