Posted by: magnussonllc | October 13, 2009

Pimp my Presentations – Symploce

In rhetoric, symploce is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used successively at the beginning of two or more clauses or sentences and another word or phrase is used successively at the end of the same. It derives from the Greek word , meaning “interweaving”.

Symploce is a combination of anaphora and epistrophe. Anaphora has more than one sense; in this case it refers to an oratorical device by which the first words of a section of prose are repeated. Hillary Clinton’s speech to the 1996 Democratic National Convention is a good example: “To raise a happy, healthy, and hopeful child, it takes a family; it takes teachers; it takes clergy; it takes business people; it takes community leaders; it takes those who protect our health and safety. It takes all of us.”

In epistrophe the repetition occurs at the end of phrases. One of the best-known examples is in Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address in which he speaks of government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Another appears in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in the King James’s Bible: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.”

With symploce, the repetition occurs at both the beginnings and the ends of lines. A much-quoted example is in Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book of 1955, Gift from the Sea: “Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid, each cycle of the wave is valid, each cycle of a relationship is valid.”

Here is another example used by Ronald Reagan during an address at the Vietnams Veterans’ Memorial.

“We remember today that all our gentle heroes of Vietnam have given us a lesson in something more: a lesson in living love — their love for their families lives; their love for their buddies on the battlefields and friends back home lives; their love of their country lives.”

Using the symploce requires a lot of rhetorical skills but it can have a strong impact in any presentation creating a rhythm that will stick on the minds of the listeners.


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