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Other Tricks of Language

Other colorful devices can get attention. Sound makes a strong impression, and speakers often use alliteration (using several words that begin with the same letter) to implant a phrase in the collective mind of the audience. Winston Churchill was a master of alliteration: "He was a man of light and learning." "We cannot fail or falter." Listeners can remember those phrases because of the alliteration and also because the nouns and verbs are simple and direct. These phrases also persuade.

Repetition is another powerful speaking device. George M. Cohan created one of the most stirring and memorable calls to action through the exclusive use of repetition: "Over there, over there...the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming, the drums drum drumming everywhere ... So beware, so beware...." The cadence—or rhythm—of language also has an emotional pull. Churchill used cadence to create a stirring image: "Let us to the task, to the battle, to the toil."


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