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Mark Forsyth Wrote A Stellar Article for the NYTimes: Rhetorical Reasons That Slogans Stick

November 13, 2014
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Mark Forsyth, author of The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase, wrote a wonderful NYTimes article about why some phrases of literature stick with us, and how corporations capitalized off those such language constructions. See a brief excerpt below.

“It’s a trick called enallage: a slight deliberate grammatical mistake that makes a sentence stand out.

‘We was robbed.’ ‘Mistah Kurtz — he dead.’ ‘Thunderbirds are go.’ All of these stick in our minds because they’re just wrong — wrong enough to be right.

T.S. Eliot’s ‘Let us go then, you and I’ is perhaps his best line. Why? Maybe because it’s wrong. It should be ‘Let us go then, you and me.’ Thank the Muses, he didn’t have a literal-minded proof reader.

Isn’t it beautiful how these ancient figures of rhetoric still do their work, if now only to give euphony to the corporate canon?

Shakespeare’s tricolon — the rule of three that gave him “Friends, Romans, countrymen” and that inspired the French revolution’s ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’ — lives on in eBay’s ‘Buy it. Sell it. Love it.’ and in Fisher Price’s ‘Play. Laugh. Grow.'”

The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase may be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your local indie bookstore.

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