This will be a brief enough and nit-picking response to only one example given here: William the…
Alex W

Yeah, totally. Subtlety in metaphor and analogy, particularly when one is limited in space to an essay or speech, is a tricky business.

Because of this fact, I decided to simplify the full sweep of cultural and linguistic history of the Northwest of Europe, in order to fit the relevant analogy into the few paragraphs necessary to set a foundation for the rest of the speech.

I mean I’m a huge Albert Brooks fan too, but unfortunately I’m not as good as him, so can’t keep the cadence and interest while simultaneously saying “well, it wasn’t actually French, you see the French language didn’t really exist quite yet as we know it, I mean, it wasn’t even really France yet as a thing, it was really more of a hodgepodge of — ”

See, boring. And what actual relevance does that have to the central thread of the speech?

Not a fucking bit.

So rather than detail all of these nuances, I decided to simplify history enough that the relevant gist fit into the space that I had and still served the purpose of the piece — this trick is what some people will often call “writing.”

Until now, I felt that it was correct enough — given the knowledge I gained while working toward my actual degree in cultural anthropology with a focus in linguistics — but I now see that I was wrong.

Moreover, I now see that a man who read part of a book has found my error so egregious that he found it necessary to correct that single detail while by all accounts ignoring the central premise of the speech, which I took such great lengths to protect by the historical simplification.

The irony is so deep it hurts.

Oh look! A poin —

Never mind, you missed it. Anyway, about this one specific tree you’re describing in great detail to me… do go on. It’s fascinating.

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