[DWJ] Tropes (was: trolling for ideas/suggestions)

Ika Willis blake at gaudaprime.co.uk
Wed Dec 6 03:41:21 EST 2006

I always get confused about this, and have stopped using both the word
'trope' and the word 'topos' as a result. My understanding is that
'trope', from the Greek word for 'turn', refers to a rhetorical figure
whereby words 'turn' away from their literal meaning (so among the
main tropes are metonymy, synecdoche, metaphor, and irony); 'topos',
from the Greek for 'place', refers to a literary commonplace - for
example, the 'storm topos' in epic (Homer did a good description of a
storm, so Apollonius of Rhodes did one too, and then Vergil, so now if
you write an epic you have to do a good storm to show that you're
writing epic and/or to demonstrate your allegiance to/difference from
your predecessors).

But EVERYONE IN THE WORLD seems to use 'trope' to mean 'topos' now, so
I've given up on both of them on the grounds that my definition and
common usage seem to have parted ways for good.

Love, Ika

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