What makes a good speech? Curiosity Landing

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Captain Kremmen, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Here is the speech from Charles Bolden, yesterday, announcing the commencement of one of the most momentous experiments in modern science.

    “Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars — or if the planet can sustain life in the future,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030′s, and today’s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal.”

    Take the first sentence "Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars."
    OK He's a scientist, not a playwright, but it made me cringe.

    Can sciforummers do better?
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
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  3. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    A figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, as in Cleveland won by six runs

    met·a·phor   [met-uh-fawr, -fer] Show IPA
    a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.” Compare mixed metaphor, simile ( def. 1 ) .
    something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.

    Mixed Metaphor 
    the use in the same expression of two or more metaphors that are incongruous or illogical when combined, as in “The president will put the ship of state on its feet.”

    Bolden used two Synecdoches in one sentence
    "Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars."
    Is a mixed synecdoche ( a term I have just invented) as bad as a mixed metaphor?
    Not quite as bad, I think.

    The famous Apollo 11 sentence:
    That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"
    had two synecdoches, but they were both about the distance a person can reach, so not a mixed synecdoche.

    Additionally, in the middle, there is a metaphor, "Blazing a Trail"
    Blazing a trail is an unusual phrase, because it uses two definitions for a word and combines them.
    Here is an explanation for its dual origins.

    When soldiers 'blaze away' with their weapons the blaze refers to the fire and smoke. This has been used since the late 18th century, as here from the Battle of Brooklyn, 1776:
    "We bid them stand and blazed away like brave boys."
    The meaning we now give to 'blaze a trail' - of someone forging ahead and clearing a path for others, would tend to lead towards imagining blaze to mean burn, in the same way. Another allusion might be to someone charging ahead with such vigour that they leave a smoldering trail in their wake.
    Those aren't the thoughts in the mind of those that coined this phrase though. A blaze is a notch or mark, like the blaze marks seen on horses' faces. So, 'to blaze a trail' was to mark it out by notching trees so that others could follow. Trees are also often marked this way to single them out for felling.
    From http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/66700.html

    I think that a Blaze is also used to describe a distinctively different coloured stripe on an animals chest or especially a horses forehead.

    A sentence made out of two synecdoches and a metaphor. Let's call it a Boldenism.

    Here's my Boldenism:
    The grey beard was keeping his eye on the basketball team because they were painting the town red.
    And another:
    The young shaver was speaking in a strange tongue, so we had to put on our thinking caps.

    A Super-Boldenism would be two metaphors and two synecdoches in the same sentence.
    Probably never before uttered by mankind.
    I leave it to you.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I think this was rather clever writing. It is, after all, the wheels of the lander that are making their mark on Mars (I suppose they're really treads but "wheel" is a good generic term for any mechanism that makes a vehicle move), as it will be the feet of the (hopefully) ensuing humans making theirs. We've sent an unmanned vehicle to wheel itself around Mars, in order to help prepare for our own subsequent walks on the planet.

    The two synecdoches are closely related: using its characteristic means of movement to represent the entire thing/being that moves.
    I doubt that one in a hundred readers know what "blazing" originally meant. I think most people today assume vaguely that it refers to moving through wilderness with such speed, strength and disdain that one simply knocks down the plants so the next person can follow the trail more easily--in the manner of an elephant.
    ("Greybeard" is written as one word.) Again, I doubt that many people would see your source of amusement, much less find it amusing. The whole point of clichés is that they are clichés. They've lost their power because people are no longer conscious of the original, clever metaphor. "Greybeard" isn't even a metaphor, although it is a synecdoche. To "keep one's eye on" something isn't particularly vernacular speech, but a reasonable description of the activity.
    I don't even understand your point with this one. (BTW a shaver is by definition a small boy so "small shaver" is redundant. Nonetheless the term "little shaver" was common two or three generations ago.) It contains one cliche, "put on our thinking caps" and one slang word, "shaver" (a boy who's just starting to shave, or at least dreaming of being old enough to do so). If you're thinking that "tongue" is a metaphor for language, well perhaps it is, but it goes back thousands of years. In all the Romance languages the word for "language" is "tongue." Lingua (Italian, Portuguese), lengua (Spanish), llengua (Catalan), langue (French), limba (Romanian). So our word "language," which was borrowed from French, is no better than "tongue."
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  7. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Does anyone really believe humans will go to Mars in 2030's? Aside all the beautiful speech and innuendo...maybe his language hides the true emotions of hope that it will happen, rather than certainty that it seems to portray.
  8. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    The wheels are deformable, but they are wheels.

