Murder by metaphor

Alan Pringle / Humor2 Comments

The Shanghai Tech Writer blog has a hilarious list of awful metaphors written by high school students. These gems include:

  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  • Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  • They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

The list does provide quite a bit of entertainment (well, maybe I’m easily amused), but many of the metaphors also demonstrate why technical writers should avoid using them. Metaphors are often culturally specific and therefore difficult to translate. For example, I wonder how many folks outside of the US know what a Thighmaster is?

About the Author

Alan Pringle


Content strategy consulting. Publishing (electronic and print). Eating (preferably pastries and chocolate). COO at Scriptorium.

2 Comments on “Murder by metaphor”

  1. Thighmasters are sold in Australia. I think. Or maybe I’ve just watched enough American TV, because now all of a sudden, I’m not even sure if they’re sold here. 😉

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