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Figuratively speaking, that is

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April March 18, 2009 08:26 PM

The lawyer for Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter in the basement and fathered seven children with her, wins the inappropriate metaphor of the week award for his description of his client in the Guardian today. Rudolf Mayer said the taped testimony of the daughter, Elisabeth -- and perhaps her presence in the court -- was the catalyst for Fritzl's surprise guilty plea:

"The testimony which [Fritzl] saw for the first time had a profoundly devastating effect on him and led to the change of direction in this trial. ... I was indeed surprised, not least because someone with such a personality disorder as he has -- which involves keeping up appearances and giving the impression that he's the one with the power -- finds it difficult to drop his trousers in front of the world."

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Rules and realities of English usage from Boston Globe Ideas columnist Jan Freeman.
Jan Freeman, a former Boston Globe editor, has been writing the weekly column The Word since 1997. E-mail her at

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