Write a paragraph or two (or three!) about your own use of languages and dialects. In what ways do you ordinarily â€œmeshâ€ features of different dialects and/or languages? What languages did you grow up speaking and hearing and how do those languages enter into your writing today? How would you describe your own style of writing (and speaking)?
As you might guess from these examples, style always involves making choices about language across a wide range of situations. Style can be public or personal, conventional or creative, and everything in between. When you write, you’ll find that you have innumerable tools and options for expressing yourself exactly as you need to. This chapter introduces you to some of them.
First, read several movie reviews carefully and critically. Then try writing a brief movie review for your campus newspaper, experimenting with punctuation as one way to create an effective style. See if using a series of questions might have a strong effect, whether exclamation points would add or detract from the message you want to send, and so on. When you’ve finished the review, compare it to one written by a classmate, and look for similarities and differences in your choices of punctuation.
Use online sources (such as American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches at americanrhetoric.com/top100speechesall.html) to find the text of an essay or a speech by someone who uses figures of speech liberally. Pick a paragraph that is rich in figures and read it carefully and critically. Then rewrite it, eliminating every bit of figurative language. Then read the original and your revised version aloud to your class. Can you imagine a rhetorical situation in which your pared-down version would be more appropriate?
Identify the figurative language used in the following slogans. Note that some slogans may use more than one device.
â€œA day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.â€ (Florida Orange Juice)
â€œTaste the Feelingâ€ (Coca-Cola)
â€œBe all that you can be.â€ (U.S. Army)
â€œBreakfast of champions.â€ (Wheaties)
â€œAmerica runs on Dunkin’.â€ (Dunkin’ Donuts)
â€œLike a rock.â€ (Chevrolet trucks)