The Elements of Eloquence – how to turn the perfect English phrase




Now here we have a fascinating read by British writer, Mark Forsyth. Let me emphasize right here and now that this little gem is neither a grammar nor spelling book. Nor is it a book explaining how we should or, perhaps more likely, shouldn’t phrase English. But it is an absolute treasure trove of interesting facts and trivia for anyone remotely interested in the structure and rhetoric of the English language.



It’s like this: We all know thousands of quotes by hundreds of people. But what makes them memorable? The answer, according to Mr Forsyth, is usually down to their structure – from Jesus to Mae West – and having devoured his book from cover to cover, I’m inclined to believe him.

Teeming with cleverly selected examples to clearly explain unpronounceable technical terms (blame the Greeks!) that you will never remember and will never need to, all craftily linked by equal portions of Forsyth wit and wisdom, this book is packed with light bulb delights as we wade through the potentials and pitfalls of the English language at its finest.

You don’t need to be English to enjoy this book. All you need is an ability to read it, a fundamental interest in the language of Shakespeare and JK Rowling, and a huge sense of humour.

Quote from The Elements of Eloquence – how to turn the perfect  English phrase

Would the line have been remembered if he had said ‘My name is Mr James Bond’, or ‘Bond, first name James’, or ‘Bond, but you can call me James’, or ‘James Bond’?

Wording, pure wording.

Diacope (pronounced die-ACK-oh-pee) is a verbal sandwich: a word or phrase is repeated after a brief interruption. You take two Bonds and stuff James in the middle. Bingo. You have a great line.


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