September 14th, 2011

Glossary of Terms

Posted by sasha in

“A Scandal in Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – #scandal


1. Metonymy

_Capitalism_ Capitalism

I am capitalism and when you people begin to ask too many questions, I give you a celebrity scandal to keep you distracted.

Metonymy is another form of metaphor, very similar to synecdoche (and, in fact, some rhetoricians do not distinguish between the two), in which the thing chosen for the metaphorical image is closely associated with (but not an actual part of) the subject with which it is to be compared.” 

In this tweet, we have the “thing” that capitalism does, that is, giving a scandal to the people as a distraction, as something undistinguished from the government or media or other institutions that actually make up the system known as capitalism.


2. Hyperbole and Pleonasm

chrismurphys chris murphy

One door closes and another door shuts.For Murdoch & News Ltd’s Evil Empire things have just got worse smh.com.au/world/hacking-…

Hyperbole, the counterpart of understatement, deliberately exaggerates conditions for emphasis or effect.”

The News Corp scandal has turned it into an Evil Empire. While certain people might think this is a true statement…it’s actually a hyperbole, where things are exaggerated.

Pleonasm: using more words than required to express an idea; being redundant. Normally a vice, it is done on purpose on rare occasions for emphasis.”

Saying that the door closes while another one shuts is just a fancy twist on “One door closes and another one opens.” This twist turns it into pleonasm, because now you’re repeating the closing door for emphasis.


3. Metaphor

peytonjames Peyton James

“The scandal chickens are coming home to roost for the Obama administration.” Michelle Malkin #Solyndra #FastandFurious

Metaphor compares two different things by speaking of one in terms of the other. Unlike a simile or analogy, metaphor asserts that one thing is another thing, not just that one is like another.”

In this case, we have a scandal personified as chickens. Since the scandal is seen as chickens that roost, it’s a comparison of two things that are different except in one aspect. A scandal has the ability to take root and stay within an administration, for people to continue to talk about over the years…similarly, a chicken can take roost and stay there if it wanted to.


4. Allusion

paul_mcguigan Paul McGuigan

Excited to start editing A Scandal In Belgravia now that we’ve locked The Hounds of Baskerville. Both brilliant pieces of writing. #Sherlock

Allusion is a short, informal reference to a famous person or event.”

I think that “A Scandal in Belgravia” is an allusion to “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Bohemia today would be the Czech Republic, and the pronunciations in various languages of “Bohemia” are generally the same… so I’m not too sure where “Belgravia” came from? But besides that, we have a reference to “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” I mean, the author of the tweet spelled the title wrong, but…


5. Personification

carr2n david carr

Fox balks, Baldwin walks. bit.ly/qHI84s News Corp joke finds new home on cutting room floor.

Personification metaphorically represents an animal or inanimate object as having human attributes–attributes of form, character, feelings, behavior, and so on. Ideas and abstractions can also be personified.”

A joke can’t find a home. ): It’s being personified here, so that it can slink to the floor of the cutting room. Also, that first part, “Fox balks, Baldwin walks.” What literary device do you call that? I mean, besides “rhyming” LOL.


6. Hypophora

MartinBosleys Martin Bosley

Blood oranges contain banned Amphetamines?! Sports drug scandal puts a spin on our blood orange cordial syrup we sell @TheCityMarket !

Hypophora consists of raising one or more questions and then proceeding to answer them, usually at some length.” 

I’m making a bit of an assumption since I didn’t check, but I think once you click that twitter link, you’ll be sent to more information about the scandal, answering the question. That’s the thing about Twitter, you only have so space to work with. If this is indeed the case, then this is a hypophora because we have a bit of a rhetorical question, where the reader is not meant to answer the question, and then the writer proceeds to answer the question they themselves proposed.


7. Rhetorical Question

VoxOptima Vox Optima

David Lieberman: Can News Corp Escape Scandal Unscathed? | Deadline New York | http://ow.ly/6EmIC

Rhetorical question (erotesis) differs from hypophora in that it is not answered by the writer, because its answer is obvious or obviously desired, and usually just a yes or no. It is used for effect, emphasis, or provocation, or for drawing a conclusionary statement from the facts at hand.”

I think this is a tricky one, that might depend on the view of the reader? Actually, then does that make it a rhetorical question, if the answer isn’t so clear? But I see the answer here as a resounding, “no.” Well, here the question is answered by the readers themselves, even before they read the article. They already know the answer, they aren’t reading the article just for the answer to that question.


