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For example, take this passage from : “I will have such revenges on you both, That all the world shall—I will do such things, What they are, yet I know not…” In this passage, King Lear interrupts himself in his description of his revenge. ), and they understand that King Lear has interrupted himself to regain his composure.
Anacoluthon is a fancy word for a disruption in the expected grammar or syntax of a sentence.
That doesn’t mean that you misspoke—using anacoluthon means that you’ve deliberately subverted your reader’s expectations to make a point.
A lot of things that you would think of as just regular everyday modes of communicating are actually rhetorical devices That’s because ‘rhetorical devices’ is more or less a fancy way of saying ‘communication tools.’ Most people don’t plan out their use of rhetorical devices in communication, both because nobody thinks, “now would be a good time to use synecdoche in this conversation with my grocery clerk,” and because we use them so frequently that they don’t really register as “rhetorical devices.” How often have you said something like, “when pigs fly!
” Of those times, how often have you thought, “I’m using a rhetorical device! However, being aware of what they are and how to use them can strengthen your communication, whether you do a lot of big speeches, write persuasive papers, or just argue with your friends about a TV show you all like.
Take this example from Roald Dahl’s : “If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face.
And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
We don’t need to know that the more you think ugly thoughts, the uglier you become, nor that if you think good thoughts you won’t be ugly—all that can be contained within the first sentence.
But Dahl’s expansion makes the point clearer, driving home the idea that ugly thoughts have consequences.
When writing persuasively, this can be a great way to respond to potential detractors of your argument.
Suppose you want to convince your neighborhood to add a community garden, but you think that people might focus on the amount of work required.