3rd Canon of Rhetoric: Style “To generalize is to be an idiot.” -William Blake
Analyzing Style: The Big 4 • DICTION • Word choice • SYNTAX • Word arrangement • TONE • Interaction between author’s attitude & diction • FIGURES • Schemes • Tropes • Figurative language
Diction • Key Question when writing: Is it the appropriate word? • Key Question when reading & analyzing: How/why is it the appropriate word?
Diction • Words can be classified in many ways • General v. Specific words • Making use of abstract and concrete words • Formal vs. Informal words • Latinate v. Anglo-Saxon • Making use of heightened and casual terms • Common terms v. Slang or Jargon • Making use of insider comfort with a particular group • Denotation v. Connotation • Making use of loaded words and multiple meanings
Diction • ILLEGAL PHRASE: • “THE AUTHOR’S USE OF DICTION” • Instead, when analyzing diction, use adjectives that accurately reflect the author’s word choice, like:
Diction abstract, allusive, colloquial, concrete, cultured, esoteric, euphemistic, homespun, horrific, idiomatic, insipid, jargon, Latinate, moralistic, obscure, picturesque, pretentious, sensuous, scholarly, sharp
Syntax • Sentences can be classified in many ways • Number and type of clauses • Function • Placement of extra details • The potential effect of a particular sentence is driven by CONTEXT
Syntax • Number and types of clauses • Simple • Compound • Complex • Compound-complex
Syntax • Function • Declarative: statement • Imperative: command • Interrogative: question • Exclamatory: exclamation
Syntax • Placement of extra details • Loose sentence • Details added after the basic sentence elements • Primary elements – Secondary elements • Main idea is emphasized • Periodic sentence • Details placed before the basic sentence elements • Secondary elements – Primary elements • Main idea is delayed
Syntax Inverted It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Inversion heightens or elevates tone by drawing attention to the unnatural construction. The last sentence is an example of a loose sentence. Whether the inversion occurs word-word (noun-adjective) or word-phrase (noun, appositive), the tone, dark and somber, is elevated. The last sentence is an example of a periodic sentence.
Figures of Speech: Schemes and Tropes • Scheme (syntax): artful variation from the typical arrangement of words in a sentence • Trope (diction): artful variation from the typical or expected way a word or idea is expressed
Schemes of Balance • Rhetorical Function: to achieve a measured, deliberate, and balanced tone • Parallelism • Repeated grammatical structures • Antithesis • Parallelism used to juxtapose • Zeugma • A figure in which more than one item in a sentence is governed by a single word • Antimetabole • Words repeated in different grammatical forms • Words balance words, phrases balance phrases, etc.
Schemes of Interruption • Rhetorical Function: to provide on-the-spot info • Parenthesis • Set off by dashes or parentheses as an interruption or aside • Appositive • Set off by commas as a modifier
Schemes of Omission • Rhetorical purpose: to accelerate or heighten rhythm • Ellipsis • omission of words, the meaning of which is provided by the overall context of the passage • Asyndeton • omission of conjunctions; opposite of polysyndeton
Schemes of Repetition • Rhetorical Function: to emphasize or to heighten tone • Anaphora • Repetition of the same group of words at the beginning of successive clauses • Alliteration • Repetition of consonant sounds • Assonance • Repetition of vowel sounds • Epistrophe • Repetition of the same group of words at the end of successive clauses • Anadiplosis • Repetition of the last word of one clause at the beginning of the following clause • Polysyndeton • Repetition of conjunctions between items
Parallelism v. Anaphora • Difference of Construction • Parallelism is constructed by repeated grammatical structures • Anaphora is constructed by repeated words • Difference of Rhetorical Function • Parallelism is used to balance • Anaphora is used to emphasize
Tropes of Comparison • Rhetorical function: to clarify or heighten by comparing unlike things • Metaphor • Simile: using “like” or “as” • Personification: attributing human qualities • Periphrasis: substituting proper nouns • Metonymy: substitution based on attributes • Synecdoche: substitution based on parts
Metaphor • Definition • An implied comparison between two things that, on the surface, seem dissimilar but share common characteristics • Achieves a TURN on the meaning of words • Two components of a Metaphor • Tenor • The idea being expressed or subject of comparison • Vehicle • The image by which the idea is conveyed or the subject communicated
Metonymy v. Synecdoche • Difference of Scope • Metonymy may substitute any one thing for any second thing with relational value • Tangible for tangible, tangible for abstract, abstract for tangible • Ex: Lend a HAND. • HAND = help (tangible for abstract; physical body part implying the function it serves) • Synecdoche must limit its substitution to one item • Tangible for tangible OR abstract for abstract • Ex: All HANDS on deck. • HAND = sailors (tangible for tangible; part of one sailor for the whole of the same sailor)
Tropes of Word Play • Rhetorical function: to entertain or attract attention • Pun • A word that suggests two of its meanings or the meaning of a homonym • Anthimeria • One part of speech, usually a verb, substitutes for another, usually a noun • Onomatopoeia • Sounds of the words used are related to their meaning
Tropes of Managementof Meaning • Rhetorical function: to play with meaning or to develop ideas in strategic ways • Irony • Sarcasm: saying one thing and meaning the opposite • Hyperbole: extreme exaggeration • Litotes: understatement which negates the affirmative • Oxymoron: juxtaposing contradictory words • Rhetorical Question: a question with an implied answer
Style and Situation • Context drives style. • All writing emerges from a situation, which is the convergence of a purpose to write, a writer, an audience, a subject matter, a genre, and a setting. • Lesson? Know thy CONTEXT.
Style and Situation cont’d. Writer = STYLE Purpose Audience Subject Context (genre, setting)
Style and Jargon • When is JARGON a problem? • When the WRITER does not understand what the terms mean • When the AUDIENCE does not understand what the terms mean • The Lesson: Know thy CONTEXT
Tone words acerbic, ambivalent, audacious, bantering, biting, brash, cajoling, candid, clinical, complacent, contemptuous, contentious, cynical, detached, effusive, haughty, harsh, histrionic, impartial, facetious, flippant, inflammatory, intimate, introspective, ironic, irreverent, macabre, maudlin, morbid, naïve, nostalgic, patronizing, pedantic, reflective, sardonic, satirical, spiteful, whimsical, wry
Final Thoughts • Remember, gentle reader, it is not enough for us to identify that parallelism exists, or that the simile compares two things, or that the author uses a casual tone. • We must connect the dots between these components of language and articulate how they help to build understanding, mood, and theme.