Language and Wordsmithing
Allegories: A long string of related metaphors or extended analogies that
tell a story or deliver a
message. They are often used to paint a larger picture. "I see myself as the man in the arena
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes
short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who
does actually strive to do the deeds
*Let us go forth to lead the land we love. J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural
*Viri validis cum viribus luctant. Ennius
*Veni, vidi, vici. Julius Caesar
*Agreements entered into when one state of facts exists -- are they to be maintained regardless of changing conditions? J. Diefenbaker
*Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. Francis Bacon
*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 confidence and growing strength 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 in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender. Churchill.
*The helmsman steered; the ship moved on; yet never a breeze up blew. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
*In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo -- without warning. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia -- without warning. In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria -- without warning. In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia -- without warning. Later in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland -- without warning. And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand -- and the United States --without warning. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Antithesis: A sophisticated balance in which the two phrases or clauses
oppose one another. "Ask
not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." "A coward dies
often; a brave man dies once."
Apophasis: A figure whereby a speaker denies what he or she is doing. "I
won't tell you that he is a
*Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do?' Luke 16
Aposiopesis: A figure whereby the speaker is so moved by his own words that he breaks off speaking for moment. Marc Antony in Rome, Nixon in the Checkers Speech, and Ed Muskie in the snows of New Hampshire all break up at one point in their speech. Sophists did it on purpose to convey sincerity. It happens at funerals and farewell parties by accident.
*For Brutus, as you know,
was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
*Pipit sate upright in her
Some distance from where I was sitting; T. S. Eliot, "A Cooking Egg"
*Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
Asyndeton: A figure using multiple words but eliminating the
connectives for emphasis. "I came, I
saw, I conquered." Here at Cal. State, we are poor, downtrodden, abused, overworked,
undernourished. I will have no more of it."
Balance: Two clauses or phrases of matching rhythm and length brought
together for effect. "He
was happy and she was happy." "If I can stand and cook it, you can sit and eat it."
*We want no parlay with you and your grisly gang who work your wicked will. W. Churchill
*I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear. MacArthur, Farewell Address
Causa Curiana- the case of Manius Curius
Censo Carthaginem esse delendam- “Carthage must be destroyed” Cato ended all his speeches
with this statement
*Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always. MacArthur
*Renown'd for conquest, and in council skill'd. Addison et pacis ornamenta et subsidia belli. Cicero, Pro lege Manilia
*One equal temper of heroic
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. Tennyson, Ulysses
Epanaphora: A figure of repetition for emphasis. "I have dream" seven times.
the word means “meeting” was transferred to a speech at any public meeting
session of the Senate
Contiones- speeches in the Senate
Controversiae- a law forbids a foreigner to ascend the wall; he ascends; he drives off the enemy;
he is accused
Diserti- accomplished and skilled speakers
*When the final news came, there would be a ring at the front door -- a wife in this situation finds herself staring at the front door as if she no longer owns it or controls it--and outside the door would be a man... come to inform her that unfortunately something has happened out there, and her husband's body now lies incinerated in the swamps or the pines or the palmetto grass, "burned beyond recognition," which anyone who had been around an air base very long (fortunately Jane had not) realized was quite an artful euphemism to describe a human body that now looked like an enormous fowl that has burned up in a stove, burned a blackish brown all over, greasy and blistered, fried, in a word, with not only the entire face and all the hair and the ears burned off, not to mention all the clothing, but also the hands and feet, with what remains of the arms and legs bent at the knees and elbows and burned into absolutely rigid angles, burned a greasy blackish brown like the bursting body itself, so that this husband, father, officer, gentleman, this ornamentum of some mother's eye, His Majesty the Baby of just twenty-odd years back, has been reduced to a charred hulk with wings and shanks sticking out of it. Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff
*It surely is nice and cool today! (for "pleasantly cool")
*I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Psalms 116
Homeoteleuton: A figure in which words that end with the same sounds are
used for effect. "His
effect was his defect."
Hyperbole: A trope that is a massive exaggeration. Johnny Carson uses this
trope all the time. For
example, he may talk about a woman who was thin. Then someone asks, "How thin was she?"
And he replies, hyperbolically, "She was so thin that when she swallowed an olive, her
boyfriend left town."
*Put on your shoes and socks!
Irony: A trope whereby a contrary meaning is implied. Sarcasm is an
example of irony. After one of
my dull lectures, a student might say, "Boy, that was a sizzling presentation." Or, it is ironic
that Reagan, the man who hated the evil empire, should befriend Gorbachev.
*Yet Brutus says he was
And Brutus is an honourable man. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Impudentia- shameless self-confidence
Lavdatio funebris- funeral eulogy and is used for members of noble families
Lavdatio Turiae- a funerary inscriptions recording the virtues of a noblewoman named Turia
*A few unannounced quizzes are not inconceivable.
*War is not healthy for children and other living things.
*One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. (meiosis)
Metaphor: A trope by which one things is described in terms of another. A
word is used in a sense
different from what was intended. Normally, a comparison is made from one category to
another. For example, "George is a wolf" compares a man with an animal to better explain his
loci- backgrounds; also plural of locus
Locus- a real place with which the student is familiar; also the location of a point at issue
Maiestas- the legal question of what constituted treason
*He is a man of the cloth.
*The pen is mightier than the sword.
*By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat thy bread.
Onomatopoeia: A figures by which words imitate sounds. The cannon boomed; the bird screeched."
Oxymoron: Placing two words together which normally have opposite meaning
or context. "A wise
fool." "A liberal Republican." "An independent dog." "A dumb cat." Calling Roseann Barr "baby."
Ornatus- “ornamentation” is derived from a verb that means “to prepare” used especially at
preparing and polishing arms for battle; in rhetoric, the use of ornamentation in speeches
*What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young. George Bernard Shaw
*He was at his best when the going was good. Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor
*There but for the grace of God -- goes God. Churchill
*...culled cash, or cold cash, and then it turned into a gold cache. E.L. Doctorow, Billy Bathgate
*Thou art Peter (Greek petros), and upon this rock (Greek petra) I shall build my church. Matthew 16
*The dying Mercutio: Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Personification: A trope by which human qualifies are given to non-human
entities. "The chasm
yawned before us." (Chasms don't really yawn.) "The cloud stretched its fluffy arm toward the
plane." (Clouds don't really have arms.)
*No one, rich or poor, will be excepted.
*Ears pierced while you wait!
*I have seen no stranger sight since I was born.
Polysyndeton: The opposite of asyndeton. Here more connectives than are
needed are added. "We
are poor and downtrodden and abused and overworked and undernourished."
*That part of our history detailing the military achievements which gave us our several possessions ... is a theme too familiar to my listeners for me to dilate on, and I shall therefore pass it by. Thucydides, "Funeral Oration"
*Let us make no judgment on the events of Chappaquiddick, since the facts are not yet all in. A political opponent of Senator Edward Kennedy
*Consider the lilies of the field how they grow.
Rhetorical Questions: These are questions uttered by a speaker for which
he expects no response.
"Have we at long last endured enough of this president? How much longer must we suffer?"
*We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately. Benjamin Franklin
Synecdoche: A trope which substitutes a part to represent the whole, or
which substitutes the
whole to represent only a part. "She was in love with a handsome blond." The part, "blond",
represent the whole man. "I'll give you a copper for that salt." Here the whole, "copper",
represents the part, a penny.
*For the wages of sin is death. Romans 6
*Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. Acts 6
*With malice toward none, with charity for all. Lincoln, Second Inaugural
Utramque partem- on both sides of an issue
Vires causae- the strong points of a case
*Nor Mars his sword, nor
war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.