Notes on Longaker Chap 5: Style

Refer to the Longaker text for terms of description.

The Virtues

Identifying how a text uses virtues is an analytical result of patterns found at the word and sentence-level. Generalize towards these using evidence at the word-, phrase-, and sentence-level. The terms are not neutral descriptive terms but evaluative, and all of the are contextual.

Virtues are context-specific, and identifying them rests on consideration of the rhetorical situation, especially kairos and the implied addressee. What is clear, correct, or decorum is depended on who and when.

The use of some virtues in specific rhetorical situations is codified - so much so that they are considered universal rules rather than rhetorical choices. Research articles, freshman writing, journalism, memos … A "correct and clear style" has become naturalized so that it appears non-rhetorical.

Using the virtues - conforming - is only one way of addressing them. Rhetors can intentionally refuse to participate, desecrate, or reconstruct stylistic moves in the rhetorical situation. (Stoner and Perkins, working with Branham and Pearce).

Diction: Word Choice

Considering diction means considering what words are chosen and the meaning those choices create.


Most fields of discourse have distinctive vocabularies and phraseologies. Start with formal and informal registers. But then move tp more specialized registers that the terms are used in and identified with. Just a few: marketing, management, scientific, self-help, motivational prose, academic or scholarly, archaic (thee, thou, but this also includes archaic constructions such as "four score" for 80. "fortnight" for 2 weeks), dialect: ya'll, yeah, oot and aboot, hella ...

See NotesOnHistoricalLayersOfEnglish

Types of Style

pp 161-165.
The type of style can be layered over register. So a rhetor can use a marketing register in plain style, or grand.

Figures of Speech: Tropes

Manipulations of words that create changes in meaning. Trope - think twist - works on level of word or word-pairs. The twist is use of word, word-pairs or phrase in a way that when parsed shows a non-literal sense: metaphor, metonymy, litotes, and others.

Tropes use words or phrases as a substitute word or phrase with another. Tropes are more pervasive than we might think. Metaphor and metonymy, in fact, seem to be foundational in the language ("foundational" is metaphor: it links the foundation of a physical structure with an abstract structure of language. But my phrasing also pushes it towards metonymy, where the physical foundation stands as a part of other elements of language.)

Develop an adept ear for tropes as you work ("develop an adept ear" is metonymy, using an anatomical part ear to mean "a critical awareness of their presence". Same replacement as All hands on deck.)


Substitution based on category relation rather than resemblance. All hands on deck. The 20th century saw the beginnings of the digital age (that can also be seen as personification ).

Figures of Speech: Schemes

Arrangement of multiple words to create patterns in and between sentences: isocolon, anaphora. Many involve repetition and variation.

Schemes are not replacements but distinctive arrangements of words or phrases made by addition, deletion, or rearrangement. They tend to be used at a sentence level but they can be created at the word-level, and across sentences.

Figures of Thought

Different than figures of speech. These are gestures or poses done in writing that dramatize thought or attitude. Figures of though are not parseable by looking at sentences. Need to look at longer passages. Have to get to attitudes, states, process, mood as played out in the prose itself. I can phrase things to appear indignant, tired, angry, condescending ... looking at figures lets us talk about *how* that's done.

These figures tend to strike a pose or posture, or dramatize thought or feeling, such as indignation, ratiocination, contempt, cheerfulness ....

Because almost any attitude can be appear in a figure, we use a shortened list, 0n p. 154-156

Emoticons and emoji

Emoticons and emoji seem to fit as figures of thought. But there's a difference between a figure and the emoticon. The emoticon articulates the attitude by adding to rather than being part of the expression itself.

21st century emoji

Common Figures in GIF Circulation

If a sentence or image is memorable, there are stylistic features at work. Find them. If you see a sentence or image as symbolic, there are stylistic moves in operation.

Sentence Style

Start at sentence level, looking at

Patterns: Watch for patterns of use, as well as anomalies.

Some sentence construction terms

(adapted from Lanham, Analyzing Prose, 2nd ed)

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