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Catabasis

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Catabasis

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Catabasis is the steady decrease of emphasis or sense.

Example

And then I will come before you, and the wise will follow and others will be left behind.

Man bites dog! Jeffrey Evans was in court yesterday for biting a dog in the park. He was remanded in custody until a later date.

We shall destroy!! We shall, at least break something. Well, maybe we'll shout a bit.

Discussion

This uses the principle of primacy, where things listed first have particular impact and are more likely to be remembered. By adding emphasis to the beginning, catabasis increases this effect.

Catabasis works well in speech, where verbal emphasis can be used to add strength to the words. This can make it useful for politicians and other speech-makers.

The first item in a catabasis can act like a headline, summarizing the key message. Subsequent items add layers of information but with the earlier ones being more important. In this way, newspapers make significant use of catabasis.

Catabasis can also be used for comedic effect, for example showing early bravado collapsing into effective retraction.

Catabasis is the opposite of anabasis, which is a stepwise increase in emphasis.

The Latin word for Catabasis is Decrementum.

Classification: Attention, Reduction

See also

Primacy Effect, Using emphasis

 

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