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Hello! First, I would like to define language conventions: basically, these conventions are standard rules used for reading and writing English. Colloquial English itself tends to be very fluid in terms of structure; however, certain accepted 'rules' are still adhered to so everyone can understand each other.
Among other things, language conventions include grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure, capitalization, etc.
In The Angry Kettle, we have a humorous story of one immigrant's experience sharing an apartment with an English speaking house-mate.
Sometimes, we compare one thing to another seemingly unrelated thing in order to frame our descriptions in richer imagery. This adds to our understanding and enjoyment of a story. For examples from the short story:
To say he was annoying would be unfair, because he was always flashing smiles like winter sunlight in the city.
After a while, I tried speaking like a machine-gun to stop him from interrupting me, but it was no good; no matter how fast I was, he was faster...
...he started pouring out his sentences without blinking or pausing for breath, like a tap with a broken washer.
The sound was high and piercing, like a conquering hero determined to flatten everything in his path.
Comment: The author uses figurative language effectively to describe an eccentric lawyer house-mate who flashes thousand watt smiles, but whose dominant, unyielding personality runs rough-shod over the author's sensibilities. Humorously, the author tells us that the lawyer was as much in the habit of correcting her grammar and pronunciation as he was in praising her command of the language. The lawyer sacrificed the possibilities of an enduring friendship at the altar of perfect diction.
He was fingering the short, fat spout and playing with the little whatsit on the end of it. That little whatsit, was very unusual, a bit like the cups we use for drinking shots in China.
Otherwise, the little whatsit would perk right up and start to scream through the apartment like a missile searching out its target.
Comment:The term whatsit is similar to whatchamacallit; we use these terms when we are describing something we don't quite have a name for. Sometimes, this is because we have either forgotten the name of the item or we really do not know the correct term for the item. The author's whatsit may have referred to a plastic or metal attachment serving as a flip-up spout for the tea kettle. When the water boils, this flip-up spout is driven upward by the rushing steam- hence, the whistling sound the author describes above. Here's a link to an Amazon tea-kettle with a flip-up spout.
Thanks for the question!
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