Elements of Eloquence

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I am really enjoying a little book called Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth.

I didn't put it on the what are you reading thread as I wanted to put it forward as a specific songwriting tool, could even be a challenge.

It is basically an English Lesson on many different rhetorical devices, but it is lightly and wittily written, engaging with lots of good clear examples from many sources, Shakespeare to Katy Perry. Each short chapter is titled by the name of the device, some familiar, some not so. As songwriters we naturally use them anyway but I thought many of you would be interested in this generally and also specifically as a writing prompt, UK Amazon has it in summer sale for £1.19 Kindle version

I love wordplay and am glad to have found an enjoyable book all about it... maybe it is just a looong time since I was at school

@wobbie wobbit, my thanks for pointing me toward this little gem. My copies of this title have recently arrived from the UK. Yes, I ordered two on spec, dying of curiosity and feeling sure that the other copy would make a great gift for my niece, who shares the love of wordplay. It totally lives up to my hopes for pure enjoyment on top of the fact that it already has made me more conscious of ways to enhance what I have done until now mostly by instinct. Trying not to gobble the whole thing up!

Thanks - Have put on hold at the library!

What!? Your library HAS it?!!!!
That's it. I'm moving!

Some of my English friends have complained about the inaccurate scholarship in some of his stuff. Not that it matters. Smile

On a similar note, I think my intended recipient will howl in indignation and hissy fit at the poo-poo-ing of Shakespeare's brilliance, in favor of lauding the techniques as just that, but I'm willing to take the risk for the godawful fun of it!

That book sounds delightful, @wobbie wobbit. Absolutely my cup of tea. Smile Thanks for sharing. I've just ordered the Kindle version of the book to read on my iPad.

He doesn't like Shakespeare, @barbara?

First of all, to my mind, it's not really a serious volume, though it IS intended to be educational (about the figures of rhetoric), while being clever. As I read it, it's not at all that he doesn't like or give kudos to Shakespeare's work, but by way of cheerleading the rest of us into attempting such greatness, suggests (tongue in cheek, I suspect), that a majority of what earned WS so much attention was primarily due to his utilizing the art of wordplay, more so than the substance. I don't take it as a serious critique at all, but my intended recipient can sometimes lose sight of the tone when an icon is being made sport of. In fact, he uses Shakespeare for all kinds of examples to illustrate the figures being taught.

I am truly a snob. Sad

That's pretty impressive for a fire hydrant! Smile

@barbara Yes'm at the Brooklyn Public Library

Oh, well, @barbara, you know how we just try to plug away.

@TomS ...you mean when you're not completely draining!

Water you saying, @barbara! Smile

All I know is you have ruined a lot of perfectly good parking spots for me... just sayin'...

Just remember, we're usually under a lot of pressure (like 50 psi), and really hate getting fired. Just saying. Smile

(I'm wondering how many rhetorical devices we've used, beyond the pun. Biggrin )

O hateful hydrant, who gushes forth
on this side of the sidewalk,
where puddles now puddle,
and poodles fear to tread
since to doggie paddle would
ruin their latest 'do' like the dew.

(Kids, circle the ones you can find!)

@barbara I've said it before, but you are brilliant. Smile

And you are the perfect sparring partner! Thanks for going the distance.
Shall we un-hijack the thread?

No! Keep commenting! I could read chapter one and a couple random pages.
My library doesn't have this book.

I'll unhijack it. I have it on order from amazon with another couple of books related to the lexicon.

I'm already hooked! I've bought two more of his books, and am currently chuckling - and laughing aloud - my way through 'The Etymologicon'. Smile

I'll read 'The Horologicon' next, and then dive into 'The Elements of Eloquence'.

I'm also enjoying his 'Inky Fool' blog.

My library has this title in Book, eBook, and eAudiobook formats. :P I placed a hold on the book, but I'll read the eBook version while I wait for that. Smile

Thanks for the recommendation!

looks very interesting indeed- just ordered it from the US amazon...

How does he distinguish SYLLEPSIS from ZEUGMA? They seem nearly identical.

I haven't got the book, yet, so I don't know. But I'd guess he focuses on the "nearly" part of your sentence. *evil grin*

...with 4-1/3 and 3-1/2 pages, respectively, all jolly good and enjoyable!

To distill: I'm no expert, having just dashed to those pages to answer, but...I'd say he explains that syllepsis is using a word in two incongruous ways, which might involve the omission and implication of a word which has more than one meaning (e.g. "took") being repeated over a series, and that the effect is intentional to play upon the differences being used in the same sentence. This simplest form of this is a simple pun.

Zeugma seems to use the omission and implication of a repeated word in several clauses, but with the intent of keeping the same meaning, to make a more shortened sentence and sometimes producing funny juxtapositions of the remaining words that don't sound quite grammatically correct, to nice additional effect.

(Gobbledygook enough for you? That's why I'm not the one writing the book!) *similarly evil grin*

Just got the book in today. Haven't opened it yet, though. Maybe next week.

been away and only just seen the posts on this thread. glad you have picked it up. yes as some have said it isn't a serious academic weighty book at all, but that is what i found fun, and there are disclaimers at start and end that some of the definitions of some terms are his interpretation and disputed. But that didn't matter to me, it is more about the playfulness of words and language and enjoyable to read.

Since I got the book last week, I've now read now the first third (80 pages out of about 230) and it's great-- really enjoying it. Looking forward to reading the rest. The ways that all those turns of phrase are illustrated and commented on is both witty and engaging- recommend it highly! Thanks ww for starting this thread!