Posts Tagged ‘Rhetorical devices’

I love that WordPress lets me know how people find my blog via search engines. For example:

My posts about the annual Redneck Games, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and rhetorical devices get the most visitors from search engines. Interesting.

I talked to Trish yesterday about following up our Redneck Games extravaganza with the annual Claxton Rattlesnake Roundup next month. She claimed she put it on her calendar. Hmmm. I suspect I’ll have to hound her into submission.

I’ve got nothing to say today about the Cheetos. I have a pantry packed with Flamin’ goodness.

I’m not sure I’ve got much left to say about rhetorical devices. And that’s a device right there. Aporia (“Uh-POHR-ee-uh”) is the act of expressing real or simulated doubt.

Another one comes to mind because some friends and I have been talking about the musical “Hair.” (It has been 10 years since we — yes, I was in it — performed it at SCAD.)

Ain’t Got No” is an example of anaphora (“Uh-NAF-er-uh”) because each line begins with the same words.

Finally (for today), dialysis refers to weighing two arguments as a choice: either/or, this/not that, no/yes, etc. For example, I had a Twitter spat with some woman in Atlanta who objected to what I said about Glenn Beck:


So, according to nautilus55, EITHER I like Glenn Beck, OR I am a liberal. No room for anything else there, I guess. And that’s a false dilemma, my friends, which is a logical fallacy. More about those some other time …



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No one really asked for more rhetorical devices, but I’m on a roll. Here are four more of my favorites:

To use metallage (“Meh-TALL-uh-gee”) is to use a word or phrase as an object in a sentence. I’m going to go all “Pulp Fiction” on you and mention that scene with the Gimp. Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) says, “You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy? I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your ass.”

In that same vein, periphrasis (“Per-IF-ruh-sis”) uses a description as a name. Think Harry Potter and “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” And I’d better not hear Eddie refer to me as “The Old Ball and Chain.” Or “Fat Ass,” for that matter.

Two more devices — metonymy and synecdoche — seem to be difficult for many people to understand, and there are plenty who say they are the same. They are not.

Metonymy (“Meh-TAH-no-mee”) refers to describing something indirectly by using similar items. For example, you can say “the deep” when you are talking about the ocean.

Synecdoche (“Sin-ECK-doh-key”) swaps a thing for a collection of things, or a part for a whole. For example, the bank foreclosed on our neighbor’s house. The representatives of the bank did it, but it is easier to say “the bank.”

The difference between metonymy and synecdoche is this: When A is used to refer to B, it is a synecdoche if A is a component of B, and a metonym if A is commonly associated with B but not actually part of its whole. Representatives are part of a bank, therefore it is synecdoche. But the ocean is deep (deep water is like an ocean), so it is metonymy.

Got it? Good, ’cause I don’t wanna go all medieval on you.

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When last I blogged, I mentioned “litotes,” a rhetorical device that is similar to a double negative. This device, pronounced “LIE-tuh-teez,” allows someone to make a point by denying the opposite. For example, if I said, all regal-like, “We are not amused,” you would understand that all is not well, and that you should perhaps vacate the scene.

There are loads of other devices. As soon as I point them out, you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

Take, for example, chiasmus (“Kie-AZ-mus”), a sentence that presents a mirror image of a concept. I often say that I work to live, not live to work, even though I do love my job.

Perhaps the most well-known chiasmus came from John F. Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Two other devices are similar: antithesis and anadiplosis. Antithesis establishes a clear, contrasting relationship between ideas. For example, original moonwalker Neil Armstrong said of the 1969 landing: “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Some examples of antithesis are chiastic, but not all. And if it is chiastic, then just call it a chiasmus. Antithesis = general contrast; chiasmus = specific mirroring.

Anadiplosis (“Anna-di-PLOH-sis”) goes one step further by repeating the last/first structure, but it is not a mirror. In “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” — a dreadful movie — Yoda said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Do you want to know more about rhetorical devices? Of course you do. And asking and answering a question is called hypophora (“High-PAH-for-uh”).

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