Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chiasmus and Other Language Tricks

I stumbled on a terrific site today (on my own, not through Stumble Upon, though rest assured that I did Stumble it). Dr. Mardy Grothe presents a fascinating and passionate portrait of a subject with which I was wholly unfamiliar: the chiasmus.

It turns out that many snowclones are actually implied chiasms. Dr. Grothe has two full pages of discourse on those and they are entertaining reading indeed.

You can make your own chiasmus but simply switching the words in any old phrase won’t do. A simple reversal can create anything from banality to utter nonsense if you don’t choose your initial phrase carefully. You must find a saying that is recognizable in reverse and actually contributes to your topic.

Make time to play with words and phrases. The more your stretch your vocabulary and compositional skills the more flexible you become in manipulating language. Twisting a common subject around on itself with a deft flick of your phrase grabs your readers’ attention and impresses your client. It's also a great deal of fun.

If you can’t get enough of literary terms and their tricks, check out this enormous, alphabetical list of them. Here you learn words, like “anadiplosis”, with which to impress your friends and colleagues. You also find good ways to spice up your writing and catch the attention of readers.