Gwen Peterson: In a Sow’s Ear 9-3-12
Do you know the definition of “paraprosdokian”? (I had to look it up too). “Paraprosdokian (from Greek “παρα-” meaning “beyond” and “προσδοκία” meaning “expectation”) is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.”
In other words start a sentence with something that sounds serious or philosophical then end with a surprise twist. A couple of examples:
1) I used to be indecisive, now I’m not so sure.
2) The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.
Today’s political campaigns of haranguing speeches, annoying telephone polls, pounds of pestering snail-mail pleas and screeching negative tirades fall into the category of on-going paraprosdokian-ism.
Here’s a few snippets of sentences I’ve read in some of the compost pile of political literature that’s hit my mail box. With a smidgen of editing and a bit of twisting, one can turn the uttering’s into political paraprosdokians. The words in italics are the paraprosdokians. Some I made up, other gems are from a list off the Internet. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
“I read letters from people, some inspiring, some heartbreaking …” Each one compels me to change my mailing address.
“As I read the stories, hopes and fears of people, I’m reminded that …” I should flush the commode.
“Protecting Seniors …” Where there’s a will I want to be in it.
“… I rely on the dedication, leadership and support of folks like you …” Send money in the enclosed envelope to me.
“We need to help middle class families …” Without middle classes, who would be left for the elite to patronize?
“Millions of Americans … looking for work …” Light travels faster than sound. That is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
“… tax system … fair for all …” If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
“… making our economy strong and prosperous …” To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
“… when everyone gets a fair shot …” You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
“… fixing budget and deficit reduction …” Do not argue with idiots. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.
“Political debates …” Learning how to act in public.
… the campaign trail …” Change is inevitable … except for the ability of politicians to prevaricate with straight faces.
“Honesty is the best policy …” If you’ve already paid your premium.
“… notes from the voting booth …” Walking a mile in my shoes may give you blisters and I’d be barefoot.
“… remembering former Presidents …” Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
“… running for office …” Behind every successful politician is a woman. Behind every fall of a politician is usually another woman. ❖
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