Rhetorical Devices

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  1. Hyperbole
    The counterpart of understatement, deliberately exaggerates conditions for emphasis or effect. In formal writing the hyperbole must be clearly intended as an exaggeration, and should be carefully restricted. That is, do not exaggerate everything, but treat hyperbole like an exclamation point, to be used only once a year. Then it will be quite effective as a table-thumping attention getter, introductory to your essay or some section thereof

    • Synonyms
    • overstatement
    • exaggeration

    • Antonyms
    • meiosis
    • understatement

    • Derived terms
    • hyperbolic

    • Related terms
    • hyperbola:
  2. Understatement
    deliberately expresses an idea as less important than it actually is, either for ironic emphasis or for politeness and tact. When the writer's audience can be expected to know the true nature of a fact which might be rather difficult to describe adequately in a brief space, the writer may choose to understate the fact as a means of employing the reader's own powers of description. For example, instead of endeavoring to describe in a few words the horrors and destruction of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, a writer might state: The 1906 San Francisco earthquake interrupted business somewhat in the downtown area.

    • Noun
    • understatement (plural understatements)
    • 1.a disclosure or statement that is less than complete
    • 2.restraint or lack of emphasis, especially for ironic effect

    • Related terms
    • understate
  3. Litotes
    • a particular form of understatement, is generated by denying the opposite or contrary of the word which otherwise would be used. Depending on the tone and context of the usage, litotes either retains the effect of understatement, or becomes an intensifying expression. Compare the difference between these statements:
    • Heat waves are common in the summer. Heat waves are not rare in the summer.
    • Anagrams
    • toilets
  4. Antithesis
    Is used when two opposites are introduced in the same sentence, for contrasting effect.

    A simple counting of the elements of dialectics (any formal system of reasoning that arrives at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments) is that of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Hell is the antithesis of Heaven; disorder is the antithesis of order. It is the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, usually in a balanced way. In rhetoric, it is a figure of speech involving the bringing out of a contrast in the ideas by an obvious contrast in the words, clauses, or sentences, within a parallel grammatical structure, as in the following: When there is need of silence, you speak, and when there is need of speech, you are dumb; when you are present, you wish to be absent, and when absent, you desire to be present; in peace you are for war, and in war you long for peace; in council you descant on bravery, and in the battle you tremble.

    • Noun antithesis (plural antitheses A proposition that is the diametric opposite of some other proposition.(rhetoric) A device by which two contrasting ideas are juxtaposed in parallel form.
    • Antonyms epitome
    • Related terms antithetical
  5. 5:     Hypophora
    5:consists of raising one or more questions and then proceeding to answer them, usually at some length. A common usage is to ask the question at the beginning of a paragraph and then use that paragraph to answer it: There is a striking and basic difference between a man's ability to imagine something and an animal's failure. . . . Where is it that the animal falls short? We get a clue to the answer, I think, when Hunter tells us . . . . --Jacob Bronowski What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?. . . What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God. --Rom. 4:1,3 (NIV) This is an attractive rhetorical device, because asking an appropriate question appears quite natural and helps to maintain curiosity and interest. You can use hypophora to raise questions which you think the reader obviously has on his mind and would like to see formulated and answered: What behavior, then, is uniquely human? My theory is this . . . . --H. J. Campbell But what was the result of this move on the steel industry? The annual reports for that year clearly indicate. . . . Hypophora can also be used to raise questions or to introduce material of importance, but which the reader might not have the knowledge or thought to ask for himself: How then, in the middle of the twentieth century, are we to define the obligation of the historian to his facts?..... The duty of the historian to respect his facts is not exhausted by . . . . --Edward Hallett Carr But it is certainly possible to ask, How hot is the oven at its hottest point, when the average temperature is 425 degrees? We learned that the peak temperatures approached . . . . And hypophora can be used as a transitional or guiding device to change directions or enter a new area of discussion: But what are the implications of this theory? And how can it be applied to the present problem? How and why did caveat emptor develop? The question presents us with mysteries never fully answered. --Ivan L. Preston Notice how a series of reasonable questions can keep a discussion lively and interesting: How do we know the FTC strategy is the best, particularly in view of the complaints consumerists have made against it? Isn't there some chance that greater penalties would amount to greater deterrents? Why not get the most consumer protection simultaneously with the most punishment to offenders by easing the requirements for guilt without easing the punishment? . . . It happens that that's been tried, and it didn't work very well. --Ivan L. Preston In the above example, the writer went on for several paragraphs to discuss the case which "didn't work very well." It would also be possible for a writer to ask several questions and then answer them in an orderly way, though that has the danger of appearing too mechanical if not carefully done.
  6. 6:     Rhetorical Question
    6: (erotesis) differs from hypophora in that it is not answered by the writer, because its answer is obvious or obviously desired, and usually just a yes or no. It is used for effect, emphasis, or provocation, or for drawing a conclusionary statement from the facts at hand. But how can we expect to enjoy the scenery when the scenery consists entirely of garish billboards? . . . For if we lose the ability to perceive our faults, what is the good of living on? --Marcus Aurelius Is justice then to be considered merely a word? Or is it whatever results from the bartering between attorneys? Often the rhetorical question and its implied answer will lead to further discussion: Is this the end to which we are reduced? Is the disaster film the highest form of art we can expect from our era? Perhaps we should examine the alternatives presented by independent film maker Joe Blow . . . . I agree the funding and support are still minimal, but shouldn't worthy projects be tried, even though they are not certain to succeed? So the plans in effect now should be expanded to include . . . . [Note: Here is an example where the answer "yes" is clearly desired rhetorically by the writer, though conceivably someone might say "no" to the question if asked straightforwardly.] Several rhetorical questions together can form a nicely developed and directed paragraph by changing a series of logical statements into queries: We shrink from change; yet is there anything that can come into being without it? What does Nature hold dearer, or more proper to herself? Could you have a hot bath unless the firewood underwent some change? Could you be nourished if the food suffered no change? Do you not see, then, that change in yourself is of the same order, and no less necessary to Nature? --Marcus Aurelius Sometimes the desired answer to the rhetorical question is made obvious by the discussion preceding it: The gods, though they live forever, feel no resentment at having to put up eternally with the generations of men and their misdeeds; nay more, they even show every possible care and concern for them. Are you, then, whose abiding is but for a moment, to lose patience--you who are yourself one of the culprits? --Marcus Aurelius When you are thinking about a rhetorical question, be careful to avoid sinking to absurdity. You would not want to ask, for example, "But is it right to burn down the campus and sack the bookstore?" The use of this device allows your reader to think, query, and conclude along with you; but if your questions become ridiculous, your essay may become wastepaper.
