April 30, 2014
Z is for…
…zeugma. OK, now you know I’m an English teacher!
zeugma (zoog’-ma): Gk. “a yoking” adnexio, iunctio; single supply
A general term describing when one part of speech (most often the main verb, but sometimes a noun) governs two or more other parts of a sentence (often in a series).
(And no, that citation is not in MLA format.)
One verb governs two subjects.
On prom night, she lost her necklace and her heart.
The verb is “lost,” and it governs two objects, objects that are unalike and therefore mildly unexpected.
A friend tonight said, in response to a challenge, “I’ll take it, and a nap.” That’s zeugma.
“Mr. Pickwick took his hat and his leave.” Zeugma.
“On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold.” Also zeugma.
From Star Trek: The Next Generation: “You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit.” Zeugma.
I see my A to Z month of April as multiple things being governed by one verb. The objects include positivity (in the face of default negativity), self-reflection, a corrective of self-talk, self-compassion, love, yoga, and (mostly) daily writing. The verb is practice.
They’re not as pithy as the clever examples above, but they work as zeugma for my purposes.
This month I have practiced faith and fitness. This month I have practiced medicine (for myself) and writing. This month I have practiced my technique and the religion of Love. In this month of A to Z April, I lost my [negative] faith and five pounds.
My mother is a piano teacher, and as I was growing up, she always used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect—only perfect practice makes perfect. Practice makes permanent.” Let us hope so.