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What are Rhetorical Strategies? Big ol’ name, but everybody uses them… What is “rhetoric”? Rhetoric is the “art or study of effective language.”

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what are rhetorical strategies

What are Rhetorical Strategies?

Big ol’ name, but everybody uses them…

what is rhetoric
What is “rhetoric”?
  • Rhetoric is the “art or study of effective language.”
  • Effective language is language used to an effect – this includes writing that accomplished the writer’s goal. The writer’s goal was to communicate a specific idea.
  • Therefore, rhetoric may be described as “persuasive use of language” and “rhetorical strategies” are techniques by which writers persuade readers.
can you name some examples
Can you name some examples?
  • What are some of the techniques by which people use language persuasively?
  • Get in a group and brainstorm to come up with examples. Then, share them in the full group. (I won’t be able to hear you. I’m just a Power Point). But do it anyway!
some examples
Some examples…

Maybe you named some of these examples. People sometimes use the following techniques to verbally persuade:

  • Formal diction leads readers to believe something is ethically or legally important.
  • Emotional diction (sometimes called “sensationalism”) leads readers to recognize that the ideas expressed are important to the writer.
  • Allusion or direct reference to a note-worthy source can associate a new idea to a traditionally respected source.
  • Adoption of another person’s language or style can either demonstrate a respect for or a disrespect for another writer.
let s make those examples more clear
Let’s make those examples more clear!
  • For example, if you were trying to persuade a restaurant worker to wear gloves, you might say to him or her : “It is the policy of the Georgia Restaurant Association for all employees to wear gloves.” Those words are persuasive because they sound formal and authoritative.
emotional appeal
Emotional Appeal
  • Emotionally “loaded words” can demonstrate a writer’s intense feeling. For example, if you wished to demonstrate how much you liked a movie you could say it was : “The most awe-inspiring display of artistry ever presented on the big screen.”
slide7

Allusion/Reference

  • This is a strong principle of advertising. People connect people and ideas through juxtaposition. If I want to convince you to wash your hands, I may say, “thou shalt wash thy hands.” This connects the idea of washing one’s hands to the commandments. Many people respect the commandments; therefore, those people will begin to associate hand washing with the same reverence given to a commandment.” This also may seem a little funny to some people.
  • Humor is another rhetorical technique.
humor
Humor
  • Humor can be used in very persuasive ways. It can be used to “win you over,” to make you like the writer and, therefore, like his or her ideas. Humor comes in many forms.
  • hyperbole (exaggeration)
  • understatement
  • irony (verbal, situational, dramatic, and cosmic)
  • sacrasm
other rhetorical tactics
Other Rhetorical Tactics

Some people may be persuasive by using these techniques:

*enumeratio (listing or numbering ideas) – this logical presentation of information can be convincing because of its strong organization

*anticipation of opposition – some people may present very convincing arguments that are structured in contrast to what the opposition is likely to think or say

attitude tone or mood
Attitude, Tone, or Mood
  • These three literary terms are essentially the same. You can think of an ATM machine to help you remember them. They are by definition the emotional feelings aroused by the chosen diction. Sometimes you can tell the emotional state of the writer (or the writing) by examining individual words. Writers who choose diction as a means to contribute to tone are using tone as a rhetorical technique.
what about you
What about you?
  • Take a minute and think about this… What rhetorical strategies do you use most frequently to persuade readers or even those with whom you speak?
  • What rhetorical strategies do you find most persuasive when others use them on you?
slide12

Which strategies are most effective?

Some rhetorical strategies are generally more persuasive than others, but often the audience and circumstances may affect a rhetorical strategy’s persuasiveness. For example, if you wish to persuade the pastor of a church to plan a church outing, are you likely to get far with invective? Do you think you should use caustic satire as a persuasive strategy in a job interview?

magic show a case study
Magic Show – A Case Study
  • Read this argument carefully. Write down the rhetorical techniques that you recognize in operation.
  • Ralph wants to go to a magic show; his mom wants him to stay at home and clean out the frog cage.
slide14

A Day at the Magic Show… Or Not

Ralph : Hello, my gorgeous mother. Please, please, please take us to a magic show!

Mother : No, I will not “please, please, please take you to a magic show.” I won’t even take you to the dentist. You need to clean out the frog cage. I am incredibly disappointed in your neglect. Now go in there and do it.”

Ralph: But I can do that in the morning, Mom. You know what Benjamin Franklin says, “Plough deep while sluggards sleep.”

Mother : I am not going to pay $100.00 for you to disappear. Now get in there and deal with the frog.”

End of Argument

magic show a case study15
Magic Show - A Case Study
  • Are you sad that Ralph didn’t get to go? Would you rather it end like this…
  • Mother : Ralph, I would love to take you and all of your friends to the magic show. Let’s leave right now and take extra spending money! Feel better?
magic show a case study16
Magic Show – A Case Study

*Did you notice someone’s use of humor as a persuasive tactic?

*Did you notice any diction designed to express a particular emotion or to present an overall tone?

*Who made an allusion? Was it persuasive?

*Who used hyperbole?

*What about the “reductionist” tactic? Can you find someone’s attempt to reduce another’s argument?

extend the study
Extend the Study

Here are some highly persuasive speeches that are famous for their use of rhetorical strategies. (Get a copy and give them a careful analysis)!

*Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech (lots of metaphor!)

*Patrick Henry’s “Speech at the Virginia Convention” (great organization and powerful diction – “Give me liberty, or give me death.”

*Abe Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” (note the cool parallelism and repetition)

*Chief Seattle’s speech has great rhetorical questioning (“How can you buy or sell the warmth of the land”? And “where is the thicket? Where is the eagle”?