Diction and Syntax by xiangpeng


									                    Terminology and Devices for Rhetorical Analysis

Levels of Diction

High or formal diction – Ex: The Scarlet Letter- polysyllabic words, complex syntax, elegant word choice
Neutral diction – Ex: The Old Man and the Sea – standard language and vocabulary without elaboration
Informal or low diction: Ex: The Bluest Eye – language of everyday use including slang, contractions,
jargon, idioms, simple words

Types of Diction

Slang – recently coined words used in informal situations (She’s hot!)
Colloquial expressions – regional ways of using language appropriate to informal or conversational
speech and writing (y’all in the south)
Jargon – words or expressions from a particular trade, profession, or pursuit (nautical terms, technology
Dialect – nonstandard subgroup with its own vocabulary and grammatical features-regional, economic
or social class dialects as in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Jim’s dialect is that of the southern slave.
Concrete – specific words that describe physical qualities or condition. Specific descriptive words.
Abstract – denotes ideas, emotions, conditions, or concepts that are intangible. Hope, wisdom, safety
Connotation – implied meaning of the word employing emotional, suggested associations with the word
Denotation – dictionary meaning

                    Ways to analyze using Diction: Remember this acronym – LEAD

L = low or informal ---E = elevated or formal ---A = abstract/concrete---D = denotation/connotation

Shift in tone – clues to recognize shifts in tone and understand the author’s attitude
     Key word (but, yet, nevertheless, however, although)
     Punctuation (dashes, periods, semicolons)
     Stanza and paragraph division
     Changes in line and stanza or in sentence length
     Sharp contrasts in diction
                        Remember this acronym when analyzing diction:      DIDLS
D = Diction/ connotation (Use of the word in the selection)
I = Images (vivid appeals to senses)
D = Details (included/omitted)
L = Language type (formal, jargon, slang, elevated)
S = Sentence structure (short or long sentences-complex or simple)
Syntax is the way in which words and clauses are ordered and connected so as to form sentences.
         Simple – Joe went to town.
         Compound – (two independent clauses joined by a conjunction) Joe went to town to buy
             bread and he found it at Kroger’s.
         Complex – (one independent and one subordinate clause) Joe went to town for bread and
             found it at Kroger’s.
         Compound complex – Joe went to town to buy bread and he found it at Kroger’s but didn’t
             like it when he got it home.
         Declarative – makes a statement ------Joe went to town.
         Imperative- gives a command----------Joe, go to town.
         Interrogative- asks a question---------Did Joe go to town?
         Exclamatory- provides emphasis or expresses strong emotion----Joe went to town!
         Repetition
         Parallelism – sentences constructed in the same order (sv or sv phrase or any combination
             that is repeated
         Juxtaposition-when normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one
             another, creating a surprising effect or wit
         Rhetorical questions

                                         Advanced Syntactical Devices
          Anaphora – the repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of
           successive clauses --“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds,
           we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.” Winston Churchill
          Chiasmus – a grammatical figure in which the order of one parallel clause is inverted in the
           other-- “Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure.” Byron
          Asyndeton – deliberate omissions of conjunctions in a series of related clauses --“I came, I
           saw, I conquered.” Julius Caesar
          Polysyndeton – deliberate use of many conjunctions to highlight quantity or mass of detail
           to create a flowing, continuous sentence pattern --“The meal was huge—my mother fixed
           okra and green beans and ham and apple pie and green pickled tomatoes and ambrosia
           salad and all manner of find country food—but no matter how hard I tried, I could not
           consume it to her satisfaction.”
                                       Writing Arguments

Along with analyzing diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax, also consider the overall
structure/style of the piece. Does the author begin with a concession (an acknowledgement of the
opposing view)? Does the argument come full circle? Is there a prominent shift in tone or focus?

All rhetorical devices/strategies reveal the author’s tone and purpose! Don’t forget to establish PATTR
(Purpose, Audience, Tone, Theme, and Rhetorical Strategies).

Purpose: the specific reason for writing and contains what the readers can gain by reading the
selection. The purpose could be to
     Support a cause ----Promote a change----Refute a theory----Stimulate interest----Win agreement-
        ---Arouse sympathy----Provoke anger----Expose misconception----Criticize----Compel----
Audience: Who is reading the selection often determines the diction and style of the author. The
language is affected by the people the author is trying to reach.
Tone: The author’s attitude about the subject . Look at tone word list.
Theme: subject
Rhetorical Strategies: See Joliffe’s diagram. In discussing diction, syntax, imagery, figurative language
and appeals, it is more important to know WHY the author uses these techniques than it is to name
them without understanding of the purpose of his or her choice.

                                           Types of Appeals
     Use language that involves the senses
     Include bias or prejudice
     Include an anecdote
     Include connotative language
     Explore euphemisms (nice way of saying unpleasant things)
     Use description
     Use figurative language
     Develop tone
     Experiment with informal language
Ethical – credibility
     Make the audience believe the writer is trustworthy
     Demonstrate the writer has done his/her research
     Support reasons with appropriate, logical evidence
     Demonstrate the writer knows the audience and respects them
     Convinces the audience the writer is reliable and knowledgeable
     Author may begin with a concession ( a recognition of the points of the other side
    Deductive reasoning
    Syllogism
    Cite commonly held beliefs
    Allude to history, religious texts, other literature, or mythology
    Manipulate style
    Provide testimony
    Draw analogies
    Order chronologically
    Provide evidence
    Classify evidence
    Cite authorities
    Use facts
    Theorize cause and effect

In writing arguments consider the following by remembering this anagram: QOEGV

       Q-Did you effectively answer the question?
       O-Does your essay reflect a clear organization and coherence.
       E-Is there enough evidence to fully support your argument/claim?
       G-Do excessive grammatical/mechanical errors detract from meaning?
       V-Does your essay contain a unique and sophisticated voice, a variety of sentence structures,
       and an elevated vocabulary? ( Papers of 7,8, and 9 definitely contain these three elements.)

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