AP English Notes

Rhetorical Terms - Argument


antagonist - The character who opposes the interests of the protagonist.
Ex: In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien creates Lord Sauron as the antagonist to Frodo.

antanaclasis - Repetition of a word in two different senses.
Ex: If we do not hang together, we will hang separately.

anticipated objection - The technique a writer or speaker uses in an argumentative text to address and answer objections, even though the audience has not had the opportunity to voice these objections.
Ex: "You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air…You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory." (Winston Churchill)

antimetabole - The repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order.
Ex: One should eat to live, not live to eat.

apologist - A person or character who makes a case for some controversial, even contentious, position.
Ex: In Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, Romeo makes a case for marrying Juliet, despite the controversy over the issue.

apology - An elaborate statement justifying some controversial, even contentious, position.
Ex: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'" (Martin Luther King Jr.)

apostrophe - The direct address of an absent person or personified object as if he/she/it is able to reply.
Ex: "O' Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?" (William Shakespeare)

appeal to authority - In a text, the reference to words, action, or beliefs of a person in authority as a means of supporting a claim, generalization, or conclusion.
Ex: Isaac Newton was a genius and he believed in God. Therefore, God must exist.

appeal to emotion - The appeal of a text to the feelings or interests of the audience.
Ex: If you don't graduate from high school, you will always be poor.

argument by analysis - An argument developed by breaking the subject matter into its component parts.
Ex: The Virginians failed miserably at initial colonization and suffered through disease, war, and famine because of their high expectations and greed, which also molded their colony socially and economically.

asyndeton - The omission of conjunctions between related clauses.
Ex: "This is the villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, who meant to betray you completely." (Aristotle)

basic topic - One of the four perspectives that Aristotle explained could be used to generate material about any subject matter: greater or less, possible and impossible, past fact, and future fact.
Ex: Topics include justice, peace, rights, and movie theaters.

brain-storming - Within the planning act of the writing process, a technique used by a writer or speaker to generate many ideas, some of which he or she will later eliminate.
Ex: I brainstorm before history essays by writing down as many specific Exs as I can think of for the prompt.

cloze test - A test of reading ability that requires a person to fill in missing words in a text.
Ex: The SAT's language portion contains questions modeled in this way.

common topic - One of the perspectives, derived from Aristotle's topics, used to generate material. The six common topics are definition, division, comparison, relation, circumstances, and testimony.
Ex: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson's political opinions can be the subject of a common topic, such as division.

compound subject - A sentence in which two or more nouns, noun phrases, or noun clauses constitute the grammatical subject of a clause
Ex: The dog and the cat scurried away from the approaching car.

confirmation - In ancient Roman oratory, the part of a speech in which the speaker or writer could offer proof or demonstration of the central idea.
Ex: In Julius Caesar's speech, the confirmation was scattered throughout.

conflict - The struggle of characters with themselves, with others, or with the world around them.
Ex: In The Grapes of Wrath, migrants conflict with property owners.

connotation - The implied meaning of a word, in contrast to its directly expressed "dictionary meaning."
Ex: Home literally means one's house, but implies feelings of family and security.

consulting - Seeking help for one's writing from a reader.
Ex: I often consult my parents.

dramatistic pentad - The invention strategy, developed by Kenneth Burke, that invites a speaker or writer to create identities for the act, agent, agency, attitude, scene, and purpose in a situation.

effect - The emotional or psychological impact a text has on a reader or listener.
Ex: The Grapes Of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, causes the reader to have sympathy for migrant workers.

ellipsis - The omission of words, the meaning of which is provided by the overall context of a passage.
Ex: "Medical thinking . . . stressed air as the communicator of disease, ignoring sanitation or visible carriers" (Tuchman).

epanalepsis - Repetition at the end of a clause of the word that occurred at the beginning of the clause.
Ex: Blood hath brought blood.

epithet - A word of phrase adding a characteristic to a person's name.
Ex: Alexander the Great.

figurative language - Language dominated by the use of schemes and tropes.
Ex: "The ground is thirsty and hungry."

flashback - A part of the plot that moves back in time and then returns to the present.
Ex: In Oedipus Rex, both Oedipus and Iocaste recall previous events.

generalization - A point that a speaker or writer generations on the basis of considering a number of particular examples.
Ex: "All French people are rude."

genre - A piece of writing classified by type.
Ex: Science Fiction.

investigating - Activities that writers use, during the writing process, to locate ideas and information.
Ex: For my research paper, I have investigated many sources in the library and online.

irony - Writing or speaking that implies the contrary of what is actually written or spoken.
Ex 1: "Of course I believe you," Joe said sarcastically.
Ex 2: "I can't describe to you how surprised I was to find out I loved her…I even hoped for a while that she'd throw me over" (Fitzgerald 157).

narration - In ancient Roman oratory, the part of a speech in which the speaker provided background information on the topic.
Ex: Julius Caesar used narration in many of his speeches.

pace - The speed with which a plot moves from one event to another.
Example: In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck paces the story somewhat slowly, interspersing it with main-idea chapters.

parallelism - A set of similarly structured words, phrases, or clauses that appears in a sentence or paragraph.
Ex 1: The dog ran, stumbled, and fell.
Ex 2: "After two years I remember the rest of that day, and that night and the next day…" (Fitzgerald 17).

parenthesis - An insertion of material that interrupts the typical flow of a sentence.
Ex: The dog (which was black) ran, stumbled, and fell.

people's topics - The English translation of konnoi topoi, the four topics that Aristotle explained could be used to generate material about any subject matter; also called basic topics.
Ex: Topics include justice, peace, rights, and movie theaters.

periodic sentence - A sentence with modifying elements included before the verb and/or complement.
Ex: "John, the tough one, the sullen kid who scoffed at any show of sentiment, gave his mother flowers."

scheme - An artful variation from typical formation and arrangement of words or sentences.
Ex: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.


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Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Rhetorical Terms - Argument" StudyNotes.org. StudyNotes, Inc., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. <//www.apstudynotes.org/english/rhetorical-terms/argument/>.
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