[lg policy] What is David Starkey up to here?

Baron, Dennis E debaron at illinois.edu
Thu Oct 29 13:45:53 UTC 2015


I didn’t watch the video, but I won’t insult you by telling you the term you’re looking for is probably liitotes, Dave.

Dennis

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
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On Oct 29, 2015, at 8:16 AM, Dave Sayers <dave.sayers at cantab.net<mailto:dave.sayers at cantab.net>> wrote:

I've spent the last three years thinking about what to do with this idea of mine about a new rhetorical term, 'hypothetitio', and getting nowhere. I tried to put it on LinguistList but they thought it was a little too politically lively. I tried to put it on LanguageLog but didn't hear back. Now I'm about to start lining up a new undergrad module on rhetoric, so it needs to go somewhere for me to reference it! I've put it up on my academia.edu<http://academia.edu> page here: https://www.academia.edu/17461820/. Feel free to use and redistribute anywhere and everywhere as you see fit.

Hypothetically yours,
Dave

--
Dr. Dave Sayers
Senior Lecturer, Dept Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University | www.shu.ac.uk<http://www.shu.ac.uk>
Honorary Research Fellow, Cardiff University & WISERD | www.wiserd.ac.uk<http://www.wiserd.ac.uk>
dave.sayers at cantab.net<mailto:dave.sayers at cantab.net> | http://shu.academia.edu/DaveSayers


On 18/09/2012 12:42, Dave Sayers wrote:
Hello lgpolicy folk,

Please click here (it's nothing naughty)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh7macVIxeM#t=2m40s

If that doesn't take you to 2 minutes 40 seconds in, then just scroll along to that point. David
Starkey here uses a cunning little rhetorical device to say what he think of Islam, but also not
quite actually technically really explicitly say it.

I'm hoping to use this in a lecture about rhetorical devices. But my question is, what is the name
of that rhetorical device? The closest I can find so far is either occultatio or paralipsis --
variations on the theme of describing something by not describing it, e.g. a politician saying "let
us say nothing of my opponent's unfortunate incident in a public toilet with a parrot and a jar of
mustard". Starkey is somewhere wide of that. He's not saying 'I won't say anything of my opinion
that Islam is a vile disgusting religion'. He says 'If I [...] say [clever pause] I think Islam is a
vile disgusting religion' etc. That's different, insofar as he's creating a hypothetical dialogue
between him and a hypothetical opponent. That stops anyone accusing him of (or arresting him for)
talking that way about Islam, which is precisely the power of this particular rhetorical device,
whatever it's called.

So, any ideas as to what it's called? Is it some sub-set of occultatio that I haven't come across?

Since I'm on the subject, anyone else planning a class on rhetoric might like the following clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVv0F3WdzKA

Galloway's opening statement is awash with easily identifiable rhetorical devices, including:
anaphora; symploce; enumeratio; inductive reasoning; hypophora; understatement; pathos.

I set my students a homework exercise to find those, plus any others they could pick out, and we had
a very interesting discussion about it all -- really spurred their interest in the subject.

Thanks all!

Dave

--
Dr. Dave Sayers
Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University
and Visiting Lecturer (2012-2013), Dept English, Åbo Akademi University
dave.sayers at cantab.net
http://swansea.academia.edu/DaveSayers


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