A Competition! #DefineRhetoric @HarlotTweets

Here at Harlot we’ve determined there have been about 2.24 million total different definitions of rhetoric created throughout human history. Because this just doesn’t seem like enough, we’d like you to play with us and add to that total.

Before our next issue comes out (September 15, 2012), we’ll have collected and taken a look at the definitions and decide on one to be THE definition of rhetoric of the year! Oh, the fame and recognition you can receive!


TWEET your submission now or later but definitely by 11:59 pm on September 8, 2012 to participate! That’s the last day we’ll check Tweets.

To participate, you’ve gotta tweet. If you don’t have a Twitter account, ya gotta make one. Then tweet your brand new definition of rhetoric, your tweaked or remixed definition of rhetoric, or one you’ve liked from a theorist and categorize it with #DefineRhetoric at the end. We encourage you to have fun and play with what rhetoric can mean. Be your own Plato, Aristotle, Aspasia. Be your own Burke, Richards, Perelman. Be your own Villanueva, Glenn, Lanham. And in the spirit of givin’ cred where cred is due, we ask you to try to cite your sources as best ya can when ya tweak or remix or quote directly.

Here are a few obscure definitions we’ve found and added to that total:
Rhetoric is when u got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away and know when to run—K. Rogers. http://youtu.be/kn481KcjvMo #DefineRhetoric

Rhetoric is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car–D. Draper. #DefineRhetoric

Rhetoric is hockey. If you don’t have ice you’re just standing in a puddle wearing skates and pads–Sam Boni. #DefineRhetoric

Rhetoric is ice-cream. If you don’t have 31 flavors, it’s coercion–Baskn Robnz. #DefineRhetoric

And if you get a chance, check out our Tweets @HarlotTweets for journal updates, news and play in the world of rhetoric. Oh yeah—you know, we have some pretty excellent articles about rhetoric too!


Capitol Words

I was recently asked what type of digital corpuses are available to track word frequency changes over time.  In addition to Google’s N-gram I would recommend their Insights project, which allows for a more recent and detailed picture.  Though the time span is considerably shorter (’04-’12), Insights is a remarkable tool, since search queries have a more democratic tinge to them than publications.  It reveals what populations are curious about and willing to seek out.

Then just this morning I discovered Capitol Words, a project by the Sunlight Foundation.  As they describe it,

Capitol Words scrapes the bulk data of the Congressional Record from the Government Printing Office, does some computer magic to clean-up and organize the data, then presents an easy-to-use front-end website where you can quickly search the favorite keywords of legislatorsstates or dates.

The new version now allows users to search, index and graph up to five-word phrases that give greater context and meaning to the turns-of-phrase zinging across the aisle. Where we once could only track individual terms like ‘health‘ or ‘energy,’ now we can break down the issue further into ‘health care reform,’ ‘renewable energy,’ ‘high energy prices‘ or however you wish.

Such a site promises to be a playground for rhetoricians.

Now go play.