Plan for the Day
- Don’t forget about the many syllabus changes
- Utah State University Visit–Technical Communication & Rhetoric
- Ch. 10: Sentence Rhythm (Kolln & Gray)
- More Preview Rhetorical Analysis
- Prose Selections
- Ch. 11: The Writer’s Voice
- Review Massive Punctuation Quiz
- Return Review #2
Ch. 10: Sentence Rhythm
Let’s jump back to last week’s page, so we can cover Ch. 10. I’m trying to be selective about what we cover in order to guide your rhetorical analyses and Portfolio Revisions.
In order to highlight the discussion on writer’s voice, I want to ask you what the difference is among the following passages:
- Ladies and gentleman, we at the Globe Theatre are pleased to present “Twelfth Night,” performed by the Royal Shakespeare Society.
- Dude, “12th Night”‘s at the Globe.
- It is an honor and privilege that we bestow upon thee a magnificent performance from the spectacular Royal Shakespeare Society, an acting troupe of world-renowned status.
What are the characteristics of formal, informal, and conversational tones in writing?
Dominant Rhetorical Appeal
Head over to this page where you’ll find some passages that have dominant rhetorical appeals. Not only do I want you to identify the dominant appeal–ethos, logos, pathos–but you should also explain why. Remember, this is practice for the assignment you’ll be turning in next week.
Ch. 11: The Writer’s Voice
As I mentioned in the title of this page, “writer’s voice” is a nebulous term; it doesn’t have a concrete definition. However, many people (well, English professors) will say that they can “hear one’s voice” in writing. I don’t want us to stray to far from the Rhetorical Analysis that’s due next week, but, as an overview, consider a writer’s voice to be the writer’s fingerprint. There are linguists and mathematicians who do quantitative analyses of writers’ works to determine whether or not a piece of writing is appropriately attributed to the correct author. We won’t be doing that kind of analysis, but I’ll just say analysts can find patterns in a person’s writing.
When we analyze the rhetoric of a particular, individual piece of writing, we aren’t really looking at voice–an overall writerly development–instead, we’re thinking about tone. But isn’t tone just for sound? Consider the following sentences with visual cues:
- The dishes seem dirty.
- THE DISHES ARE DIRTY!
- Wow! Look how clean the dishes are.
- Wow…look how clean the dishes are.
For this topic, consider diction to be more than the correct meaning; it should also be the correct choice. The following words and phrases are out of context, but what connotations do they have? In what settings would you use (or not use) them? Are they age specific?
- level of commitment
- action items
- goal oriented
An easy way to distinguish between “denotation” and “connotation” is to remember denotation refers to the dictionary definition of a word. Connotation refers to the ideas, values, attitudes, and allusions surrounding a word. WARNING: Be careful using a thesaurus to find alternative words. Even a plain word can have drastically different synonyms.
Time permitting, let’s look at the opening for the law school personal statement on the bottom of p. 175. Why do Kolln & Gray think something is off about the piece?
Story: I once interviewed at a consulting firm where one of the managers spoke nearly entirely in clichés. “What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander” and “Want not waste not.” It was infuriating.
Think back to elementary school when you learned about similes and metaphors. Both are figurative comparisons that claim “something is something” (p. 178). Metaphors help explain complex situations using more common ideas or concepts. Similes are more poetic and make comparisons using like or as.
In your own words, are the following metaphors helpful? Why or Why not?
- He’s an old flame.
- He’s a few cards short of a deck.
- Fees have gone up again.
- The wind died down during the night.
- We dug up the dirt on that sly fox.
Take a look at the extended metaphor from the Rhetoric of Fear on the “Finding Dominant Rhetorical Appeals” page.
Kolln & Gray tell us “Metadiscourse refers to certain signals that help the reader understand the writer’s message–signals that clarify the purpose or direction of a particular passage, acting as guideposts for the reader” (p. 184). Most conjunctive adverbs (meanwhile, nonetheless, in fact, on the other hand, etc.) are writing about writing.
In technical communication, we commonly use “first,” “second,” and “next” as metadiscourse telling readers the order of steps and procedures. Look at pp. 184-185 and notice the difference between openers and hedges.
Point of View
I know we’re going to be out of time, but I want to draw your attention to point of view for your Review #1 and #2 revisions. We commonly use first person to describe ourselves (I, me, mine, we, us, our). We may use third person to conform to the assumed objectivity required of scientific contexts.
But what about second person? Many of your reviews will be greatly improved by using a second person point of view. Instead of using first person, which comes across as you airing all your pet peeves, tell what you’ll find, learn, enjoy, etc. For instance, notice the difference between the following:
- I was greeted by a host I wouldn’t mind getting drinks with later–hottie AF! The wings I had were way too hot for my weak, sensitive palate.
- Upon walking into the restaurant, you‘ll be greeted by one of the beautiful hosts, chiseled by Zeus himself. If you‘re adventurous, try the super spicy wings, but (you) be warned! You‘ll want a glass of ice water nearby.
Next week is the last reading we have for the semester. After that, it’s workshopping and presentations. Of course, there’s also a Final Exam on December 12th. Read Ch. 12 in Kolln & Gray and Ch. 17 in Barrett. I’ll try to recap the semester (and simultaneously review for the final exam) when we return from Thanksgiving Break on November 28th.