the piercing silence

jj88

Senior Member
English, US
Hi, here's an clunky and awkward sentence:


Unlike the usual awkward situations, the piercing silence that makes you want to hide under a blanket was not an issue.

Any suggestions as to how I could fix this sentence to sound better?
 
  • James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I think this is what you would call a string of mixed metaphors resulting in some clumsiness of expression! I would drop references to 'awkward' - 'Contrary to expectation, the deafening silence that usually makes you want to hide under a blanket did not appear to create any unease.' I don't have the context (and I am off to bed!) so cannot think of anything better. 'Deafening silence' sounds better than 'piercing' to me - both being used metaphorically of course.

    Merry Xmas!

    Or: 'Contrary to what usually happens, the deafening silence that would normally want you to hide under the blanket did not [seem to] create any awkwardness [between us/them].'
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I once read "resounding silence" - I cannot recall where I read it after all these years, but it stuck in my head as a funny way to describe silence. I suppose because the word resounding is often associated with applause. It is a bit like deafening in the sense that they both suggest a noise that is not actually happening. Bordering on the illogical.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    There's no context, so we can't know exactly what was meant and why this situation is awkward.



    When everyone present is deliberately unresponsive and silent, their silence is very significant - as significant perhaps as a deafening noise can be on other occasions.
    The physical silence is metaphorically deafening:)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Possibly, when it's silent, we can hear every low sound, so it seems to be deafening.:p
    I think not. A deafening silence is a very well-known oxymoron. A piercing silence is a variation on an old theme.

    The expression is often used on occasions such as when you ask a group of people for help and none of them responds. You become very conscious of the silence in ways one isn't normally eg. when one is trying to get to sleep in one's house in the country.
     
    Last edited:

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    One would have hoped that, after >10 years, the sentence had been fixed!... If it is still not 'fixed', it is a bit worrying. Having said all this, 'deafening silence' is to be taken metaphorically, as pointed out above. It is also 'deafening' because that is all you can hear, if there is no sound -- i.e. you can only 'hear' the silence. 'Piercing silence' would indeed be a variation on the theme but I don't think I have come across it, although it may be in use (and I haven't done an online search for it). The sentence is still clumsy, ending the way it does with 'issue' and using a double negative ('unless' and 'is not').
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    My mistake, I meant 'unlike', but we still end up with 2 negatives in the same sentence, and even if they don't contradict each other, it is not always the best way to go about expressing an argument. A bit like saying something like, "We are not in a position not to disapprove this treaty."
     
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