Thursday, January 13, 2005

There's probably a word for that

My favorite book right now is Richard A. Lanham's A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), a compendium of exciting figures of speech that you probably never knew had names.

Example (I wonder if President Bush knows there's a word for this?): prosonomasia, calling by a name or nickname.

What about this one: asphalia, offering oneself as surety for a bond. Example: in The Tempest, Miranda pleads with her father to make friends with Ferdinand: "Sir, have pity. I'll be his surety" (I, ii).

And this came up last night in a conversation about the song "Islands in the Stream," which has the line "No more will you cry": anastrophe, unusual arrangement of words or clauses within a sentence, often for metrical convenience or poetic effect.

Isn't this fun? I also enjoy the entry about logical fallacies, including this timely one, another standard of the Bush crowd: argumentum ad verecundiam, fallacy by appealing to reverence for authority, to accepted traditional values. Why the Left Hates America, anyone?

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