Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rhetorical devices, rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. Therefore, rhetorical devices are the tools of rhetoric. If used appropriately, these tools will make your communication in writing and speaking much more powerful. Here is the small list of terms you are responsible for. There are many Web sites that have a much more extensive list of technical terms if you are interested, but this should give you a good introduction into the world of rhetorical devices.

alliteration — using words which have the same opening consonants ("slippery slope")

"Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogma, and tears and fears, that these dear words are true." Robert Ingersoll
"Let us go forth to lead the land we love." J. F. Kennedy, inaugural address
"Veni, vidi, vici." Julius Caesar

allusion — reference to a familiar person, place or thing

"Just as Johnny Appleseed, we are planting the seeds of a federal deficit from which future generations will harvest bitter fruit."

anecdote — a short summary of an interesting or humorous, often biographical incident or event

antithesis — use of contrasting or opposing ideas or words in such a way to dramatize the difference

"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." J.F. Kennedy, inaugural address

climax — building to a point of intensity

"At the local level, the homeless are a nuisance, at the state level they are a budget item, but at the national level they are a reflection of our inhumanity."

hyperbole — language used to exaggerate

"Listening to this speech is as exciting as watching paint dry."

metaphor — A metaphor compares two things that are different, and is considered the most important figure of speech. Aristotle wrote that the use of metaphor was so powerful because human beings have "an eye for resemblances." He means that we like to see how one thing resembles another!

"Like a cobra, any new enemy will more likely strike when it feels . . . events are in its favor. . . ." General MacArthur addressing Congress, 1951

oxymoron — using language to imply a contradiction

"The silence was deafening."
jumbo shrimp
plastic silverware

personification — when an author describes an animal, object, or idea is if it were human; giving non-human things human characteristics

"Their apartment is as cheerful as can be!"

repetition — using a phrase or word, with appropriate frequency, to create a memorable impression on the audience

"Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

rhetorical questions — This is a question that the speaker asks the audience. He or she doesn't expect a response. It is used to stimulate an audience to think/focus on a particular idea or issue — it does not seek an overt response.

"How can we sit here in comfort and warmth and ignore the plight of the poor, the cold, the homeless?"

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