  7. 7:     Procatalepsis
    7:by anticipating an objection and answering it, permits an argument to continue moving forward while taking into account points or reasons opposing either the train of thought or its final conclusions. Often the objections are standard ones: It is usually argued at this point that if the government gets out of the mail delivery business, small towns like Podunk will not have any mail service. The answer to this can be found in the history of the Pony Express . . . . To discuss trivialities in an exalted style is, as the saying is, like beautifying a pestle. Yet some people say we should discourse in the grand manner on trivialities and they think that this is a proof of outstanding oratorical talent. Now I admit that Polycrates [did this]. But he was doing this in jest, . - . and the dignified tone of the whole work was itself a game. Let us be playful..... [but] also observe what is fitting in each case . . . . --Demetrius Sometimes the writer will invent probable or possible difficulties in order to strengthen his position by showing how they could be handled if they should arise, as well as to present an answer in case the reader or someone else might raise them in the course of subsequent consideration: But someone might say that this battle really had no effect on history. Such a statement could arise only from ignoring the effect the battle had on the career of General Bombast, who was later a principal figure at the Battle of the Bulge. I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and it was indeed the principal design in offering it to the world. --Jonathan Swift Objections can be treated with varying degrees of seriousness and with differing relationships to the reader. The reader himself might be the objector: Yet this is the prime service a man would think, wherein this order should give proof of itself. If it were executed, you'll say. But certain, if execution be remiss or blindfold now, and in this particular, what will it be hereafter and in other books? --John Milton Or the objector may be someone whose outlook, attitude, or belief differs substantially from both writer and reader-though you should be careful not to set up an artificial, straw-man objector: Men of cold fancies and philosophical dispositions object to this kind of poetry, [saying] that it has not probability enough to affect the imagination. But to this it may be answered that we are sure, in general, there are many intellectual beings in the world besides ourselves . . . who are subject to different laws and economies from those of mankind . . . . --Joseph Addison Occasionally a person of rash judgment will argue here that the high-speed motor is better than the low-speed one, because for the same output, high speed motors are lighter, smaller, and cheaper. But they are also noisier and less efficient, and have much greater wear and shorter life; so that overall they are not better. By mentioning the obvious, and even the imaginatively discovered objections to your argument, you show that (1) you are aware of them and have considered them and (2) there is some kind of reasonable response to them, whether given in a sentence or in several paragraphs. An objection answered in advance is weakened should your opponent bring it up, while an objection ignored, if brought up, may show you to be either ignorant or dishonest. Indeed, it might be better to admit an objection you cannot answer than to suppress it and put yourself on the side of darkness and sophistry: Those favoring the other edition argue that the same words in this text cost more money. This I admit, and it does seem unfortunate to pay twice the price for essentially the same thing. Nevertheless, this text has larger type, is made better, and above all has more informative notes, so I think it is worth the difference. Finally, note that procatalepsis can be combined with hypophora, so that the objection is presented in the form of a question: I now come to the precepts of Longinus, and pretend to show from them that the greatest sublimity is to be derived from religious ideas. But why then, says the reader, has not Longinus plainly told us so? He was not ignorant that he ought to make his subject as plain as he could. For he has told us. . . . --John Dennis But you might object that, if what I say is actually true, why would people buy products advertised illogically? The answer to that lies in human psychology . . . .
  8. 8:     Distinctio
    8:is an explicit reference to a particular meaning or to the various meanings of a word, in order to remove or prevent ambiguity. To make methanol for twenty-five cents a gallon is impossible; by "impossible" I mean currently beyond our technological capabilities. The precipitate should be moved from the filter paper to the crucible quickly--that is, within three minutes. Mr. Haskins describes the process as a simple one. If by simple he means easy to explain on paper, he is correct. But if he means there are no complexities involved in getting it to work, he is quite mistaken. The modern automobile (and here I refer to the post-1975, desmogged American car) is more a product of bolt-on solutions than of revolutionary engineering. Many of our words, like those of evaluation (better, failure high quality, efficient, unacceptable) and those referring to abstract concepts which are often debated (democracy, justice, equality, oppression) have different meanings to different people, and sometimes to the same person at different times. For example, the governments of both Communist China and the United States are described as "democracies," while it could be argued rather convincingly that neither really is, depending on the definition of democracy used. Semanticist S. I. Hayakawa even goes so far as to claim that "no word ever has exactly the same meaning twice," and while that for practical purposes seems to be a substantial exaggeration, we should keep in mind the great flexibility of meaning in a lot of our words. Whenever there might be some doubt about your meaning, it would be wise to clarify your statement or terms. And distinctio is one good way to do that. Some helpful phrases for distinctio include these: blank here must be taken to mean, in this context [or case] blank means, by blank I mean, that is, which is to say. You can sometimes use a parenthetical explanation or a colon, too: Is this dangerous (will I be physically harmed by it)?
  9. 9:     Simile
    • 9: is a  comparison between two different things that resemble each other in at least one way. In formal prose the simile is a device both of art and explanation, comparing an unfamiliar thing to some familiar thing (an object, event, process, etc.) known to the reader. When you compare a noun to a noun, the simile is usually introduced by like: I see men, but they look like trees, walking. --Mark 8:24 After such long exposure to the direct sun, the leaves of the houseplant looked like pieces of overcooked bacon. The soul in the body is like a bird in a cage. When a verb or phrase is compared to a verb or phrase, as is used: They remained constantly attentive to their goal, as a sunflower always turns and stays focused on the sun. Here is your pencil and paper. I want you to compete as the greatest hero would in the race of his life. Often the simile--the object or circumstances of imaginative identity (called the vehicle, since it carries or conveys a meaning about the word or thing which is likened to it)-precedes the thing likened to it (the tenor). In such cases, so usually shows the comparison: The grass bends with every wind; so does Harvey. The seas are quiet when the winds give o're; / So calm are we when passions are no more. --Edmund Waller But sometimes the so is understood rather than expressed: As wax melts before the fire,/ may the wicked perish before God. --Psalm 68:2b Whenever it is not immediately clear to the reader, the point of similarity between the unlike objects must be specified to avoid confusion and vagueness. Rather than say, then, that "Money is like muck," and "Fortune is like glass," a writer will show clearly how these very different things are like each other: And money is like muck, not good except it be spread. --Francis Bacon Fortune is like glass--the brighter the glitter, the more easily broken. --Publilius Syrus Like a skunk, he suffered from bad publicity for one noticeable flaw, but bore no one any ill will. James now felt like an old adding machine: he had been punched and poked so much that he had finally worn out. This paper is just like an accountant's report: precise and accurate but absolutely useless. Many times the point of similarity can be expressed in just a word or two: Yes, he is a cute puppy, but when he grows up he will be as big as a house. The pitching mound is humped too much like a camel's back. And occasionally, the simile word can be used as an adjective: The argument of this book utilizes pretzel-like logic. This gear has a flower-like symmetry to it. Similes can be negative, too, asserting that two things are unlike in one or more respects: My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun. . . . --Shakespeare John certainly does not attack the way a Sherman tank does; but if you encourage him, he is bold enough. Other ways to create similes include the use of comparison: Norman was more anxious to leave the area than Herman Milquetoast after seeing ten abominable snowmen charging his way with hunger in their eyes. But this truth is more obvious than the sun--here it is; look at it; its brightness blinds you. Or the use of another comparative word is possible: Microcomputer EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory) resembles a chalk board in that it is used for consultation instead of figuring, and shows at each glance the same information unless erased and rewritten. His temper reminds me of a volcano; his heart, of a rock; his personality, of sandpaper. His speech was smoother than butter. . . .--Psalm 55:21 So a variety of ways exists for invoking the simile. Here are a few of the possibilities:
    •       x is like yx is not like yx is the same as yx is more than yx is less than yx does y; so does zx is similar to yx resembles yx is as y as zx is y like zx is more y than zx is less y than zBut a simile can sometimes be implied, or as it is often called, submerged. In such cases no comparative word is needed: The author of this poem is almost in the position of a man with boxes and boxes of tree ornaments, but with no tree to decorate. The poet has enough imagery handy to decorate anything he can think of, if only he can fix upon a "trim invention." The "sense" he does locate is obscured; the ivy hides the building completely. When I think of the English final exam, I think of dungeons and chains and racks and primal screams. Leslie has silky hair and the skin of an angel.
