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Rhetorical Handbook

Rhetorical Devices-The use of language, by author or speaker, to create a specific effect on the audience.
SYNTAX-
Type Term Definition Example Notes
Basic Subject + verb + object Mary likes Dave.
Cumulative/Loose Begins with subject and verb, and She holds me in strong arms, arms
adds modifying elements at end. that have chopped cotton,
dismembered trees, scattered corn
for chickens, cradled infants,
shaken the daylights out of half-
Sentence Order grown upstart teenagers.
Periodic Opens with modifiers; withholds Unlike World Wars I and II, which
subject and verb until the end. ended decisively with the
unconditional surrender of the
United States’ enemies, the war in
Vietnam did not end when
American troops withdrew.
Declarative A declarative sentence does exactly Tonight, the Lakers will play the
what its name implies: It “declares” Knicks.
or states something.
Imperative Commands, requests, or instructs. Come here right now.
The subject is most often you—
Sentence Types unstated, but understood.
Exclamatory Expresses strong emotion. I hope we will never again undergo
such an ordeal!
Interrogative “Interrogates”—it asks a question. Who was the contestant most
recently fired by The Donald?
Colon The punctuation mark (:) used to “I walked close to the left wall
divide distinct but related sentence when I entered, but it was a empty:
components, such as clauses, in just the stairs curving up into
which the second elaborates on the shadows.”
first, or to introduce a list, quotation, William Faulkner, The Sound and
or speech. the Fury
Punctuation Semicolon A punctuation mark (;) that connects The sun lit up the wall; I shielded
two independent parts of a sentence. my eyes from the glare.
Dash A punctuation mark (—) used to “Except for the Marabar Caves—
— indicate a sudden break in thought, to and they are twenty miles off—the
Can be used to create a set off parenthetical material city of Chandrapore presents
parenthetical aside nothing extraordinary.”
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

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Type Term Definition Example Notes
Antithesis Establishes a clear, contrasting “That’s one small step for man,
relationship between two ideas one giant leap for mankind.”
by joining them together or --Neil Armstrong
juxtaposing them, often in
parallel structure.
Chiasmus A crossing parallelism, where “Those gallant men will remain
the second part of a grammatical often in my thoughts and in my
construction is balanced or prayers always.” --MacArthur
paralleled by the first part, only
in reverse order.
Anadiplosis Repeating the last word of one "Fear is the path to the dark side.
phrase, clause, or sentence at or Fear leads to anger. Anger leads
very near the beginning of the to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
next. I sense much fear in you."--Yoda
Anaphora Repetition of a word or phrase at “We shall fight in France, we
the beginning of successive shall fight on the seas and
Repetition/Parallelism phrases, clauses, or sentences. oceans, we shall fight with
growing confidence and growing
strength in the air, we shall
defend our island, whatever the
cost may be. --Churchill
Epistrophe The repetition of the same word “Where affections bear rule,
or words at the end of successive there reason is subdued, honesty
phrases, clauses, or sentences. is subdued, good will is
Counterpart to anaphora. subdued, and all things else that
withstand evil, for ever are
subdued.”--Wilson
Polysyndeton The repeated use of a "In years gone by, there were in
conjunction in a list. every community men and
Counterpart to asyndeton. women who spoke the language
of duty and morality and loyalty
and obligation." - William F.
Buckley
Ellipsis The use of three “dots” in a row “The First Amendment provides
to signal an omission of that "Congress shall make no
superfluous language. law…abridging the freedom of
speech."
U.S. Constitution Amendment I.
Asyndeton The omission of a conjunction “We shall pay any price, bear
Omission
from a list. any burden, meet any hardships,
support any friend, oppose any
foe to assure the survival and the
success of liberty.”-John F.
Kennedy

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Allusion An indirect or passing reference “Five score years ago, a great
to some event, person, place, or American, in whose symbolic
artistic work, the nature and shadow we stand today, signed
relevance of which is not the Emancipation Proclamation.”
explained by the writer but relies –Martin Luther King Jr.
on the reader’s familiarity with Gettysburg Address allusion
what is thus mentioned.
Aphorism A brief statement that expresses “So far as a man thinks, he is
a wise observation about life. free.”--Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Analogy The comparison of two similar “Knowledge always desires
things in order to clarify a increase: it is like fire, which
difficult idea. Simile and must first be kindled by some
analogy may overlap. However, external agent, but which will
analogies are “practical” afterwards propagate itself.” -
explanations. An analogy will --Samuel Johnson
continue much longer than a
simile.
Juxtaposition Two things being seen or placed “A butler spends his days in a
close together with contrasting beautiful mansion dressed in a
effect. tuxedo, but returns home to a
closet-sized apartment in a
rundown part of town.”

