Joseph Romm is the mind behind the indispensable “Climate Progress” blog. And he’s an avid student of rhetoric and has just published a book on how to improve your “language intelligence” in six steps:
- Use short, simple words. Short words win. Never use a long word if a shorter one will do.
- If you don’t repeat, you can’t compete. This includes repetitive figures of speech such as alliterations, anaphoras, chiasmus (“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”) etc. Repetition is not only the mother of memory but also of persuasion.
- Master irony and foreshadowing – the twist we can’t resist.
- Master metaphors. Metaphors are missiles aimed at the hearts of your audience.
- Use extended metaphors for big tasks.
- If you want to avoid being seduced, learn the figures of seduction. If you want to debunk a myth, do not repeat that myth.
There’s already quite a number of excellent reviews out there, such as this one on the equally indispensable “Skeptical Science” website, so I won’t add another one to the pile. I’ll just say that I read the book through in one go (in addition to being very well written it comes in at an easily digestible 231 pages) and that I’ll add the paper version to the Kindle version I now have. And luckily I have Shakespeare’s complete works on my shelf to turn my attention to next.
You can also get an impression of what’s in there at Romm’s other blog, rhetoric.com.