Attracting and holding
attention with words
Rhetorical Devices
A brief look into definitions and
historical beginnings
Part I: Background
A Sampling of Definitions
Rhetoric is the art of winning
the soul by discourse.
Rhetoric is the art, study, and
practice o...
Aristotle’s Rhetorical Triangle
Ethos
Logos Pathos
Ethos
From a writer’s choice and arrangement of
words, a reader absorbs an impression of the
writer’s character, the write...
Logos
Logos (literally, “the word”) focuses on the
presentation of the main ideas. The individual
considers the result of ...
Pathos
Pathos, or emotion, more closely connects
readers with any text. Emotion in writing
lifts the words or images into ...
Cognates
Several words in English derive from the three
Greek words just mentioned.
From “ethos”, we have “ethics”, ethica...
Including pronunciation and
examples
Part II: Fifteen
Rhetorical Terms
Asyndeton (ah-SYN-di-ton)
A rhetorical device that omits conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or,
yet, so.) between a series ...
Polysyndeton (paw-lee-SYN-di-ton)
The use of several conjunctions (for, and nor, but, or, yet, so)
after a series of words...
Anaphora (uh-NAH-fur-uh)
A repetition of words or phrases at the
beginning of successive clauses. The effect is
one of con...
Epistrophe (uh-PIH-stroe-fee)
Epistrophe literally means “turning about”. The
rhetorical device is a repetition of the sam...
Tautology (taw-TAL-uh-gee)
In the rhetorical sense, a tautology is a repetition of
meaning using similar words close toget...
Oxymoron (ox-ee-more-on)
From the Greek meaning “sharp-dull” (“pointedly
foolish”), oxymoron juxtaposes two elements and
c...
Allusion (uh-LOO-zhun)
A brief reference to a person, place, event, work
of art or literature—in other words an historical...
Cacophony (kah-KAWF-uh-nee)
Cacophony (from the Greek=“bad sounding”) is the
deliberate use of word-sounds that cumulative...
Euphony (YOU-fuh-nee)
Euphony (Greek= “sweet-voiced”) is a deliberate,
pleasant, melodic combination of word-sounds. The
e...
Chiasmus (ky-AS-mus)
Chiasmus (named after the Greek letter “chi” or “x”)
involves two parallel clauses. In chiasmus, or
c...
Metonymy (meh-TAWN-uh-me)
Rhetorically, metonymy (Greek= “change of name”)
refers to the technique of describing someone o...
Synecdoche (syn-EK-duh-key)
Synecdoche (Greek= “simultaneous understanding”), is
similar to metonymy. Where metonymy gave ...
Litote (LIE-tote)
A litote is a deliberate understatement. The effect of
such a technique is to emphasize what the reader
...
Parallelism (PAIR-uh-lel-izm)
Parallelism is the deliberate repetition of similar
grammatical structures in a sentence. Th...
Zeugma (ZOOG-muh)
Zeugma (Greek: “yoking together”) is a technique for
linking two or more same parts of speech with a
dif...
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Background, Examples, and Effects of Fifteen Rhetorical Techniques

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Background, Examples, and Effects of Fifteen Rhetorical Techniques

  1. 1. Attracting and holding attention with words Rhetorical Devices
  2. 2. A brief look into definitions and historical beginnings Part I: Background
  3. 3. A Sampling of Definitions Rhetoric is the art of winning the soul by discourse. Rhetoric is the art, study, and practice of human communication. The duty and office of rhetoric is to apply reason to imagination for the better moving of the will. Rhetoric is that discipline which studies all the ways in which men may influence each other’s thinking and behavior through the strategic use of symbols. Rhetoric is merely speech with designs on the reader.
  4. 4. Aristotle’s Rhetorical Triangle Ethos Logos Pathos
  5. 5. Ethos From a writer’s choice and arrangement of words, a reader absorbs an impression of the writer’s character, the writer’s feelings, the writer’s acceptance of traditional values. From these impressions—if favorable-- a reader may then respond with trust for the writer, even while not agreeing with her/him. Ethos is carefully built over time, but a first impression is critical to that building.
  6. 6. Logos Logos (literally, “the word”) focuses on the presentation of the main ideas. The individual considers the result of reading the text and asks, “Have I been persuaded by the reasonable thoughts? Has the writer clearly explained the ideas? Do I understand both sides?” Has the writer used emotional language in outlining the main ideas in the text? Hmmm. Aristotle is not saying that emotion should be avoided in the text. Aristotle is saying that emotion should be avoided in presenting the main ideas of the text.
