In praise of ... the oxymoron | Mind your language

Friday, June 29, 2012 - 05:30 in Psychology & Sociology

It's an open secret that everyone, from compassionate conservatives to champagne socialists, loves an oxymoronNow then.If ever an article could get away with opening with an attention-grabbing oxymoron like that, this is it.Of course, that was an incidental oxymoron. The deliberate ones can be equally delicious. Even the cliched ones are nowhere near as eye-roll inducing as other cliches. They're familiar - but somehow not trite.There are manifold reasons to love the oxymoron. The word itself is a so unusual-sounding that it's a pleasure to simply say it; especially when it rolls off the tongue as you spot one. You feel as if you've found Wally and expressed your discovery articulately – all in a single four-syllable word.In terms of linguistic devices, it sits above alliteration: it's rarer and trickier to use and identify. Its paradoxical qualities are loved by everyone from Oscar Wilde to the GCSE English student.In celebration...

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