Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
Weather: Warm and cloudy
I’ve been waiting for some readers to mention idioms with religious content.
Hebrew poetry in the Bible is very idiomatic. Certainly those in the Jewish faith have a long history of using idioms, some still in their mama loshen (mother tongue). Their idioms are often humorous, edged with irony and come from that large cache of Yiddish lore that originated in the ghettos.
I wish we could have seen the faces of some of the biblical speakers to better interpret their sayings. Was Jesus smiling when he said “…it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”?
At the heart of idiom and simile is allegory. Shakespeare’s writing, both comedic and tragic, is filled with idioms. As John Keats wrote, “Shakespeare led a life of allegory; his works are the comments on it.”
When we use these figures of speech, we are basically making comparisons, and as writers, we need to make comparisons in unusual and memorable ways. Several of you have responded to my Monday queries saying that idioms work better in fiction. I think you’re right, but regardless, our readers remember what we write in new and different ways, although the truth of it may be never-changing.
Last weekend I was spading a bed to plant pansies and an earthworm crawled out. Just at that time a good friend called to say she was trapped in slow-moving traffic and a worm could crawl to Nashville quicker than she could drive it. I told her I knew just how slow she was going! Let’s keep our eyes and ears open. Idioms and similes are all around.