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  1. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Jam - only mechanical?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mckk, Dec 14, 2012.

    Here's the line:
    "Her legs jammed beneath her."

    Is it wrong? My friend tells me that "jam" in this context should only be used with machines.
     
  2. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I don't believe so...

    'The bouncer jammed his head against the bar.'

    'He jammed the last of the body parts into his backpack.'

    There may be better words to use, but I wouldn't sya it's incorrect.

    *shrug*
     
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, but the way you've used "jam" in your examples mean a different thing. The guy is trying to stuff his backpack - hence jam.

    I have no idea what a bouncer jamming his head against the bar means :D Is he bashing his head against the bar?

    But the meaning I have is that her legs were stuck - she's frozen in fright and can't move. Can I still use jam? I know a photocopier can jam because parts got stuck - but that's what I mean, that's a machine. Can I use it on a human?
     
  4. BritInFrance

    BritInFrance Active Member

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    Yes you can use it on a human. People can be jammed into a tight space. Google the Oxford dictionary definition of jam or jamming and you will see various uses with humans. Your friend is wrong!
     
  5. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Oh okay, now I understand. When you said her legs jammed beneath her I assumed some sort of car accident or awkward position.

    In that case no, her legs cannot get 'jammed' in the way that they're non-functional. I mean, I jammed my finger in school once, but it was bacause of a dodgeball hitting it and not fear.
     
  6. BritInFrance

    BritInFrance Active Member

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    Ah, ok jammed in fright. But do photocopiers ever get jammed in fright?
     
  7. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Yeah, you would probably use 'frozen' or 'locked'.
     
  8. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Maybe jammed up? Her legs jammed up beneath her.
     
  9. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks guys! Yeah, guess I'll use "froze" then! :)
     
  10. Ian J.

    Ian J. Active Member

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    Froze sounds better to me. Jammed suggests that her legs are held by something physical, while froze suggests a more emotional reason for the legs not moving.
     
  11. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Switch spreads - her legs jellied beneath her. Her legs jellified. :)
     
  12. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Well I think saying 'beneath her' is redundant. I would hope her legs are beneath her, otherwise something is very wrong.

    I would say, 'Her legs froze in fear, unable to move'. Or something like that.
     
  13. cmshepard

    cmshepard Member

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    Or very right. Ok, dirty joke for the day, sorry - had to!

    On a serious note, I would change the word. I can see knees jamming like hinges - potentially.

    The froze phrase works better, though.

    Also, I think jamming can be used differently in the US and different countries. I try to stay away from terms like that... I will confuse myself, otherwise.
     
  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    In this context "jammed" suggests, to me, a violent or very extreme level of compression, or at the very least an unintentional state. ("She tried to get her change out of the candy machine, and got her hand jammed in the coin return.") I'd have gone with "tucked beneath her" or "folded beneath her".
     
  15. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Instead of inquiring how to force the word to fit, perhaps look for a word that is a better fit.

    Words have denotation, the dictionary meaning, and connotation, the shades of meaning and context conventionally associated with the word. A keen awareness of both is essential.

    If a word makes you subliminally uncomfortable in the sentence, reexamine both the word and the sentence. hopefully, you can trust your instincts; if not, you may need to develop those instincts further.
     
  16. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as both an editor and a reader, it wouldn't make sense to me in that context...

    for her legs to be 'jammed beneath her' they'd have to have been forced into some position underneath her torso, by someone else, or the result of an accident that flung her into that position...

    i can't picture what you mean, so if you would give us more info, i could suggest a different word or wording... how is her body positioned and where is it, relevant to her surroundings?
     
  17. cazann34

    cazann34 Active Member

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    I think the word you may be looking for is buckled. Her legs buckled beneath her. Describing how her legs gave way beneath her.
     

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