Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Block that simile


[“Like gas in a car, your body needs grains.” Found in a free publication distributed by a local HMO.]

The simile fails in two ways: 1. The human body doesn’t resemble gasoline. 2. Gasoline doesn’t need carbs. A better sentence:

Just as a car needs gasoline to run, your body needs carbohydrates.
Related reading
All OCA simile posts (Pinboard)

[Carbs is another name for grains? I think the HMO just redefined carbs.]

comments: 6

Anonymous said...

Hydro-CARB-ons, dear blogger. C8H18.

An engine requires its carbs too, because in a carbon-based world as is ours and our carbon-based life forms, carbon bonds with hydrogen, burns with oxygen, and quite a number of other elements to sustain life, making carbon dioxide in the process. The vendor of your 'carbs' perhaps annoys with a simile, but said simile is lightly factual. If you do not burn -- combine with oxygen -- carbs, you will assume room temperature rather quickly, just as your car would roll to a stop without burning its carbs.

Carbon is quite the elemental building block in your body, alongside the big bag of water which we all are. Oddly, water is part of our cooling system too, so one might extend the engine simile further.

The simile does not fail, but your reporting of it does on closer reading. You report from your reading that the "human body doesn’t resemble gasoline," while the little sign does not allege it does. And of course the word hydro-CARB-ons overturns your statement, "gasoline doesn’t need carbs."

The simile did not allege that the human body resembles gasoline.

Wiki informs that "Energy is obtained from the combustion of gasoline by the conversion of a hydrocarbon to carbon dioxide and water."

Please beware of chemistry similes, for they can be combustible as are so many carbohydrates. Thankfully so, as I hope for your personal and continued burning of carbs to enjoy today until tomorrow, as I hope that your vehicle may burn carbs to transport you in a way that is consistent with your CARB-on based life and love.

Now that I think about carbon in various bonds with hydrogen and oxygen, I think later in my day some hydroxls bound to carbon might find their way into a cocktail. Cheers.

Michael Leddy said...

I think you’ve missed my point, Anon.: the syntax of the original sentence compares the body to gasoline. “Like gas, your body,” etc. But what the writer wants to say, of course, is that gasoline : car :: carbs : body. Like a car, your body, etc.

The Arthurian said...

[“Like gas in a car, your body needs grains.” Found in a free publication distributed by a local HMO.]

Well, at least it was free.

Anonymous said...

Language grammar does not always function in the same way, or there could be neither jokes, lies, marketing or politics. Symbolic logic and other forms of notational thought affect, such that the a:b as b':a' functions. Only in some rare forms of higher math is this not true. But more than thinking about simple grammar rules, your statement mid-comment reads, "Gasoline doesn’t need carbs." This is untrue, of course. That syntax rules might affect the message for some does not suggest the same syntax rules work for all, else the writer, publisher and purveyor of the "free publication" would not have all made the same syntactical error, as you understand it. So, I ran this by a marketing fellow. The reflection was that your "better sentence" does not have the same selling panache. Sometimes the feces of the bull is the choice of the marketing types, and this takes us back to those who tell jokes, lies, and engage in marketing or politics. After all, as one example, depending on one's political stance they other side must be wrong, even if the syntax rules are observed. Is not that jest infinite? While the "human body doesn’t resemble gasoline" it also does not resemble a car. Being old enough, my problem with "carb" is that the younger generation, awash with marketing, media and politics, uses the shortened word incorrectly. Carburetor, please. And HMO means health maintenance organization. And sin tax....

Michael Leddy said...

Sorry, I don’t see panache when a sentence is so obviously clumsy that I want to scan it and rewrite it. I still I think you’ve missed my point, Anon.: the syntax of the original sentence compares the body to gasoline. “Like gas, your body,” etc. But what the writer wants to say, of course, is that gasoline : car :: carbs : body. Like a car, the body needs a source of energy.

“Gasoline doesn’t needs carbs” was a joke, as we usually don’t think about gasoline and balanced diets.

Diane Schirf said...

Badly written sentence without a clever purpose. The writer is not a writer.