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Praeteritio

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Praeteritio

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Praeteritio is mentioning something whilst saying it cannot be discussed.

Example

Not to mention your salary, but I do think you can afford this.

He is clearly guilty, to say nothing of his previous record.

I'm not allowed to talk about whether you did know her already, so let's discuss how she reacted to you.

Discussion

Sometimes social or other substantive rules prevent the speaker from explicitly making a point. Praeteritio is a tricky device that lets them say something whilst pretending that they are not. Praeteritio is, in this way, popular with lawyers who slip in inadmissible evidence whilst effectively recognizing that it is not allowed.

Having brought something up, drawing it to the attention of the listener, to then suddenly move away from the subject leaves it open and incomplete, which leads them only to think about the mystery even more.

Classification: Reference, Omission

See also

Epanorthosis, Paralipsis, Arousal principle, Attention principle

 

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