A sender does not simply apply arguments or try to convince using appeals. The sender can also appeal to his recipient by his linguistic style and try to convince. So by the linguistic style, the sender can thus have an ethos, but can also appeal to logos or pathos. Therefore, it is also important to work with rhetorical instruments, which are a common term for various linguistic instruments a speaker uses in his rhetoric to convince his recipient.

Some of the rhetorical tools are concepts that characterize some general and general characteristics of a text, but there are also small linguistic tricks that are used only in a single sequence. These various forms of rhetorical means will be introduced in the following. It is very much an overview, so you probably do not learn much by reading the overview thoroughly. It is better to use it as ideas for your own speeches, where you yourself try to use the rhetorical instruments, but also use it when analyzing the rhetorical instruments in a text.

When analyzing a text for its content of rhetorical instruments, it is important that you do not enumerate all types of rhetorical instruments, but find those that are characteristic of the text and which are applied to central places in the text (by significant and weighty arguments for example).

General stylistics

The following concepts can be used as overall concepts for the style of a text.


High style: A term used for texts where the language is characterized by long sentences, long words, many foreign words, technical concepts and subject terms.

Low style: A term used for texts where the language is characterized by short sentences, small words, use of spoken language, jargon and curse words.

Speech Language: Use of words and phrases found in spoken language. These can be words like ‘very’, ‘he is really good’, ‘a super cool car’, ‘it is swag’ or spoken language synonyms such as ‘tan’ for skin color.

Word play: To play with words and their meaning, such as ‘For I am like bowling – you know I take cones’ (Malk De Koijn).

Paratactic sentence structure: The term covers a sentence structure where the sentences are side by side. Therefore, the conjunctions ‘and’ and ‘but’ are frequently used between the sentences. Most often, a paratactic sentence structure is linked to low style and spoken language. Example of paratactic sentence structure: “A man comes driving, and it’s Wednesday night, but it’s not very late at night, and now the man stands by his car.” The sentences are side by side.

Hypotactic phrase structure: Texts characterized by subordinate sentences, thereby using conjunctions such as ‘because’, ‘at’, ‘there / as’, ‘then’, etc., which initiate conjunctions. Most often, the hypothetical phrase building is linked to high style, and to texts that use logos as an appeal form, trying to substantiate and find contexts. An example: “A man came running because he was going home from work that he had cared for carefully all his life, for work was his identity”. Here the sentences are subordinate to each other, so the last one is subordinate to the preceding, which is subordinate to the preceding, which is subordinate to the preceding. You can put the sentences up a flight of stairs.

Small, linguistic tricks – Figures

Anaphor: Repetition of phrase at the beginning of a sentence. Known is Martin Luther King’s use of the anaphor “I have a dream” and “Let freedom ring”, which is just used as the first in a series of speeches he gave at the Lincoln Memorial in the US capital, Washington.

Alliteration: Use of the same wording in consonants in the following words, for example, at the beginning of the word. (also called letter strip).

Example: “Purpurn bloody bleeding billiards plane” (here repeat “b” and “p”, which have almost the same sound).

Assonance: Applying the same wording in vowels in consecutive words.

Example: we have to go in the garden these days

Antithesis: When the sender makes use of this rhetorical tool, the sender puts a pair of opposites against each other, for example the former government and the new government. It is thus a form of comparison, where the sender not only compares, but precisely creates a pair of opposites.

Epiphor: Repeating the same phrase at the end of several sentences. Martin Luther King actually uses it in his well-known speech (I have a dream today).

Hyperbel: Exaggerating one’s argument or running one’s point of view (possibly another’s point of view) into the absurd and unrealistic.

Interjections: The term for exclamations such as “Oh” or “Accurate” associated with spoken language, but it can also be found in written language where the use of such interjections will be a sign of low style.

Irony: To say one thing and mean the opposite.

Chiasm: The sender swaps different parts of a sentence around in the following sentence.

Example: Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

Litote: An understatement that has something humorous about it.

Example: As the fisherman wins 1,000,000 in Lotto: “It is nice with a few extra hands”.

