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    Best Figure to Bring an Audience to Its Feet

    Figgy.jpgFigaro is on tour, but he has not shirked his figurative duties. He’s written up the best figure for each of several useful purposes.

    Today’s Figgy for Figure Most Likely to Cause a Standing Ovation goes to…

    chiasmus (kee-AS-muss), the criss-cross figure. From the Greek letter chi, for “X.”

    You think a figure can’t bring an audience to its feet? Watch John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. He coaxed thousands into the Peace Corps with “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

    That’s a chiasmus, which takes a phrase or clause and repeats it in reverse.

    “Don’t serve the time. Let the time serve you.” (Paris Hilton)
    “It was a border that came over us. We didn’t come over the border.” (Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado)
    “There comes a point where the absence of evidence does indeed become the evidence of absence.” (Senate Intelligence Committee report)
    “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” (Knut Rockne)

    Notice that the chiasmus makes a great retort when you want to hold a mirror up to the other opinion — a very unflattering mirror.


    anadiplosis (an-a-di-PLO-sis), the last-word first-word repetition.
    anaphora (ann-AH-for-ah), the first-word repeater.

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    Reader Comments (5)

    Nice, wouldn't have too much to say about these except i use them regularly.Ahh, it's so cool to be clever

    Btw, Got your book, i'm half way through it and it's great!

    best from Croatia
    November 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavor
    I set out to get your book, but in the end it was your book that got me. :)
    November 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDave
    Now, that's a chiasmus Figaro can sink his teeth into.
    November 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Hey, Fig:

    Is there a different name for a chiasmus that get really long? Like this beauty from Mill: "If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind." This is a chiasmus, right?
    November 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLord of the Chesterfield
    To be brief: Yes.

    November 13, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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