How a linguistic glitch tricks us into believing bank deposits are deposited in banks

Brett Scott:

After much consideration, I’ve decided to break one of my key rules when talking about money, which is:

‘Never use substance metaphors to talk about money’

I have this rule because, while it may be printed upon physical objects (‘cash’), money is not a substance: it’s not ‘blood flowing through the veins of the economy’, or whatever other substance metaphor you may wish to use.

But, in this instance, I’m going to break the rule and use the metaphor of water to show you that bank deposits are never deposited into banks.

Depositing water deposits

The glass pictured above stores liquids. If I take a jug of water and pour water into this glass, I’m depositing water into it. After I’ve done that, I might say there is a ‘water deposit’ in the glass.

Admittedly we don’t often use that phrase to talk about water, but think for example of a geological metal deposit: in the beginning of the earth asteroids crashed and ‘deposited’ debris all over the planet, while volcanos ‘deposited’ lava, which nowadays leads us to discover ‘cobalt deposits’, ‘gold deposits’ or ‘iron ore deposits’.

Notice that the verb ‘deposit’ creates a noun of the same name: the exploding volcano ‘deposits iron deposits’, or the jug ‘deposits a water deposit’ into the glass.