What is an oxymoron?

What is an oxymoron?

AIM meeting, 5th Apr 2013.  University of Amsterdam

The figure of speech known as oxymoron is usually defined as an expression involving semantically contradictory or incompatible terms, such as “cold fire” (Shakespeare) and “murderous innocence” (Yeats). Compared to metaphor and metonymy, which have proved to be fundamental to the way humans think, little scholarly attention has been devoted to the oxymoron, most likely because this trope is much rarer in non-poetic discourse. It has been suggested, however, that oxymora, like other tropes, occur not only in the verbal mode but also in the visual. This presentation will discuss some recent enquiries into the nature of the oxymoron and the relation between verbal and visual oxymora. I will argue that the apparent scarcity of visual oxymora is connected to fundamental differences between language and visual representation.

Sune Gregersen

MA programme in Linguistics. University of Copenhagen

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