A Rhetorical Review of PMQs

Summer recess is over so parliament is back and with it comes Prime Minister’s Questions! To many people, PMQs seems like one of the crazy side effects of democracy. Politicians jeering, waving papers and making snide comments whilst devolving into a tribal state of savagery. This anthropological debacle is chaired by the speaker, who like a toothless beast has to control the chamber with nothing but howls. It is worthy enough to be a David Attenborough documentary. Continue reading “A Rhetorical Review of PMQs”

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Is this quite possibly the best worst speech on the internet?

Some speeches are so bad that they’re good. This is quite possibly one of the best worst speeches the internet has ever seen. Phil Davison was seeking the Republican Party’s nomination to stand as Candidate for the Stark County Treasurer election in 2010 and gave this majestic performance. Receiving hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube the speech has been watched by people all over the world and Phil Davidson became a bit of a celebrity even getting himself an interview on Fox News. Continue reading “Is this quite possibly the best worst speech on the internet?”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Poisonous Pathos

Out of all the rhetorical tropes stocked in our arsenal of persuasion, pathos is certainly the most powerful. Logos is like a castle, well-founded, sturdy and strong, however pathos is the wave of water which sinks it with overwhelming force.

Pathos is an appeal to the emotions. Whether that is sadness, pity, happiness or anger; whenever someone is trying to inspire any sort of emotion from the audience they are using pathos. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Poisonous Pathos”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Lying Logos

The term Logos refers to logic which can be seen as the pursuit of proof. There are two different types of logic, formal logic (also known as mathematical logic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the sort we use in speeches and it is what this blogpost will focus on. If you want to know more about formal logic, we have a blogpost about that too!

Logos is the term used when you try to persuade someone with evidence or a logical argument. A logical argument can be anything that is loosely based on logical principles. You can think of a logical argument like a wall. You get some walls that are impressively tall, however in reality, it doesn’t take much to knock them over. You get some made out of sticks and mud whilst others are made out of solid rock. You even get some badly built walls that have gaping holes letting in the foul winds of manipulation and deceit. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Lying Logos”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos

Ethos, logos and pathos are often celebrated as the Three Musketeers of Rhetoric. However, they can be much more menacing than people realise. They distort logic, they cloud reason and they manipulate judgment.

Ethos is probably one of the most commonly used and least commonly detected forms of rhetoric. Ethos is when a speaker attempts to invoke authority or credibility (either over themselves or someone else) to persuade an audience. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos”

The Dirty Rhetorician; The Glib and Oily Art

”If for I want that glib and oily art,

To speak and purpose not…”

This is a quote from Shakespeare’s King Lear. It refers of course to rhetoric – that dangerous dark art of manipulating words to speak and purpose not! Rhetoric is still today seen as a dirty word that is often used to accuse adversaries of possessing a questionable disposition. For example, the media only really uses the word ‘rhetoric’ when they are talking about Donald Trump or North Korea (when they are talking of Obama they tend to use the word oratory).

Continue reading “The Dirty Rhetorician; The Glib and Oily Art”

I hereby declare, today, for the world to hear, that this blogpost is published

Some people are saying that President Donald Trump’s speech in Poland last week was actually quite good. Even Donald Trump himself sent out a photo (of himself) with an excerpt from the speech reading: “I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph”. It is quite the rhetorical bubble. It sounds a lot more dramatic than simply saying ‘the West will never be broken’. But why? Continue reading “I hereby declare, today, for the world to hear, that this blogpost is published”