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Figurative Language/Expressions

  • Figures of speech aim at structuring an argument for the purpose of moving the emotions of the audience
  • Figures of speech as an art of literacy composition derive their creativity from the following strategies:
Figures of Similarity
  • Simile: A simile shows a comparison between two entities or events which may not be related
    • The main aim of this comparison is to make the hearer or reader to identify the similarity in a given quality or characteristic of the events or entities being compared
    • This comparison is introduced with the words ‘like’ and ‘as’. For example:
      • As white as snow
      • As gentle as a dove
      • As wise as Solomon
      • As bright as the sun
      • As sharp as a two-edged sword, etc
  • Metaphor: Just like the simile, the metaphor expresses the comparison between entities and events
    • However, while the comparison in simile is overly stated, that of the metaphor is implied.
    • For simile, the expression of comparison is usually ‘a is like b’, and for the metaphor, it is ‘a is b’. For example:
      • Obi is a lion (He is brave)
      • I am the squirrel teeth
      • Yetunde is a raw gold (Yetunde is a pure talent)
  • Allegory: This is an extended comparison in which one subject is described in great detail, while another is assumed to be understood.
    • Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is an allegory that shows a man’s personal encounter with the aim of exposing his inadequacies
Figures of Analogy (Imagination)
  • Apostrophe: This is similar to personification. The only major difference is that it addresses abstraction; the dead or absence of an imaginary person as if present and can understand what is being said. For example:
    • O wild, wild, west, thou breath of autumn’s being
    • Africa, tell me Africa
    • Are you back on that bend?
  • Hyperbole: This is a deliberate exaggeration or overstatement of events and ideas with the aim of giving emphasis or creating comic, satirical or dramatic effect. For example:
    • She has faith that can move mountains
    • All the perfumes of Arabia cannot cover the stench of his deeds
    • The entire would rose to the defense of the priest
    • Auntie wept gallons of tears at grandpa’s funeral
    • The girl is three centuries old
  • Litotes: This is a presentation of understatement in an ironical manner. The aim is to convey the opposite of what is overly expressed. For example:
    • He is a citizen of no mean country
    • It is not an uninspiring experience
  • Personification: This is the attribution of qualities of life to inanimate things and abstract ideas. For example:
    • When civilization kicked us in the face
    • The flowers danced to the flow of the wind
    • Chike is a walking dictionary
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