new & better amphibians

by uzwi

The above phrase leaked into my Twitter feed the other day, I can’t remember from whom or in what circumstances. One of the things about language is that–unless you’re writing about evolution, say, where it might be a useful & charming hyperbole–there can be no meaning to a phrase like that. It’s a grammatically possible but essentially empty group of words: except of course in fantasy & sf, in which the literalisation/reification of empty groups of words is often the major goal, something I always find sad. I’m excited by the sense of a potential for meaning in those circumstances, but not by the closing-off of the possibility by turning a figure of speech into a substitute real.