  10. 10:   Metaphor
    10:compares two different things by speaking of one in terms of the other. Unlike a simile or analogy, metaphor asserts that one thing is another thing, not just that one is like another. Very frequently a metaphor is invoked by the to be verb: Affliction then is ours; / We are the trees whom shaking fastens more. --George Herbert Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life." --John 6:35 [And compare the use of metaphor in 6:32-63] Thus a mind that is free from passion is a very citadel; man has no stronger fortress in which to seek shelter and defy every assault. Failure to perceive this is ignorance; but to perceive it, and still not to seek its refuge, is misfortune indeed. --Marcus Aurelius The mind is but a barren soil; a soil which is soon exhausted and will produce no crop, or only one, unless it be continually fertilized and enriched with foreign matter. --Joshua Reynolds Just as frequently, though, the comparison is clear enough that the a-is-b form is not necessary: The fountain of knowledge will dry up unless it is continuously replenished by streams of new learning. This first beam of hope that had ever darted into his mind rekindled youth in his cheeks and doubled the lustre of his eyes. --Samuel Johnson I wonder when motor mouth is going to run out of gas. When it comes to midterms, it's kill or be killed. Let's go in and slay this test. What sort of a monster then is man? What a novelty, what a portent, what a chaos, what a mass of contradictions, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, a ridiculous earthworm who is the repository of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error; the glory and the scum of the world. --Blaise Pascal The most learned philosopher knew little more. He had partially unveiled the face of Nature, but her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery. . . . I had gazed upon the fortifications and impediments that seemed to keep human beings from entering the citadel of nature, and rashly and ignorantly I had repined. --Mary Shelley The furnace of affliction had softened his heart and purified his soul. Compare the different degrees of direct identification between tenor and vehicle. There is fully expressed: Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. --Luke 11:34 (RSV) Here, the comparison, "the eye is a lamp," is declared directly, and the point of similarity is spelled out. There is semi-implied: And he said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course."' --Luke 13:32 (RSV) Here, the comparison, "Herod is a fox," is not directly stated, but is understood as if it had been. There is implied: . . . For thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy. --Psalm 63:7 (RSV) Here, the comparison, "God is a bird [or hen]" is only implied. Stating the metaphorical equation directly would have been rhetorically ineffective or worse because of the awkward thought it creates. The classical rhetorician Demetrius tells us that when there is a great difference between the subject and the comparison, the subject should always be compared to something greater than itself, or diminishment and rhetorical failure result. You might write, "The candle was a little sun in the dark room," but you wouldn't write, "The sun was a big candle that day in the desert." In Psalm 63, however, there is nothing greater than God to compare him to, and the psalmist wants to create a sense of tenderness and protection, drawing upon a familiar image. So, the comparison is saved by using an implied metaphor. And there is very implied: For if men do these things when the tree is green what will happen when it is dry? --Luke 23:31 (NIV) Here the comparison is something like "a prosperous time [or freedom from persecution] is a green [flourishing, healthy] tree." And the other half of the metaphor is that "a time of persecution or lack of prosperity is a dry [unhealthy, dead(?)] tree." So the rhetorical question is, "If men do these [bad] things during times of prosperity, what will they do when persecution or their own suffering arrives?" Like simile and analogy, metaphor is a profoundly important and useful device. Aristotle says in his Rhetoric, "It is metaphor above all else that gives clearness, charm, and distinction to the style." And Joseph Addison says of it: By these allusions a truth in the understanding is as it were reflected by the imagination; we are able to see something like color and shape in a notion, and to discover a scheme of thoughts traced out upon matter. And here the mind receives a great deal of satisfaction, and has two of its faculties gratified at the same time, while the fancy is busy in copying after the understanding, and transcribing ideas out of the intellectual world into the material. So a metaphor not only explains by making the abstract or unknown concrete and familiar, but it also enlivens by touching the reader's imagination. Further, it affirms one more interconnection in the unity of all things by showing a relationship between things seemingly alien to each other. And the fact that two very unlike things can be equated or referred to in terms of one another comments upon them both. No metaphor is "just a metaphor." All have significant implications, and they must be chosen carefully, especially in regard to the connotations the vehicle (image) will transfer to the tenor. Consider, for example, the differences in meaning conveyed by these statements: That club is spreading like wildfire. That club is spreading like cancer. That club is really blossoming now. That club, in its amoebic motions, is engulfing the campus. And do you see any reason that one of these metaphors was chosen over the others? The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. --Luke 10:2 The pile of dirt is high, but we do not have many shovels. The diamonds cover the ground, but we need more people to pick them up. So bold and striking is metaphor that it is sometimes taken literally rather than as a comparison. (Jesus' disciples sometimes failed here--see John 4:32ff and John 6:46-60; a few religious groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses interpret such passages as Psalm 75:8 and 118:15 literally and thus see God as anthropomorphic; and even today a lot of controversy surrounds the interpretation of Matthew 26:26.) Always be careful in your own writing, therefore, to avoid possible confusion between metaphor and reality. In practice this is usually not very difficult.
  11. 11:   Analogy
    11: compares two things, which are alike in several respects, for the purpose of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to some familiar one. While simile and analogy often overlap, the simile is generally a more artistic likening, done briefly for effect and emphasis, while analogy serves the more practical end of explaining a thought process or a line of reasoning or the abstract in terms of the concrete, and may therefore be more extended. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables. --Samuel Johnson He that voluntarily continues ignorance is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces, as to him that should extinguish the tapers of a lighthouse might justly be imputed the calamities of shipwrecks. --Samuel Johnson . . . For answers successfully arrived at are solutions to difficulties previously discussed, and one cannot untie a knot if he is ignorant of it. --Aristotle Notice in these examples that the analogy is used to establish the pattern of reasoning by using a familiar or less abstract argument which the reader can understand easily and probably agree with. Some analogies simply offer an explanation for clarification rather than a substitute argument: Knowledge always desires increase: it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself. --Samuel Johnson The beginning of all evil temptations is inconstancy of mind, and too little trust in God. For as a ship without a guide is driven hither and thither with every storm, so an unstable man, that anon leaveth his good purpose in God, is diversely tempted. The fire proveth gold, and temptation proveth the righteous man. --Thomas a Kempis When the matter is complex and the analogy particularly useful for explaining it, the analogy can be extended into a rather long, multiple-point comparison: The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. (And so forth, to the end of the chapter.] --l Cor. 12:12 (NIV) The importance of simile and analogy for teaching and writing cannot be overemphasized. To impress this upon you better, I would like to step aside a moment and offer two persuasive quotations: The country parson is full of all knowledge. They say, it is an ill mason that refuseth any stone: and there is no knowledge, but, in a skilful hand, serves either positively as it is, or else to illustrate some other knowledge. He condescends even to the knowledge of tillage, and pastorage, and makes great use of them in teaching, because people by what they understand are best led to what they understand not. --George Herbert To illustrate one thing by its resemblance to another has been always the most popular and efficacious art of instruction. There is indeed no other method of teaching that of which anyone is ignorant but by means of something already known; and a mind so enlarged by contemplation and enquiry that it has always many objects within its view will seldom be long without some near and familiar image through which an easy transition may be made to truths more distant and obscure. --Samuel Johnson
  12. 12:   Allusion
    12:is a short, informal reference to a famous person or event: You must borrow me Gargantua's mouth first. 'Tis a word too great for any mouth of this age's size. --Shakespeare If you take his parking place, you can expect World War II all over again. Plan ahead: it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. --Richard Cushing Our examination of the relation of the historian to the facts of history finds us, therefore, in an apparently precarious situation, navigating delicately between the Scylla of an untenable theory of history as an objective compilation of facts . . . and the Charybdis of an equally untenable theory of history as the subjective product of the mind of the historian . . . . --Edward Hallett Carr Notice in these examples that the allusions are to very well known characters or events, not to obscure ones. (The best sources for allusions are literature, history, Greek myth, and the Bible.) Note also that the reference serves to explain or clarify or enhance whatever subject is under discussion, without sidetracking the reader. Allusion can be wonderfully attractive in your writing because it can introduce variety and energy into an otherwise limited discussion (an exciting historical adventure rises suddenly in the middle of a discussion of chemicals or some abstract argument), and it can please the reader by reminding him of a pertinent story or figure with which he is familiar, thus helping (like analogy) to explain something difficult. The instantaneous pause and reflection on the analogy refreshes and strengthens the reader's mind.
