Glossary of Terms

September 1st, 2011

Rhetorical Sophistication

Rhetorical sophistication of online blogging is often referred to at “butchering the English language”. From instant messaging to tweeting,  the different modes of informal conversations are always growing and losing there sense and need for grammatical corrections. In fact this phenomena of communication has given rise to inventing another set of rules for language and conversation. A language with in a language, if you will, that calls for a new set on participants. In this new platform including its many adaptations, one can still find the basic constructs of its linguistic origin. Surprisingly, twitters conversations has managed to retain some rhetorical sophistication.

The topic that I searched for was swindle. Swindle wasn’t the most  popular word used on tw

My short story was about the plight of a Frenchman that spent his life savings on purchasing a lot in America that was covered by the East River. Since he was swindled out by an auctioneer I searched the term swindle on twitter. With these posts I will show how rhetoric devices are used:


I chose the story, “The Little Frenchman and His Water Lots,” by George Pope Morris. The story goes as told that a naive Frenchman sells his business and takes all of his savings to purchase a lot of land in America. He soon came to realize that the land he had purchased was completely  under water for a large portion of the year. He was misled by the auctioneer that the land he paid so handsomely for would be very prosperous. In the end, the Frenchman was swindled into buying a flooded area and he threw his life’s saving down the drain. The underlying theme  was a man experiencing a devastating swindle. The narrator believed that the Frenchman was to blame for his misfortune because he didn’t leave well enough alone. In other words, the narrator felt the mishap could have been avoided if the Frenchman didn’t try to improve his already semi-successful life.
During my twitter search for swindle I realized that some rhetoric devices were a favorite with the twitterers; such as hyperbole, exaggeration. Many people on twitter used swindle as the bud of their jokes or insults. I noticed that this type of rhetoric is frequently used for comedy and literary humor.Even though I’ve learned of metonymy and synecdoche this semester, I found some difficulty recognizing it on twitter. I did find it difficult to find more varied forms of rhetoric devices like epithet or zeugma. There was a plethora of examples of the same device and  less creativity to explore other devices.
To my surprise, I realized that swindle is not the most popular word on twitter. I monitored the word search for several hours until I could find an appropriate response that fit the requirement of the assignment. Many times it was used in a very direct way that seemed to not be rhetorically sophisticated at all. The rhetorical device known as synecdoche was most commonly present in tweets with reference to political issues.The tweets were claiming that a particular group was responsible for the characteristics of every group alike. This mechanism of equating correlation and causation is used on twitter as well as in modern media. media to incriminate or blame political leaders for the actions f others.
 All in all, the  rhetorical sophistication of twitter conversations about the term swindle is both humorous and limited. Twitterers unconsciously use a common approach to express humor in the context of swindling. However humorous, this method loses its creativity and seems redundantly predictable, especially when the twitterers are tweeting about the same issue.
Updated Post from Web Wednesday 11/2:


The rhetorical element of metonymy is similar to Freud’s theory of condensation because both concepts depict an initial thought that gives rise to other meanings, connotations and associations. Metonymy refers to a concept or thing that is not called by its own name but by the name of something commonly associated with that concept or thing. Similar to Freud’s idea of condensation, metonymy uses words that give meaning and trigger mental thoughts of related topics. In turn these words become symbolic and may be and it significance may be relative to the audience. Similar to Freud’s view that dreams as a rebus of dream thoughts. He claims that the literal images seen in dreams have a purpose to make the dreamer associate the images with other ideas to find the hidden meaning of the dream itself.

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