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Bdelygmia

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Bdelygmia

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Bdelygmia is sequence of abusive phrases or statements.

Example

He is loathsome to the eye and ear, disgusting all decent people with his ill manner and vitreous, poisonous tongue.

You horrible, horrible man! How could you treat her like that? What would your mother say? What were you thinking? I cannot believe anyone would be so cruel!

Cigarettes are a filthy, horrible, disgusting habit. They pollute the air and poison children. Their purveyors are evil, wicked and mendacious promoters of death.

Discussion

The 'litany of abuse' of bdelygmia often includes quite elaborate language and multiple adjectives and appears quite often in various texts and speeches. It indicates the speaker's violent opposition to something or someone. In its extremeness, it indicates that the speaker is so horrified and appalled at such a terrible transgression of values that they have temporarily lost control over what may be a normally mild and civil manner.

By implication, the subject of the speech is deigned to be particularly bad, wicked and evil, and that others should avoid them and not support them in any way or else be subject to the speaker's continued ire.

When used in response to some attack, this is known as a 'tiger defense', sending the message 'if you attack me, I will attack you back even more fiercely!'

Done badly, however, or if the subject defends themself well, bdelygmia can rebound on the speaker, portraying them as intolerant, offensive, dogmatic and otherwise an unpleasant and nasty person.

Classification: Amplification, Attack

See also

Values, Rhetorical questions

 

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