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Copy of 110: Six Types of Eloquence

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Myra Whittemore

on 6 September 2017

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Transcript of Copy of 110: Six Types of Eloquence

Six Types of Eloquence:
1. plain
2. peacock
3. poignant
4. proficient
5. polemical
6. populist
The Plain Style
1. strict notion of proof
2. limited emotion - appeals to reason
3. no "I" in the text - neutral observation
4. sparse style - little decoration or artifice
5. No "weasel words": seems, might, could be, maybe, etc.
William Zinsser: Speech to Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism:
Repeat after me:
Short is better than long.
Simple is good.
Long Latin nouns are the enemy. (-ion or -ent nouns. like maximization)
Anglo-Saxon active verbs are your best friend. (saw vs. was seen by)
One thought per sentence.
Keep It Simple, Sherlock.

This style holds sway in several venues:
1. Journalism
2. Scientific, social scientific, and much academic writing. Stating of opinions is accepted but it must be backed by sufficient evidence.
3. Editorializing, Sensationalizing, and anything other than neutral reporting of the evidence detailed in an article or academic report are discouraged.
The Peacock Style
Blackalicious: Alphabet Aerobics
So, what are the features of the peacock style?
1. Showing off, verbally strutting, theatricality

2. Composed to wow, to dazzle, to enchant, to whip crowds into a frenzy through skillful display.

3. words are fireworks to the peacock stylist. The more unique the formulation, the more spectacular the show.
The Poignant Style
Robert Frost reads "Mending Wall"
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 1864

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
William F. Buckley - Founding Conservative
Buckley loved to use what famous 1950s writer Dwight MacDonald called “zoo” words, words that should be locked away and admired. Buckley thought of arguing as a jazz performance. No one would dare tell Thelonious Monk to cut unfamiliar chords from his music.

The president of the American Conservative Union admitted to forcing odd "prose gyrations" into college essays to imitate Buckley. Buckley was, one conservative mimicked, the “prince of polysyllabism," a “hapax legomenon” among conservatives. His editor compiled a 100-page “Buckley Lexicon” consisting of odd words like “dreadnought,” “dithyrambic,” “oleaginous,” “tergiversation,” and “voluptuarian.”
Winston Churchill, June 1940, speech given as Germany bombed England

We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills. We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God's good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.
So, what are the features of the poignant style?
1. rhetorical devices: rhyme, balance, rhythm, repetition, alliteration, contrast, etc.
2. unity of form and content - presenting important ideas in artful and provocative ways. (lots of hip hop does this too)
3. language choices designed to produce reflective deliberation, even contemplation.
Associated Press, 8/30/2011
Texas A&M said Tuesday it has not sent a letter of withdrawal to the Big 12 Conference. The brief statement by school spokesman Jason Cook comes a day after The New York Times said in a story posted on its Web site Monday night that university president R. Bowen Loftin sent a letter to Missouri chancellor and Big 12 board chairman Brady Deaton to inform the league it was leaving. The report cited two unidentified college officials with direct knowledge of the decision.
Cook declined to comment further on the newspaper report.
The university said Monday it had received a letter from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe outlining the withdrawal procedure should the Aggies decide to leave the league. Cook said on Monday that the letter "outlines the withdrawal procedures according to the financial provisions of the Big 12 bylaws and mutual waivers of legal claims." He wouldn't provide any other details of the letter or comment on what A&M's next step might be.
The Proficient Style

Cicero, The Orator, 46 B.C.
"The man of eloquence whom we seek...will be one who is able to speak in court or in deliberative bodies so as to prove, to please, and to sway or persuade. To prove is the first necessity, to please is charm, to sway is victory; for it is the one thing of all that avails most in winning verdicts. For these three functions of the orator there are three styles: the plain style for proof, the middle style for pleasure, the vigorous style for persuasion; and in this last is summed up the entire virtue of the orator. Now the man who controls and combines these three varied styles needs rare judgment and great endowment; for he will decide what is needed at any point, and will be able to speak in any way which the case requires. For, after all, the foundation of eloquence, as of everything else, is wisdom. In an oration, as in life, nothing is harder than to determine what is appropriate."
Modern Example: Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"
So, what are the features of the proficient style?
1. Data driven - heavily evidenced
2. Tries to reach different audiences (experts and
lay) with both rational and emotional appeals
3. Heavy emphasis on ethos or character.
The language demonstrates that he or she is
both the most knowledgeable and most
The Polemical Style
My way or the highway on religious matters.
Militant Atheism
Richard Dawkins

