Under Construction

Letters and Drama:
   Short story
 Fiction sub-categories
  Crime fiction, Detective fiction
  Fairy tale
  Family Saga
  Historical fiction
  Science fiction 
See Genre Fiction
See: Genres at wikipedia.org, writing.com
and Library Cataloging Schemes at the Classification page.

Best-Seller Lists - New York Times

Rhetorical concepts
Rhetoric - The study of effective speaking and writing.
Rhetoric requires understanding a fundamental division between what (Content) is communicated through language and how (form) this is communicated.

Rhetorical Forms

Figure of Speech - A word or phrase that departs from straightforward, literal language.
I Trope - Figure of Speech that involve changing or modifying the general meaning of a term.
Types of Tropes:
A. Analogy - An inference or an argument from a particular to another particular. May be an elaboration on a simile or metaphor.
Similes - Figure of speech in which the subject is compared to another subject.
Usually uses "like" or "as".
   "The snow was like a blanket"
   "I've been working like a dog"
   "He's as crazy as a fox."
Metaphor - A direct comparison between two or more seemingly unrelated subjects.
    "All the world's a stage"
    "That throws some light on the question."
    "Don't pull the wool over my eyes."
     List of popular Metaphors at wikipedia.org
Allegories - A figurative mode of representation conveying a meaning other than (and in addition to) the literal.

   An allegory is sustained longer and more fully in its details than a metaphor,
   and appeals to imagination, while an analogy appeals to reason or logic.
   Some classify an allegory as a specific type of metaphore.
   Allegories may be read into many stories, sometimes distorting their author's
   overt meaning. For instance, many people have suggested that The Lord of the
   Rings was an allegory for the World Wars,  which the author denied.
    Literary experts argue over whether stories are really allegorical:
    e.g. The Force in Star Wars and religious spiruality
     "The Chronicles of Narnia" and Christianity.

   Parables/Fable - A short allegory with one definite lesson or moral.
   The forty parables attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in Christian literature
   have had a lasting influence upon the Western tradition of didactic allegory.
   Fables generally use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as
   characters (e.g. Aesop's fables "Orwells "Animal Farm"), while parables generally
   feature human characters. 
 Paradox - An apparently true statement or group of statements that leads to
   a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition.
   e.g. Lottery paradox: it is philosophically justifiable to believe that every
   individual lottery ticket won't win, but not justifiable to believe that
   no lottery ticket will win.
   Barber paradox: The adult male barber who shaves all men who do not shave
   themselves, and no-one else. Often attributed to Bertrand Russell.

Oxymoron -   Apparent paradox achieved by the juxtaposition of words
which seem to contradict one another.
  I must be cruel only to be kind. Shakespeare, Hamlet

B. Metonymy - The substitution of one word for another word with which it is associated.

C. Personification - Give an inanimate object the qualities of a living thing.
  "The pencil flew out of my hand"

D. Other Tropes:
These may belong to one of the classes above, but I couldn't find any general
taxonomy of figures of speach.

Imagery and Symbolism

Allusion - Point out similarities without going into much depth.
  e.g. "A Draconian law"  (assumes you know know what Draconian is.)

Hyperbole -  Overexaggeration for emphasis.
   "There has to be a 6 ft. mountain of snow out there."
Euphemism - Substitution of a less offensive or more agreeable term for another.
   e.g. "rest room"
        Visually impaired is a politically correct euphemism for blind.

Irony: expression of something which is contrary to the intended meaning;
the words say one thing but mean another. 
 Verbal Irony - sarcasm  - The use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
 Sarcasm does not necessarily involve irony, but frequently does.
  E.g. "Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
      And Brutus is an honourable man." Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
  When his Grandmother told him "birds have good eyesight" Tom McBride (age 3)
  said: "And they don't eat carrots either."
 Dramatic irony (the most important type for literature) involves a situation
   in a narrative in which the reader knows something about present or future
   circumstances that the character does not know.
 Examples at cvco.org 
 See The 3 Most Common Uses of Irony - The Oatmeal 