  13. 13:   Eponym
    13: substitutes for a particular attribute the name of a famous person recognized for that attribute. By their nature eponyms often border on the cliche, but many times they can be useful without seeming too obviously trite. Finding new or infrequently used ones is best, though hard, because the name-and-attribute relationship needs to be well established. Consider the effectiveness of these: Is he smart? Why, the man is an Einstein. Has he suffered? This poor Job can tell you himself. That little Caesar is fooling nobody. He knows he is no Patrick Henry. When it comes to watching girls, Fred is a regular Argus. You think your boyfriend is tight. I had a date with Scrooge himself last night. We all must realize that Uncle Sam is not supposed to be Santa Claus. An earthworm is the Hercules of the soil. Some people or characters are famous for more than one attribute, so that when using them, you must somehow specify the meaning you intend: With a bow and arrow, Kathy is a real Diana. [Diana was goddess of the moon, of the hunt, and of chastity.] Those of us who cannot become a Ulysses and see the world must trust our knowledge to picture books and descriptions. [Ulysses was a hero in the Trojan War as well as a wanderer afterwards.] In cases where the eponym might be less than clear or famous, you should add the quality to it: The wisdom of a Solomon was needed to figure out the actions of the appliance marketplace this quarter. Eponym is one of those once-in-awhile devices which can give a nice touch in the right place.
  14. 14:   Sententia
    14:quoting a maxim or wise saying to apply a general truth to the situation; concluding or summing foregoing material by offering a single, pithy statement of general wisdom: But, of course, to understand all is to forgive all. As the saying is, art is long and life is short. For as Pascal reminds us, "It is not good to have all your wants satisfied."
  15. 15:   Exemplum
    15:citing an example; using an illustrative story, either true or fictitious: Let me give you an example. In the early 1920's in Germany, the government let the printing presses turn out endless quantities of paper money, and soon, instead of 50-pfennige postage stamps, denominations up to 50 billion marks were being issued.Examples can be introduced by the obvious choice of "For example," but there are other possibilities. For quick introductions, such as those attached to a sentence, you migiht use "such as," or "for instance." Examples placed into separate sentences can be introduced by "A case in point," "An instance," "A typical situation,"  "A common example," "To illustrate, let's consider the situation," and so forth.
  16. 16: organization: Climax
    16:(gradatio) consists of arranging words, clauses, or sentences in the order of increasing importance, weight, or emphasis. Parallelism usually forms a part of the arrangement, because it offers a sense of continuity, order, and movement-up the ladder of importance. But if you wish to vary the amount of discussion on each point, parallelism is not essential. The concerto was applauded at the house of Baron von Schnooty, it was praised highly at court, it was voted best concerto of the year by the Academy, it was considered by Mozart the highlight of his career, and it has become known today as the best concerto in the world. At 6:20 a.m. the ground began to heave. Windows rattled; then they broke. Objects started falling from shelves. Water heaters fell from their pedestals, tearing out plumbing. Outside, the road began to break up. Water mains and gas lines were wrenched apart, causing flooding and the danger of explosion. Office buildings began cracking; soon twenty, thirty, forty stories of concrete were diving at the helpless pedestrians panicking below. To have faults is not good, but faults are human. Worse is to have them and not see them. Yet beyond that is to have faults, to see them, and to do nothing about them. But even that seems mild compared to him who knows his faults, and who parades them about and encourages them as though they were virtues. In addition to arranging sentences or groups of short ideas in climactic order, you generally should also arrange the large sections of ideas in your papers, the points in your arugments, and the examples for your generalizations climactically; although in these cases, the first item should not be the very least important (because its weakness might alienate the reader). Always begin with a point or proof substantial enough to generate interest, and then continue with ideas of increasing importance. That way your argument gets stronger as it moves along, and every point hits harder than the previous one.
  17. 17:  Organization:  Parallelism/Chiasmus
    • 17: is recurrent syntactical similarity. Several parts of a sentence or several sentences are expressed similarly to show that the ideas in the parts or sentences are equal in importance. Parallelism also adds balance and rhythm and, most importantly, clarity to the sentence. Any sentence elements can be paralleled, any number of times (though, of course, excess quickly becomes ridiculous). You might choose parallel subjects with parallel modifiers attached to them: Ferocious dragons breathing fire and wicked sorcerers casting their spells do their harm by night in the forest of Darkness. Or parallel verbs and adverbs: I have always sought but seldom obtained a parking space near the door. Quickly and happily he walked around the corner to buy the book. Or parallel verbs and direct objects: He liked to eat watermelon and to avoid grapefruit. Or just the objects: This wealthy car collector owns three pastel Cadillacs, two gold Rolls Royces, and ten assorted Mercedes. Or parallel prepositional phrases: He found it difficult to vote for an ideal truth but against his own self interest. The pilot walked down the aisle, through the door, and into the cockpit, singing "Up, Up, and Away." Notice how paralleling rather long subordinate clauses helps you to hold the whole sentence clearly in your head: These critics--who point out the beauties of style and ideas, who discover the faults of false constructions, and who discuss the application of the rules--usually help a lot in engendering an understanding of the writer's essay. When, at the conclusion of a prolonged episode of agonizing thought, you decide to buy this car; when, after a hundred frantic sessions of begging stonefaced bankers for the money, you can obtain sufficient funds; and when, after two more years of impatience and frustration, you finally get a driver's license, then come see me and we will talk about a deal. After you corner the market in Brazilian coffee futures, but before you manipulate the price through the ceiling, sit down and have a cup of coffee with me (while I can still afford it). It is also possible to parallel participial, infinitive, and gerund phrases: He left the engine on, idling erratically and heating rapidly. To think accurately and to write precisely are interrelated goals. She liked sneaking up to Ted and putting the ice cream down his back, because he was so cool about it. In practice some combination of parts of speech or sentence elements is used to form a statement, depending as always on what you have to say. In addition, the parallelism, while it normally should be pretty close, does not have to be exact in its syntactical similarity. For example, you might write, He ran up to the bookshelves, grabbed a chair standing nearby, stepped painfully on his tiptoes, and pulled the fifty-pound volume on top of him, crushing his ribs and impressing him with the power of knowledge. Here are some other examples of parallelism: I shall never envy the honors which wit and learning obtain in any other cause, if I can be numbered among the writers who have given ardor to virtue, and confidence to truth. --Samuel Johnson They had great skill in optics, and had instructed him to see faults in others, and beauties in himself, that could be discovered by nobody else. . . . --Alexander Pope For the end of a theoretical science is truth, but the end of a practical science is performance. --Aristotle
