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Figures of Speech: 60 Ways To Turn A Phrase [Paperback]

Arthur Quinn , Barney R. Quinn
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Dec 1995 1880393026 978-1880393024
Writing is not like chemical engineering. The figures of speech should not be learned the same way as the periodic table of elements. This is because figures of speech are not about hypothetical structures in things, but about real potentialities within language and within ourselves. The "figurings" of speech reveal the apparently limitless plasticity of language itself. We are inescapably confronted with the intoxicating possibility that we can make language do for us almost anything we want. Or at least a Shakespeare can. The figures of speech help to see how he does it, and how we might.

Therefore, in the chapters presented in this volume, the quotations from Shakespeare, the Bible, and other sources are not presented to exemplify the definitions. Rather, the definitions are presented to lead to the quotations. And the quotations are there to show us how to do with language what we have not done before. They are there for imitation.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (13 Dec 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880393026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880393024
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 13.5 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly worth it's weight in gold 19 Sep 2003
Format:Paperback
"Figures of Speech: 60 ways to turn a phrase," by Arthur Quinn (Professor of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley) is truly worth it's weight in gold. This book is not a stuffy academic classroom text...it is a sleek, extremely funny and stimulating resource that will undoubtedly add tremendous value to your knowledge of writing the "Queen's English." Moreover, Professor Quinn's book is super provocative, superbly written and succinct...allowing the reader to go cover to cover in a few short hours.
Quinn challenges the reader..."We are confronted, inescapably, with the intoxicating possibility that we can make language do for us almost anything we want." In other words, the author "thinks outside the box" long before it became fashionable to do so. I'll never forget a groundbreaking banner front-page headline in the New York Daily News back in the 1970's, it read, "We Wuz Robbed!" The headline reported that masked gunmen broke into the payroll office and stole millions in typical New York City lingo. Apparently the editors in the Daily News Building agreed with Quinn's approach to effective writing that "style, is like a frog: you can dissect the thing, but it somehow dies in the process."
Each chapter in this marvelous book is short and compact. My favorite chapters include, Missing Links and Headless Horsemen, Man Bites Dog and Reds in the Red. In a nutshell, Quinn demands that we navigate the jungles of style creatively and includes many figures of speech through out his book to stimulate the learning process. Overall, this book is a joy to read. In the words of the author, "language becomes a prison house only poets can escape...if we do not reject any strict distinctions between ordinary usage and figures of speech."
Bert Ruiz
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bril 6 April 2010
Format:Paperback
Finally, here is a book on figures of speech that you can read like a novel and afterwards you know about figures of speech!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and useful 21 Jan 2005
By James Rawson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Professor Quinn's slim volume is perhaps the best treatment of the subject of rhetorical devices that I have ever read. I say "best," not because it is the most extensive, nor because it is the most detailed coverage of the subject. I say "best" because I feel it is the most *useful* coverage I have ever encountered.

In concise fashion, Professor Quinn takes the reader through many of the most common figures of speech, tells us the formal names, and provides numerous illustrative examples.

It is true that simply knowing the name given to a particular turn of phrase will not guarantee that one can effectively employ it in one's writing. Nevertheless knowing the

forms and having names to identify them makes it easier to see them in use in the writing of others. By thus making them memorable, they also become a more ready part of one's writing toolkit.

The engaging and entertaining style which Quinn uses throughout the book makes even the most daunting technical terms readily accessible. His well-chosen examples are also entertaining and informative, and most are quite memorable. I can't be certain that merely reading this book will improve every reader's writing, but I believe that most folks will benefit from reading it.
80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Asyndeton to Zeugma: A Guided Tour of Colorful Language 16 Feb 2002
By George R Dekle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms" provides a more complete study, but "Figures of Speech" is more user-friendly, more entertaining, more compact, more useful. "Handlist" proved to be more scholarly, "Figures" more practical. "Handlist" arranges the figures alphabetically, "Figures" by type. "Handlist" gives a few examples, "Figures" many. I found the examples in "Figures" to be lyrical, the commentaries whimsical, the results educational.
51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to rhetoric 14 Sep 2000
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If I were to design high school cirrculums, rhetoric and logic would be a required subject, perhaps titled (un)creatively as "Survival skills for the Real World or How Not to Be Duped"
Quinn's book Figures of Speech would be one quite satisfactory text. The strength of the book is in its examples, the variety of sources. For example, asyndeton in a series of nouns is illustrated by quotes from the scripture, Shakespeare, Spinoza, Arnold, Darwin, Proust ... He illustrates asyndeton in series of clauses; in series of nouns; at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence. He warns of the effect of overusing the figure ... in short, without ever become boring, he shows you how to flush out a hiding asyndeton anywhere.
For those of you not educated under my ideal plan - asyndeton is the omission of conjunctions. Okay, this particular figure of speech may not effect your gullibility but I happened to like the examples given.
This book is only introductory but as such it is excellent. It is sufficiently slender and diverse to provide basic information without intimidating the reader with the plethora of classical rhetorical devices.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful and Refreshing 23 Oct 2004
By Poetry Primavera - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recommend this book for anyone who would like a few more clues on the many ways masterful sentences are put together. If you have the soul for good writing, but need a little more concrete guidance on how powerful phrases from the Bible to Virgil to Shakespeare to Churchill are constructed--this book will be a delightful teacher.

I was impressed by the lighthearted and humble approach of the author. Although he gives the formal (and quite forgettable) names for the figures of speech, he says he doesn't expect readers to remember the names, but rather to "taste" the examples he cites, and to get a feel for how to apply these patterns in their own writing. He repeatedly stresses that knowing how to use words and rhetorical patterns is far more important than memorizing their names or even agreeing upon their proper classifications.

The author also cites classics ancient and modern in making the unconventional and refreshing point that we need not slavishly follow the dictates of the now-popular rules of usage as promulgated by Strunk and White and other like-minded authorities. For example, while contemporary authorities repeatedly (yes, ironically) stress the importance of avoiding any unnecessary words, the author of Figures of Speech cites many passages from the Bible, Shakespeare, and other sources of distinction, that clearly do not follow such strictures--and choose elaboration and repitition over spare economy.

Overall, the book is informative, accessible, generous-spirited, and, in places, even humorous and playful.

When I got to the end of the slim volume I found myself wishing there was more.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Toolbox for Talking 8 Feb 2005
By Zeno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Short, easy to read. Full of great examples. Will make you a better speaker and heighten your appreciation of great literature, as well as showing you the techniques used by playwrights, poets, politicians, lawyers, clergy, and all others who earn their bread with their tongues. An eye-opener.
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