September 28, 2007

Words that are just fun to say.

Posted in Personal, Poetry at 8:43 pm by Caleb Winn

I’ve been involved with speech and debate for a long time, and  over the years one learns a little bit about the flow of language. It’s not anything I’ve ever really studied or thought consciously about. Over time, one simply learns what works and what doesn’t.

The tone of prosaic speechmaking is very different than the exultant imagery of poetry or the rhythmic rhymes of hip hop, but there is still an amazing degree of nuance, of subconscious expression, that hides behind the words that we choose, the language that we use to breathe meaning into our methodical, asinine arguments. Some words are fun to say, and fun to listen to, and the trick lies in finding those words, those phrases, which express the substance without sacrificing style, so that the words are not mere vessels for communicating ideas, but are decadently decorated, flowing together so well that the argument itself is passively persuasive. 

There are some pretty simple tricks to this. Rhyming is fine, some of the time. Alliteration works wonders. Using rhetorical couplets and trios can be both useful and pretty; they grab the attention, misdirect the focus, and beautify the speech. Establishing a pattern and flow to speech increases the likelihood that the listener will have a generally positive impression, but decreases rational comprehension in order to do this. It can be very effective to vary one’s pace, veering off course to break the ice.

“We must never stand down! We must never surrender! We must never stop fighting! Act now.”

The dramatic effect of the repetitive rhetorical trio only heightens the impact of the culminating statement, which is unique in its structure, in its length, in its grammar (1st person plural declarative to 2nd person command), and should be verbally delivered at a different tone, speed, and volume, and possibly even separated by a short pause.

All of that to say, I often find myself walking down the street, mulling over catchy turns of phrase, and thinking about which words roll trippingly off the tongue. I suppose it’s a weird, nerdy habit, but I’m a rhetorician. It’s what I do.And today I decided that “co” words are fun, especially if they have a hard vowel (like “p”) along for the ride. “-ate” and “-ing” words are great when used in conjunction with like words, because they pseudo-rhyme without any real difficulty. (Mental note: rap would’ve been way easy in Ancient Rome.) And words that are archaic enough to be unusual, but not so much that they are unfamiliar, are great. Especially old violent words, for some reason. They become silly.

Here are some cool words: 

Corpulent
Cognizant
Concupiscent  
Coptic
Copulate
Castigate
Castrate 
Postulate
Prostate 
Inundate
Inoculate
Frustrate
Fisticuffs 
Blowhard 
Blunderbuss 
Dashing
Smashing   

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August 8, 2007

Poetry, pt. 2

Posted in Poetry at 10:55 pm by Caleb Winn

Descent Into Kelp

Cool comfort glides on ocean’s breeze
While sweet sun smiles as on a friend
Above the water; float through life with ease

But strange how simple objects bend
And break as liquid meets the light
Within the water; turn the world on end

As murky dusk becomes dark night
True vision fades when I descend
Beneath the water; darkness drowns the light. 

July 30, 2007

A poem.

Posted in Personal, Poetry at 11:24 pm by Caleb Winn

The Folly Of Hope.

The object of my heart’s desire
Sits sweetly smiling in plain view
But though pursued with burning fire
Yet she remains unwon, unwooed

Although she rests so very near
We’re separated by deep schism
For betwixt us stands a mirror
My own reflection, damned prison.

I strain against the bars of fate
I break my heart within its grasp
And all my efforts come too late
But still within my hands I clasp
Hope