    •  Chiasmus might be called "reverse parallelism," since the second part of a grammatical construction is balanced or paralleled by the first part, only in reverse order. Instead of an A,B structure (e.g., "learned unwillingly") paralleled by another A,B structure ("forgotten gladly"), the A,B will be followed by B,A ("gladly forgotten"). So instead of writing, "What is learned unwillingly is forgotten gladly," you could write, "What is learned unwillingly is gladly forgotten." Similarly, the parallel sentence, "What is now great was at first little," could be written chiastically as, "What is now great was little at first." Here are some examples: He labors without complaining and without bragging rests. Polished in courts and hardened in the field, Renowned for conquest, and in council skilled. --Joseph Addison For the Lord is a Great God . . . in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are his also. --Psalm 95:4 Chiasmus is easiest to write and yet can be made very beautiful and effective simply by moving subordinate clauses around: If you come to them, they are not asleep; if you ask and inquire of them, they do not withdraw themselves; they do not chide if you make mistakes; they do not laugh at you if you are ignorant. --Richard de Bury Prepositional phrases or other modifiers can also be moved around to form chiastic structures. Sometimes the effect is rather emphatic: Tell me not of your many perfections; of your great modesty tell me not either. Just as the term "menial" does not apply to any honest labor, so no dishonest work can be called "prestigious." At other times the effect is more subdued but still desirable. Compare the versions of these sentences, written first in chiastic and then in strictly parallel form. Which do you like better in each case? On the way to school, my car ran out of gas; then it had a flat on the way home. On the way to school, my car ran out of gas; then on the way home it had a flat. Sitting together at lunch, the kids talked incessantly; but they said nothing at all sitting in the dentist's office. Sitting together at lunch, the kids talked incessantly; but sitting in the dentist's office, they said nothing at all. The computer mainframe is now on sale; available also at a discount is the peripheral equipment. The computer mainframe is now on sale; the peripheral equipment is also available at a discount. Chiasmus may be useful for those sentences in which you want balance, but which cannot be paralleled effectively, either because they are too short, or because the emphasis is placed on the wrong words. And sometimes a chiastic structure will just seem to "work" when a parallel one will not.
  18. 18:  Organization:  Anadiplosis/Conduplicatio
    18:resembles anadiplosis in the repetition of a preceding word, but it repeats a key word (not just the last word) from a preceding phrase, clause, or sentence, at the beginning of the next. If this is the first time duty has moved him to act against his desires, he is a very weak man indeed. Duty should be cultivated and obeyed in spite of its frequent conflict with selfish wishes. The strength of the passions will never be accepted as an excuse for complying with them; the passions were designed for subjection, and if a man suffers them to get the upper hand, he then betrays the liberty of his own soul. --Alexander Pope She fed the goldfish every day with the new pellets brought from Japan. Gradually the goldfish began to turn a brighter orange than before. Like anadiplosis, conduplicatio serves as an effective focusing device because with it you can pull out that important idea from the sentence before and put it clearly at the front of the new sentence, showing the reader just what he should be concentrating on. Since keeping the reader focused on your train of thought is critical to good writing, this device can be especially helpful as a transitional connector when the previous sentence has two or more possible main points, only one of which is to be continued in the discussion. Suppose, for example, you have this sentence: Submitting a constitutional amendment to a popular vote through a general referendum always runs the risk of a campaign and a vote based upon the selfishness rather than the sense of justice of the voter. Now, the next sentence could begin with, "Previous campaigns . . ." or "The strength of the appeal to selfish interests . . . "or "Therefore constitutional amendments are best left . . ." all depending on which concept you wish to develop. If you began the next sentence with, "But there certainly can be no doubt that the general referendum will continue to be exploited by those whose issues are aided by the innate selfishness of human beings," the reader would have to go a considerable distance into the sentence before he would find out exactly which idea is being carried forward and developed.
  19. 19:  Organization:  Metabasis
    19:consists of a brief statement of what has been said and what will follow. It might be called a linking, running, or transitional summary, whose function is to keep the discussion ordered and clear in its progress: Such, then, would be my diagnosis of the present condition of art. I must now, by special request, say what I think will happen to art in the future. --Kenneth Clark We have to this point been examining the proposal advanced by Smervits only in regard to its legal practicability; but next we need to consider the effect it would have in retarding research and development work in private laboratories. I have hitherto made mention of his noble enterprises in France, and now I will rehearse his worthy acts done near to Rome. --Peacham The brief little summary of what has been said helps the reader immensely to understand, organize, and remember that portion of your essay. Metabasis serves well as a transitional device, refocusing the discussion on a new but clearly derivative area: Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. --George Orwell It can also be used to clarify the movement of a discussion by quickly summing up large sections of preceding material: By the foregoing quotation I have shown that the language of prose may yet be well adapted to poetry; and I have previously asserted that a large portion of the language of every good poem can in no respect differ from that of good prose. I will go further. I do not doubt that it may be safely affirmed, that there neither is, nor can be, any essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition. --William Wordsworth Having thus explained a few of the reasons why I have written in verse, and why I have chosen subjects from common life, and endeavored to bring my language near to the real language of men, . . . I request the reader's permission to add a few words with reference solely to these particular poems and to some defects which will probably be found in them. --Ibid. Now that we have discussed the different kinds of cactus plants available to the landscape architect, their physical requirements for sun, soil, irrigation, and drainage, and the typical design groupings selected for residential areas, we ought to examine the architectural contexts which can best use-enhance and be enhanced by--cactus planters and gardens. Thus we have surveyed the state of authors as they are influenced from without, either by the frowns or favor of the great, or by the applause or censure of the critics. It remains only to consider how the people, or world in general, stand affected towards our modern penmen, and what occasion these adventurers may have of complaint or boast from their encounter with the public. --Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury One caution should be mentioned. Metabasis is very difficult to use effectively in short papers: since it is a summarizing device, it must have some discussion to sum up. In practice, this means something on the order of five pages or more. Thus, metabasis could be very handy in the middle of a ten or twenty page paper; in a three page paper, though, both its necessity and its utility would be questionable. But use your own judgment. Words used to signal further discussion after the summary include these: now, next, additionally, further, besides, equally important, also interesting, also important, also necessary to mention, it remains. You can also use words of comparison and contrast, such as these: similarly, on the other hand, by contrast.
