6th Grade - Cadence, Repetitive Patterns And Onomatopoeia

Speaking and Listening
Cadence, repetitive patterns and onomatopoeia
Analyze the use of rhetorical devices (e.g., cadence, repetitive patterns, use of onomatopoeia) for intent and effect.
Be able to explain how rhetorical devices such as cadence, repetition, and onomatopoeia are used for effect in oral and media communication.

Sample Problems


What is a rhetorical device? (a technique used by a speaker to evoke an emotional response)


What is cadence? (the rhythm of speech)


What is onomatopoeia? (the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it, e.g. buzz, hiss))


Why do speakers often repeat words or phrases? (adds to effect and memorability of ideas)


Why do speakers use rhetorical devices? (to sway the audience)

Learning Tips


What sound or sounds is being repeated in this excerpt? (Bonus: do you know what this literary device is called?)

"Somewhere at this very moment a child is being born in America. Let it be our cause to give that child a happy home, a healthy family, and a hopeful future."

  • Bill Clinton, 1992 Democratic National Convention Acceptance Address

(b sound, h sound; alliteration)


What cadence would be used in the last sentence? (rhythmic recitation of the three ideas) Listen to audio clip at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/mp3clips/figures/billclintonalliteration.mp3


Find the onomatopoeia in this poem:

"Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell:

Hark! Now I hear them - Ding, dong, bell." (Shakespeare, The Tempest)

((ding, dong, bell)


Read Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream” (http://www-tc.pbs.org/newshour/extra/teachers/lessonplans/english/mlk_transcript.pdf) and list any repeated phrases. (“I have a dream”; “we can never be satisfied”, etc.)


How would the King speech be different without these refrains (repeated phrases)?

Extra Help Problems


How do rhetorical devices add to the intent and effect of oral communication?


As a speaker, what can you do to use rhetorical devices to add to the effect of your speech?


For the speeches below, answer the following questions:


A. Did the speech have a clear beginning, middle, and end?

B. Did the speech contain repetition?

1. If so, what was the effect of the repetition?

2. If not, where would repetition have been useful?

C. Did the speech contain parallel structure?

1. If so, what was the effect of the parallel structure?

2. If not, where would parallel structure have been useful?

D. Did the speech contain other rhetorical devices?


I am an African by Thabo Mbeki



I Have Sinned” by President Bill Clinton http://www.famousquotes.me.uk/speeches/Bill_Clinton/index.htm


Ain't I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth


Lou Gehrig Speech - Farewell to Baseball Address

Lou Gehrig - Farewell to Baseball Address,

Delivered on 4 July 1939, New York

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

 I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

 Sure I’m lucky.

 Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?

 Sure I’m lucky.

 When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies -- that’s something. 

When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter -- that’s something.

 When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body -- it’s a blessing.

 When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed -- that’s the finest I know.

 So, I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.


Choose one of the speeches above to research. Write one page about the situation leading up to the speech and any information you can find about public response to the speech.


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