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Anaphora – Increase Impact with this Word Repetition

By April 8, 2015 July 21st, 2019 No Comments
word cloud message cloud with almost 300 figures of speech - figures of speech very large with anaphora large

This blog post is about anaphora, a Repetition Figure of Speech. It is part of a series on repetition. I share them as the English language has hundreds of literary devices to help you (dramatically) improve the effectiveness and impact of your various communication.

Repetition used well, strengthens your written and spoken narrative with emphasis and emotion. Repetition is by far, one of the most powerful of all figures of speech. Why? Because as human beings, we are programmed to recognize patterns and to pay attention to them.

While I include background information, Greek word derivation, and pronunciation, what is most important is the application of each figure of speech in your written, spoken, and social media communication.

I tell my consulting customers, workshop participants, coaching clients, and students (I’m an adjunct professor at The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland), the same thing:

“You never have to remember the actual Greek word for the figure of speech. Just remember the concept and application.”

Improve your communication. Read about more figures of speech: Anadiplosis, Anaphora (this post), Asyndeton, Epiphora, Epizeuxis, and Onomatopoeia.

There are three major sections:

  1. Figure of Speech. Includes a little background, usage, definition, pronunciation, other related figures of speech, and etymology.
  2. Guidelines in Using. Follow these guidelines to ensure maximum impact.
  3. Examples of Anaphora. Find examples from speeches, presentations, presidential addresses, poems, music, and more

1) ANAPHORA – REPETITION FIGURE OF SPEECH

Repetition is by far, one of the most, most powerful used (see, I just used “most” twice without any words in between, which is epizeuxis). One of my favorite literary devices from the Repetition category is Anaphora. It is easy to use and so very powerful.

Anaphora is thought to be one of the oldest literary devices as it is found throughout the Bible. Apart from the function of giving prominence to certain ideas, the use of anaphora in literature adds rhythm, thus making it more pleasurable to read, and easier to remember. As a literary device, anaphora serves the purpose of giving artistic effect to passages of prose and poetry. As a rhetorical device, anaphora is used to appeal to the emotions of the audience, to persuade, inspire, motivate, and encourage them.

Since anaphora is in the beginning of a clause or sentence, one of its strengths is that it clearly links two or more ideas together through the repetition. This repetition makes the word or phrase (much) more memorable for your audiences.

Definition Anaphora is a word or phrase repeated at the beginning of a successive phrase, clause, or sentence, two or more times
Pronunciation ah-NAF-oh-rah
Also Known as Epanaphora, Iteratio, Relatio, and Repetitio
Related to Epiphora, Simploce
Etymology Comes from the Greek word, ἀναφορά, which means “to carry back” or “to bring back”

2) GUIDELINES IN USING REPETITION

Here is my own definition of Repetition.

Repetition is a literary device where a word or phrase is repeated two or more times to emphasize the point being made and/or emphasize the emotional feeling associated with the point being made. With more than 30 forms of repetition, it is more commonly thought of as a category rather than thought of as a single figure of speech.

Here are some guidelines for you to ensure anaphora, you repetition figure of speech, achieves your communication goals:

Use Sparingly Too much of one type of repetition will likely reduce its effectiveness and may cause your audience to miss your emphasis entirely as there are too many instances of your repetition. As such use anaphora sparingly and for that matter, all of your figures of speech.
Choose a Simple Word or Phrase If you were to analyze narratives where anaphora is used, you would find the authors use simple words and simple phrases. You want to ensure your audience is able to readily remember your ideas. Simple always wins the day. See below for examples.
Repeat 3 Times Since humans look for and respond to patterns, I recommend using three of the “repetition type” you are using. This ensures your readers and listeners know with certainty you are using the repetition to make a point or to increase the emotional feeling of your narrative.
Emphasize with Your Voice In my training and teaching, I share specifics on how to use one’s voice to add (dramatic) impact to your spoken communication. Think of yourself as an orchestra with three main instruments: Your Words, your Body Language, and your Voice. Varying your tone of voice, cadence, and speed are what separates a good speaker from a great speaker.

3) EXAMPLES OF ANAPHORA

Look at the examples below. See how anaphora is used to dramatically increase the effectiveness and impact of your words. Then experiment, mixing and combining other figures of speech in your written, spoken, and social media communication.

Example 1:  “Freedom’s Forge,” Book Launch Event, Author Arthur Herman

Without Notation Now, what I want to do here tonight is to tell you a story. And this is a story that usually is told backwards. If you go to the textbooks, if you go to the movies, if you go to the usual discussions…
With
Notation
Now, what I want to do here tonight is to tell you a story. And this is a story that usually is told backwards. { If you go to the } textbooks, { if you go to the } movies, { if you go to the } usual discussions…

 

Note 1:  tell you { a story }. And this is { a story } – This is an example of anadiplosis

Example 2:  Rick Blane in the Movie, Casablanca

Without Notation Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine
With
Notation
{ Of all the } gin joints { in all the } towns { in all the } world, she walks into mine

Example 3:  President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 1961

Without Notation Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah–to ‘undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.’

With
Notation
{ Let both sides } explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

{ Let both sides }, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

{ Let both sides } seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

{ Let both sides } unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah–to ‘undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.’

Example 4:  Admiral William McRaven Speech to the West Point Class of 2015

Without Notation Not the Army of the Hudson, not the Army of the history books, not the Army portrayed in the countless murals across campus…
With
Notation
{ Not the Army } of the Hudson, { not the Army } of the history books, { not the Army } portrayed in the countless murals across campus…

Example 5:  Simon Sinek

Without Notation Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress.
Working hard for something we love is called passion.
With
Notation
{ Working hard for something we } don’t care about is called stress.
{ Working hard for something we } love is called passion.

* This post updated March 2019
Photography Source:  Message Cloud/Word Cloud © Copyright 2018, The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Ira Koretsky

About Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, trainer, consultant, and executive communication coach.