Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Be heard

In this brave new world of my updated Blogger template, reader comments seemed not to be working for a time. But I have fixed that.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hello, world

It's a new day.

What's that device

Time for another installment of What's That Device, the Back With Interest series that explores the use of rhetorical figures in the culture around us.

Today's example I read in Sunday's edition of Listen Up, the Wisconsin State Journal column that every week features lyrics from the popular hits of the day, in order to "provide parents with a better idea of what their children are hearing." Listen Up actually was the inspiration for What's That Device, in ways that even I don't completely understand.

So behold this pop lyric. It's from the tune "Nobody's Perfect" off the soundtrack album of "Hannah Montana," the smash Disney Channel series:
Everybody makes mistakes
Everybody has those days
Everybody makes mistakes
Everybody has those days
Everybody knows what I'm talkin' 'bout
This is an instance of anaphora, which Richard Lanham's indispensable Handlist of Rhetorical Terms defines as "Repetition of the same word at the beginning of successive clauses or verses."

A frequently cited example of anaphora is Winston Churchill's "we shall fight on the beaches" speech ("
we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields, blah blah blah"). But as it happens, "Hannah Montana" features the country icon Billy Ray Cyrus, whose daughter Mylie plays Hannah herself, and his signature line-dancing hit "Achy Breaky Heart" provides an example of anaphora that's even catchier than the Churchill:
You can tell the world you never was my girl
You can burn my clothes when I'm gone
You can tell your friends just what a fool I've been
And laugh and joke about me on the phone
I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The tree with the mullet.