About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « Archive THIS, Government Spy Type! | Main | Those Who Love Pi Are Square »

    Fences Make Good Bankers

    ring-fence.jpgQuote“He is expected to ring-fence his assets so that he will have no influence on how they are managed.” Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag, in the New York Times.

    Figure of Speech: anthimeria (an-thih-MER-ia), the verbing figure.

    Bush’s nominee for Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, will take a $38 million pay cut when he leaves his CEO job at Wall Street’s top firm.  To avoid any conflict of interest, he will probably create a blind trust for his $700 million in Goldman stock.

    The firm’s spokesman uses highfalutin investment jargon, “ring-fence,” to describe the move.  That’s an anthimeria, a figure that turns one part of speech into another — such as a noun into a verb.

    Language snobs who want to close our lexical borders hate this figure, because it’s a prodigious neologizer.  Calvin in “Calvin & Hobbes” dislikes the anthimeria (he’s surprisingly conservative for a six-year-old). “Verbing weirds language,” he says.

    It certainly does.  But Shakespeare weirded language to form more than 1,500 neologisms.  In an age when the average person had a vocabulary of 700 (today’s college grad averages 3,000), Shakespeare’s exceeded 21,000.  If weirding was a turn-on for him (to use a once-popular anthimeria), it positively ecstacizes Figaro.

    Snappy Answer:  “Ring-fence Bush while you’re at it.”

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments (1)

    Oops! Calvin may be conservative, but if I remember the actual strip, his "Verbing weirds language" comment is actually in favor of the action.
    March 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKen

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.