Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Today's rhetorical terms - beginning a list

Still thinking about the book of my last post: A Handbook of Rhetorical Terms by Richard A. Lanham (University of California Press)...

...and thinking that the modern era has come up with all sorts of 'rhetorical terms' too, no represented in a book which has gathered together the 'classical' terms ie the ones from Ancient Greece and Rome with some medieval ones added in, I think.

But in the modern era we have eg

weasel words - shifty, evasive words and phrases,
put-down - a successful insult
economical with the truth - this one came from a case in law where a government diplomat or 'Mandarin' claimed that he wasn't lying, he was just being 'economical with the truth' and I think it was the minister or ex-minister Alan Clarke who turned it into 'economical with the verité)
textspeak - of many other kinds of -speak in order to describe particular kinds of jargon (coming originally from George Orwell's 1984 and newspeak )
and a good one coming from blogging and online forums:
whataboutery - a term to describe what a commenter on a thread doesn't deal with the question at hand but says, in effect, 'what about..?'
flashback - this used to be a term only about novels and films, but I've heard people use it meaning a sudden memory coming to mind - which is rather like:
madeleine moment (citing in effect the moment in Proust's work where he eats a 'Madeleine' and a wave of memories come over him)
Freudian slip - which has been mocked with the term a 'Freudian slit' or 'what do you call a psychiatrist's petticoat?'
psychobabble - people talking about Freudian slips.
all mouth and trousers I first heard that one in about 1963 at Watford Grammar School, as used by a bloke called Arthur. The old term was, I think, 'blabbermouth'. Maybe we need a sub-category for descriptions of people who use language in a particular kind of, in bold, blabbermouth (which in Yiddish, as used by my father to describe me,  is a yachner )
grunting - a perjorative term used by people wanting to 'put down' (usually) teenage boys and the way they thought to speak ie 'teenspeak'
anorak and nerd - though these are both terms to describe people and not language, they are both used to describe a way of talking about things. People say, 'I know this sounds a bit nerdy' or 'I'm really going to sound like an anorak now, but....' So I think these qualify as rhetorical terms...Well, nearly.
sloppy and lazy - there's a theory that people who use non-standard English in their speech are somehow not working hard enough. It's applying the theory of protestant industriousness and propriety to speech. So, first the new middle classes invented a proper and correct way of speaking English and married it to their belief that  working hard booked you a ticket to heaven. So combine the two so that when someone says, 'I ain't got none', that proves that they're lazy and not going to heaven. Sorted.