8 secret language terms that will make your teacher love you forever
Most of us remember a few basics of grammar from 5th grade: homophones, synonyms, and maybe the occasional conjunction. But there are a few secret rhetorical terms you might not know about. Are they useful? Almost definitely not. But they’ll look good when you trot them out on date night with your teacher.
What It Is: This is conjunction junction. Polysyndeton creates a flowing rhythm by giving you tons of conjunctions (usually without commas to break up the party). It makes everything seem like the world’s dreamiest grocery list.
Example: She impressed her rhetoric teacher. They wept and wondered and sang and dreamed and he picked up her tab at the bar.
What It Is: Want to sound deep, but don’t have anything that interesting to say? Anastrophe is here to help. Basically, you switch the order of a noun and adjective (normally, the below example would be “rhetorical things” and “earthly concerns.” It makes you sound profound without all the work.
Example: She and her rhetoric teacher discussed things rhetorical. They shared a love unbound by concerns earthly.
What It Is: Kennings are little turns of phrase that redefine a word in a clever way (the way we do with “cell phone” in the example). You’re likely to find it in older texts like Beowulf (where sky-candle stands in for the sun).
Example: The rhetoric teacher checked his knowledge-rectangle. “I have your number now,” he said. “And I’ll never let it go.”
What It Is: Want to sound like a screwball comedy? Zeugma is your device. Basically, you use one word (in this case, “directions”) to color two disconnected words (“apartment” and “heart”). The result is comedy and love.
Example: She happily gave the rhetoric teacher directions to her apartment and her heart.
What It Is: If you want a rounded sense of wholeness (like you feel when you’re with your rhetoric teacher), hypozeuxis may help. It describes when each clause has its own subject and predicate.
Example: She loved him, he loved her, they loved each other.
What It Is: Like “when pigs fly,” this rhetorical device takes an extreme to show that something would be impossible (like you and your rhetoric teacher breaking up).
Example: She would rather have her heart burst out of her chest than lose her love for her rhetoric teacher.
What It Is: Pysma is a rapid barrage of questions that requires a series of answers. It’s more common in potboilers (“Where did you see him? Did you kill the man with a knife? What’s your motive?”). In love stories, however, you can rest assured that all the responses are all positive.
Example: The teacher turned to the student. “Do you love me? Where will we live? How many children should we have? Will we study rhetoric tonight?” They kissed.
What It Is: Symperasma is a conclusion that summarizes everything before it. You’ll find it after long lists like this and when summarizing your perfect love affair with your rhetoric teacher.
Example: And so the student and teacher learned about polysyndeton, anastrophe, kennings, zeugma, hypozeuxis, adynaton, and pysma. They lived happily ever after.
If you want to court more rhetoric, you’ll find lots of literary devices and rhetorical tips. One of our favorite resources is Silva Rhetoricae. Good luck courting your teacher, and remember: speak well, speak boldly, and speak with obscure terms.