Apostrophe An interruption in dialogue that "O happy dagger! This is thy


Rhetorical Figures allows for the direct address of a sheath; there rust, and let me
person or abstract idea. This die."—Romeo and Juliet
person/object may or may not be
present. An apostrophe
represents heightened emotions.
Euphemism Substituting an inoffensive word  “pass away" instead of "die"
or phrase for an unpleasant or  “ethnic cleansing” instead of
embarrassing expression. “genocide”
 “Early retirement opportunity”
instead of “fired”
Hyperbole Exaggeration used for emphasis. “I think this is the most
Hyperbole can be used to extraordinary collection of
heighten effect, to catalyze human talent, of human
recognition, or to create a knowledge, that has ever been
humorous perception. gathered at the White House--
with the possible exception of
when Thomas Jefferson dined
alone.”--John F. Kennedy
White House dinner honoring
Nobel Prize winners, 1962
Oxymoron A two word paradox that is used I do here make humbly bold to
to emphasize the complexity or present them with a short
ridiculousness of human nature. account of themselves and their
reality. art...--Jonathan Swift
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Paradox A statement that seems to be a “What a pity that youth must
contradiction but still remains be wasted on the young.”
true. –George Bernard Shaw

Pun The use of word to highlight a I don't approve of political


double meaning, usually a jokes; I have seen too many of
humorous one. them get elected. —Jon Stewart
Understatement Purposely describing an idea, "I have to have this operation. It
event, or person as less than isn't very serious. I have this
important than in actuality. This tiny little tumor on the brain.”
device is often used to create The Catcher in the Rye
irony/sarcasm.
Rhetorical Figures Rhetorical Question A question posed by the “For if we lose the ability to
speaker/author in order to bring perceive our faults, what is the
attention to an issue. Rhetorical good of living on?”
questions do not look for -Marcus Aurelius
answers. Instead they are used
to lean on the emotions of an
audience.

Rhetorical Appeals, Logical Reasoning, Logical Fallacies

Type Term Definition Example Notes


Ethos (ethical) A rhetorical appeal to an People—crippled or not—wince at
audience based on the the word “cripple,” as they do not
speaker/writer's credibility. at “handicapped” or “disabled.”
Perhaps I want them to wince. I
Mairs builds credibility when she want them to see me as a tough
talks about being disabled customer, one to whom the
because she is, in her own terms, fates/gods/viruses have not been
a “cripple.” kind, but who can face the brutal
truth of her existence squarely. –
Nancy Mairs
Rhetorical Appeals Pathos (emotion) The emotional appeal to an “…whatever the cost may be, we
audience in an argument. shall fight on the beaches, we shall
fight on the landing grounds, we
The repeated use of we shall shall fight in the fields and in the
builds to create an intensely streets, we shall fight in the hills;
emotional/patriotic reaction we shall never surrender…”
from an audience experiencing —Winston Churchill
WWII.
Logos (rational) Rhetorical appeals based on But since I feel that you are men
logic or reasoning. of genuine good will and that your
Martin Luther King Jr. criticisms are sincerely set forth, I
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establishes a logos driven appeal want to try to answer your
by using “patient” and statements in what I hope will
“reasonable” to describe how he be patient and reasonable terms.
will approach answering his —Martin Luther King Jr.
critics.

Deductive Reasoning Reasoning that utilizes elements All humans are mortal [major
(syllogism) of persuasion by asserting a premise], I am a human [minor
claim; consists of a major premise], therefore, I am mortal
premise, a minor premise, and a [the conclusion].
conclusion.
Inductive Reasoning Reasoning that begins by citing a Fair trade agreements have raised
number of specific instances or the quality of life for coffee
examples and then shows how producers, so fair trade
collectively they constitute a agreements could be used to help
general principle. other farmers as well.
Reasoning
Analogical Reasoning Implying that because two things The IB curriculum has worked
resemble each other in one well for students at City High
respect, they also share School; given the similarities in
similarities in another respect our student make-up and size,
there’s no reason it couldn’t work
for Jefferson High School as well.
Causal Reasoning Process of reasoning that When taxes were cut in 2007, the
supports a claim by establishing school district had to lay off
a cause-and-effect relationship employees in the school years that
followed.

Ad hominem Argument An attack on another person The Occupy Wall Street


character instead of their ideas or movement will never be
point of view. . successful because it is made up
of lazy ungrateful kids who need
to stop whining and get a job.
Begging the question The situation that results when a Freedom of speech is important
writer or speaker constructs an because people should be able to
argument on an assumption that speak freely.
the audience does not accept.
Logical Fallacies Either/or reasoning An argument that something Everyone can either start recycling
complex can be looked at in only or destroy the Earth.
two different ways.
False analogy Comparing two things that are People are like dogs. They
irrelevant and that do not pose a respond best to clear discipline.
valid comparison.
Hasty generalization Lacks the support necessary to Even though it’s early in the
be inductive reasoning. season, I know the baseball team
will win the state championship.
Circular Argument This restates the argument rather Kobe Bryant is a successful

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than actually proving it. basketball player because he is the
best basketball player of his
generation.

Slippery Slope This is a conclusion based on the If the government bans supersized
premise that if A happens, then drinks, eventually they will ban all
eventually through a series of soda and all sugary drinks and
small steps, through B, C,..., X, food, so we should not ban large
Y, Z will happen, too, basically soda.
equating A and Z. So, if we don't
want Z to occur, A must not be
allowed to occur either.
Non-sequitur A conclusion that doe not clearly Since Egyptians did so much
support the claim. excavation to construct the
pyramids, they were well versed
in paleontology.
Oversimplification Reducing an idea too much so it Political slogans such as "Taxation
loses the point trying to be made. is theft" fall in this category.

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