Sunday, December 22, 2013

The rules regarding words, and a word regarding rules by Mark Forsyth

What do Snoop Dogg and Bruce Forsyth have in common? No? OK, what do Snoop DoggBruce Forsyth, JFK, Billy Ocean and William Shakespeare have in common? The answer is chiasmus (pronounced ki-AZ-mus), and if that means nothing to you, don't worry – it's terribly simple.
With my mind on my money and my money on my mind
Nice to see you. To see you nice.
Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Fair is foul and foul is fair.
That's chiasmus. It's easy to do and … to do it is easy. Ah! The great poetry of Bruce Forsyth, and the cheap tricks of William Shakespeare. And it really is that way around because, whereas Shakespeare was taught these things in school (chiasmus and the other figures of rhetoric were an essential part of the Elizabethan grammar school syllabus) , Bruce had to come up with his catchphrase through pure inspiration. Shakespeare knew what he was doing, Snoop Dogg relied upon the muses (and certain substances).

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