Friday, August 13, 2010

Car Repair and Rhetoric

So, I'm stuck in Arlington, Tx at the Jeep dealership after my wife's car would not start this morning as we were leaving her company meeting.  Don't know if it is the battery or something else, but it would not start, even with a jump.

I wouldn't expect to find expressions of rhetoric at a car dealership, but I did not have to look long before I found two figures of speech in the dealership labeling.

The first was on the drop off door.  There was a little mail slot with the label: "Early Bird Drop Off."  This figure of speech (actually trope) is so familiar to us that we probably do not think of it as a rhetorical figure, but it is the figure of metaphor.  The person who has to drop off the car before the shop opens is referred to as an "early bird."  For a biblical metaphor referring to a person as an animal, see Luke 13:32 Where Jesus refers to Herod as a fox.  The metaphor in this case is a rhetorical way to call Herod wily and dishonest, a trickster.  Metaphor's often invoke vivid imagery and describe a person or thing in a way that has an emotional impact. 

The second was on a banner which referred to the dealership as "your one stop shop for everything Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep."  The term "one stop shop" is also easily recognized in our culture and displays the figure homoteleuton.  Homoteleuton refers to words with similar endings.  In English, we typically call this rhyme, but the Greeks called it homoteleuton.  For an example of this figure in Greek see Luke 6:22
μακάριοί ἐστε ὅταν μισήσωσιν ὑμᾶς οἱ ἄνθρωποι καὶ ὅταν ἀφορίσωσιν ὑμᾶς καὶ ὀνειδίσωσιν καὶ ἐκβάλωσιν τὸ ὄνομα ὑμῶν ὡς πονηρὸν ἕνεκα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου·
makarioi este otan misesosin umas oi anthropoi kai otan aforisosin umas kai oneidisosin kai ekbalosin to onoma umon os poneron eneka tou uiou anthropou. 
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
 Notice the four verbs in this sentence that end with the third person plural aorist active subjunctive ending ωσιν (osin).  One needs to read this verse in Greek to recognize the figure.  Reading it aloud makes the rhyme inherent in the figure obvious.  The rhyme and rhythm of this figure usually makes the statement pleasant to the ear, striking, and perhaps most importantly, memorable.

Perhaps the greatest rhetorical oddity about this whole adventure is the situational irony.  Brooke's Jeep, which has been a wonderful and carefree car, was just paid off this last week.  We received the title in the mail on Monday and here on Thursday, the car breaks down. 

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