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  1. emka's Avatar
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    #1

    Time/place personification – S/O swap

    I have a few questions about a certain type of prepositional phrase turned something different, usually indicating time or place in narration. I sometimes read such constructions in travel stories or diary entries.

    Time or place are personified, usually followed by the verb “to find” or “to see” in the past tense. Instead of “On New Year’s Eve we were packing bags…” or “In London I was in an excellent mood…” or “On Sunday he mowed the lawn…, this type of phrase would read like this:

    New Year’s Eve found us packing bags…
    London found me in an excellent mood…
    Sunday saw him mow the lawn…
    (I made up these examples, but that's the pattern)

    The subject becomes the direct object, and the place or time become the subject instead, taking on a personality that can “find” and “see” things.

    What is this phenomenon of subject-object swap called?
    Is it a figure of speech?
    Is it a certain type of construction with a name to it so that I can read up on it?
    Is it only used in writing?

  2. emka's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    Addition:
    It's not just time and place, it seems to be a general thing. I am reading online, and here's what I've just found:

    The idea would see a distinct architectural structure, of approximately 24,000sq m on four floors, built in.....

    I'm getting really curious now and want to understand this construction.

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    #3

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    It's common in diary entries, travel stories, etc, because it can help with the sequencing, by highlighting the time, so the writer may think it makes the narrative clearer. You can use it in speech, though I imagine it's more common in writing as it's there to help structure things in an orderly way.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It's common in diary entries, travel stories, etc, because it can help with the sequencing, by highlighting the time, so the writer may think it makes the narrative clearer. You can use it in speech, though I imagine it's more common in writing as it's there to help structure things in an orderly way.
    Quite - but that doesn't answer emka's questions:

    What is this phenomenon of subject-object swap called?
    Is it a figure of speech?
    Is it a certain type of construction with a name to it so that I can read up on it?


    I can't answer them either. I have been thinking hard, and scrabbling through my books, but I haven't come up with anything yet.

    An interesting topic, emka.

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    #5

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    I was glossing over that part in case someone actually knew the answer. And it was very late at night.

    It is similar in some ways to anastrophe, isn't it? But what the exact term is, I don't know.

    http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Figures/A/anastrophe.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anastrophe

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    That first link led me to a number of wonderful terms:


    Unfortunately, none of them seems to cover emka's case. The dawn has brought me no emlightenment, so we'll have to wait and see if anybody else comes up with a suggestion.

  5. emka's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    Morning has broken....,
    teachers have spoken..
    .(thanks, Cat Stevens)

    But this morning saw no real answers to my questions, as 5jj has stated. Maybe I am just being overly analytic? Maybe not everything can be categorised and named?

    But I am certainly overwhelmed with the number of new terms for figures of speech offered instead. As I only had Latin at school and most of them are of Greek origin, it's all (no, not all, but some are) Greek to me...

    But let's wait. Maybe morning or midday does bring enlightenment to some other teacher, whom I will then
    ... praise with elation.

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    #8

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    Quote Originally Posted by emka View Post
    Maybe not everything can be categorised and named?
    A truly terrifying thought.

  6. emka's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    Not really, but I love lightbulb moments.

    If I see or hear isolated things that seem odd to me and I get the answer "Well, that's just the way we say it", then I file it away under "usage; simply try to memorise".
    But if I detect a pattern, as I have here, and I can't categorise or name it, this bugs me a little.

    (By the way, there is an interesting phenomenon in medicine. If people suffer from some symptoms whose cause is unknown, usually over a long time, and if they have seen many doctors who were all unable to come up with a clear diagnosis, these patients become very frustrated. But when finally somebody has a name for their symptoms, even if they can't offer a cure, all of a sudden the patient feels somewhat better.It's Soandso-itis; they are not just imagining... Not that I would suffer terribly, though .)

  7. 5jj's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Time/place personification – S/O swap

    Quote Originally Posted by emka View Post
    But if I detect a pattern, as I have here, and I can't categorise or name it, this bugs me a little.
    Try one of these. They are almost certainly not correct, but they might keep you happy till something better turns up. Anyway, if you use one of them, very few people will know enough to tell you that you are wrong.

    ontological metaphor - definition and examples of ontological metaphor
    Conceptual metaphor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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