‘the road is a sluice of squishy mud’ - for native English speakers. Oxford dictionary has the following sentence below as an example sentence when you look up the word “squishy”: ‘the road is a sluice of squishy mud’ https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/squishy I just wanted to hear if this use of “sluice” sounds natural to native speakers, because as a non-native speaker I don’t find the image natural. Why a sluice? Where are the sluice gates in the road? I can imagine that a sluice (not that I see many sluices where I live) emptied of water is pretty muddy and perhaps that’s all there is to this image in terms of trying to make sense of it. I found the article from where the sentence has been taken and it has to do with off-road driving, so perhaps the road is literally a sluice. You don’t have to help me understand that article. I just wanted to know if the sentence would make sense immediately to a native speaker. Thanks for your help!
Sep 10, 2018 1:49 PM
Answers · 16
It is easily understood. I perceive the writer as trying to be colorful, originally, witty, and droll. In my opinion the writer succeeds. Of course, it all depends on the context. "Sluice" is within the ordinary vocabulary of someone with ordinary education. It is used in the US. The first thing that comes to mind when I heard that word is the device used by California gold miners during the 1848-9 gold rush, to produce a rapid-moving flow of water, to separate gold from dirt. A YouTube video shows "how to use a sluice box." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxe4N9fUhuU The obvious idea in your passage is that there is not only slushy mud, but that it is actually flowing rapidly. The absence of any analog to sluice gates means that this is not a wonderfully precise analogy, but the author probably likes the alliteration of "sluice" and "slushy." One form of wit is the intentional use of formal and elevated language in a situation where colloquial language might be expected. If you've ever seen the movie, "The Wizard of Oz," an example of this kind of wit would be the scene in which the Wizard calls the Tin Man "You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk!" He is trying to sound dignified, is trying to be particularly witty by using alliteration, comes up with the excellent word "caliginous" (which I never bothered to look up until just now), then apparently runs out of ideas and falls down to earth--has to connect these words with the everyday and non-alliterative word "junk."
September 11, 2018
I think the image this sentence is trying to conjure up is that of a road being ‘sluiced’ with liquid mud. It sort of works but it sounds a bit pretentious, I can’t imagine hearing that in speech. Even in a novel it would sound a bit flowery or dated.
September 10, 2018
First of all, in your sentence, “a sluice” is certainly a noun. To me, “sluice” is not all that common a word (I’ve never used it in my life), but it works extremely well as a colorful metaphor in your example. Despite the fact no one I know uses the word, it sounds perfectly natural and native to me. Perhaps it’s common in British English or regionally in America.
September 10, 2018
The word "sluice" is commonly used as a noun in connection to the many canals we have in Ontario along the Ottawa River. There are "sluice gates" on the Rideau Canal through which water is channelled to change the water levels in the locks. Apart from these references, I do not hear this word used very often. In your sentence, it sounds as if "sluice" is being used as an adjective. It is actually a noun or in some cases a verb. For example, the verb "sluicing" can be used in the logging industry meaning "to conduct or send" logs down a "sluiceway". Hope this helps .
September 10, 2018
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