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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Rhetorical Figure
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1258  Monday, 14 June 2004

[1]     From:   Greg McSweeney <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 07:55:03 -0400
        Subj:   Litotes

[2]     From:   Norman Hinton <
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        Date:   Saturday, 12 Jun 2004 11:17:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1241 Rhetorical Figure


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Greg McSweeney <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 07:55:03 -0400
Subject:        Litotes

I thought litote(s) was simply an assertion made by the denial of its
negative; i.e. "Halle Berry is not an unattractive woman," or "After
creating the universe--a not insignificant effort--we rested"; in other
words, a form of irony (understatement) through a sort of
grammatically-correct double negative. I seem to remember its comic
potential frequently explored by Basil Fawlty.

Greg McSweeney

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman Hinton <
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Date:           Saturday, 12 Jun 2004 11:17:11 -0500
Subject: 15.1241 Rhetorical Figure
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1241 Rhetorical Figure

Here is the Silv Rhetoric entry, from the on-line version:

litotes
  li-to'-tees     from Gk litos, "plain, small, meagre"
Also
antenantiosis
diminutio (deminutio), extenuatio

Deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by
denying its opposite.

The Ad Herennium author suggests litotes as a means of expressing
modesty (downplaying one's accomplishments) in order to gain the
audience's favor (establishing ethos).

Examples

It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain. -J.D.
Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Running a marathon in under two hours is no small accomplishment.

Related Figures
     * meiosis
     * irony
     * hyperbole
     * sarcasmus
     * Figures of ethos
     * Figures of Refutation

Related Topics of Invention
     * Contraries & Contradictions
     * Similarity & Difference

Sources:     Ad Herennium 4.38.50 ("deminutio"); Sherry (1550) 61
("liptote," "extenuatio"); Peacham (1577) H2v; Putt. (1589) 195
("liptote," "the moderatour"); Day 1599 84 ("liptote")

(c) 1996-2003, Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (rhetoric.byu.edu)
Trees | SILVA RHETORICAE | Flowers

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