Education

Difference between Literal and Figurative Language




  • Main Difference

    Literal Language gets defined as the language which says exactly what it means and means what it says. On the other hand, Figurative language is the type where the use of words becomes different, and the exact meanings may have to get deduced by the other person.

    Comparison Chart

    Basis of Distinction Literal Language Figurative Language
    Definition The language which says exactly what it means and means what it says. The type where the use of words becomes different and the exact meanings may have to get deduced by the other person.
    Nature Anything that has the same meaning of the word and gets noticed word by word. Anything that has several terms and makes people guess about the real meaning.
    Working Tells the same story and goes with a flow throughout the discussion, plus always has one straight answer. May say something else but mean something else and therefore has a dual meaning.
    Types Only focused on words. Has many forms but the most common ones include the simile and metaphor.

    Literal Language

    Literal Language gets defined as the language which says exactly what it means and means what it says. Different ways of talking to people and saying things exist, some are direct, others not so direct and that creates confusion for the ones who are the listeners or readers. This type of language does not include any figure of speech, any smiley, and other things. While a text may say different things and touches different themes, the literal language always has the same flow and the way of saying things. The central theme will always stay exact, and there is coherence in the way everything moves from the beginning to the end. The thing that gains more relevance here is that people do not have to say the things in different ways to convey the meanings, just one word and the exact meaning related to help the listener and the reader to know what the individual tries to say. Aristotle was the first person who figured out the differences between these two terms. Different analysis has gone on where people have tried to find the new meanings and the words related. In the modern language, current distinction does not exist and that’s mostly because people have become accustomed to saying things in the third party. Especially with the invention of internet and social networks where people want to interact with each other and say things in a different way, this direct meaning of saying things has become extinct.

    Figurative Language

    The figurative language which also has the name of the non-literal language is the type where the use of words becomes different, and the exact meanings may have to get deduced by the other person. The best example of such type of language becomes poetry where everything that a poet says does not have a direct meaning; it comes down to the person who wants to find a meaning, and they do so per their choice. The thing here is that one thing said in a fugitive way may have more than one meanings. Another important thing about such language becomes the change from their actual definition, and to do that, understanding and having a better meaning becomes apparent. This type becomes used for giving a new meaning to the things which have become redundant. It also becomes related when we should compare the different meanings of the same stuff, words and the distribution of things. It does have many forms, but the most common ones include the simile and metaphor. “Example: “His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry…/And the beard on his chin was as white as snow.” (emp added). Her we see that the same thing that does not have any comparison with humans gets used as a comparison while describing the person. Cherries are fruits, and the person is human but the things used to compare the two becomes a metaphor and hence falls in the figurative language. Similarly, many other examples help us to understand it better.

    Key Differences

    • Literal Language gets defined as the language which says exactly what it means and means what it says. On the other hand, Figurative language is the type where the use of words becomes different, and the exact meanings may have to get deduced by the other person.
    • Anything that has the same significance of the word and gets noticed word by word becomes known as literal language. On the other hand, anything that has several terms and makes people guess about the real meaning becomes known as figurative language.
    • Literal language tells the same story and goes with a flow throughout the discussion, plus always has one straight answer. On the other hand, figurative language may say something else but mean something else and therefore has a dual meaning.
    • The best example of real language become a person telling the other person they are going to work. On the other hand, the best example of figurative language becomes telling your friend that his nose looks like a cherry or a poem.
    • Figurative language has many forms, but the most common ones include the simile and metaphor. On the other hand, the ordinary language just focuses on words and does not deal with anything extra.

    Video Explanation