Bread famously sang ‘if a picture paints a thousand words then why can’t I paint you?’ Firstly, unless colloquial, can’t should be cannot. Secondly, maybe the dude who written the lyric was just a terrible artist. ‘Why can’t I paint you?’ ‘Well, you might paint as well as a two-year-old’. Stupid lyric. I think it’s not metaphorical. But it raises the question: is a picture really worth one thousand words?
What’s the going rate for a word these days? What’s the going rate for a painting? Truly, these are man’s greatest questions. My query is thus: where did they get 1,000 words from? I mean, it’s suggesting all pictures are worth 1,000 words. But how can we be so sure? I mean, a blank room with four grey walls, and a bare light bulb, can be described pretty completely in much less than 1,000 words. But a beautiful New York vista needs sugar loads more than 1,000 words. Believe me. I’ve sat on the wall at Liberty Island, right next to the sign that says ‘don’t sit on the wall’, and gazed upon that view.
But it gets more complicated. What about writing talent? Just because I can describe that bare room in less than 1,000 words doesn’t mean everybody will be able to. Some more, some less. Same with that vista. This phrase is, to use a British word, naff.
If it’s not literal, it’s metaphorical, and if it’s metaphorical, it’s stupid because it has no basis within any kind of human logic.
So no, a picture is not worth one thousand words.
And Bread are awful.
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