  7. 7. Pathos Pathos, or emotion, more closely connects readers with any text. Emotion in writing lifts the words or images into the realm of personal experience. Instead of just following the logical order of a group of statements, the reader relives the moment, or understands the writer’s thought as an association with some shared feeling. Pathos is a required element in effective writing. Like salt, however, pathos is best delivered in measured amounts.
  8. 8. Cognates Several words in English derive from the three Greek words just mentioned. From “ethos”, we have “ethics”, ethical”, “aesthetic”. From “logos” derives “logic”, “logical”, “logistics”. From “pathos” the words “pathetic” and “pathology” acquire common ancestry.
  9. 9. Including pronunciation and examples Part II: Fifteen Rhetorical Terms
  10. 10. Asyndeton (ah-SYN-di-ton) A rhetorical device that omits conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.) between a series of words, phrases, or clauses. The effect of asyndeton is to speed up the text. A secondary effect is to reduce any logical connection between elements. “He was a bag of bones, a floppy doll, a broken stick, a maniac.”—Jack Kerouac “Cold; tempest; wild beasts in the forest. It is a hard life.Their houses are built of logs, dark and smoky within.There will be a crude icon of the virgin behind a guttering candle, the leg of a pig hung up to cure, a string of drying mushrooms. A bed, a stool, a table. Harsh, brief, poor lives.”—AngelaCarter
  11. 11. Polysyndeton (paw-lee-SYN-di-ton) The use of several conjunctions (for, and nor, but, or, yet, so) after a series of words, phrases or clauses. The use is almost excessive, because the effect is to slow way down or create tedium in the flow of a passage of text. “And Joshua, and all of Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his donkeys, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had.” — King James Bible “I said, ‘Who killed him?’ and he said ‘I don’t know who killed him, but he’s dead alright,’ and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights or windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Key and she was alright only she was full of water.” — Ernest Hemingway
  12. 12. Anaphora (uh-NAH-fur-uh) A repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive clauses. The effect is one of continual emphasis on the text. “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing strength and with growing confidence in the air, we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.We shall never surrender.” --Winston Churchill “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the inter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we ere all direct the other way.…” –Charles Dickens
  13. 13. Epistrophe (uh-PIH-stroe-fee) Epistrophe literally means “turning about”. The rhetorical device is a repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive lines or clauses. The effect of epistrophe—sometimes called epiphora—is stronger than anaphora because of the reminder to the reader of what the writer is emphasizing. “Don’t you ever talk about my friends!You don’t know any of my friends. You don’t look at any of my friends. And you certainly wouldn’t condescend to speak to any of my friends.” --The Breakfast Club “Sweet Portia, if you did know to whom I gave the ring, If you did know for whom I gave the ring And would conceive for what I gave the ring And how unwillingly I left the ring, When nought would be accepted but the ring, You would abate the strength of your displeasure.” --William Shakespeare
  14. 14. Tautology (taw-TAL-uh-gee) In the rhetorical sense, a tautology is a repetition of meaning using similar words close together in a sentence or a phrase. The effect of a tautology is to emphasize a specific idea, or technical term. Used carelessly, the effect is a sense of wordiness—not something you want. “Free gift” “I made it with my own hands.” “…who died of a fatal dose of heroin.” “Give proof and evidence that your ideas are accurate and correct.” “The Cowboys are favored to win since they are the better team.” “It is what it is.”
  15. 15. Oxymoron (ox-ee-more-on) From the Greek meaning “sharp-dull” (“pointedly foolish”), oxymoron juxtaposes two elements and creates in effect a compound word-phrase with humorous, contradictory, and paradoxical implications designed to get the reader’s attention. “Oh brawling love! oh loving hate! … Oh heavy lightness! Serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well seeming forms! Feather of lead! Bright smoke! Cold fire! Sick health! Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love I, that feel no love in this! –William Shakespeare “A yawn may be defined as a silent yell.” –G.K.Chesterton “real phony” “civil war” “student teacher” “original copy” “random order” ”found missing” “clearly misunderstood” “deafening silence” “ill health”
  16. 16. Allusion (uh-LOO-zhun) A brief reference to a person, place, event, work of art or literature—in other words an historical and relatively well known element. In writing about such an element, no further explanation is provided. The alluded to element enriches by comparison whatever the writer is explaining. “I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth.” --Senator Barack Obama “I violated the Noah rule: predicting rain doesn’t count; building arks does.” --Warren Buffett
