Published Writing

Martin’s articles on the Guardian’s Mind Your Language blog


Series commissioned in the run-up to the 2015 UK General Election

I’m sorry, I’ll say that again – the rhetorical trick of metanoia   Oscar Wilde described spontaneity as a meticulously prepared art, and no one prepares harder to be spontaneous than politicians (28.04.2015 )

Anaphora hot. Anaphora cold. Politicians’ rhetoric sounds tired and old   In trying to emulate Churchill, present-day party leaders reduce the rhythmic power of repetition to an irritating tic  (21.04.2015)

A bullying, interfering waster: how politics gave the state a bad name   Personification can help us make sense of the world, but Margaret Thatcher and her successors have used it to turn the helping hand of society into an outstretched leg  (16.04.2015)

Enthymeme, or are you thinking what I’m thinking?   It’s a grimy window through which we glimpse our own prejudices and beliefs. No wonder politicians are so fond of enthymeme  (09.04.2015)

Politics and prolepsis: I’m not a rhetorician, but …   Ed Miliband may have used it to respond to critics of his leadership credentials … but prolepsis can be a high-risk strategy   (07.04.2015)

Litotes: the most common rhetorical device you’ve never heard of    It’s the rhetorical equivalent of having your cake and eating it. No wonder politicians love it  (26.03.2015)


Earlier Guardian pieces

Convince or persuade: is there really a difference?    There comes a time when you have to accept that some usages are dying or dead. We should focus our efforts on the living   (11.02.2011)

This figure of speech isn’t dead – it’s just resting   By condemning the commonplace metaphor, the Plain English Campaign betrays a lack of sensitivity to the power of everyday language   (20.12.2010)



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