Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dino Rossi's old crew guilty of severe metonymy

Arg:

How Olympia's Solution to Climate Change Will Affect You and Your Pocketbook

Ok, just to get this straight, Olympia (as I know it) is doing something about climate change, but this isn't what Ted Dahlstrom is talking about.

He's talking about "the government of the State of Washington" and calling it "Olympia." I know this is a device called metonymy, but I think is an incorrect metonymy and a particularly dangerous one to our democratic government.

The purpose of metonymy is to take something large (like state government or the collected newspapers, radio and television stations) and call them something simple (like Olympia or "the press"). In the case of Washington State government and Olympia, I think this is turning the state government into a distant other, something that we feel no connection to.

Of course, I do feel a connection to Olympia, and am turned off by the metonmonic use of Olympia.

But, according to those in Olympia, it isn't anywhere near enough.

...

Those in Olympia have taken it upon themselves to be one of only six states to pass legislation dealing with climate change.

...

Even if that is true, the point remains that the legislation does have a cost, and that cost would be passed directly to the consumer. The same can be said for Olympia's climate change legislation.


But, it isn't "those in Olympia" and it isn't "Olympia's" anything. Legislators are elected from communities all over Washington State. While they may work in Olympia from time to time, they still come from places not near Olympia.

Calling the state legislator down the road from you as being "from Olympia" or part of "Olympia" makes him a distant other that has little connection to you or your community. Which isn't true.

2 comments:

UnfrozenCavegirlBlogger said...

Olympia is the Capitol where all the legislators meet.
Sort of like referring to DC when speaking of the federal government.
I think you're reaching a bit.

Emmett said...

I know that Olympia is actually the capitol of Washington State.

But, language actually matters a lot. And metonymy, in this case, doesn't reflect reality.