Rhetorical Terms: Tools for Language Analysis

Rhetorical Terms: Tools for
Language Analysis
Figurative Language, Rhetorical Tools
 the repetition of initial consonant
letters (or sounds) in two or more
different words across successive
sentences, clauses, or phrases
 "I think a need a bigger box." -- Taco
Bell Commercial
Example of Alliteration
 "...Well, sir, I'm Jordan Rivers. And
these here are the Soggy Bottom
Boys out of Cottonelia, Mississippi -songs of salvation to salve the soul.
Uh, we hear that you pay good
money to sing into a can." (from Oh
Brother Where Art Thou)
Examples of Alliteration
 "Isn't that what being an international
man of mystery is all about?" -delivered by Mike Myers (from the
movie Austin Powers: International
Man of Mystery)
 "Have you forgotten you're facing the
single finest fighting force ever
assembled." (Dan Ackroyd from the
movie Dragnet)
 an implied comparison between two
different things which share at least
one attribute in common; an
association between two unlike things
(A vs. B) achieved by borrowing the
language that refers to thing A and
applying it to thing B. (not to be
confused with simile)
Examples of Metaphor
 "With this faith we will be able to transform
the jangling discords of our nation into
a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
-- Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream
 "At the dawn of spring last year, a single
act of terror brought forth the long, cold
winter in our hearts. The people of
Oklahoma City are mourning still."
-- Al Gore, Oklahoma Bombing Memorial
 Giving human qualities to ideas, objects, animals or
forces of nature
 "Such acts are commonly stimulated by forces of
hatred and malevolence such as today are eating
their way into the bloodstream of American life."
-- USSC Justice Earl Warren, Eulogy for John F.
 "Today, we begin a new chapter in the history of
Louisiana. I've said throughout the campaign that
there are two entities that have the most to fear from
us winning this election. One is corruption and the
other is incompetence. If you happen to see
either of them, let them know the party is over."
-- Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor-Elect victory
 a brief or casual reference to a
famous person, historical event,
place, or work of art. It is important
to stress that the referent of an
allusion be generally well-known.
Sources include history, myth, and
the Bible.
Examples of Allusion
"And finally you’re all familiar with Dr. Wilmut's cloned
sheep. We actually missed the real story behind this. We’re
so interested in talking about when this will happen with
humans. (And, by the way, if we haven’t already done it
somewhere, the cloning of a human being is likely anytime.
It’s no longer a theoretical issue; it’s just a question of
who’s going to do it.) The real story behind the sheep is
that Dr. Wilmut created the prototype for bioindustrial
design. He’s the Henry Ford of the Biotech Century. It
is now possible to replicate in countless numbers exact
copies of an original living creature with the same kind of
quality controls and engineering standards we did using
mass production and assembly line factory work with inert
materials. That’s what’s so important about this animal. We
moved from the industrial age to the bioindustrial age." -Jeremy Rifkin, The BioTech Century
Allusion, Con’t
 "And I can pledge our nation to a
goal: When we see that wounded
traveler on the road to Jericho, we
will not pass to the other side." -George W. Bush, 2000 Inaugural
Allusion, Con’t
 An allusion is a literary device that stimulates ideas,
associations, and extra information in the reader's
mind with only a word or two. Allusion means
'reference'. It relies on the reader being able to
understand the allusion and being familiar with all of
the meaning hidden behind the words.
 “As the cave's roof collapsed, he was swallowed up in
the dust like Jonah, and only his frantic scrabbling
behind a wall of rock indicated that there was anyone
still alive".
 “Christy didn't like to spend money. She was no
Scrooge, but she seldom purchased anything except
the bare necessities.”
 when a concluding sentence, clause,
or phrase is added to a statement
which purposely diminishes the effect
of what has been previously stated
Examples of Anesis
 Violet Parr: Normal? What do you know
about normal? What does anyone in this
family know about normal?
 Helen Parr/Elastigirl: Now wait a minute,
young lady.
 Violet Parr: We act normal, Mom. I wanna
BE normal! The only normal one is Jack
Jack, and he's not even toilet trained!!
 Jack Jack Parr: [unintelligible]
-- delivered by Sarah Vowell and Holly Hunter
(from the movie The Incredibles)
Examples of Anesis
 "This year's space budget is three times
what it was in January 1961, and it is
greater than the space budget of the
previous eight years combined. That budget
now stands at 5 billion-400 million dollars a
year -- a staggering sum, though
somewhat less than we pay for
cigarettes and cigars every year." -John F. Kennedy, Rice University Address on
Space Exploration
Anesis, Con’t
 Lt. Col Hal Moore: "When Crazy Horse was a baby, he
nursed from the breasts of every woman in the tribe.
The Sioux raise their children that way. Every warrior
called every woman in the tribe, "Mother." Every older
warrior, they called him "Grandfather." Now the point
here is that they fought as a family. Take care of your
men. Teach them to take care of each other. 'Cause
when this starts [combat against the enemy], 'each
other' is all we're gonna have."
 Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley: "Any of you s-n-of-b-tches
calls me "grandpa" -- I'll kill ya.“
--delivered by Mel Gibson and Sam Elliot (from the
movie We Were Soldiers)
 TWO words that are ordinarily
contradictory; a TWO WORD paradox; two
words with contrary or apparently
contradictory meanings occurring next to
each other, and, which, nonetheless, evoke
some measure of truth
 open secret, larger half, clearly
confused, act naturally, alone together,
Hell's Angels, found missing, deafening
silence, seriously funny, pretty ugly,
almost exactly, unbiased opinion
 A comparison using the words “like” or “as”
 "I've had some long nights in the stir. Alone in the
dark with nothing but your thoughts, time can draw
out like a blade. That was the longest night of my
life." -- delivered by Morgan Freeman (from the movie
The Shawshank Redemption)
 "It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. It's
like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the
dark and thinking that there's one more stair
than there is. Your foot falls down through the
air and there's a sickly moment of dark
surprise." -- delivered by Jude Law (from the movie
A Series of Unfortunate Events)
 the words in one phrase or clause are replicated,
exactly or closely, in reverse grammatical order in the
next phrase or clause
 "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your
country can do for you; ask what you can do for
your country." -- John F. Kennedy, Inaugural
 "I, too, was born in the slum. But just because you're
born in the slum does not mean the slum is born
in you, and you can rise above it if your mind is
made up." -- Jesse Jackson, 1984 Democratic
National Convention Address
 An extreme exaggeration for rhetorical
 "So first of all, let me assert my firm belief
that the only thing we have to fear is
fear itself." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
First Inaugural Address
 "Why you got scars and knots on your
head from the top of your head to the
bottom of your feet. And every one of
those scars is evidence against the
American white man." -- Malcolm X
 an apparent contradiction which,
nonetheless, evokes some measure of truth
 "There was a little boy who didn't
know if he wanted to be born. His
mommy didn't know if she wanted him
to be born either. They lived in a cabin, in
the woods, on an island, in a lake, and
there was no one else around. And in the
cabin -- there was a door in the floor."
-- delivered by Jeff Bridges (from the movie
The Door in the Floor)
 A kind of extended metaphor or long
simile in which an explicit comparison
is made between two things (events,
ideas, people, etc) for the purpose of
furthering a line of reasoning or
drawing an inference
Examples of Analogy
 "I don't think there's anything
certainly more unseemly than the
sight of a rock star in academic
robes. It's a bit like when people put
their King Charles spaniels in little
tartan sweats and hats. It's not
natural, and it doesn't make the dog
any smarter." -- Bono, 2004
Commencement Address at The
University of Pennsylvania
Analogy, Con’t
 "Remember this, ladies and gentlemen. It's
an old phrase, basically anonymous.
Politicians are a lot like diapers: You should
change them frequently and for the same
reason. Keep that in mind next time you
vote. Good night. -- delivered by Robin
Williams (from the movie Man of the Year)
Man of the Year Link
 a contrasting or juxtaposition of opposing
ideas in adjacent phrases, clauses, or
 "I have a dream that my four little children
will one day live in a nation where they will
not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character. I
have a dream today!" -- Martin Luther
King, Jr., I Have a Dream
Antithesis, Con’t
 "...although the surface appears to
be...very, very fine-grained as you
get close to it. It's almost like a
powder...Okay, I'm going to step off
the LEM now. That's one small step
for [a] man; one giant leap for
mankind." -- Neil Armstrong, Apollo
11 Moon Landing Speech
 successive words, phrases, clauses with the
same or very similar grammatical structure
 "Let every nation know, whether it wishes
us well or ill, that we shall pay any price,
bear any burden, meet any hardship,
support any friend, oppose any foe to
assure the survival and the success of
-- John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address
Parallelism, Con’t
 "...and that government of the
people, by the people, for the
people, shall not perish from the
-- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg
Address (here delivered by Jeff
Parallelism, Con’t
 “It is by logic we prove, but by intuition we discover."
(Leonardo da Vinci)
 "When you are right you cannot be too radical; when
you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative."
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
 "Today's students can put dope in their veins or hope
in their brains. If they can conceive it and believe it,
they can achieve it. They must know it is not their
aptitude but their attitude that will determine their
(Jesse Jackson)
 any part or portion or quality of a
thing used to stand for the whole of
the thing
 “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend
me your ears.”
Synecdoche, Con’t
 ("This is NBC Nightly News with John Chancellor and
David Brinkley.") "Good evening. Elvis Presley died
today. He was 42. Apparently, it was a heart attack.
He was found in his home in Memphis not breathing.
His road manager tried to revive him -- he failed. A
hospital tried to revive him -- it failed. His doctor
pronounced him dead at three o'clock this afternoon.
 -- NBC Nightly News with John Chancellor and David
 Note: In this case, the whole (hospital) stands in for
one of its parts (the attending physician and health
care workers).