  20. 20:  Organization:  Parenthesis
    20: a final form of hyperbaton, consists of a word, phrase, or whole sentence inserted as an aside in the middle of another sentence: But the new calculations--and here we see the value of relying upon up-to-date information--showed that man-powered flight was possible with this design. Every time I try to think of a good rhetorical example, I rack my brains but--you guessed--nothing happens. As the earthy portion has its origin from earth, the watery from a different element, my breath from one source and my hot and fiery parts from another of their own elsewhere (for nothing comes from nothing, or can return to nothing), so too there must be an origin for the mind. --Marcus Aurelius But in whatever respect anyone else is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am just as bold myself. --2 Cor. 11:21b (NASB) The violence involved in jumping into (or out of) the middle of your sentence to address the reader momentarily about something has a pronounced effect. Parenthesis can be circumscribed either by dashes--they are more dramatic and forceful--or by parentheses (to make your aside less stringent). This device creates the effect of extemporaneity and immediacy: you are relating some fact when suddenly something very important arises, or else you cannot resist an instant comment, so you just stop the sentence and the thought you are on right where they are and insert the fact or comment. The parenthetical form also serves to give some statements a context (stuffed right into the middle of another sentence at the most pertinent point) which they would not have if they had to be written as complete sentences following another sentence. Note that in the first example above the bit of moralizing placed into the sentence appears to be more natural and acceptable than if it were stated separately as a kind of moral conclusion, which was not the purpose or drift of the article.
  21. 21:  Organization:  Apostrophe
    21:interrupts the discussion or discourse and addresses directly a person or personified thing, either present or absent. Its most common purpose in prose is to give vent to or display intense emotion, which can no longer be held back: O value of wisdom that fadeth not away with time, virtue ever flourishing, that cleanseth its possessor from all venom! O heavenly gift of the divine bounty, descending from the Father of lights, that thou mayest exalt the rational soul to the very heavens! Thou art the celestial nourishment of the intellect . . . . --Richard de Bury O books who alone are liberal and free, who give to all who ask of you and enfranchise all who serve you faithfully! -- Richard de Bury O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! --Luke 13:34 (NASB) Apostrophe does not appear very often in argumentative writing because formal argument is by its nature fairly restrained and intellectual rather than emotional; but under the right circumstances an apostrophe could be useful: But all such reasons notwithstanding, dear reader, does not the cost in lives persuade you by itself that we must do something immediately about the situation?
  22. 22:  Organization:  Enumeratio
    22: detailing parts, causes, effects, or consequences to make a point more forcibly: I love her eyes, her hair, her nose, her cheeks, her lips [etc.]. When the new highway opened, more than just the motels and restaurants prospered. The stores noted a substantial increase in sales, more people began moving to town, a new dairy farm was started, the old Main Street Theater doubled its showings and put up a new building . . . .
  23. 23:  Organization: Antanagoge
    23:placing a good point or benefit next to a fault criticism, or problem in order to reduce the impact or significance of the negative point: True, he always forgets my birthday, but he buys me presents all year round. The new anti-pollution equipment will increase the price of the product slightly, I am aware; but the effluent water from the plant will be actually cleaner than the water coming in.
  24. 24:  Style:  Epithet
    24:is an adjective or adjective phrase appropriately qualifying a subject (noun) by naming a key or important characteristic of the subject, as in "laughing happiness," "sneering contempt," "untroubled sleep," "peaceful dawn," and "lifegiving water." Sometimes a metaphorical epithet will be good to use, as in "lazy road," "tired landscape," "smirking billboards," "anxious apple." Aptness and brilliant effectiveness are the key considerations in choosing epithets. Be fresh, seek striking images, pay attention to connotative value. A transferred epithet is an adjective modifying a noun which it does not normally modify, but which makes figurative sense: At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth of thieves and murderers . . . . --George Herbert Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold / A sheep hook . . . . --John Milton In an age of pressurized happiness, we sometimes grow insensitive to subtle joys. The striking and unusual quality of the transferred epithet calls attention to it, and it can therefore be used to introduce emphatically an idea you plan to develop. The phrase will stay with the reader, so there is no need to repeat it, for that would make it too obviously rhetorical and even a little annoying. Thus, if you introduce the phrase, "diluted electricity," your subsequent development ought to return to more mundane synonyms, such as "low voltage," "brownouts," and so forth. It may be best to save your transferred epithet for a space near the conclusion of the discussion where it will be not only clearer (as a synonym for previously stated and clearly understandable terms) but more effective, as a kind of final, quintessential, and yet novel conceptualization of the issue. The reader will love it.
  25. 25:  Style:  Asyndeton/Polysyndeton
    • 25:consists of omitting conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. In a list of items, asyndeton gives the effect of unpremeditated multiplicity, of an extemporaneous rather than a labored account: On his return he received medals, honors, treasures, titles, fame.The lack of the "and" conjunction gives the impression that the list is perhaps not complete. Compare: She likes pickles, olives, raisins, dates, pretzels.She likes pickles, olives, raisins, dates, and pretzels.Sometimes an asyndetic list is useful for the strong and direct climactic effect it has, much more emphatic than if a final conjunction were used. Compare: They spent the day wondering, searching, thinking, understanding.They spent the day wondering, searching, thinking, and understanding.In certain cases, the omission of a conjunction between short phrases gives the impression of synonymity to the phrases, or makes the latter phrase appear to be an afterthought or even a substitute for the former. Compare: He was a winner, a hero.He was a winner and a hero.Notice also the degree of spontaneity granted in some cases by asyndetic usage. "The moist, rich, fertile soil," appears more natural and spontaneous than "the moist, rich, and fertile soil." Generally, asyndeton offers the feeling of speed and concision to lists and phrases and clauses, but occasionally the effect cannot be so easily categorized. Consider the "flavor" of these examples: If, as is the case, we feel responsibility, are ashamed, are frightened, at transgressing the voice of conscience, this implies that there is One to whom we are responsible, before whom we are ashamed, whose claims upon us we fear. --John Henry NewmanIn books I find the dead as if they were alive; in books I foresee things to come; in books warlike affairs are set forth; from books come forth the laws of peace. --Richard de BuryWe certainly have within us the image of some person, to whom our love and veneration look, in whose smile we find our happiness, for whom we yearn, towards whom we direct our pleadings, in whose anger we are troubled and waste away. --John Henry Newman
    •  Asyndeton consists of omitting conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. In a list of items, asyndeton gives the effect of unpremeditated multiplicity, of an extemporaneous rather than a labored account: On his return he received medals, honors, treasures, titles, fame.The lack of the "and" conjunction gives the impression that the list is perhaps not complete. Compare: She likes pickles, olives, raisins, dates, pretzels.She likes pickles, olives, raisins, dates, and pretzels.Sometimes an asyndetic list is useful for the strong and direct climactic effect it has, much more emphatic than if a final conjunction were used. Compare: They spent the day wondering, searching, thinking, understanding.They spent the day wondering, searching, thinking, and understanding.In certain cases, the omission of a conjunction between short phrases gives the impression of synonymity to the phrases, or makes the latter phrase appear to be an afterthought or even a substitute for the former. Compare: He was a winner, a hero.He was a winner and a hero.Notice also the degree of spontaneity granted in some cases by asyndetic usage. "The moist, rich, fertile soil," appears more natural and spontaneous than "the moist, rich, and fertile soil." Generally, asyndeton offers the feeling of speed and concision to lists and phrases and clauses, but occasionally the effect cannot be so easily categorized. Consider the "flavor" of these examples: If, as is the case, we feel responsibility, are ashamed, are frightened, at transgressing the voice of conscience, this implies that there is One to whom we are responsible, before whom we are ashamed, whose claims upon us we fear. --John Henry NewmanIn books I find the dead as if they were alive; in books I foresee things to come; in books warlike affairs are set forth; from books come forth the laws of peace. --Richard de BuryWe certainly have within us the image of some person, to whom our love and veneration look, in whose smile we find our happiness, for whom we yearn, towards whom we direct our pleadings, in whose anger we are troubled and waste away. --John Henry Newman3. Polysyndeton is the use of a conjunction between each word, phrase, or clause, and is thus structurally the opposite of asyndeton. The rhetorical effect of polysyndeton, however, often shares with that of asyndeton a feeling of multiplicity, energetic enumeration, and building up. They read and studied and wrote and drilled. I laughed and played and talked and flunked.Use polysyndeton to show an attempt to encompass something complex: The water, like a witch's oils, / Burnt green, and blue, and white. --S. T. Coleridge[He] pursues his way, / And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. --John MiltonThe multiple conjunctions of the polysyndetic structure call attention to themselves and therefore add the effect of persistence or intensity or emphasis to the other effect of multiplicity. The repeated use of "nor" or "or" emphasizes alternatives; repeated use of "but" or "yet" stresses qualifications. Consider the effectiveness of these: And to set forth the right standard, and to train according to it, and to help forward all students towards it according to their various capacities, this I conceive to be the business of a University. --John Henry NewmanWe have not power, nor influence, nor money, nor authority; but a willingness to persevere, and the hope that we shall conquer soon.In a skilled hand, a shift from polysyndeton to asyndeton can be very impressive: Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. --Isaiah 24:1-2 (KJV)Maximum effect tip: Polysyndeton is almost always the most effective when you link three or in some cases four elements. Modern readers do not expect even two conjunctions ("she wrote and phoned and faxed") linking three elements. (I've had my own prose "corrected" by business colleagues who had never encountered either asyndeton or polysyndeton before.) So, consider your audience before you create a lengthy list. If you're writing a humor piece, you can really have fun. When it was announced that the vending machines were going to have apples instead of Cheetos, and orange juice instead of Coke, the employees cried and bawled and sobbed and complained and whined and protested.
