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Eviscerated?

September 26, 2016

Reading James Riach’s report of Tottenham Hotspur’s away win against Middlesbrough, in yesterday’s Observer, I came upon the following sentence: “All talk of a potential hangover from the latter days of the previous campaign can surely be eviscerated after a fourth Premier League win…”

Eviscerated? What’s he on about? To eviscerate means to disembowel. Your viscera are your intestines, or guts: thus a visceral dislike of something means you dislike it in your guts. Evisceration is removal of the guts – once used as a particularly barbaric punishment, in the practice of hanging, drawing, and quartering (the unfortunate victim was hanged but not quite to the death; then they were cut down and eviscerated – drawn – after which the quartering came almost as a relief, I expect).

Anyway, back to James Riach. What did he mean when he said that talk of hangovers could be eviscerated? No doubt he meant that such talk could be dropped, forgotten, ignored. But eviscerated is an inappropriate metaphor, evoking a violent, over-the-top image which is moreover incongruous with hangover earlier in the sentence. (A maximum of one metaphor per sentence is a good rule, unless additional metaphors extend the first.)

I’ve often noticed that sports writers tend to overdo it with the metaphors. Is it because sport by its very nature – with its dramas, its highs and lows, its inspiring triumphs and crushing defeats and near-misses and glorious fightbacks – encourages over-heated language? Or is that sports writers, uneasily aware that they’re not writing for the intellectual parts of the paper, like to flash their vocabulary around to prove their credentials?

Good result for Spurs, though.

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One Comment
  1. Simon Carter permalink

    He possibly got caught between extirpate, expunge and eradicate or as you suggest just chose something that sounded impressive. The word frenetic appears in football reports more frequently than anywhere else.

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