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    Bolden could write a novel. Dan Brown did.

    Young shaver. Perhaps it's just used in England.
    A boy showing the first growths of facial hair.

    The term “shaver” was used to mean a man (or chap or fellow) as long ago as the late 16th century. The phrase “old shaver” (old man) was recorded in the 1590s, and “young shaver” (a youth) occurred as early as 1630, according to several slang dictionaries I consulted. I’m told this was a reference to the male tendency to shave facial hair.

    According to the lexicographer Eric Partridge, the term “shaveling” meant a youth because of “the infrequency of his need to shave.” In modern usage, a “shaver” means a child, and is often preceded by “young” or “little.”

    From http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2007/07/little-shavers.html

    Humour. Maybe you are not the best judge of that.

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    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  9. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    Well then why is NASA designing vehicles that will go to Mars, land there and return home now?

    Why is NASA trying to learn about Mars today , just for the fun of it or rather is NASA trying to see what will happen if humans go there and what they will encounter so they will be able to design better things for the humans who travel there.
  10. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    yeah your right...they are doing all the right steps towards a human landing on Mars. It's just that it seems that this robotic explorations have been going on for far too long and not enough has been invested into design of human vehicles.
  11. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    Not enough for you but for what they are budgeted they use their money the best way they can.

    I'd like to see other countries participating in the trip to Mars as well and do hope to see more input from other nations soon so that this trip will be for the whole of humanity not just America going it alone.
  12. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Well NASA's budget is ginormous...I doubt any other nation will be able to catch up to the space technological innovations that US has achieved.
  13. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    It would be good if the robot craft could send samples back to the earth once it has finished looking round.
    A few pounds of material would pay for the mission.
    It has energy in the form of a nuclear reactor.
    It needs a propellant.
  14. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    Here is a better question. If we can design robots that can emulate a human why even send a human out into space where all sorts of things can and do happen?

    Why are we so PUSHY to send humans out into space when they can be exposed to radiation that will kill them before they can return to Earth along with many other perils of space travel like micrometeors or broken equipment that has no spare parts to fix it? What is wrong with robots doing humans work and if samples are needed, which I don't know why we would need them since analysis can be done there with robots, we need to have samples sent back here?

    It costs 100 to 1000 times more for humans to space travel as compared to robotic spacecraft.
  15. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Yeah well in case you have not noticed nothing has been done since 1950s in terms of human space vehicle designs, except minor research into microgravity effects. People need to live the lives they are given and not be staring at monitors all their lives while the robots explore planets out there. There is no need to send the samples back to Earth, since the MSL has enough tools to analyze those rocks back on Mars and do it in a much more efficient energy wise and economically wise way. If you are planning a return mission, than it is much more intelligent to include humans in it. It's time people to get out of the womb and be the astronauts.
  16. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Look at how many of these probes have disappeared.
    There was a grim joke at one time that Martians were shooting them down.
    Keep with the robots until the technology is safe.

    As regards funding.
    Nasa have hundreds of pounds of Moon Rock in their vaults.
    A material which is virtually priceless, given that they have the only supply.
    Why don't they sell some?
  17. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    How is it that you could easily identify the rocks from the moon as compared to rocks here on Earth? From what I've read, which isn't allot about the moon rocks, they aren't that different from Earth rocks. So if NASA were to sell some how could people who would resale them to other be able to prove that they were real moon rocks and not fake ones? If a certificate were sent along with the moon rocks sold wouldn't be easy to counterfeit those certificates to sell fake moon rocks?
  18. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Nasa could photograph each rock down to microscopic level, and post it on their website with a price tag.
    Say $2Million for a pea sized chunk.

    Try forging that.

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