Quote: "It’s captivating, just sitting down there and watching these kids spelling words you’ve never heard before." ESPN spokesman Mac Nwulu in the AP.
Figure of Speech: anacoluthon (an-a-COL-u-thon), the grammar shift.
The National Spelling Bee has finally made it to prime time TV. ABC will air the finals next month. But ESPN has been airing America’s nerdiest sport for years. The network’s spokesman uses an anacoluthon (“lacking order”) to describe the thrill of witnessing word-stuffed pre-pubes wrestle with orthographic punctilios. (Figaro can’t spell worth a damn, but he dares those punks to take him on in synonyms and neologizing.)
The anacoluthon begins a sentence with a grammatical order that changes partway through — not "It’s captivating to sit…" but "It’s captivating, just sitting…" The figure allows you to introduce a shift in scene, like blurring a movie frame before a dream sequence.
Use it to hold your audience — you know — spellbound.Snappy Answer: "We’ll watch it for the foreign beer commercials and highly educated cheerleaders."