Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Eloquence, Glorious Eloquence with author Camille Minichino

You might have noticed the *spoiler* in the Blood-Red Pencil blog post for May 27, so I might as well confess that my go-to book on writing is The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase, by Mark Forsyth.

You won’t see the book on my shelves in the photo in the May 27 post because it’s by my side at my computer, at the ready for a figure of speech or a smile.

Imagine 39 chapters, covering such abstruse turns of phrase as hendiadys, zeugma, catachresis, and scesis onomaton.

A favorite of mine is diacope, which gave us the 22nd greatest line in all of cinema (yes, Forsyth asks precisely how the American Film Institute can be so precise). The line: Bond, James Bond. Or, consider extended diacope, Free at last, Free at Last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last. Repetition in wording seems to do the trick, the trick it does.

It’s also fun to read Chapter 20, on enallage, a deliberate grammatical mistake (if a mistake can be deliberate, he wonders). Forsyth asks if we’d have been better off with correct Love me tenderly, love me truly. Or if Alexander Pope had given us Hope springs eternally in the human breast.

A related figure of speech, epizeuxis, is the repetition of a word, exactly. Shakespeare gave us Macbeth’s Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and Hamlet’s Words, words, words. I wonder if my realtor knows the official name of her mantra when asked the three priorities in determining home values.

Hyperbaton is putting words in an odd order. Who knows why, but opinion and size come before color, so you can’t have a green jolly giant or a red little schoolhouse. There are other word order “rules” but if you know what you’re doing, and use hyperbaton, like Lovelace—stone walls do not a prison make—it will be memorable.

It’s deceptively easy to form a syllepsis, using a word in two incongruous ways in the same sentence, such as this lovely sentence attributed to Dorothy Parker, describing her small apartment: I’ve barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends. Occasionally I try to come up with a memorable line. I realize it can’t happen just by dropping an -ly or scrambling the word order, but it is fun trying. Maybe I’ll buy another book or some time.

Mystery author Camille Minichino, has published 28 books under a number of pen names. Her newest book, MURPHY'S SLAW, under the name Elizabeth Logan, is the third in her Alaskan Diner Series. For more about Camille and her work, check out her website at Minichino.com.

14 comments :

  1. Wow... there are figures of speech I've NEVER heard of. Clearly I should read this book! Thanks, Camille, for the review and recommendation!

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  2. Thanks for the chance to review the book and write for Red-Blood Pencil (kidding; see hyperbaton above :) )

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  3. How intriguing! I had no idea there were words for these things. I do love me a good syllepsis, now you mention it... Reminds me of idiom blends--e.g. "we'll burn that bridge when we come to it." As long as there are language "rules," there will be someone out to break them! :)

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  4. And I had no idea there was a name such as idiom blends, Devyn! Now I know: e.g.barking up the wrong alley! Thanks!

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  5. I see a whole bunch of words I never heard of before! I need to read this book!

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  6. A good reminder that we might need to reconsider when we think we've mastered the language. So much we do not know . . .

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  7. I agree, Linda and Patricia -- it's so much fun to examine old ways with words and learn new ones.

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  8. What a fun post. I could barely pronounce some of those figures of speech, let alone remember them. But then a rose is a rose is a rose, so there's that. Is that a diacope or a epizeuxis? Now I'm confused.

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    1. Trying again, Polly! It's a pleonasm--use of unneeded words (p.184 of text)!

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    2. Here's the answer from Camille (her reply vanished into the ethernet):
      That's a pleonasm! :-)
      (A figure of speech that has needlessly repeated words...)

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    3. Thanks for that. Sounds sexual.

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  9. According to Forsyth (p. 184), Polly, Stein's line is a PLEONASM, the use of unneeded words!

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  10. Hi Polly, I answered this, but apparently didn't submit correctly! A rose is a rose is a rose is a pleonasm -- use of unneeded words -- p. 184 of the book!

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