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Distinctio

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Distinctio

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Distinctio uses reference to multiple meanings of a word or other elaboration to highlight or enquire about which particular meaning is intended.

Example

When I say hot, I do not mean she was warm -- I mean she was very sexy!

Now when you say 'rough', do you mean difficult or do you mean harsh, because both make sense, although I would have thought the latter most appropriate.

Now becoming invisible is impossible. And by impossible I mean beyond possibility within our current technologies.

Discussion

When a word can have more than one meaning, the intended meaning is usually clear from the context within the sentence. Likewise confusion may arise from the potential ambiguity or misunderstanding of a word.

When the speaker wants to be sure that understanding is unambiguous they may use Distinctio to achieve this goal. To the listener, this can appear rather forced as the speaker makes significant issue of the point.

In changing minds, Distinctio can be used deliberately to sustain attention on a particular item. If this is a relatively unimportant point, then perhaps the speaker is seeking to distract the listener from some other point.

Classification: Meaning, Amplification

See also

Attention principle, Distraction principle

 

 

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