a choice of words

15Jul12

I recently read a good introduction to rhetoric, and decided to write a summary, so I won’t forget it straight away.

The author starts by pointing out how people tend to think of rhetoric only as how we say things, when it is really about both the form and content of what we say – it concerns both lexis (how) and logos (what).

To convince our audience, we have to appeal to  something in them. That can be:

  • logos reason
  • pathos emotion
  • ethos character/values

And then there is circumstance:

  • kairos the occasion
  • audience
  • decorum appropriate wording

We are also told of five canons of rhetoric:

  • invention
  • arrangement
  • style
  • memory how information is recalled
  • delivery

Devices

Now, the useful part. I didn’t read that text just for fun. I wanted tools for writing, and here they are. My goal is to go through this list often, and try out all the concepts in my texts.

expletives extra words, for emphasis
similies, analogies, metaphors, metonymy, personification
comparisons
hyperbole exaggeration
understatement
litotes understatement + denial of opposite
questions
asyndetons and polysyndetons creative use of and
parallelism and chiasmus describe two things as equal, or different
apophasis pretending to not talk about something
enthymeme informal syllogism
metanoia correcting oneself
aporia expressing uncertainty
hyperbatons creative word ordering

So, whenever you want to sound convincing, just choose an item from this list, maybe find some examples in the original article, and put it into your own text.

Oh, and remember to let me know if it worked😉

The article described: Paul Newall, 2005, Rhetoric, The Galilean (link)



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