Christopher Hitchens
Dogmatic Religion
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson after 9/11
Polemics are not limited to religious debate. See Ted Nugent's editorial after the Virginia Tech shooting:
So, what are the features of the polemical style?
1. Absolutism: black and white language of right and
2. Those who disagree are enemies, not opponents or
debate partners.
3. Give no credit to the other side in a dispute.
4. Show no doubts about the favored side in a dispute.
The Populist Style
Huey Long: "Every Man a King," 1934 speech

Now, ladies and gentlemen, if I may proceed to give you some other words that I think you can understand -- I am not going to belabor you by quoting tonight -- I am going to tell you what the wise men of all ages and all times, down even to the present day, have all said: That you must keep the wealth of the country scattered, and you must limit the amount that any one man can own. You cannot let any man own $300,000,000,000 or $400,000,000,000. If you do, one man can own all of the wealth that they United States has in it.

Now, my friends, if you were off on an island where there were 100 lunches, you could not let one man eat up the hundred lunches, or take the hundred lunches and not let anybody else eat any of them. If you did, there would not be anything else for the balance of the people to consume.
Sarah Palin:
"Shoot, I must have lived such a doggoned sheltered life as a normal, independent American up there in the Last Frontier, schooled with only public education and a lowly state university degree, because obviously I haven't learned enough to dismiss common sense." sarcastic Facebook post, 2010
Populism is not limited to politics. Anyone seen the Blue Collar Comedy Tour?
So, what are the features of the populist style?
1. Vernacular of the community: using language as spoken.
2. Using forms of evidence often used in inter-personal conversation.
3. Generally, dress, act, and speak as a member of the community you seek to address.
4. The people can do no wrong. Their problems were created by their enemies.

Three disclaimers:
1. These are 6 ways to categorize and describe kinds of eloquence. There are others, and there are inter-connections between these 6.
2. Whether these examples are eloquent is up to you; they simply demonstrate the style.
3. The basic point is that different communities think about eloquence differently.
So, what are the features of the plain style?
"Brevity is the soul of wit."
The Showboat Style
Eloquence: often used and loosely defined.
Is this man eloquent?
Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. ~Kahlil Gibran
1. What makes this poem "poignant?"
Identify two or more features.

2. Also, other than poetry, where else do you
frequently encounter poignant langauge?
The Populist Party Platform, 1892

The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists...From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.
Ted Nugent, “Gun Free Zones are a Recipe for Disaster,” CNN.com, 4/20/2007

...Yet, there are still the mindless puppets of the Brady Campaign and other anti-gun organizations insisting on continuing the gun-free zone insanity by which innocents are forced into unarmed helplessness. Shame on them. Shame on America. Shame on the anti-gunners all. Thirty-two people dead on a U.S. college campus pursuing their American Dream, mowed-down over an extended period of time by a lone, non-American gunman in possession of a firearm on campus in defiance of a zero-tolerance gun ban. Feel better yet? Didn't think so.

Who doesn't get this? Who has the audacity to demand unarmed helplessness? Who likes dead good guys? I'll tell you who. People who tramp on the Second Amendment, that's who.
Eloquence is verbal artistry.
But artistry in a country music song is not likely the same as artistry at a physics conference.
Eminem, "Infinite"
Imitator, intimidator, stimulator, simulator of data, eliminator, there’s never been a greater.

My acapella releases plastic masterpieces through telekinesis that eases you mentally, gently, sentimentally, instrumentally with entity dementedly meant to be infinite.
The last section of James Joyce's Ulysses contains a sentence that is 4,400 words long.

One of the longest proper sentences is Faulkner's from Absolom, Absolom at 1,300 words.
Vir Bonum: "The good man speaking well"
this is language designed to communicate
leadership to an audience, to show mastery of complex problems, and to earn an audience's trust on an important public issue.

the citizen orator
Taking no prisoners; showing no mercy
of the people
Obama in West Philly, 2008
What about this man?
I wasn't born for diggin deep holes
I'm not made for pavin long roads
I aint cut out to climb high line poles
But I'm pretty good at drinkin beer
I'm pretty good at drinkin beer
Billy Currington
6 Types of Eloquence

1. Plain
2. Peacock
3. Poignant
4. Proficient
5. Polemical
6. Populist

Of these types of eloquence, select two and think of of an example (that we haven't talked about)?

I'm a redneck woman
I ain't no high class broad
I'm just a product of my raising
I say, 'hey y'all' and 'yee-haw'
And I keep my Christmas lights on
On my front porch all year long
And I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song
So here's to all my sisters out there keeping it country
Let me get a big 'hell yeah' from the redneck girls like me, hell yeah
Gretchen Wilson
Full transcript