Quote: “A horde of squat, swarthy creatures who live in darkness and shun the light are laying siege to the good people of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ today. Inhabitants of Middle Earth call these creatures Orcs. Inhabitants of the theater call them critics.” Michael Riedel in the New York Post.
Figure of Speech: syncrisis (SIN-crih-sis), the not-that-but-this figure. Also isocolon (i-so-CO-lon), the figure of equal clauses.
A four-hour, over-hyped, $23 million theater production of the most tedious fantasy ever written premiered in Toronto. Surprisingly, critics ripped it to little magic shreds.
The Post sums up the matter in a syncrisis (“to compare”), a figure that weighs things side by side in similar clauses. It’s similar to an isocolon, which pairs up clauses with the same length and some of the same words.
The writer’s ironic use of the syncrisis has almost become a journalistic cliché. Write a definition (“horde of squat, swarthy creatures”). State the obvious object (“Orcs”). Then name a startling second object (“critics”).
Being a journalist ourselves, we highly recommend it.
Snappy Answer: “Inhabitants of corporations call them tech support.”