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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
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    A Trope You Can Throw

    If you’re old enough to remember the Pet Rock craze, then you have had an important lesson in the literal value of a trope. Personfication is a trope because it represents non-literal language: not literally true, but not a lie, either. Tropes play pretend; and what plays pretend better than a Pet Rock?

    Pet Rocks were the brain, um, child of a California ad exec named Gary Dahl who came up with the idea in 1975. Each rock sold for $3.95, complete with a box (it had air holes so the rock could breathe), straw, and a thirty-two-page manual with instructions on teaching the rock such tricks as “stay,” “sit,” and, with an assist by the owner, “attack.” The fad lasted half a year; Santa brought us one for Christmas and we set it free in the backyard.

    Dahl used his profits to open a bar, which he ironically named after the anti-alcohol crusader Carrie Nation. Leave it to an advertising man to make a fortune out of tropes. 

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Love it! Tropes can make you rich! (Was that a trope?)
    May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSammy
    No, Sammy. Tropes are non-literal language; they literally can make you rich!
    May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Hey, Fig, if you're so tropical, how come you ain't rich? (Or are you?)
    May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn S.
    Only figuratively.
    May 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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