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Durand's rhetoric


DisciplinesRhetoric > Durand's rhetoric

Nature of the operation | Nature of relationship | In combination | See also


Jaques Durand analyzed thousands of adverts to understand the use of rhetorical figures in visual contexts. The principles he identified are also applicable in other situations.

Durand defined rhetoric as 'the art of fake speech', in which rhetoric is used to transition from 'proper' and figurative language. He takes a Freudian viewpoint seeing the use figurative language in satisfying forbidden desires, and rhetorical figures as mock violations of a norm.

He divides rhetorical figures into two classifications, similar to Barthes' approach: Those which modify the operation of a sentence or phrase and those which modify relationships, and the related substitution and exchange.

Nature of the operation

Operations start with a simple proposition and modify certain elements by the use of addition or suppression.


Items are added to a the phrase in order to change the overall meaning. For example adjectives and adverbs modify nouns and verbs, for example by exaggeration. Other additions include contrasts that highlight target items.

Repetition is a particular form of addition, where the item added is the same (in some form) as something already there.


Suppression is an opposite of addition in that involves the suppression, exclusion or other removal or hiding of elements of the phrase or sentence.


Substitution is a combination of the above two principles, being the suppression of one element followed by the addition of a new element.


Exchange consists of two reciprocal phrases, as in 'We eat to live, not live to eat'. These may also include substitution.

Nature of relationship

The relationship or connection of items within the phrase may be figuratively constructed using one or more of:

  • Identity: using the 'same' relationship
  • Similarity: having something in common
  • Difference: having distinctly contrasting elements
  • Opposition: having conflicting elements
  • False similarity: as in paradox and ambiguity

In combination

Combining relationships and rhetorical operations as above, these can be linked to specific figures as below:



Rhetorical operations

Addition Suppression Substitution Exchange
Identity Repetition Ellipsis Hyperbole Inversion
 - of form Rhyme   Allusion Hendiadys
 - of content Simile Circumlocution Metaphor Homology
Difference Accumulation Suspension Metonymy Asyndeton
 - of form Zeugma Dubitation Periphrasis Anacoluthon
 - of content Antithesis Reticence Euphemism Chiasmus
False similarity        
 - Ambiguity Antanaclasis Tautology Pun Antimetabole
 - Paradox Paradox Preterition Antiphrasis Antilogy


See also

Figures of speech


Durand, J. (1970). Rhetorique et image publicitaire, Communications, 15, Paris: Editions du Seuil


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