‘To face’ is quite a normal, innocuous verb. It’s the sort of verb that might be used without a great deal of thought, so I was quite intrigued when I learned that although it’s seemingly neutral, it mostly precedes or is associated with a negative word or phrase.
Unconvinced? Well how about these examples. ‘He’s facing ruin,’ ‘She’s facing disaster,’ ‘They’re facing defeat,’ ‘We’re facing redundancy.’
So have I just picked examples which suit my claim?
Let’s try ‘He’s facing success,’ ‘She’s facing achievement,’ ‘They’re facing victory,’ ‘We’re facing employment.’ Although these statements make sense, they don’t seem quite right somehow. And there are other words which also exhibit this phenomenon, such as ‘set in’ (e.g the rot set in) and ’cause’ (e.g. it caused a downturn in sales). There is a name for this phenomenon and yesterday, try as I might, I just couldn’t remember what it was. I knew what the name meant, I knew some examples and I knew the name consisted of two words but the key to my memory just wouldn’t turn.
I tried mentally going through the alphabet to see if I could jog my memory into remembering the first letter of each word but nothing came. It was driving me mad, so I decided to give up and ask my son.
And just as I’d finished explaining what I wanted and just as he uttered the name – I remembered.
Last time I was in Spain, we were driving for hours from Alicante to the south coast and I was trying to remember something. I went through the alphabet, recalling anything connected with what I’d forgotten but after a few hours, I gave up and decided to text my son to look it up on the Internet for me. I typed the question in my phone and was just about to press Send, when I remembered.
I don’t understand what it is about giving up and asking someone to tell you something you’ve forgotten that suddenly unlocks the key to my memory. Has that happened to you, or is it just me?
So, what is the term for the phenomenon I described above, with the words ‘face’, ‘set in’ and ’cause’? It’s SEMANTIC PROSODY. And now I’ve written about it, I will never forget it. Until the next time…
In ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, one of Daffodil’s friends has the gift of second sight. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that! No more mental gymnastics, trying to remember things you know you once knew. If you’d like to find out which of Daffodil’s friends is so lucky, you can purchase your copy of the ebook ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ from the Muse It Up Publishing site here or from all major ebook sellers. All profits from the sale of the ebook will go towards the renovation and upkeep of the 12th century St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton, Essex where the story takes place. #MuseItUp #DaffodilAndTheThinPlace