A couple of months ago I had come across this very interesting article about chiasmus. Some of you must be wondering what chiasmus is. You probably know what it is but did not know there was a name for it. Well, that was what I thought. Chiasmus is words that are skillfully repeated in reverse order to express an idea or opinion which are often entertaining and witty.
Now, before I go on, I would like to give credit to the original writer of this article I read from, Tan Ling Suan. I found this article via a local newspaper, The Star (www.thestar.com.my) in the English section “Mind Our English”. I have been an avid reader of this section ever since I started reading the newspaper (which was probably when I was 10 years old). They highlight many common mistakes in the English Language, numerous idioms and proverbs, the infamous Manglish slang (Malaysian-English) and occasionally little-known things like these chiasmus. This writer had written an article on chiasmus and I just had to share it. You can read the original article here and here.
The chiasmi that were featured were so witty and I love wit. They make you think twice about it and how it is so very true and smart that words can be twisted to complement itself. A very commonly heard chiasmus would be One should eat to live, not live to eat by Cicero. However that is just a needle in a needlestack, as I found out there are so many more fascinating ones out there!
A few that I’ve found which seem to interest me;
Quitters never win and winners never quit.
It’s not the men in my life, it’s the life in my men.
– Mae West
I’d rather be looked over than overlooked.
– Mae West
Each success brings with it the potential failure and each failure brings with it the potential of success.
– John F. Kennedy
If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do, you are misinformed.
– Mark Twain
In peace sons bury their fathers, but in wars fathers bury their sons.
And my personal favourite would have to be Some cause happiness wherever they go; other whenever they go by Oscar Wilde because it’s true and I can relate to it in my life. 🙂
These are the ones that were featured by the writer;
*it’s a lot, so sit back and be ready to be amused!*
Charm is a woman’s strength just as strength is a man’s charm.
Content makes poor people rich; discontent makes rich people poor.
A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough.
Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.
(John G. Diefenbaker)
It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.
(Robert G. Ingersoll)
The purpose of life is a life of purpose.
Think like a man of action; act like a man of thought.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.
Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
(John F Kennedy)
My great concern is not whether God is on my side; my concern is to be on God’s side.
It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
The instinct of a man is to pursue everything that flies from him, and to fly from all that pursues him.
The two most engaging powers of an author, are, to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.
(Dr Samuel Johnson)
Never let a fool kiss you or a kiss fool you.
(A book title by Dr Mardy Grothe)
An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh.
In infancy we learn to wrinkle our faces; in old age we learn to face our wrinkles.
It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.
What’s right isn’t always popular; what’s popular isn’t always right.
The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavour upon the business known as gambling.
(Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary)
I have discovered that people with money have no imagination, and people with imagination have no money.
The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.
(Peter de Vries)
But many that are first, shall be last; and the last, shall be first.
(Jesus, the Bible, Matthew 7:6)