POTW: Analogs, Metaphors, and Irony

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Regular readers know I'm a bit of a stickler for reasonable grammar, syntax, and spelling. I'm far from perfect, but I strive for at least a solid 6th-grade level of English here on Slope.

One of the many things that Americans don't seem to grasp is the difference between an analogy and a metaphor. Broadly speaking, analogies can be any of a wide variety of constructions, including similes and metaphors. But from my point of view, metaphors and similes are not the same as analogies.

A metaphor, as most commonly used, should substitute one object for another for the sake of brevity or clarity. For example, "The White House has made clear its refusal to take a stand against Goldman Sachs." – the actual physical building is obviously not doing the speaking; the White House is simply a metaphor for the executive branch of the U.S. government.

An analogy, by contrast, offers an A:B::C:D relationship. For example:

The Fly is to Tim Knight as Satan is to Jesus Christ


Kool Aid is to Fine French Wine as Abby Joseph Cohen is to Sherilynn Fenn

Now that we've cleared up that subtle distinction, there's an unrelated one I'd like to clarify – irony. There was a very popular song called Ironic a few years ago by Alanis Morissette whose lyrics are, partially:

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn't it ironic… don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought… it figures

The events mentioned above are instances of bad timing and poor judgment, not irony. In fact, I don't think there's a true irony mentioned anywhere in the entire song.

On the other hand, if I, for instance, were killed by a bear, that would be ironic. It would be doubly ironic if it happened while I was filming a video to discuss how badly the market was about to fall.

I hope the difference is clear. If so, you are, once again, among the most elite strata of your fellow citizens.