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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great - loved it, 28 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase (Hardcover)
This was a Christmas present and I have read it quite quickly.

In the mid 1980s, there was a wonderful movie called The Jewel of the Nile, with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. The theme song was 'When the Going gets Tough, the Tough Gets Going', sung by Billy Ocean. It was a great phrase and I have been trying to find out whether it was the kind of phrase which had a specific name. No-one has ever been able to tell me. This book tells me that this phrase [originally coined by Joseph Kennedy - JFK's father] is a rhetorical device known as a Chiasmus. A Chiasmus is device which makes a phrase relying on symmetry to make it easy to memorise [think of JFK's speech in which he said, 'Ask not, what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country']. However, the book explains another rhetorical device, the Polyptoton, in which the same word is used with a different meaning. The example used is the Beatles song, 'Please, please me'.

Each chapter in this book describes a different rhetorical device with great wit and it was a pleasure to use. In the past, rhetoric was studied formally but in many ways, the devices [without anyone being aware of their exotic Greek names] are used instinctively. There are plenty of Shakespearian quotes and lines taken from the King James Version of the Bible indicating that 16th and 17th Century writers knew about the practice of rhetoric and produced many memorable phrases. Mark Forsyth explains that much of this comes with practice.

I have read Sam Leith's excellent 'Are You Talking to Me?', which covers very similar ground to this book. However, it is enjoyable in its own right because of its succinct practical explanations of each rheatorical device. Hopefully, I might use one or two in my next review.
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Initial post: 16 Jun 2014 12:24:46 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
I recently spent half a day trawling through the net looking for a grammatical term that I had forgotten (it was dramatic irony). This book might help my sanity - thanks for the recommend.
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Bacchus
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Location: Greater London - Surrey

Top Reviewer Ranking: 596