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Catch of the Day: Operation Twist

September 22, 2011

If you were listening to Morning Edition on NPR yesterday, you heard correspondent Robert Smith (no, not that Robert Smith) do a fun bit of metaphor analysis. Smith talked about Operation Twist, the name of the Fed’s new plan to further lower interest rates. You can check out the story here.

Apparently, the name of the plan echoes the name of an earlier, similar plan the Fed tried out in the 1960s. It’s named after the dance craze, popularized by Chubby Checker. In the last minute or so of the audio clip in that link above, Smith (and one of the economists who did some number crunching predicting the effectiveness of Operation Twist) claims that the metaphor is faulty because you dance the Twist without a partner, and the Fed apparently needs a “partner” in Congress or the president. I don’t mean to pick on the amateurs when they try to think about language-type things, but I’m not sure I buy this metaphor analysis. I mean, didn’t this guy ever see Pulp Fiction? I thought you did dance the Twist with a partner? Or does Smith’s comment ring true because when you dance the Twist you’re not actually holding your partner like you do in more traditional ballroom dancing? Is the metaphor trying to tap into notions of “support,” or even “leading,” that go along with more traditional forms of dance–notions that those kids with their swinging pelvises and loose sexual mores just wouldn’t understand?

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