Far and wide

Far and wide

In Brief

Figure of speech. In referring to "the vista far and wide," Dan Dawson's speech employs the rhetorical device of synonymia, which is just what it sounds like: a string of words that mean the same thing.

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Synonymia (sih-no-NIM-ee-uh, from Greek syn- = alike, together + onoma = name) was recommended by ancient rhetoricians as a way to amplify or explain. The Ad Herennium defines it straightforwardly as "the figure which does not duplicate the same word by repeating it, but replaces the word that has been used by another of the same meaning." In The Mystery of Rhetoric Unveiled John Smith writes that "A Synonymie is a commodious heaping together of divers words of one signification...when from one thing many wayes expressed, we fasten many stings as it were in the minde of the hearer."

The Bible, with its habit of saying everything more than once, affords countless examples. Here are a few from Exodus alone: "And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied" (1:7); "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (12:2); "Fear and dread shall fall upon them" (15:16); "The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, / Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (34:6-7).

Shakespeare too was fond of the device. His disillusioned prince laments, "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world" (Hamlet 1.2.133-34), and the horrified speaker of sonnet 129 produces an extraordinary string of adjectives to characterize lust: "perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame, / Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust." In these instances, especially the second, the words are not perfectly synonymous––slight changes of meaning are introduced with each new one––but the effect is to drive home a single idea and to suggest that no single word can possibly carry its emotional weight.

Dawson's "far and wide" is similar, though short, weak, and trite. Seeing far ahead and seeing far to the side are slightly different things, but the synonymia amplifies the sense of the Irish countryside rolling gloriously on and on.

The line between synonymia and exergasia is so fine that they are sometimes used interchangeably, but in a strict sense the former concept applies only to single words, and the latter to longer expressions.

JH 2023
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Source: concdecandela.blogspot.com.