The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase Audiobook Review

Have you ever wondered what a Polyptoton is when it comes to English language phrases?  How about a Synaesthesia?  No?  Then you must be wondering what a Tricolon or Epizeuxis is, right?  To be honest, I did not.  Most of what is uncovered in this book was new material to me, but it may not for someone more versed in language and phrases.  The author does a good job of explaining and providing examples if what he is talking about.  I was quickly able to understand the concepts discussed and I should say I learned quite a bit about phraseology after listening to this book.  And, I enjoyed it very much.

Let me make one thing straight near the beginning of this review, this book is not one that teaches you how to incorporate the many linguistic concepts covered, but it does define what they are and provides examples of where they are found around us in our daily lives; including historic literature.  The author takes you from the works of the great author and writer William Shakespeare to the phrases of the mighty Jedi master; Yoda.   If you are looking for a book to show you where or how to implement such phrases in your own work, this is not the book for you.  I will say from the definitions and examples provided, you will more easily be able to add such phrases to your work. After listening to the book, it is hard to write something that is not one of the outlined figures/phrases of speech the book addresses.  Sorry, no pithy words here.

I did want to say that the book contains a few examples where vulgar language is used and it is not exited or bleeped out; more for younger readers or those offended by such.  There are not many, but a few scattered about.  I also would note that the author references many examples from the Bible, and often claims that the text was written with specific phrasing in mind.  However, the actual manuscripts were not in the English language and I would suspect many of the phrases would not have translated the same from its original languages.   There are also a few one-off remarks leading to questioning the Biblical text, so I would not trust the authors theological skills as much as his linguistic abilities and expertise.

I listened to the book in a single long car trip and I did like that it could also be consumed in bite-sized pieces if needed.  The chapters are relatively short and the text flowed quite well.  The author kept the book light-hearted for what could have been very dry and educational material.  There were points where the author used humor and many of the examples included information from recent literary pieces such as modern songs.  It was fun at the start where the last phrase lead the reader into the next chapter’s phrase.  After thirty plus chapters you knew right when a chapter was going to end and the next start.

Don Hagen, as expected, did a wonderful job narrating this book and added interest through his use of inflection.  The audio is well produced and only a few places where I believe I heard paper being turned in the background, but it was difficult to confirm because it was very slight.  If you like solid well-read books, this is an author you will enjoy.  Neither the book nor its narration are dull or boring.  For me, it was good to have the information so I can see how language is used in our everyday lives from marketing to novels.  An entertaining book.

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