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Rhetoric is the art of using language to communicate effectively and persuasively. It involves three audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos, as well as the five canons of rhetoric: invention or discovery, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Along with grammar and logic or dialectic, rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. From ancient Greece to the late 19th Century, it was a central part of Western education, filling the need to train public speakers and writers to move audiences to action with arguments.[1]

The very act of defining itself has been a central part of rhetoric, appearing among Aristotle's Topics.[2] The word is derived from the Greek ῥητορικός (rhētorikós), "oratorical",[3] from ῥήτωρ (rhḗtōr), "public speaker",[4] related to ῥημα (rhêma), "that which is said or spoken, word, saying",[5] and ultimately derived from the verb ἐρῶ (erô), "to speak, say".[6] In its broadest sense, rhetoric concerns human discourse.[7][8]

Contemporary studies of rhetoric address a more diverse range of domains than was the case in ancient times. While classical rhetoric trained speakers to be effective persuaders in public forums and institutions like courtrooms and assemblies, contemporary rhetoric investigates human discourse writ large. Rhetoricians have studied the discourses of a wide variety of domains, including the natural and social sciences, fine art, religion, journalism, digital media, fiction, history, cartography, and architecture, along with the more traditional domains of politics and the law.[9] Public relations, lobbying, law, marketing, professional and technical writing, and advertising are modern professions that employ rhetorical practitioners.


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