In my case, I find that (unfortunately?) most of the #scandal tweets have to do with politics. In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” I suppose the scandal could be the political repercussions of Ms. Adler’s photo being found and ruining the reputation of the King of Bohemia…or it could be the pure scandal that the great Sherlock Holmes would ever take a liking to a woman.

Metaphors and other similar literary devices were common for #scandal tweets. I thought that it went hand-in-hand with its purpose… Rhetoric is rampant in political speeches, so it makes sense for it to seep into political-themed tweets. Metaphors and comparisons are always being used by politicians, since the days America was to be a “shining city upon a hill.” And the metaphors have never stopped. For example, above we have “scandal chickens” and capitalism itself can distract you with celebrity. A lot of the tweets are also simply journalistic headlines. They’re written to grab you, and pull you into reading more of the story. Because of this, there’s an excess of exaggeration. There are “Evil Empires” and “escaping” corporations to read all about.

I think Twitter is simply a new way to just opinions out. A Tweet about a political scandal from the New York Times can show up on your timeline next to a tweet about the same scandal, only this time its written by your little brother. You have to dig a little deeper to get to the truth if you’re on Twitter. You can’t trust everything you read; who are the real trusted sources? Not to say we’re headed back to the times of Yellow Journalism, you just need to be a little more careful. I say this because the CNN Twitter account was hacked not that long ago, and the hackers tweeted that President Obama had been killed. Who can you trust?

But I’m all over the place. The good thing about Twitter is that even though we have only 140 characters to work with, there are some sophisticated literary devices being used. If you told me last week that I could easily find examples of pleonasm on Twitter, I would have asked you if that was a bad word. (I’ve never heard of pleonasm o___o !) But look at what I concluded above simply from reading tweets. Twitter isn’t just a social network, it’s a social network where 140 characters can be used to start a conversation, and start readers thinking and taking part. The rhetorical devices used are some that I have most certainly read before, but the definitions were completely foreign to me up until today. That kind of sophistication – and perhaps, might I say, intelligence – isn’t something I’ve come to expect from Twitter. I know it sounds a bit crass, but I always thought of Twitter as somewhere to tell the world who you like or what you had for lunch. But it’s much more than that. It’s a genuine literary goldmine… oh, that’s a bit of a hyperbole, huh?

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4 Responses to ' Glossary of Terms '

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  1.    Henna said,

    on September 27th, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Absolutely. Despite the character limitations, there is so much to be said over Twitter — whether that be directly, or concealed within exercised rhetorical devices. And that, I too was pleasantly surprised to discover. Twitter is by all means a ‘new’ way to state opinions, and also so much more. Whatever is being served, though, because rhetoric is so easily, and perhaps habitually, accessible, these bite size pickings are packed with punch.

  2.    Kevin L. Ferguson said,

    on September 30th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Sasha,

    Good rhetorical devices you searched for. I bet you would revise Metonymy after our discussion last class (maybe personification?). I like the “scandal chickens”–it’s kind of interesting but also kind of doesn’t make sense. Maybe Malkin is mixing her metaphors?

    “Fox balks, Baldwin walks” : maybe parataxis?

    Interesting example of Hypophora–you’re right about the space constraints requiring the [shortened] website URL as the answer. Also, since the rhetorical point is to use a question to generate interest or state the topic, really that’s where one would want to “spend” one’s characters. I also wonder about the distinction between hypophora and rhetorical questions. If rhetorical questions have obvious or yes/no answers, then maybe this headline isn’t one of those?

    You make a great point about how some subjects are more prone to rhetoric than others–I would imagine that politics and scandal especially are spoken of rhetorically (more so, perhaps than the word “bohemia” or “belgravia”). Do you think that Twitter is actually borrowing from political journalism headlines, and maybe isn’t really a “new” thing after all (that is, what is new is the medium, but not the message)?

    Last–I see you have quotations, but can you say where these are from (even if you just do so at the end of your Page)?

  3.    mikadroz said,

    on October 3rd, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I had the exact same impression going in and the same realization as you eventually had as well! It’s really surprising as to just how sophisticated Twitter can be.

  4.    sasha said,

    on November 2nd, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    The rhetorical element of hypophora is similar to Freud’s theory of condensation because hypophora, like a rhetorical question, makes an inquiry to the reader. However, it’s then answered right away in detail, as opposed to the rhetorical question, which stands on its own, as it’s answer is meant to be obvious. When using Twitter, hypophora condenses the information being Tweeted. A question is asked, then it is answered in detail when you click the link.

    (A little out-of-the-way in terms of the definition, but I think it works here.)

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