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Writing The Rhetorical Devices Of Distinguishing

     1. Distinguish to Clarify.
The Romans called this Distinctio.

It is sometimes necessary to insist on a particular meaning of a word or to refer to possible various meanings, in order to remove or prevent ambiguity.

To make a car that gets 70 miles a gallon is impossible; by "impossible" engineers posit that it cannot be achieved without changing drastically our automobile design.

The hydraulic cement has to be applied quickly. In conditions of normal humidity, "quickly" means in less than four minutes.

The politician says that the reform is a simple one. If by simple he means not complicated, he is correct. If he means easy to implement, he is sadly mistaken.

Many of our words, like those that express a judgment (better, failure, high quality, efficient, unacceptable) and those referring to abstract concepts which are often debated (democracy, justice, equality, oppression) have different meanings to different people, and sometimes to the same person at different times.

For example, the governments of both Communist China and the United States are described as "democracies," while it could be argued that neither really is a democracy, according to the definition of democracy that is used.

The philosopher S. I. Hayakawa says "no word ever has exactly the same meaning twice". That may be an exaggeration in need of distinguishing the meaning of the word "never". However, we should remember that our words are flexible. Whenever there might be some doubt about your meaning, it is a good practice to clarify your statement or terms.
Remember, the Romans called this Distinctio.
2. Amplification
In the context of writing, this word "amplification" does not mean "to make bigger", but rather to provide more ample information. (Did you notice how we just distinguished, as called for in the rhetorical device of above?)

Sometimes you will want to call attention to, emphasize, and expand a word or idea to make sure the reader realizes the importance or centrality that you give its discussion.
You can do this by repeating a word or expression while adding more detail to it. In this way you emphasize what might otherwise be passed over.

The basis of a democracy is its citizens, active, involved, concerned defenders of their rights.
My old neighborhood, not exclusive, crowded, noisy, full of friends, fills my memories.
I have been in a poor country, where I visited the abandoned house of an ex-president. The house had been destroyed during a revolution against the class that he represented. Despite the intervening years, we could get a feel for the opulence of his living by careful observation of faint hints: the silk wall paper in a land of mud walls, the variety and quality of the glazed roof tiles in a land of palm thatch roofs.

Corruption, rampant corruption --is the bane of our politics.
He had expensive tastes, a taste for good wine, good food, and hand tailored clothes.
The device of amplification can overlap with or include a repetition when the repeated word adds further definition or detail. Repetition with added detail is more powerful than spare, "straight" syntax.

Always consider the passing of time, a time which cannot be called again.
Always consider the passing of a time which cannot be called again.

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Posted on 2013-08-06, By: *

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