Friday, March 22, 2013

Fun with words: Tricolons

Earlier this year I remember reading in the Guardian someone use the word tricolon referring to the rhetoric of Jodi Foster's Golden Globe speech.

The tricolon shows up in the emphasized portion of the sentence here: "If you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you'd had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else."

In the same ways jokes and fairy tales seem better with characters (a priest, a rabbi and duck walk into a bar, or the three little pigs), somehow a sentence with three strong thoughts seem to stick out in a way that two simply cannot.

Julius Ceaser understood this, and in the year 47 BC he said "Veni, vidi, vici" which means "I came, I saw, I conquered." This tricolon is still repeated today.

Whether it's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, or the three most important things to keep in mind when buying a house (Location, Location, Location), there's something powerful about the tricolon.

Two will do, three is better, and four is simply to crowded.

It can be famous film lines ("Lions and Tigers and bears, oh my"), or car slogans, like when Chevy said "Eye it, try it, buy it."

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