Monday, July 21, 2008

Today's unproductive tangent

It occurs to me that I've never known the name for a widely used rhetorical device. I suppose that it's most widely used by smart ass high school students and college underclassmen who consider it wickedly clever, but some people continue to employ the device throughout their adult lives. I'm referring to the practice of condescendingly explaining a simple concept in order to make one's debate opponent, or the object of one's ridicule, appear foolish. Typical examples would include saying, "it's called auxesis, hyperbole ..." or "it's called sarcasm..." and explaining sarcasm or hyperbole, instead of saying, "I (or he) was being sarcastic." Most adults over about the age of about twenty stop using it because it's pretty rude, an expression of contempt rather than disagreement, and because they realize that it can't be all that clever if it's frequently used by sixteen-year-olds.

It's not the least bit important, but I am curious, is there a name for that rhetorical device? Also, do adults who frequently employ the device use it because they actually think that they're being clever, or do they use it because they'll score points any cheap way they can?

Maybe Enthymeme? That's the closest I could find from this list.
They use it because they're more concerned about being cool than genuine.

IMO, acid sarcasm is often a cover for feelings of inadequacy.
That's a cool list, but I don't think any one thing covers it. There's implicit begging the question involved, but that's a small part of the technique.

In the interest of honesty, I should say that was my response to blogger who posted about me using that tactic. I couldn't leave it at a polite comment on his blog, but I didn't want to name names and start a blog feud. However, that's long been my opinion of that particular tactic. So, it was an honest post.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Old Favorites
  • Political Boxing (untitled)
  • Did Bush Take His Ball and Go Home
  • Teratogens and Plan B
  • Foghorn Leghorn Republicans
  • Quote of the Day
  • October's News(Dec.1)
  • untitled, Nov.19 (offshore revenue)
  • Remember Upton Sinclair
  • Oct. Liar of thr month
  • Jindal's True Colors
  • No bid contracts