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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.
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    Super Kindergarten Rhetoric!

    The latest question from Ask Figaro:


    General Petraeus…General Betray-us. What think ye of this as a declaration and is it a form of argument?

    M Stone

    Dear Geode-like One,

    “Betray Us” constitutes a figure of speech called paronomasia, a near-pun. It plays on words that sound or mean the same but aren’t identical. The paronomasia is great for labeling an opponent, provided that your opponent is under the age of six. In the context of the most talented general to come along in a decade, the figure — used in a New York Times ad by the group MoveOn.org — comes off as clumsy and, dare we say it, illiberal…. [more]

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    Reader Comments (9)

    So you don't think Elizabeth Edwards' slam of Move On was a cheap shot?
    September 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSam
    An easy shot, maybe. Like taking rhetorical candy from a baby. But when it comes to cheap, the Move On ad beats all.

    September 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    "illiberal" is so applicable. Michael Moore, leave the stupid name calling to Rush Limbaugh.
    September 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
    The Administration was attempting to achieve a political goal ("fostering Democracy", in the simplest terms) through military action - invasion, overthrow and upheaval. It was going to be so easy we didn't need to question (or plan for) what would happen in the aftermath.

    Well, it hasn't worked out that well. But why blame the military? Where is the State Department ?

    Perhaps it's easier (for the Administration) to keep casting the situation (at least rhetorically) as a simply a militarily problem...
    September 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHoward
    What is the rhetorical term for modifying a person's name? A student of mine used the term "Bill Bellicheat" in response to the head coach of the New England Patriots being punished for cheating. Portmanteau? Eponym? Thanks in advance,
    September 18, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Mark, see my reply on "Ask Figaro"!
    September 18, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Figaro, I'm still researching the "Bill Belli-Cheat" device. How about periphrasis? When I tell my Language Arts students about doing this they claim I have no life! Thanks again,

    October 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMark Matluck
    Close, but no figurative cigar, Mark. The periphrasis swaps a name for a description or vice versa ("You're no Jack Kennedy," "We don't need Rambos in the Pentagon.") The Bellicheat deal is more of a nickname.

    October 1, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Can you explain the difference between periphrasis and eponym? Thanks!
    November 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlori

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