AP English Language and Composition Rhetoric Terms Flashcards

Terms Definitions
Litotes
Understatement, for intensification, by denying the contrary of the thing being affirmed. Little ironic sounding a=a → a a
Example: "The sword was not useless to the warrior now." (Implies that the sword is useful)
Not unlike poetic understatement
Nota Bene: Not the same as double negative.
(Sometimes used synonymously with meiosis- Use of understatement, usually to diminish the importance of something.)
alliteration
repetition of initial consonant sounds
Concrete
Real or solid; not abstract.
Cliché
A trite or obvious remark.
Inductive
Reasoning characterized by the inference of general laws from particular instances. Less reliable than deductive reasoning.
Example: All observed crows are black. Therefore, All crows are black. See also Deductive
Sarcasm
A cutting, often-ironic remark intended to wound. Insulting, irony with teeth, just for cruelty
synecdoche
symbolism; the part signifies the whole, or the whole the part (all hands on board)
ethos
Refers to generally ethics, or values
euphemism
an inoffensive expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive
Hyperbole
Exaggeration for emphasis or for rhetorical effect.
Subtext
An underlying and often distinctive theme found in writing or speech.
Hasty Generalization
Uses insufficient or selective evidence. Example: "Ping-pong is a dangerous sport; one time, my friend got hit in the eye and almost lost his vision." False cause
Oxymoron
Apparent paradox achieved by the juxtaposition of words which seem to contradict one another.
Slippery Slope
Suggests dire consequences from relatively minor causes. Example: "If we stop forcing students to wear ties, soon they'll start coming to school dressed in lycra bodysuits."
Modes of writing
Descriptive (describes), expository (explain/analyze), narrative (accounts events/ "tells"), rhetorical (persuasive).
Bombast
Language that is overly rhetorical (pompous), especially when context is considered.
Personification
Attribution of personality to an impersonal thing.
paradox
a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
understatement
a statement that is restrained in ironic contrast to what might have been said
chiasmus
a statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed ("Susan walked in, and out rushed Mary.")
Red Herring
Introducing an irrelevant or secondary subject to draw attention from the main subject.
Apostrophe
a sudden turn from the general audience to address a specific group or person or personified abstraction absent or present.
Example: Oh, brave new world that has such people in't! (Shakespeare, The Tempest)
Syntax
The pattern or arrangement of words and phrases.
Elegy
A poem of serious reflection, usually a lament for the dead.
Satire
A piece of literature designed to ridicule the subject of the work. Critiquing, make a comment on something, prescriptive measure to a problem
analogy
drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect
ellipsis
omission of words from a text; mark used to indicate an omission (when the meaning can be understood without them); PL. ellipses
Voice
The distinctive tone or style of an author or literary work.
Text
The words of a specific piece of printed material or a speech.
Theme
A general ideal contained in the text; it is not simply an idea, but one that is developed, often over the course of a text.
Epistrophe
The repetition of the same word or words at the end of successive phrases, clauses or sentences
Argument from Authority
An appeal to an outside authority/expert to support one's case. Can be both an effective way to support an idea or a fallacy. Good example: "Stephen Hawkings has concluded that black holes give off radiation." As a physicist, Hawking has knowledge on this matter. Bad example: "Sir Isaac Newton was a genius and he believed in God."
False/Faulty/Weak Analogy
In an analogy, two objects (or events), A and B are shown to be similar. Then it is argued that since A has property P, so also B must have property P. An analogy fails when the two objects, A and B, are different in a way which affects whether they both have property P.
Example: Students are like nails. Just as nails must be hit in the head in order to make them work, so must students.
appositive
a word or phrase that renames a nearby noun or pronoun
Anaphora
The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines.
Equivocation
Occurs when a key word or phrase has two or more meanings in the same argument. (Remember the witches in Macbeth?)
Example, From The Pink Panther:
Clouseau: Does your dog bite?
Hotel Clerk: No.
Clouseau: [bowing down to pet the dog] Nice doggie.
[dog bites Clouseau's hand]
Clouseau: I thought you said your dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.
Rhetorical question
A question, to which no answer is expected, often used for rhetorical effect.
Ethical Appeal
An argument in which the speaker makes use of what the audience's values as good or true. It is based on the credibility or trustworthiness that the author establishes in his/her writing. See also Ethos.
zeugma
The use of a word to modify two or more words, but used for different meanings. He closed the door and his heart on his lost love.
Praeteritio / Paralipsis
Rhetorical device used by a speaker to mention a certain thing while claiming not to mention it. I am not going to mention...
Pun
A play on words wherein a word is used to convey two meanings at the same time.
False Cause
A false cause is a generic term for a questionable conclusion about cause and effect. Cause and effect
Ad hominem argument
A reply to an argument or assertion by attacking the person presenting the argument or assertion rather
than the argument itself. Example: -I think writing well is important. -Only an ugly person like you would think that.
Ad misercordiam (appeal to pity)/Sentimental Appeals
Appealing to pity as an argument for special treatment. Example: I know I have a 12% average, but if I don't get an A my parents will kill me! You have to give me an A!
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