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Grammar as Rhetoric & Style

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1 Grammar as Rhetoric & Style

2 Appositives An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that tells you more about a nearby noun or pronoun. Example: “It turned out that one of the top students, Denny Davies, had learned of this rule.” appositive

3 Punctuation and the Appositive
If the appositive is not essential to the meaning of the sentence but is more of an aside or parenthetical remark, then the writer uses punctuation to set off the appositive. If the appositive is essential to the meaning of the sentence, then the writer does not set off the appositive with punctuation marks.

4 Punctuation and the Appositive
You can set off the appositive in one of three ways. You can use one or two commas You can use one or two dashes You can use a colon

5 Stylistic Function An appositive serves two rhetorical stylistic functions. An appositive can clarify a term by providing a proper noun or a synonym for the term, by defining or explaining the term, or by getting more specific. EXAMPLE: It’s hero is Scout’s father, the saintly Atticus Finch. ~Prose …an automaton, a machine, can be made to keep a school so. ~Emerson

6 Stylistic Function A appositive can smooth choppy writing.
It’s hero is Scout’s father. His name is Atticus Finch. He is saintly. vs. It’s hero is Scout’s father, the saintly Atticus Finch.

7 Exercise 1 Tells more about “my father” My father, a truly exceptional man, worked at an ordinary job and was unknown outside the small town where he lived. His rage passage description—the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted. Everything after the dash; a longer definition of “rage”

8 Exercise 2 Several West African countries—Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Cameroon, and Togo—were at some time in their history under colonial rule. The dashes set off a series that would be confusing if only commas were used. The fifth canon of rhetoric, style, includes a writer’s choices of diction and syntax. “Style” specifies the fifth canon of rhetoric, and the commas are appropriate because the single word interrupts the flow of the sentence.

9 Exercise 3 The Times, a world-renowned newspaper, is delivered to my house every day. The Edwardsville Tigers—the only baseball team every to lose a series that it had led three games to none—will be forever remembered for this colossal choke. Warren G. Harding defeated James Cox in the 1920 presidential elections by 26 percentage points—the biggest landslide victory in the history of U.S. presidential elections.

10 Exercise 4 The appositive that begins “the last time…” describes the “high school English class.” By setting it off with a dash, Prose emphasizes it. The appositive “fiction and memoir” specifies what is meant by “other genres,” and the dashes emphasize it. Note that by making the names of the genres the appositive (rather than, “Yet in fiction and memoir—other genres—the news is far more upsetting), Prose calls attention to those specific genres. There are two appositives in this sentence, each becoming increasingly specific. First, “the descriptively named Boo Radley” explains who the “shadow hero” is; “a gooney recluse” gives more details about Radley.

11 Exercise 5 The appositive “the moral and political evidence” specifies the types of “evidence,” and the repetition of “evidence” adds emphasis. The appositive “personal subjects we had not written about at school since third grade” sums up the specific subjects “families, friends, hobbies, future dreams.” Since the list preceding the appositive lacks a conjunction, it seems to tumble in a rush of specifics; the appositive slows the pace and offers a unifying description of the elements that make up the list.

12 Resources Shea, Renee, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric, 2nd ed., Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.

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