Rhetorical Devices By: Khalil Bordus Allusion Allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance. It does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers. It is just a passing comment and the writer
expects the reader to possess enough knowledge to spot the allusion and grasp its importance in a text Example
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express Sylvan is a goat-like-man deity of Greek mythology. Tempe alludes to the Vale of Tempe in Greece, a place (from Greek mythology) frequently visited by Apollo and other
gods. Likewise, the dales of Arcady refers to the home of Pan, the god of rustic music. A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? Analogy
An analogy is a comparison in which an idea or a thing is compared to another thing that is quite different from it. It aims at explaining that idea or thing by comparing it to something that is familiar. Example
Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II. Whats in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, Juliet is indirectly saying that just like a rose that will always smell sweet by whichever name it is called; she will like Romeo even if he changes his name.
Anaphora In writing or speech, the deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in order to achieve an artistic effect is known as Anaphora. Example Richard II Act 2 Scene 1:
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings [. . .] This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land, The repetition of the word this creates an emotional effect on the readers particularly those who are English. Further, it highlights the significance of England. The repetition of the word dear shows emotional attachment of the writer to the land and expects a similar response from the readers as well.
Anticlimax Anti-climax is a rhetorical device which can be defined as a disappointing situation or a sudden transition in discourse from an important idea to a ludicrous or trivial one.
Example Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey, Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tea. (The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope) In the extract, it is used as a figure of speech. Pope is drawing
the attention of the readers to the falseness. Anna is Queen of England, who holds meetings and indulges also in afternoon tea customs. Ludicrous effect is created by using the anticlimax. Antithesis Antithesis, literal meaning opposite, is a rhetorical device in which two opposite ideas are put together in a sentence to achieve a contrasting effect.
Example John Milton in Paradise Lost says: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heavn. The contrasting ideas of reign/ serve and Hell/ Heavn are placed in a sentence to achieve an antithetical effect. Caesura(enjambment)
Enjambment, derived from a French word enjambment, means to step over or put legs across. In poetry it means moving over from one line to another without a terminating punctuation mark. Example
A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and asleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing. (Endymion by John Keats) Endymion is a famous example of enjambment. The first and last lines in the given poem of John Keats have ends, while the middle lines are enjambed. There is a flow of thought from one line
to the next. Catalog Creating long lists for poetic or rhetorical effect. The technique is common in epic literature, where conventionally the poet would devise long lists of famous princes, aristocrats, warriors, and mythic heroes to be lined up in
battle and slaughtered. The technique is also common in the practice of giving illustrious genealogies ("and so-and-so begat so-and-so," or "x, son of y, son of z" etc.) for famous individuals. An example in American literature is Whitman's multi-page catalog of American types in section 15 of "Song of Myself." An excerpt appears below: Example
Incongruity the condition, quality, or fact of being incongruous; specif., lack of harmony or agreement lack of fitness or appropriateness Example
Incremental repetition a device used in poetry of the oral tradition, especiallyEnglish and Scottish ballads, in which a lin e is repeatedin a changed context or with minor changes in th erepeated part.
Example "Lord Randal": "O where ha'you been, Lord Randal, my son? And where ha' youbeen, my handsome young man?""I ha' be en at thegreenwood; mother, mak my bed soon,For I'mwearie d wi' huntin', and fain wad lie down.""And whamet ye there, L ord Randal, my son? And wha met youthere, my handsome yo
ung man?"O I met wi' my truelove; mother, mak my bed soon,For I'm wearied wi'huntin', an d fain wad lie down." Oxymoron Oxymoron, plural oxymora, is a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. The common
oxymoron phrase is a combination of an adjective proceeded by a noun with contrasting meanings e.g. cruel kindness or living death. Example In Sir Thomas Wyatts Petrarchs 134th sonnet, I find no peace, and all my war is done I fear and hope, I burn and freeze like ice, I flee above the wind, yet can I not arise;
The contradicting ideas of warpeace, burn .freeze, and flee above not rise produce a dramatic effect in the above-mentioned lines. Paradox The term Paradox is from the Greek word paradoxon that means contrary to expectations, existing belief or perceived opinion. It is a statement that appears to be self-contradictory
or silly but may include a latent truth. It is also used to illustrate an opinion or statement contrary to accepted traditional ideas. A paradox is often used to make a reader think over an idea in innovative way. Example
In George Orwells Animal Farm, one part of the cardinal rule is the statement, All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. This statement seems to not make any sense. However, on closer
examination, it gets clear that Orwell points out a political truth. The government in the novel claims that everyone is equal but it has never treated everyone equally. It is the concept of equality stated in this paradox that is opposite to the common belief of equality. Parallelism Parallelism is the use of components in a sentence that are
grammatically the same; or similar in their construction, sound, meaning or meter. Example William Blake employ Parallelism in his poem The Tyger: What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? The use of parallel structures, starting with what, creates a beautiful rhythm in the above lines. Pun A pun is a play on words in which a humorous effect is
produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings or by exploiting similar sounding words having different meanings. Example In constructing puns, William Shakespeare was a master craftsman. We find many examples of puns in his plays. Let us have a look at some of them:
It is the unkindest tied that ever any man tied.(Richard III) winter of our discontentmade glorious summer by this Son of York.(Richard III) Romeo: Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead (Romeo and Juliet) Claudius: But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son Hamlet: [aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind. (Kindred) (Hamlet)
Repetition Repetition is a literary device that repeats the same words or phrases a few times to make an idea clearer. There are several types of repetitions commonly used in both prose and poetry. As a rhetorical device, it could be a word, a phrase or a full sentence or a poetical line repeated to emphasize its significance in the entire text. Repetition is not distinguished
solely as a figure of speech but more as a rhetorical device. Example Im nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody too? Then theres a pair of us-dont tell! Theyd banish us you know. These lines have been taken from Im nobody! Who are You? by Emily
Dickinson. Observe how she has used nobody to emphasize her point in her poem to create an association with the person she is talking about. Rhetorical stress stress required by the meaning of a line, as distinguished from that required by the meter.
Example Rhetorical Question A rhetorical question is asked just for effect or to lay emphasis on some point discussed when no real answer is expected. A rhetorical question may have an obvious answer but the questioner asks rhetorical questions to lay emphasis
to the point. In literature, a rhetorical question is self-evident and used for style as an impressive persuasive device. Example Mrs. Hladia Porter Stewart in her poem Creation employs rhetorical questions to create effect and achieve the desired appeal of the poem. What made you think of love and tears
And birth and death and pain? Without rhetorical questions in the poem, it could have been impossible for the poetess to express herself as impressively as she does using rhetorical questions. Structure the relationship or organization of the component parts of a
work of art or literature: Example Turn(Volta) In poetry, the volta, or turn, is a rhetorical shift or dramatic
change in thought and/or emotion. Turns are seen in all types of poetry. Example
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