Monday, October 20, 2008

Answer Key for Rhetorical Figures, Syllogisms

From the section workshop on rhetorical figures (10/6)

Note: I eliminated the examples that were covered in Eryk’s post, with the single exception of example 1, to which we add a few possible answers.

What did you expect when you unbound the gag that had muted those black mouths? That they would chant your praises? Did you think that when those heads that our fathers had forcibly bowed down to the ground were raised again, you would find adoration in their eyes? J. P. Sartre [Rhetorical Question, Assonance (bowed down to the ground), Metaphor or Metonymy – we weren’t sure how to read the gag in the first question]

Your Mom’s so fat, she could eat the internet. [Hyperbole; the jury is out, but we may also be in the territory of oxymoron and paradox when we consider that one might “eat the internet”]

War: not so good, actually. [Litotes]

Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know. [Chiasmus]

If we don’t hang together, we shall hang separately. [This is actually a zeugma, but for our purposes we shall treat it as an instance of chiasmus.]

Dead in the middle of Little Italy, little did we know that we riddled two middle men who didn’t do diddly. [Assonance, Alliteration]

The average person thinks he isn’t. [Ellipsis: the missing term is “average.”]

I can’t tell you how many times he’s distorted the truth. [Occultatio]

Check out my new wheels. [Synecdoche: the whole car is represented by its part, the wheels. And yes, this part is plural. Tough.]

You have to be cruel to be kind. [Paradox]

The iron curtain has lifted. [Metaphor]

I’m a cheerful pessimist. [Oxymoron]

Nice pants. [Irony]

Squish. [Onomatopoeia]

Ah, the sweet smell of success. [Alliteration]

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s Superman! [Auxesis]

I’ve told you a million times! [Hyperbole]

He’s a man of the cloth. [Metonymy; cases were also made in class for mere Metaphor]

Einstein wasn’t a bad mathematician. [Litotes]

Without laws, we can have no freedom. [Paradox]

Beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is a green-ey’d monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. [Prosopopoeia]

But we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience trial; and trial hope; and hope confoundeth not, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us. [Auxesis]

If practice makes perfect, and no one’s perfect, then why practice? [Rhetorical Question]

Veni, vidi, vici. [Isocolon, Alliteration, Assonance]

Those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail. [Chiasmus]

...And from the section workshop on logical arguments (10/13)

Part 1: Translate enthymemes into major and minor premises and conclusions, without concern for validity or soundness. Some of the following enthymemes were translated in more than one way by our class, and reasonably so; I include only one of the possible answers here in the interest of brevity.

MjP = Major Premise. MnP = Minor Premise. C = Conclusion.

Iraq is a threat to our national security because it possesses vast quantities of enriched uranium.
MjP: All countries that possess vast quantities of uranium are a threat to our national security. MnP: Iraq possesses vast quantities of enriched uranium. C: Iraq is a threat to our national security.

Given John McCain’s health, it isn’t advisable to vote for him. (We translated this a number of ways. Here is one of the options we came up with.)
MjP: If a candidate is in poor health, it is not advisable to vote for him. MnP: John McCain is in poor health. C: It is not advisable to vote for him.

Due to the vulgarity of their lyrics, it’s doubtful that the band has any depth.
MjP: Bands with vulgar lyrics have no depth. MnP: The band has vulgar lyrics. C: The band has no depth.

In the absence of sufficient evidence, the defendant is to be dismissed.
MjP: If there is not enough evidence, the defendant is to be dismissed. MnP: There is not enough evidence. C: The defendant is to be dismissed.

Hugo Chavez admires Fidel Castro, so we can guess what he’d like to do as the head of state of Venezuela.
MjP: If one head of state admires another head of state, he will seek to emulate that other head of state. MnP: Hugo Chavez admires Fidel Castro. C: Hugo Chavez wants to emulate Fidel Castro.

Part 2: Translate the following arguments into syllogisms, taking note of validity of form.

You’ve got to be kidding me, right? I can tell by the look on your face. You made the whole thing up!
MjP: If you have that look on your face, you are lying. MnP: You have that look on your face. C: You’re lying! Valid, Modus Ponens.

Since this is his first year on the job, John can’t be put in charge.
MjP: All people who are put in charge should have more than a year’s experience. MnP: John doesn’t have more than a year’s experience. C: John shouldn’t be put in charge. Valid, Modus Tolens.