  26. 26:  Style:  Zeugma
  27. 27:  Style:  Synecdoche/Metonymy
    • 27: Synecdoche is a type of metaphor in which the part stands for the whole, the whole for a part, the genus for the species, the species for the genus, the material for the thing made, or in short, any portion, section, or main quality for the whole or the thing itself (or vice versa). Farmer Jones has two hundred head of cattle and three hired hands. Here we recognize that Jones also owns the bodies of the cattle, and that the hired hands have bodies attached. This is a simple part-for-whole synecdoche. Here are a few more: If I had some wheels, I'd put on my best threads and ask for Jane's hand in marriage. The army included two hundred horse and three hundred foot. It is sure hard to earn a dollar these days. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. --Genesis 2:7 And notice the other kinds of substitutions that can be made: Get in here this instant or I'll spank your body. [Whole for part--i.e. "body" for "rear end"] Put Beethoven on the turntable and turn up the volume. [Composer substituted for record] A few hundred pounds of twenty dollar bills ought to solve that problem nicely. [Weight for amount] He drew his steel from his scabbard and welcomed all comers. [Material for thing made] Patty's hobby is exposing film; Harold's is burning up gasoline in his dune buggy. [Part for whole] Okay team. Get those blades back on the ice. [Part for whole] Take care to make your synecdoche clear by choosing an important and obvious part to represent the whole. Compare: His pet purr was home alone and asleep. His pet paws [whiskers?] was home alone and asleep. One of the easiest kinds of synecdoche to write is the substitution of genus for species. Here you choose the class to which the idea or thing to be expressed belongs, and use that rather than the idea or thing itself: There sits my animal [instead of "dog"] guarding the door to the henhouse. He hurled the barbed weapon [instead of "harpoon"] at the whale. A possible problem can arise with the genus-for-species substitution because the movement is from more specific to more general; this can result in vagueness and loss of information. Note that in the example above some additional contextual information will be needed to clarify that "weapon" means "harpoon" in this case, rather than, say, "dagger" or something else. The same is true for the animal-for-dog substitution. Perhaps a better substitution is the species for the genus--a single, specific, representative item symbolic of the whole. This form of synecdoche will usually be clearer and more effective than the other: A major lesson Americans need to learn is that life consists of more than cars and television sets. [Two specific items substituted for the concept of material wealth] Give us this day our daily bread. --Matt. 6:11 If you still do not feel well, you'd better call up a sawbones and have him examine you. This program is for the little old lady in Cleveland who cannot afford to pay her heating bill.
    •  Metonymy is another form of metaphor, very similar to synecdoche (and, in fact, some rhetoricians do not distinguish between the two), in which the thing chosen for the metaphorical image is closely associated with (but not an actual part of) the subject with which it is to be compared. The orders came directly from the White House. In this example we know that the writer means the President issued the orders, because "White House" is quite closely associated with "President," even though it is not physically a part of him. Consider these substitutions, and notice that some are more obvious than others, but that in context all are clear: You can't fight city hall. This land belongs to the crown. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread . . . . --Genesis 3:19 Boy, I'm dying from the heat. Just look how the mercury is rising. His blood be on us and on our children. --Matt. 27:25 The checkered flag waved and victory crossed the finish line. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. --Psalm 100:1-2 (KJV) The use of a particular metonymy makes a comment about the idea for which it has been substituted, and thereby helps to define that idea. Note how much more vivid "in the sweat of thy face" is in the third example above than "by labor" would have been. And in the fourth example, "mercury rising" has a more graphic, physical, and pictorial effect than would "temperature increasing." Attune yourself to such subtleties of language, and study the effects of connotation, suggestion, substitution, and metaphor.
  28. 28:  Style:  Hyperbaton
    28:includes several rhetorical devices involving departure from normal word order. One device, a form of inversion, might be called delayed epithet, since the adjective follows the noun. If you want to amplify the adjective, the inversion is very useful: From his seat on the bench he saw the girl content-content with the promise that she could ride on the train again next week. But the delayed epithet can also be used by itself, though in only a relatively few cases: She had a personality indescribable. His was a countenance sad. Some rhetoricians condemn delayed epithet altogether in formal writing because of its potential for abuse. Each case must be tested carefully, to make sure it does not sound too poetic: His was a countenance friendly. These are rumors strange. And especially make sure the phrase is not affected, offensive, or even disgusting: Welcome to our home comfortable. That is a story amazing. I cannot give you a rule (why does "countenance sad" seem okay when "countenance friendly" does not?) other than to consult your own taste or sense of what sounds all right and what does not. A similar form of inversion we might call divided epithets. Here two adjectives are separated by the noun they modify, as in Milton's "with wandering steps and slow." Once again, be careful, but go ahead and try it. Some examples: It was a long operation but successful. Let's go on a cooler day and less busy. So many pages will require a longer staple, heavy-duty style. Another form of hyperbaton involves the separation of words normally belonging together, done for effect or convenience: In this room there sit twenty (though I will not name them) distinguished people. You can emphasize a verb by putting it at the end of the sentence: We will not, from this house, under any circumstances, be evicted. Sandy, after a long struggle, all the way across the lake, finally swam to shore. You might want to have a friend check your excursions into hyperbatonic syntax, and if he looks at you askance and says, "My, talk funny you do," you might want to do a little rewriting. But, again, do not mark this off your list just because you might not be always successful at it.
