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October 31, 2012

"Litter On A Stick" - A New Political Term

Writing, in a sense, is like any other acquired skill - the more we practice, the easier it becomes and the better, meaning concise and focused...

...our writing becomes.

The real test though, is whether our message gets across.

Even better is when our message is memorable - particularly for those whom it was not originally addressed.

Political seasons are times when words and terms are developed, emerge or take on new meanings.

This particular political campaign season in the USA has been particularly fruitful when it comes to new words and terminology. 'Job creators' the 1% and even the 47% have emerged as pungent terms, each with their own story and meaning.

This year I did something a little bit different - I came up with my own slogan. My slogan is not based on any particular political candidate or party, but instead on the inevitable and obnoxious clutter left out in the rain and wind and in the streets - political signs.

The term I have come up with is 'litter on a stick'.

This is a metaphor, and like any good metaphor, two objects in completely different contexts are put together to make a point - and a memorable image.

'Litter' is usually defined as garbage one might see on the the side of a street or sidewalk - especially paper, newspapers or wrappers.

'On a stick' usually refers to a portable snack with a disposable handle, something one might buy in a street market. It might be a popsicle, hard candy or a chunk of meat, like fish or chicken.

Whatever happens in terms of the election results, political signs are almost always left behind and no one wants to think about them - let alone drive around town and pick them up.

So they are like garbage on the side of the road - except on a stick.

So 'litter on a stick' is a good metaphor for the clutter left over after an election. It's a new term, pass it on.

I confess to being an unrepentant word nerd, and I love the many possibilities and contradictions in a language as flexible and fluid as English - especially the always-unpredictable American version.

Send us any words or phrases that make you crazy and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing, constantly shifting linguistic landscape.

Morf

Posted by mmorf at October 31, 2012 08:41 PM

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