Idiomatic Mirroring

cold-chickenI’m endlessly fascinated by idioms – mostly by the way people misuse them, of course.  Mostly, problems arise when people don’t think back to how the metaphorical language came about,but there are other ways cliches and idioms can go wrong.  For instance, in normal use of language, one can often flip the meaning of a sentence by reversing a pharsal verb in it (running into a house vs. running out of a house, for example).

But idioms make things tricker.  There are a number of tragedies in the events at the chicken houses that serve Pilgrim’s Pride, where a whole mess of chickens were killed by vengeful idiots before they could be turned into tenders or whatever.  But amongst all the other little tragedies was Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett forgetting this characteristic of idiomatic language.  It’s okay, if you must, to use the colloquial “jack up” rather than “turn up” to describe someone turning up the heat on unfortunate chickens, Sheriff, but you probably shouldn’t have tried to mirror the language when you described the heat being turned off for other chickens.


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