All people with things to hide plead the fifth. Tom pleads the Fifth. Tom must have something to hide. This one is already in its syllogistic form, more or less: Major and Minor Premise, followed by conclusion. It is Invalid; its fallacy is that of affirming the consequent.

If the Yankees won yesterday’s game, they are champions. The Yankees won yesterday’s game. Well, there ya go!
MjP: If the Yankees won yesterday’s game, they are champions. MnP: The Yankees won yesterday’s game. C (implied): The Yankees are the champions. Valid, Modus Ponens.

“There is no law against composing music when one has no ideas whatsoever. The music of Wagner, therefore, is perfectly legal!” (Mark Twain)
MjP: If one has no ideas, one’s music is legal. MnP: Wagner has no ideas. C: Wagner’s music is legal. Valid, Modus Ponens.

Aisha went to a fabulous liberal arts college, so clearly she’s very bright.
MjP: All people who go to fabulous liberal arts colleges are very bright. MnP: Aisha went to a fabulous liberal arts college. C: Aisha is very bright. Valid, Modus Ponens.

Whenever Kristen gets angry, her left eye begins to twitch. Look! It’s twitching! She must be really pissed!
MjP: If Kristen is angry, her left eye twitches. MnP: Kristen’s left eye is twitching. C: Kristen is angry. Invalid, Affirming the Consequent.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Answer Key" Figures of Speech

[NOTE: As promised, an "answer key," or really more of a guideline. After a brief consultation with Dale, it was pointed out to me that some of these are quite good examples of figures of speech we do not cover in this class. Insofar as we restrict ourselves to having to rely on the 20 or so we learned, rather than the 65 that were required as part of the Rennaissance curriculum on rhetoric, below are suggestions for likeliest candidate(s). Be reassured, though, that the exam's format will facilitate having to choice between, say, paradox and irony or metonymy and synecdoche.]

i am a poster girl with no poster
"32 Flavors," Ani Difranco
[Paradox: roughly, she’s an x without x! yet the statement retains a definite provocative sense; it isn’t pure nonsense; I realize some may have put Antanclasis, but I’d say that’s subsidiary, or less compelling of an answer, to paradox in this example]

the Berlin Wall still runs down Main Street
“Subdivision,” Ani Difranco
[metonymy: contiguity of the physical and social act of separating, dividing: i.e. East from West or Socialist from Capitalist for “Berlin Wall” and black from white or rich from poor, with respect to “Main Street”]

Envy is the ulcer of the soul. [metaphor]

I am not young enough to know everything.
-Oscar Wilde
[paradox or irony? undecided.]

Who got tha power
This be my question
Tha mass of tha few in this torn nation?
Tha priest tha book or tha congregation?
Tha politricks who rob and hold down your zone?
Or those who give tha thieves tha key to their homes?
Tha pig who's free to murder one Shucklak
Or survivors who make a move and murder one back?
"Mic Check" Rage Against the Machine
[Rhetorical Question(s) throughout; but also Metaphor (i.e. pig), Synecdoche (i.e. the “priest” or “book” as a species for the genus Religion or Authority, etc.), enallage (i.e. this be my question…), etc. and plenty more.]

So I grip tha cannon like Fanon an pass tha shells to my classmates
"Year of the Boomerang" Rage Against the Machine
[catachresis with respect to the use of the term “shells” (i.e. weaponry) in an unfamiliar, or un-usual, context, namely, that of the classroom and education rather than, say, an artillery unit or combat zone. I realize some may have said assonance for ‘cannon’ and ‘Fanon’, which isn’t technically wrong… ]

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. -Malcolm X

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much. [irony.]
-Oscar Wilde

the sun is setting on the century [metaphor]
“To the Teeth,” Ani Difranco

Be sincere; be brief; be seated. [illiteration & isocolon, for our purposes]
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat. [chiasmus, for our purposes]

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt [chiasmus, for our purposes]

Don't be afraid to see what you see. [antanaclasis]
-Ronald Reagan

In heaven all the interesting people are missing. [irony]
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music. [isocolon, as it’s medium, and oxymoron, as the overall point with respect to the notion of ‘military justice’]
-Groucho Marx

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt [“that you’re a fool.” would finish the statement; thus, ellipsis]
-Abraham Lincoln

I think it would be a good idea. [ellipsis & irony]
-Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization

If I treat you kindly does it mean that I'm weak? [rhetorical question]
“Forgive Them Father,” Lauryn Hill

“Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction [of a nation]” [ellipsis]
Bob Marley

Homer no function beer well without. [enallage]
-Homer Simpson

“Good grief!” [oxymoron]
-Charlie Brown

Reason's last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it. [paradox: the last step is really only the first step!?... contradiction that retains meaning, tells a truth of some sort]

Said of a scratch: Look at this wound! [hyperbole]

Said of an amputated leg.: "It's just a flesh wound" [litotes… and, yes, it strongly resembles irony, which is not surprising: litotes is often employed to produce irony]
—Monty Python and the Holy Grail

It would be unseemly of me to speculate about Senator Obama’s ties to 60s radical Mr. Ayer, nor would it be useful to dwell, as so many others have, on the extremist beliefs of his spiritual mentor, the Reverend Wright…

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls. [prosopopoeia, animating the inanimate, namely, the moon]
-George Carlin

I tended to place my wife under a pedestal. [irony, for our purposes]
-Woody Allen

And tha riot be tha rhyme of tha unheard [enallage, if nothing else]
"Calm Like a Bomb" Rage Against the Machine

I cannot live without books. [hyperbole]
-Thomas Jefferson

Circumstances rule men and not men rule circumstances. [chiasmus, for our purposes]

What then did you expect when you unbound the gag that had muted those black mouths? That they would chant your praises? Did you think that when those heads that our fathers had forcibly bowed down to the ground were raised again, you would find adoration in their eyes? "Black Orpheus," Jean-Paul Sartre
[rhetorical question]

you had an army of suits behind you [I’d say: metaphor for ‘army’, substituting for a given collection of agents, metonymy for ‘suits’.. as contiguity of ‘suits’, the body/corps/corpus, standing in for corporate attorneys and executives… ]
"Napoleon," Ani Difranco

We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all. [litotes]
-Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 20, 1989)

What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young. [paradox or irony? or both?]
-George Bernard Shaw

yes, it's part of a pair
there on the bow of noah's ark
the most prestigious couple
just kickin back parked
against a perfectly blue sky
on a morning beatific
in its indian summer breeze
on the day that america
fell to its knees
"Self Evident" Ani Difranco, referring to the events of September 11, 2001 [prosopopoeia]

I must be cruel only to be kind. [paradox: I must be x in order to be not x! yet it has meaning…]
-Shakespeare, Hamlet

The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope. [irony]
Karl Marx

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. [assonance, for our purposes]
Benjamin Franklin

friendly fire [oxymoron]

"Give us this day our daily bread." [synecdoche, “bread” as species of genus “food” or “nourishment”]
-- Matthew 6:11

They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?
--Fidel Castro [rhetorical question, if nothing else]

We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death. [prosopopoeia]
--Angela Davis

Graduate student instructor [yes, exactly…]

The Democrats have unfortunately become so enamored and beholden to Wall Street that we are not functioning to defend the economic interest of the broad base of the American people. This is an outrage. This was democracy’s Black Friday.
-Dennis Kucinich, referring to the bailout legislation [metonymy for Wall Street as well as for Black Friday]

Why would I highlight Governor Palin’s lack of foreign diplomacy experience, or her questionable knowledge of economic principles, if the true nature of my talk today is… [occultatio]

The buzzing of innumerable bees. [onomatapoeia]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recorded Lectures


My hosting service is working again! I've been able to upload all of the lectures to date and will be linking to them below; you should be able to stream or download them directly from here. I will also keep the xdrive account open and up to date for anyone who is accessing them there.

  1. 09/02/08 - Aristotelian Rhetoric
  2. 09/04/08 - Hecuba
  3. 09/09/08 - Four Habits of Argumentative Writing
  4. 09/11/08 - Kant
  5. 09/16/08 - Pragmatic Analysis
  6. 09/18/08 - Letter from Birmingham Jail
  7. 09/23/08 - Rogerian Synthesis
  8. 09/25/08 - Toulmin Schema
  9. 09/30/08 - Declaration of Independence
  10. 10/02/08 - Schemes and Tropes
  11. 10/07/08 - Logical Syllogism

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Recorded Lectures

I have found a way to upload the recordings! Thanks to a suggestion I have opened an xdrive account and am now hosting the lectures there. However, in order to access them I will need to add your email to a "share list;" so, if you're interested, I will add any email addresses that arrive at:

to this list.

Hopefully this time the hosting site will continue to operate!