That’s pretty much it.
Category Archives: Write Better
Martin Luther King wanted to see his nation rise up and “live out the true meaning of its creed.” He wanted the descendants of slaves and slave owners to sit down as equals ending “the heat of oppression”, transforming it into an “oasis of freedom and justice.” He wanted little black boys and black girls to hold hands with little white boys and white girls. He didn’t want to force them or anything, he just wanted to let them do it, if they wanted to. He also wanted some Biblish thing.
People listened to his speech and were inspired by it. The “I have a dream speech” remains inspiring to this day. Martin Luther King had a dream, and he wasn’t afraid to say it. In fact, he said it eight times, always at the beginning of his sentences. Returning to the same sentence, he empowered it, lending it a hammering effect, an involving rhythm, making it more likely to be remembered. It worked.
This is called an anaphora, Farnsworth says: “it occurs when the speaker repeats the same words at the start of successive sentences or clauses.” They can be used differently for several purposes. I’ll enunciate and give the best examples:
1. Repetition of the subject with changes in the verb: the auxiliary verb is repeated while the main verb changes (produces a sense of inexorability).
“But the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley: we may show mercy – we shall ask for none.” Churchill, London Radio broadcast (1940)
“He’s too delightful. If he’ll only not spoil it! But they always will; they always do; they always have.” James, The Ambassadors (1903)
2. Repetition of the subject with different complements, as applying more than one modifier to the same person or thing.
“I shall lay this siege in form, Elvira; I am angry; I am indignant; I am truculently inclined; but I thank my Maker I have still a sense of fun.” (to highlight the contrast between negation and affirmation) Stevenson, New Arabian Nights (1882)
“I was in mortal terror of the young man who wanted my heart and Read the rest of this entry