Pleonasm and tautology: The two concepts cover linguistic phenomena that are hard to distinguish. They both cover forms of repetition, but the difference lies in the fact that tautology is an expression of the use of synonyms that say almost the same thing, so pleonasm is the expression of a superfluous word – that is to say the same thing. You could say that pleonasm is a ‘failed’ form of tautology.

Tautology actually means saying something that is obviously true and cannot be doubted. But in rhetoric, the term is used when saying the same thing in different ways, and therefore repeating oneself. It is an application of a form of synonyms. Example: “He is a boom muscle bundle”

Pleonasm occurs when you have two words for the same thing, and one word is actually superfluous, such as “You need to charge more backwards”, “I want a wireless mobile phone”, “Get a free gift” or “Nine different cars were involved in the accident ”(nine cars are different cars).

Rhetorical questions: Asking a question that does not need to be answered and which will not be answered. The answer to the rhetorical question is apparently self-evident (from the sender’s perspective), which is why it does not need to be answered. Most often, rhetorical questions will therefore be linked to some basic notion, some immediately incontrovertible truths which the sender believes cannot be disagreed with.

Sarcasm: To suppress or to say one and to say the opposite, as in the case of the irony, but the sender tries to demean another so that it gets a tone of spit towards another.

Example: The teacher to the student: “Well, of course you should have 12 when you have completed a half page assignment.”

Small, linguistic tricks – Troper

Comparison: The sender compares one (real plane or target area) to another (image plane or source area), thereby lending meaning from the image plane to the real plane (or source area to the target area). There is always an ‘like’ or an ‘end’ as part of the comparison. Example: Getting DF to take responsibility is like asking a dead person to eat.

Metaphor: The sender borrows some meaning from an area (source area / image plane) to describe something with (target area / real plane). Metaphor is typically a term we use in literary analysis, but we can also use it in speech and case prose, but here the term should only be used for surprising metaphors. See cognitive metaphors.

Example: DNA chains dance about cancer

Cognitive Metaphors: Cognitive metaphors are in themselves a different concept for metaphors. But there are differences nonetheless. Metaphors are typically surprising and are a term we use in the work of literature. Here the metaphors mean that words are used and used in new ways, whereas cognitive metaphors are metaphors that do not have the same surprising effect and where the recipient does not study or notice that it is a metaphor.

Examples: “We have to man up the lawsuit” or “Young people’s drinking organs in Prague are an escape”. “With the family’s collapse and the undermining of Christianity, the Socialists and Radicals have broken down any foundation upon which the young people could stand and rest.”

Metonymy: to mention a small part that refers to a larger context; a small part associated with something else. Where the metaphor causes the image plane / source area to be outside the real plane / target area and transfer meaning to the real plane, then the metonymy is a ploy where one uses parts of the real plane to describe the whole real plane, or uses the whole real plane to describe part of the real plane. The part stands for the whole or the whole stands for the part.

Symbol: A phenomenon in a speech is present as a concrete phenomenon, but can also be understood as an expression of something else. It requires understanding the whole speech (whole) in order for the part to be assigned a symbolic meaning.

An example is the novel Nordkraft by Jakob Ejersbo, where Asgar’s two dogs are concrete dogs. They are present in the novel as dogs. But they can also be understood symbolically, thereby adding a further meaning, as they are expressions of Asger and Maria’s relationship which Hossein ends up destroying (he kills the dogs).

Allegory: A chain of symbols. This means that there are several symbols that are linked to each other, so the elements of the speech must be understood as an expression of something else.

Tricks used in speech – oral presentation

Art Break: When a sender pauses their speech. Most often, this means that a section has been completed and something new has to begin, but it is also an opportunity to use the art break to receive a tribute (clap). In some cases, art breaks follow a particularly important wording, and the art break helps to give the wording extra attention and weight.

Self-interruptions or self-correction: When the sender corrects himself in his wording. Most often it is a deliberate ploy to strengthen the focus on what the sender will say and how strongly the sender thinks it. Example: “I mean. No, I’m convinced that …”

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