29 May 2009
Winston Churchill was a brilliant writer and one of the greatest orators in living memory, despite suffering from a slight lisp, an occasional stutter and a dread of speaking in public.
His understanding of classical rhetorical techniques made his war-time speeches memorable, emotional and truly inspiring. Here are some of the techniques he used.
Anaphora: Repetition of words and phrases.
We shall fight them on the beaches. We shall fight on the grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.
(This style was also used in Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream speech’.)
Assonance and Alliteration: Repetition of vowel and consonant
Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant to broader lands and better days.
Epistrophe: Repetition of words at the end of successive phases
….the love of peace, the toil for peace, the strife for peace, the pursuit of peace…
Epizeuxis: emphatic repetition
This is the lesson: never give in, never giver in, never, never, never, never…
Antimetabole: reversing the word order of a previously used phrase
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Paronomasia: Using similar sounding words or phrases for effect
To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.