Tropes can be broken down into:
1. Metaphoric Tropes and Rhetorical Tropes
2. Metaphor, Metonymy and Personification
3. Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) is usually credited with being the first to identify metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche and irony as the four basic tropes (to which all others are reducible).
Trope Basis Linguistic example Intended meaning
Metaphor Similarity despite difference (explicit in the case of simile) put it into words write it down
Metonymy Relatedness through direct association I'm one of the suits I'm one of the managers
"bench" judges
Synecdoche Relatedness through categorical hierarchy I deal with the general public I deal with customers
"wheels" car
Irony Inexplicit direct opposite (more explicit in sarcasm) I love working here I hate working here
Trope Genre
Metaphor romance
Metonymy comedy
Synecdoche tragedy
Irony satire
Hayden White's Sequence of Tropes Piagetian stages of cognitive development White's alignment of Foucault's historical epochs
Metaphor sensorimotor stage (birth to about 2 years) Renaissance period (sixteenth century)
Metonymy pre-operational stage (2 to 6/7 years) Classical period (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries)
Synecdoche concrete operations stage (6/7 to 11/12 years) Modern period (late eighteenth to early twentieth century)
Irony formal operations stage (11/12 to adult) Postmodern period
Source: Semiotics for Beginners
Other Tropes at Wikipedia
II Scheme - Figures of speech in which there is a deviation from the ordinary or expected pattern of words.
Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of a word,
  to intensify the beat. 
  An example of alliteration, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Pun - When a word or phrase is used in two different senses.
  e.g. "Being in politics is just like playing golf:
  you are trapped in one bad lie after another."

Antithesis: The juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas.
  e.g. "Man proposes, God disposes"
Other Schemes
III Other Figures of Speech -
Idiom - an expression (i.e. term or phrase) whose meaning cannot be deduced from the literal definitions and the arrangement of its parts, but refers instead to a figurative meaning that is known only through conventional use. In linguistics, idioms are figures of speech. e.g. "kick the bucket", "buy the farm", "hit the road", "canary in a coal mine" See Idiom Dictionary at wikipedia.
Econobonics - the vocabulary of New Business at drunkandretired.com

Other Terms:
Myth -
1. A sacred story or narrative containing supernatural, divine or heroic beings, passed down orally, and linked to the spiritual or religious life of a community. Myths have existed in all cultures since before recorded history. e.g. Greek Mythology.
2. Stories that purport to have a basis in fact, but when examined are fictional. e.g. Urban myth

Satire - Writing or art which exposes the follies of its subject
      (for example, individuals, organizations, or states) to ridicule.
      Satire uses sarcasm and irony to effect political or social change, or to prevent it.
      It�s a literary court jester.
  Parody - A form of satire that imitates another work in order to ridicule
  or poke affectionate fun at either the work itself, or the subject of the work.

Enigma -  1. One that is puzzling, ambiguous, or inexplicable.
   2. A perplexing speech or text; a riddle.
   e.g. "No power of genius has ever yet had the smallest success in explaining
    existence. The perfect enigma remains." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
   "Enigmas and Riddles in Literature", Eleanor Cook

Conundrum - 1. a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun
    2. a question or problem having only a conjectural answer
    e.g. "the conundrum, thus far unanswered, of achieving full employment
    without inflation." (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.).
cliché (or cliche) - A phrase, expression, or idea that has been overused
 to the point of losing its intended force or novelty, especially when at some time
 it was considered distinctively forceful or novel.
 e.g. "As Easy as Pie", "A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link", 
      "There's no place like home."

Juxtaposition is an act or instance of placing two things close together
or side by side. This is often done in order to compare/contrast the two,
to show similarities or differences, etc.  E.g. Antithesis above.

Metaphysical realism

Anachronism - Something or someone that is not in its correct historical or
 chronological time, esp. a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time:
  The sword is an anachronism in modern warfare. 
  An error in chronology:
  To assign Michelangelo to the 14th century is an anachronism. 

Aphorism - 
1. a concise statement of a principle
2. a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment : adage
When decorating, remember the familiar aphorism, "less is more".
See examples in humor.

Propaganda, or "spin,"
Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

A typical example or pattern of something; a model.
"there is a new paradigm for public art in this country"

(Winston Churchill loved them) are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous).
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.
Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Original Liberal Arts

  • Grammar - The study of rules governing the use of language. phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics
  • Rhetoric - The art or technique of persuasion, usually through the use of language
  • Dialectic - An exchange of proposition (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue.
Literary Device - Techniques such as First-person narrative, flashback, Epistolary novel, Juxtaposition, ...
Calvin: "I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating fog! Want to see my book report?"

Hobbes (reading): "The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in Dick and Jane: A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes."

Calvin: "Academia, here I come!"

- Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes)

The Modern Researcher by Jacques Barzun (Author), Henry F. Graff, 2003
Classic introduction to the techniques of research and the art of expression is used widely in history courses, but is also appropriate for writing and research methods courses in other departments.

Modern English Usage, by Fowler

Spelling and Grammar
A Glossary of Rhetorical Terms with Examples
Glossary of Literary Terms at U. Cambridge
Literary Terms at Central Oregon Community College
Figures of Speech by Peter Bunce at Earnest Speakers
Figures or Speech at Governors State U.
Literary Styles
Book Search at Google Amazon
Search scholarly papers at Google
Classification of Languages
Writing Interpretations
14 Classic Poems Everyone Should Know

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last updated 16 Nov 2008