by Peter Watts
Oh dear. It wasn’t my intention but I appear to be channeling Austin Powers, which for a British blogger is mortifying. Utterly mortifying. And I also seem to have gotten myself lost in a loop of this week’s topic: the diacope, which is a wonderfully useful rhetorical tool for creating impact and soundbites. Fabulous soundbites, such as:
“Yeah, baby, yeah.”
It’s just two words, put together in a structure of A-B-A (sorry, couldn’t resist attaching the YouTube clip).
“Bond, James Bond.”
Once again, supremely memorable, and just two words: A-B-A.
How about “Drill, baby, drill”. Suddenly it’s the 2008 election all over again, and even though Sarah Palin didn’t actually coin this particular phrase, that A-B-A carried her to fame if not to elected office.
Diacope is an easy way to slip a soundbite into your presentation. Let’s take the word “service” as an example. Here’s some differing diacopes that could land a service message:
- “Customers demand service. Exceptional service”
- “Our core value is service. Award-winning service”
- “Our focus is service. Timely service”
A-B-A creates a soundbite without an overt sense of drama, and the first time you try out a new technique, that’s a great place to start. After a little successful experimentation though, you could try diacope’s splashier big cousin: A-A-B-A.
In “White Christmas”, Danny Kaye uses the phrase: “The Theater, the Theater, what’s happened to the Theater?” Fans will recognize that as the opening line of “Choreography”.
Kenneth Williams meanwhile, playing Julius Caesar in “Carry on Cleo” used diacope for the fabulous: “Infamy, Infamy; they’ve all got it in for me.”, thereby abusing Shakespeare while simultaneously demonstrating that diacope can play with word sounds as much as with the words themselves.
Here are a few possible A-A-B-A business samples, this time playing with the theme of “strength”:
- “Strength, strength, industrial strength.”
- “Toughness, toughness, rock-solid toughness.”
- “Muscle, muscle, absolute muscle.”
As you read these examples, you might think they look painfully awkward on the page, and that’s because like many rhetorical tools, diacope is more intended to be said than read. It needs the inflection of human voice to breath life into the words. Also don’t forget that you’re reading these in isolation and normally they would be blended into a longer phrase:
“Bandwidth, bandwidth, affordable high-capacity bandwidth. We want to put streaming video and voice services within the reach of the regular subscriber, not just those willing to pay through the nose for premium services. That’s our goal with these new high-capacity, low-cost, high-bandwidth products.”
When folded into a phrase, the A-A-B-A format gives a power-lifter lift-off to your message.
Yeah, Baby, Yeah!
(Sorry. Last time I’ll do that. Honest!)