Friday 16 September 2011

Anadiplosis and Anaphora

Yesterday, I was shuffling along the street with my iPod on shuffle. These two shuffles are, incidentally, related. Dragging your feet  became fidgeting which in turn became moving the cards around in a pack. Anyway, I was about to shuffle off this mortal coil when on came David Bowie's song Modern Love, and I was suddenly struck by the rhetorical arrangement of the chorus.

Anaphora is the technical term for starting a series of clauses with the same words. A classic example is Winston Churchill's speech:

...we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender...

It's a simple and surefire winner of a rhetorical technique. Another simple trope is anadiplosis. This is where you use the last word or phrase of one clause as the first word or phrase of the next. Yoda once pointed out that:

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

So what do you get if you cross Winston Churchill with Yoda? You get the chorus of David Bowie's Modern Love, which goes like this:

Never going fall for
Modern love, walks beside me,
Modern love, walks on by,
Modern love gets me to the church on time.
Church on time terrifies me
Church on time makes me party
Church on time puts my trust in God and man.
God and man, no confessions,
God and man, no religion,
God and man don't believe in
Modern love.

It's a great little chorus and, if you think about, is simply an exercise in anadiplosis and anaphora that comes full circle to the refrain of modern love.

And here is a beautiful cover version.

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