This (beta-version) site charts rhetorical figures and their interactions, largely around what we call the chiastic suite, figures of inverse repetition.
Why the chiastic suite? Rhetorical figures are linguistic configurations that couple form and function. The chiastic suite—especially its prototypical figure, the figure of inverse lexical repetition, antimetabole—exhibits this coupling in clear and compelling ways.
The form of a figure effects its salience, its memorability, and its aesthetic force. The function of a figure effects its argumentative, communicative, and pragmatic purposes.
Salience, memorability, and aesthetic effects are the product of the way the linguistic configuration appeals to human neurocognitive affinities—repetition, for instance, or symmetry.
Argumentative, communicative, and pragmatic purposes are a product of the way the linguistic configuration satisfies noetic requirements—the need to express reciprocality, for instance, or balance. Figures in the chiastic suite definitionally implicate repetition in their form and often manifest symmetry; functionally, they express reciprocality and balance with special elegance. “All for one and one for all,” the quintessential antimetabole, is salient, highly memorable, and has aesthetic appeal. It must. It’s ubiquitous. It also expresses reciprocal obligation, the group for the individual and the individual for the group. This is not a coincidence. The same features (repetition and two opposite orders) contribute to both its form and its function.
The chiastic suite includes at least seven figures, some of which are recognized in various ways in the catalogues, taxonomies, and handlists of rhetorical figures assembled and shuffled over the millennia that such inventories have been assembled; most aren't; and many of the traditional inventories confuse definitions and examples in ways we are sorting out in our work. The Chiastic suite includes minimally these figures seven figures (with examples, but not definitions; for which you'll have to go deeper):
|Antanametabole:||Women don't want dates on their condoms; they want condoms on their dates.|
|Antimetabaton:||By day the frolic, and the dance by night.|
|Antimetabole:||One for all and all for one.|
|Antimetalepsis:||Old King Cole was a merry old soul / And a merry old soul was he.|
|Antimetaptoton:||Quitters never win and winners never quit.|
|Antimetathesis:||She sells sea shells by the seashore.|
|Implied antimetabole:||The Wrath of Grapes|
Our site includes definitions and further instances of all of these figures, but since figures rarely travel alone, we also include the other figures involved in every instance, which the interface allows you to investigate with radio buttons. All additional figures also have definitions and additional instances in this site. (There are a few principled omissions with respect to the extra figures, however. We do not always record 'redundant' figures, for instance - assonance and consonance when there is rhyme; alliteration and consonance when they are coextensive; rhyme when there is ploche; and so on).
This project, supported in part by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is part of a larger, ontological investigation of rhetorical figures in cognitive and computational terms.