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AP Commonly Used Rhetorical Devices

Defining Rhetoric: 1. Study of the elements, as structure or style, used in writing and speaking. 2. The art of expression and the persuasive use of language.

I. The Three Appeals:

Ethos – the appeal to ethics; using your reputation to persuade

Pathos – the appeal to emotion; using the human tendency to “feel” with somebody

Logos – the appeal to logic; attacking a person’s pure desire for the world to make sense

II. Imagery and Figurative Language

Imagery (literal language):

Enumeration: detailing parts, causes, effects, or consequences to make a point more forcibly; a general listing of qualities, object, events: • I love her eyes, her hair, her nose, her cheeks, her lips [etc.]. • When the new highway opened, more than just the motels and restaurants prospered. The stores noted a substantial increase in sales, more people began moving to town, a new dairy farm was started, the old Main Street Theater doubled its showings and put up a new building . . . .

Sensory Details: using diction that evoke distinct images by referring to the different senses: visual - sight
auditory – hearing, sound
tactile – feeling, touch
olfactory - smell
gustatory – taste

Figurative (Tropes – Figures of Speech)

Colloquialism: An informal word or phrase which is frowned upon in formal speech or writing but suggests an informal, even common tone.

• “Straight up, Bro, are you for real?” he asked. “Word,” he responded.

• I’m just going to cruise on down to the vending machines and grab some snackage.

• Y’all, I ain’t just spinning yarns.

Euphemism: An inoffensive substitute for a term considered offensive, vulgar, or inappropriate.

• Somebody with impeccable timing “broke wind” in the elevator.

• Hurling, ralphing, or “praying to the porcelain altar” are all euphemisms for vomiting.

Hyperbole: exaggeration for emphasis or for rhetorical effect.

• His love was more abundant than all the stars in the heavens.

• A thousand generations of wisdom filled her soul.

Idiom: An expression used by native speakers, the true meaning of which is not readily known but when used in context is understood by others. These expressions rely on repetition within the culture from generation to generation to survive.

• Raining cats and dogs

• Kick the bucket

Jargon: the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group. • The banner headline had a two pica margin and bled into the gutter. (journalism)

• The safety was playing a two-deep zone and jumped the out pattern for a pick-six.

Litotes: (a type of understatement – see number 30), used for intensification, by denying the contrary of the thing being affirmed. Usually litotes is created by taking a word that means the opposite of what is tru...

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