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Monday, March 16, 2020

Tricks of the trade #4 - metanoia, metaphor, paralipsis

Three more techniques to engage your listeners, from a debate on the motion: 'This house would make homophobic language illegal.'

Metanoia (saying something then retracting it)

You can use this to ramp up your condemnation of something you want to criticise, or increase your praise for something you want to celebrate, by finding ever more extreme terms. ‘Making homophobic language illegal is unfair. No, not unfair - it is absurd. No, more than absurd - it is tyrannical!’

Metaphor (comparing something to something else)

Metaphor includes simile. It is one of the first things you learn in English lessons from a very early age, and is much deployed in creative writing, so you should be familiar with it. You can use it very effectively in speeches too, to make your arguments more vivid. ‘Making certain words illegal is like making us walk around with a policeman sitting on our shoulder.’

Paralipsis (saying something that you say you’re not going to say)

This is when you say something while apparently denying you’re saying it. It makes it look as if you can’t say it because it is so shocking, and so adds to its power. ‘I’m not going to go into the consequences of homophobic bullying. The isolation of its victims. The despair. The depression. The anxiety. The self-harm. The suicide attempts. That’s not what we’re here to discuss. We’re here, according to the opposition, to discuss free speech …’

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