Monday, March 07, 2011

Public Speaking - Juxtapositions


Juxtaposition is the placing, side by side, of two ideas or items usually for the purpose of comparison or contrast. I staged an event at Washington National Airport where I had a huge 450-pound man and a very small man (three feet eleven inches) dressed as chauffeurs. They were waiting at the gate for a man from Japan arriving for his first visit to the United States.

To take the comical juxtaposition one step further, the small man was holding a gigantic sign with the Japanese man's name on it and the extra large man was holding a similar sign, except it was about the size of a business card. Believe me, we had the attention of everyone in the gate area. What a visual! Now let's look at two specialized types of juxtaposition:


Warren S. Blumenfeld, Ph.D., in his book Pretty Ugly states, "I {passively tried} to warn you oxymorons had {almost absolutely} no socially redeeming quality except that they make people {smile out loud} and are addictive." His first book on the subject was called Jumbo Shrimp.
According to Dr. Blumenfeld, "An oxymoron is two concepts {usually two words} that do not go together, but are used together. It is a bringing together of contradictory expressions."
Terms like old news, extensive briefing, direct circumvention and random order are oxymorons. Also concepts like an advanced state of decline and expecting a surprise are oxymorons.


A pleonasm is the bringing together of two concepts or words that are redundant. A pleonasm is the bringing together of two concepts or words that are redundant. How many times do I have to tell you? I stole that from Dr. Blumenfeld, but I've already credited him a couple times and Art Buchwald says that's enough. Combinations like frozen ice, sharp point, killed dead, sandy beach, young child, positive praise, and angry rage are pleonasms.

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