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Epiphora – Increase Impact with this Word Repetition

By April 6, 2016 November 24th, 2019 No Comments
word cloud message cloud with almost 300 figures of speech - figures of speech with epiphora word very large in orange

This blog post is about epiphora, 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, Asyndeton, Epanalepis, Epiphora (this post), 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 Epiphora. Find examples from speeches, presentations, presidential addresses, poems, music, and more

1) EPIPHORA – REPETITION FIGURE OF SPEECH

The way you use epiphora creates a deliberate pattern in how you use the word or words. The pattern could rhyme as well as it could lend itself to a familiar cadence as you speak, enabling an easy way to remember. With the examples below, see how the pattern becomes the theme, the hook, or the catch phrase of the speech or passage. You can also look to epiphora as a way of creating a very memorable refrain or chorus such as in a song.

Definition Epiphora is a word or phrase repeated at the end of a successive phrase, clause, or sentence, two or more times
Pronunciation ep-i-FOR-ah
Also Known as Epistrophe or Antistrophe
Related to Anaphora, Simploce
Etymology Comes from the Greek word, ἐπιστροφή, which means “a bringing to or upon”

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 epiphora, your 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 epiphora sparingly and for that matter, all of your figures of speech.
Choose a Simple Word or Phrase If you were to analyze narratives where epiphora 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 great speaker from a good speaker.

3) EXAMPLES OF EPIPHORA

Look at the examples below. See how epiphora 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:  “Tuesdays with Morrie,” book by Mitch Albom

Without Notation “…There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike.”
With
Notation
“…There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, { you’re gonna have a lot of trouble }. If you don’t know how to compromise, { you’re gonna have a lot of trouble }. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, { you’re gonna have a lot of trouble }. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, { you’re gonna have a lot of trouble }. Your values must be alike.”

Example 2:  Dr. Pepper Soft Drink Commercials from 1970’s

Without Notation “I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too? Dr. Pepper.”
With
Notation
“I’m a { Pepper }, he’s a { Pepper }, she’s a { Pepper }, we’re a { Pepper }. Wouldn’t you like to be a { Pepper }, too? Dr. { Pepper }.”

Example 3:  President Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863

Without Notation “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
With
Notation
“…that government of { the people }, by { the people }, for { the people }, shall not perish from the earth.”

Example 4:  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream,” August 1963

Without Notation “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
With
Notation
“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work { together }, to pray { together }, to struggle { together }, to go to jail { together }, to stand up for freedom { together }, knowing that we will be free one day.”

Example 5:  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Without Notation “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
With
Notation
“What lies behind { us } and what lies before { us } are tiny matters compared to what lies within { us }.”

* 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.