Persuasion - the Rhetoric of English

RHETORIC. (1)The study and practice of effective communication. (2) The art of persuasion. (3) An insincere eloquence intended to win points and get people what they want.

(The Oxford Companion to the English Language)

The Five Canons of Greek Rhetoric

  1. Greek heùresis (Latin inventio). Finding and researching the material.
  2. Greek tàxis (Latin dispositio). Organizing and arranging the material.
  3. Greek lèxis (Latin elocutio or educatio). Matching language to audience and context, through any of three styles: the grand, the standard, and the colloquial. This 'style' section also includes the traditional rhetorical devices and figures of speech (schemes and tropes).
  4. Greek hupòkrisis (Latin pronuntiatio or actio). Performance.
  5. Greek mnème (Latin memoria). Training the memory to ensure good recall.

Schemes (Patterns of Repetition). Also known as "significant repetitions". The main ones are:

  1. Anaphora. Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive points (phrases, sentences, clauses):
    e.g. "Never will I agree! Never will I say yes!"
  2. Epistrophe. Repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive points:
    e.g. "The members thought about the problem, they discussed the problem, but they did not solve the problem."
  3. Symploce. Repetition at the beginning and end of the sentence:
    e.g. "He is a great man, he is a proud man."
  4. Anadiplosis. Linking of two points by repeating a word or a phrase at the end of one and the beginning of the next:
    e.g. "It was a terrible disaster; terrible because of the numbers of people killed."
  5. Chiasmus. Linking of two phrases by inverting (repeated) word order in second phrase:
    e.g. "One must eat to live, not live to eat." (Cicero)
  6. Epizeusis. Immediate repetition of a word or phrase (without any break):
    e.g. "It is a far, far better thing that I do now, than I have ever done before..." (Dickens)

Tropes (Figures of Speech). Also know as "figurative language". The main ones are:

  1. Simile. Comparison using "like" or "as" (where the point of similarity is mentioned):
    e.g. "The sun was as bright and shiny as a piece of gold."
  2. Metaphor. Comparisons where the point of similarity is only implied:
    e.g. "The gold sun shone down on the field."
  3. Synecdoche. When part of a person or thing is used to represent the whole:
    e.g. "She was one big smile."
  4. Metonymy. Something very closely associated to an object/concept is used to refer to the object/concept in question:
    e.g. "The power of the pen."
  5. Meiosos. Deliberate understatement - the opposite of exaggerating:
    e.g. "The Iraqis have slightly different ideas to the Americans."
  6. Litotes. Deliberate understatement, with a negative expression conveying a positive idea:
    e.g. "What did you think of the smoked salmon?" "Not bad."
  7. Hyperbole. Deliberately overstating, intentional exaggeration:
    e.g. "I will go to the end of the earth for just one kiss!"

© Nigel J. Ross, 2003




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