Lessons Learned #9a

The Figures of Rhetoric…

I would like to apologise to my followers for not blogging for a while. My life has been rather hectic with flying to Australia and back and, within a week of returning, flying to London to put my children on a plane to Australia. I am not very good in planning ahead and the last few weeks have been the pinnacle of that.

The Elements of Eloquence

I hope I can make it up to you with this review/summary of a little treasure I picked up at Foyles (a large book store) in London. It’s called ‘The Elements of Eloquence’ and is written by Mark Forsyth. The subtitle is ‘How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase,’ which sparked my interest. As a non-native English speaker I am always interested in how to improve my English.

Forsyth is a very humorous writer. He has the ability to write something very dry in a very, very funny way. I’ve lost count on how many times I chuckled or elbowed my husband to recite part of his text. So what exactly does he write about? He writes about the figures of rhetoric, or; not by saying something different, but by saying something in a different way. According to Forsyth anybody can write like Shakespeare, as long as you learn the rules. Whether you want to write like Shakespeare is another question, but it doesn’t hurt to learn how to write prose the proper way. Most of us already use rhetoric, but just don’t know that we do, or what it is called for that matter. I found it very interesting, although I still can’t get the names into my head. Maybe you will do better then I and will impress fellow writers/family/friends at parties. Here goes… (using aposiopesis here!)

Alliteration – Using words that start with the same letter.

Paroemion -Excessive alliteration.

Polyptoton – The repeated use of one word as different part of speech or different grammatical forms.

Antithesis – First you mention one thing, then you mention another, or x is y, and not x is not y.

Progressio – A long list of antitheses.

Merism – When you don’t say what you’re talking about and instead name all parts of it.

Blazon – The extended merism; the dismemberment of a loved one.

Synaesthesia – One sense described in terms of another.

Aposiopesis – Signalled in English punctuation by three dots… because you can’t go on, you don’t need to go on or you want to leave the audience hanging. This rhetoric is a personal favourite of mine!

Hyperbaton – When you put words in an odd order. The normal adjective order is: opinion – size – age – shape – colour – origin – material – purpose Noun. It is also the way Yoda speaks.

Ablaut reduplication – When you repeat a word with a different vowel. The order of the vowels is always I A O.

Anadiplosis – The repetition of the last word of one clause as the first word of the next.

Periodic sentence – A very big sentence that is not complete until the end.

Parataxis – The natural way of speaking (subject – verb – object).

Hypotaxis – The use of subordinate clause upon subordinate clause (usually not spoken as you really have to think about this one).

Polysyndeton – Using lots of conjunctions.

Asyndeton – Not using any conjunctions.

Diacope – A verbal sandwich; a word, repeated after a brief interruption.

I will stop here as the next chapter starts the rhetorical question, which are more than I can handle today! But I promise to continue this lesson learned as soon as I have read further.

If you are unsure of what all the words described actually mean or if you want to see samples of them I suggest you try and get a hold of this book. If not just for having a fun read, as it is certainly worth it!

Happy writing!



Author: Jacky Dahlhaus

Paranormal Romance Author

3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned #9a”

  1. Thanks for liking! I find it very interesting too as I had never heard of it before.

    According to Wikipedia ellipses can indicate an unfinished thought, a leading statement, a slight pause, a mysterious or echoing voice, or a nervous or awkward silence, whereas an aposiopesis is the use of ellipsis to trail off into silence only. So aposiopesis is a particular use of ellipsis.

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