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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
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    Got a question about rhetoric, figures, Figaro, Figaro's book,the nature of the universe, or just want to lavish praise?

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    What figure of speech is:
    "Wood floats, witches float, therefore, witches must be wood".
    April 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStephan
    Hi, Figaro. I just read your book Thank You For Arguing, and your post on the 12 second climax, and I was wondering if that law holds true for speeches of all lengths. My debate league gives each speaker 5 or 4 minutes (for me, it's 4), and I'm the conclusion speaker. Should I hold the climax for that long, or should I make it shorter/longer?

    Thanks.
    January 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJuliana
    Dear Figaro,

    Is it true that the term "Son of God" is a Jewish or Hebrew circumlocution for the name "God"?

    Thanks,
    Merlin
    January 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMerlin Houzet
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    November 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGede Ardi Dwiantara
    Thanks for information. i will always visit here to find more information.
    November 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJual jaket parka
    Dear Figaro

    What is the rhetorical term for thanking and characterizing the question you just have gotten.

    Politicians and diplomats often use this teqnique.

    Like: First of all I will thank you for the question. This is a very good and interesting question...
    September 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnde Somby
    Figaro, what is the rhetorical nomenclature for my following kind of intentional mis-speaking?

    To name certain political donations, that is certain Constitutionally protected free speech, Liberals have come up with "dark money." I want to puncture that by saying that that they obsessively claim our political space contains "dark matter."

    And I don't want to correct myself. I want that intentional mis-speaking to speak for itself.

    Thanks.
    May 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Weiner
    I just heard that you're coming out with a third book! :-) Yay!

    Could you tell us more about it?

    David
    February 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rodriguez
    Hmm, I might have found an answer to my question, or at least one person's answer. On an About.com site dealing with Grammar & Composition, Richard Nordquist gives an example of an "echo question." He uses: "You're waiting for who to do what?" (With the "who" and "what" in italics.) That's pretty close to my example, "He what!?" Would you agree that "echo question" is the right tag for that rhetorical device, or is there some other term as well?
    January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGriddle
    So this guy does or says something inappropriate to a girl, and she tells
    her older brother, who says, "He what!?"

    Is there a figure of speech for that "He what!?" which expresses disbelief
    or outrage?

    Thanks.

    --Griddle
    January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGriddle
    Hi Figaro,

    I am reading the latest edition of your book Thank You For Arguing. In the chapter "Controlling the Mood", you recommend telling a story to change someone's mood.

    Can you give tips on how to tell a decent, or even better, a good, story?


    Al
    October 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAl
    Aristotle's The Art of Rhetoric is an amazing book on Rhetoric. It takes a lot of effort to understand this work as it requires looking at several different translations because certain translations cover different sections better than others.

    I still find learning the art of persuasion very difficult. I just wished there was an immersion camp to or method of study where I learn to take in all these skills.
    July 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAl
    Figaro,

    You referenced Aristotle's The Art of Rhetoric in your books. Would you say that Aristotle's book contains the complete body of knowledge about persuasion and all other books are just refinements different topics in his book?
    June 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAl
    As a child of alcoholics and a recovering alcoholic, the nature of denial has always fascinated me. One of my favorite books is M. Scott Peck's People of the Lie. In this work, Mr. Peck presents an attempt at a clinical definition of evil. In short, the people who are most capable of what most people view as evil acts, are those who are incapable of admitting, or who refuse to acknowledge, their own fault, or responsibility for their own actions. For example, one of his first cases working as a child psychologist with troubled youth, involved a young man who was severely depressed. Dr. Peck points out the young man is the "identified patient", meaning, the person presented for treatment, not necessarily the one who is the most sick. Turns out this young man's older brother had committed suicide with a rifle the previous year. The parents gave the younger brother the exact same rifle as a Christmas present. When Dr. Peck confronts the parents, they were incapable of acknowledging his concern; denied any wrongdoing; and quickly went on the defensive since their own judgment was being questioned. It was more about them than their son. What am I getting at? I was wondering if there were any tool of rhetoric capable of penetrating the shield of denial and if this question ever interested you. My "cause" is to confront this kind of denial, most especially when it is of the religious variety. Unfortunately I feel compelled to expose hypocrisy. Does rhetoric work against deliberate self-delusion? Or must the audience be open, honest, and willing before they can be persuaded. Thank you for this website.
    May 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkatherine edmiston
    Dear Mr. Fig,
    I am a bartender at a nation-wide chain restaurant run by big wigs with bigger wallets and a big fake smile they love to hand down to the little people. Essentially, I have found myself in a position where i stand to make some money off of a suggestion in relation to an item served on the menu, however, I need help on the delivery.
    That's where you and you're rhetoric arts come in (i hope). I read your book and realized how much i enjoyed arguing, and then a met her older smarter and sexier sister rhetoric. Truly,well done sir.
    It is a simple change that will bring more authenticity to the menu and restaurant with a possible slight sacrifice to finances, but ultimately only brings two or three more steps to a dish that is already made. Of course i am not looking to come out of all this shenanigans empty handed. How could i propose this change and what words would i use.
    I look forward to hearing back from you sire.

    Sincerely,
    Cavaliere
    February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCavaliere
    This morning, my students and I fell into a conversation about the difference between rhetoric and propaganda.

    Earlier in class, in introducing rhetoric, I stressed that its negative modern use was not fair or accurate (and, further, was often used by people using clever rhetorical tools, themselves) but when another student later called something propaganda, I corrected him and said that propaganda was a negative term.

    Naturally, one clever student noticed the difference and asked why one thing was not supposed to be negative and something else was. I explained that rhetoric is the art of persuasion and that propaganda is the insistence on agreement, intended to shortcut thinking, rather than to invite it. Many were unconvinced and uncertain.

    Am I way off? Is there more that I could use to help my students see the difference?
    January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJosh M
    Figaro,

    What can we learn from the presidential debates about debates in general? Both sides offer many reasons for adopting their cause and for avoiding the cause of their opponents of which only a small subset can be addressed by their opponent. What determines which topics become the real areas of argument in the debate battle?

    Also, how much can one lie in a argument or debate? It seems like one can really lie a lot which is pretty amazing to me.
    November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterALR
    Figaro:

    We recently had to read Thank You For Arguing for my AP Language class, and I really agreed with most everything you had to say. In fact, I liked it so much that I now try to employ your rhetorical techniques in my own arguements as much as possible.
    However, I have found that in the real world, most disputes are fights, not arguements. As you said, rhetoric is somewhat of a lost art in America. It is harder, therefore, for me to reach a goal I set for myself if my audiance will only fight, and not argue. If someone in a position of authority, say a parent, for example, committs a rhetorical foul and simply refuses to let me argue a punishment or command I find unfair, how can I bring them away from fighting and to arguement?

    Thank you,
    Timmy
    November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTimmy
    Hi Figaro,

    I just finished your book (which was excellent, by the way) and was wondering... Is there a rhetorical term or figure of speech for flattery? Does it fall under decorum, some kind of reverse bragging, or something else?

    Eagerly awaiting your well thought-out and cogent reply,

    Elizabeth
    November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
    Dear Figaro,

    I enjoyed your post regarding the crafting of a 'winning college essay'. I agree with all the points you mention; however, I am in need of some advice regarding the following prompt used by many colleges & universities:

    - Why X university?

    Usually, the only stipulation is that the response be short (250 words or so). How does a student go about writing a 'winning college short answer response' to the above prompt?

    Your knowledge, wisdom, and advice would be most appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Ken
    September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen

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