  17. 17. Cacophony (kah-KAWF-uh-nee) Cacophony (from the Greek=“bad sounding”) is the deliberate use of word-sounds that cumulatively produce a disturbing, jarring effect on a reader. The effect of cacophony is to attract the reader’s attention but in a disharmonious manner, creating a feeling, in some cases, of irritation with the text. “ ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe. All mimsy were the borogroves, And the mome raths outgrabe.” --Lewis Carroll “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” “With throats unslaked, with black lips baked, Agape they heard me call.” –WilliamTaylor Coleridge
  18. 18. Euphony (YOU-fuh-nee) Euphony (Greek= “sweet-voiced”) is a deliberate, pleasant, melodic combination of word-sounds. The effect of euphony is directly opposite that of cacophony: nothing harsh or discordant. Attention is drawn to lines in a text that soothe or serenade the inner or outer ear. They sat them down upon the yellow sand Between the sun and moon upon the shore; And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland, Of child, and wife, and slave; but evermore Most weary seem’d the sea, weary the oar, Weary the wandering fields of barren foam. Then someone said, “We will return no more”; And all at once they sang, “Our island home Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam.” –AlfredTennyson
  19. 19. Chiasmus (ky-AS-mus) Chiasmus (named after the Greek letter “chi” or “x”) involves two parallel clauses. In chiasmus, or crisscross, the same terms in the first clause end up reversed in the second clause. The exact same words, or even similar ideas, which are parallel may be reversed. “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” --proverb “Home is where the great are small, and the small are great.” --proverb “Charm is a woman’s strength, strength is a man’s charm.” --Ellis “The instinct of a man is to pursue everything that flies from him, and to fly from all that pursue him.” --Voltaire
  20. 20. Metonymy (meh-TAWN-uh-me) Rhetorically, metonymy (Greek= “change of name”) refers to the technique of describing someone or something indirectly, by referring to the surrounding items. (Describing what someone is wearing instead of the physical features.) As a figure of speech, a closely associated item is referred to instead of the actual subject (“Golden Arches” instead of McDonald’s). The effect is a greater cohesion in the text. “In a corner, a cluster of lab coats made lunch plans.” --Karen Green “…the White House asked networks for airtime….” --Michael Waldman “He used the events to show the SiliconValley crowd that he was just like them….” --Business Week, 2003 Danish (Danish pastry); shocks (shock absorbers); the States (United States of America); Heights (Cleveland Heights High School); going to bed (the entire sequence of events is understood)
  21. 21. Synecdoche (syn-EK-duh-key) Synecdoche (Greek= “simultaneous understanding”), is similar to metonymy. Where metonymy gave some thing, some place, or some individual(s) another name by using a related object, synecdoche instead refers to some thing or some one by naming a related object instead. The effect is to emphasize some important part . Part referring to whole: wheels (car); disc (Compact Information Storage) Whole referring to a part: America (two continents) to mean only the USA General class name to refer to a specific member of that class: truck; the good book Specific name to refer to a general set of associated things: bug; Band-Aid (specific brand name for any bandage); John Hancock (for signature) Material the thing is made of referring to that thing: glasses; strings; brass; ivories; pigskin; silver A container used to refer to its contents: keg (beer); barrel (oil); cup (coffee, tea, etc.)
  22. 22. Litote (LIE-tote) A litote is a deliberate understatement. The effect of such a technique is to emphasize what the reader already knows to be true by denying it. Litotes can convey irony. But chiefly, a litote conveys a strong emotion with moderation. “Heat waves are not rare in the summer.” “We saw him throw the buckets of paint at the canvas in disgust, and the result did not perfectly represent his subject.” “Hitting that telephone pole certainly didn’t do your car any good.”
  23. 23. Parallelism (PAIR-uh-lel-izm) Parallelism is the deliberate repetition of similar grammatical structures in a sentence. The structures should be all words, or phrases, or clauses, and each structure should be of the same grammatical family. The effect of parallelism is balance, rhythm, and clarity. “He liked to eat watermelon and liked to avoid grapefruit.” (verbs; infinitives; objects) “The pilot walked down the aisle, through the door, and into the cockpit singing ‘Up, up, and away’.” (prepositional phrases) “These critics—who point out the qualities 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 a writer’s essay. (relative clauses)
  24. 24. Zeugma (ZOOG-muh) Zeugma (Greek: “yoking together”) is a technique for linking two or more same parts of speech with a different part of speech in the same sentence. The effect is to show more clearly and economically any relationships between elements in a sentence. Zeugmatic constructions are many and subtly varied. Linking word (a verb in this case) is stated once and then understood: “Fred excelled at sports; Harvey at eating;Tom with girls.” Single subject with multiple verbs: “Fluffy rolled on her back, raised her paws, and meowed to be petted.” Two or more direct objects: “He grabbed his hat from the rack by the stairs, his gloves from the table near the door, and his keys from the punchbowl.” Same verb understood in two different senses: “He grabbed his hat from the rack by the stairs and a kiss from the lips of his wife.”

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