  29. 29: analysis of reading:  Aporia
    29: expresses doubt about an idea or conclusion. Among its several uses are the suggesting of alternatives without making a commitment to either or any: I am not sure whether to side with those who say that higher taxes reduce inflation or with those who say that higher taxes increase inflation. I have never been able to decide whether I really approve of dress codes, because extremism seems to reign both with them and without them. Such a statement of uncertainty can tie off a piece of discussion you do not have time to pursue, or it could begin an examination of the issue, and lead you into a conclusion resolving your doubt. Aporia can also dismiss assertions irrelevant to your discussion without either conceding or denying them: I do not know whether this legislation will work all the miracles promised by its backers, but it does seem clear that . . . . I am not sure about the other reasons offered in favor of the new freeway, but I do believe . . . . Yes, I know the assay report shows twenty pounds of gold per ton of ore, and I do not know what to say about that. What I do know is that the richest South African mines yield only about three ounces of gold per ton. You can use aporia to cast doubt in a modest way, as a kind of understatement: I am not so sure I can accept Tom's reasons for wanting another new jet. I have not yet been fully convinced that dorm living surpasses living at home. For one thing, there is no refrigerator nearby . . . . Ironic doubt--doubt about which of several closely judgable things exceeds the others, for example--can be another possibility: . . . Whether he took them from his fellows more impudently, gave them to a harlot more lasciviously, removed them from the Roman people more wickedly, or altered them more presumptuously, I cannot well declare. --Cicero And who was genuinely most content--whether old Mr. Jennings dozing in the sun, or Bill and Molly holding hands and toying under the palm tree, or old Mrs. Jennings watching them agape through the binoculars-I cannot really say. And you can display ignorance about something while still showing your attitude toward it or toward something else: It is hard to know which ice cream is better, banana or coffee. I have often wondered whether they realize that those same clothes are available for half the price under a different label.
  30. 30:  analysis of reading:  Anaphora/Epistrophe/Symploce
    30:Symploce: combining anaphora and epistrophe, so that one word or phrase is repeated at the beginning and another word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences: To think clearly and rationally should be a major goal for man; but to think clearly and rationally is always the greatest difficulty faced by man.
  31. 31:  Analysis of Reading:  Amplification
    31:involves repeating a word or expression while adding more detail to it, in order to emphasize what might otherwise be passed over. In other words, amplification allows you to call attention to, emphasize, and expand a word or idea to make sure the reader realizes its importance or centrality in the discussion. In my hunger after ten days of rigorous dieting I saw visions of ice cream--mountains of creamy, luscious ice cream, dripping with gooey syrup and calories. This orchard, this lovely, shady orchard, is the main reason I bought this property. . . . Even in Leonardo's time, there were certain obscure needs and patterns of the spirit, which could discover themselves only through less precise analogies--the analogies provided by stains on walls or the embers of a fire. --Kenneth Clark Pride--boundless pride--is the bane of civilization. He showed a rather simple taste, a taste for good art, good food, and good friends. But amplification can overlap with or include a repetitive device like anaphora when the repeated word gains further definition or detail: The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,/ A refuge in times of trouble. --Psalm 9:9 (KJV) Notice the much greater effectiveness this repetition-plus detail form can have over a "straight" syntax. Compare each of these pairs: The utmost that we can threaten to one another is death, a death which, indeed, we may precipitate, but cannot retard, and from which, therefore, it cannot become a wise man to buy a reprieve at the expense of virtue, since he knows not how small a portion of time he can purchase, but knows that, whether short or long, it will be made less valuable by the remembrance of the price at which it has been obtained. --adapted from S. Johnson The utmost that we can threaten to one another is that death which, indeed, we may precipitate . . . . In everything remember the passing of time, a time which cannot be called again. In everything remember the passing of a time which cannot be called again.
  32. 32:  Analysis of Reading:  Personification
    32: metaphorically represents an animal or inanimate object as having human attributes--attributes of form, character, feelings, behavior, and so on. Ideas and abstractions can also be personified. The ship began to creak and protest as it struggled against the rising sea. We bought this house instead of the one on Maple because this one is more friendly. This coffee is strong enough to get up and walk away. I can't get the fuel pump back on because this bolt is being uncooperative. Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. --Genesis 4:10b (NIV) That ignorance and perverseness should always obtain what they like was never considered as the end of government; of which it is the great and standing benefit that the wise see for the simple, and the regular act for the capricious. --Samuel Johnson Wisdom cries aloud in the streets; in the markets she raises her voice . . . .--Psalm 1:20 (RSV; and cf. 1:21-33) While personification functions primarily as a device of art, it can often serve to make an abstraction clearer and more real to the reader by defining or explaining the concept in terms of everyday human action (as for example man's rejection of readily available wisdom is presented as a woman crying out to be heard but being ignored). Ideas can be brought to life through personification and objects can be given greater interest. But try always to be fresh: "winking stars" is worn out; "winking dewdrops" may be all right. Personification of just the natural world has its own name, fictio. And when this natural-world personification is limited to emotion, John Ruskin called it the pathetic fallacy. Ruskin considered this latter to be a vice because it was so often overdone (and let this be a caution to you). We do not receive much pleasure from an overwrought vision like this: The angry clouds in the hateful sky cruelly spat down on the poor man who had forgotten his umbrella. Nevertheless, humanizing a cold abstraction or even some natural phenomenon gives us a way to understand it, one more way to arrange the world in our own terms, so that we can further comprehend it. And even the so-called pathetic fallacy can sometimes be turned to advantage, when the writer sees his own feelings in the inanimate world around him: After two hours of political platitudes, everyone grew bored. The delegates were bored; the guests were bored; the speaker himself was bored. Even the chairs were bored. 32. Hyperbole, the counterpart of understatement, deliberately exaggerates conditions for emphasis or effect. In formal writing the hyperbole must be clearly intended as an exaggeration, and should be carefully restricted. That is, do not exaggerate everything, but treat hyperbole like an exclamation point, to be used only once a year. Then it will be quite effective as a table-thumping attention getter, introductory to your essay or some section thereof: There are a thousand reasons why more research is needed on solar energy. Or it can make a single point very enthusiastically: I said "rare," not "raw." I've seen cows hurt worse than this get up and get well. Or you can exaggerate one thing to show how really different it is from something supposedly similar to which it is being compared: This stuff is used motor oil compared to the coffee you make, my love. If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. --Luke 14:26 (NASB) Hyperbole is the most overused and overdone rhetorical figure in the whole world (and that is no hyperbole); we are a society of excess and exaggeration. Nevertheless, hyperbole still has a rightful and useful place in art and letters; just handle it like dynamite, and do not blow up everything you can find.
  33. 33:  Analysis of Reading:  Parataxis
    33: writing successive independent clauses, with coordinating conjunctions, or no conjunctions: We walked to the top of the hill, and we sat down. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. --Genesis 1:1-2 (KJV) The Starfish went into dry-dock, it got a barnacle treatment, it went back to work. In this last example above, note that a string of very short sentences can be connected by commas when the elements are parallel. Longer sentences and unparallel sentence structures need at least semicolons to connect them.
  34. 53. Hypotaxis
    using subordination to show the relationship between clauses or phrases (and hence the opposite of parataxis): They asked the question because they were curious. If a person observing an unusual or unfamiliar object concludes that it is probably a spaceship from another world, he can readily adduce that the object is reacting to his presence or actions when in reality there is absolutely no cause-effect relationship. --Philip Klass While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. --John 9:5
Card Set:
Rhetorical Devices
2014-02-20 09:58:56
Writing Speech

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