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Page history last edited by David King 12 years, 5 months ago

The Rhetorical Triangle and Register




“wer 2? don't go out 2 l8. it takes m 4evr 2 get cab after 9”


Communication is about something and for someone. For example, we often write messages that are about making plans for meeting; we can write them to professors, friends, family members, and to people whom we have never met.


The rhetorical triangle is a way of depicting the connections between a writer (or speaker), the message or topic at hand, and the audience (readers or listeners).




The Rhetorical Triangle (for written communication)



A message on the same topic can be transmitted by a writer to different types of readers, which will have an effect on the way the text is written, as is the case with these two texts about teething:



Teething is the term used to describe the eruption of a baby's first teeth. Teething usually begins at about the age of six or seven months, with most of the first teeth breaking through before your baby is 18 months old. Your baby will produce more saliva than usual and will dribble; he will try to cram his fingers into his mouth and chew on his fingers or any other object that he can get hold of. He may be clingy and irritable, have difficulty sleeping, and he may cry and fret more than usual. Most of these symptoms occur just before the teeth erupt. It is important to realize that the symptoms of teething do not include bronchitis, nappy rash, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite. These are symptoms of an underlying illness, not teething.

Retrieved from: http://www.extension.org/pages/16893/your-babys-first-tooth-may-be-causing-her-some-pain


Eruption of the primary dentition in human infants

One hundred twenty-eight teeth were observed during eruption. Swelling very infrequently accompanied tooth eruption and in all cases was mild. Forty-nine percent of observed teeth demonstrated gingival redness during the emergence stages of eruption, but there was no significant relationship between redness and specific stages of eruption. Mean duration of eruption, from palpable enlargement of the gingival tissue to full eruption, was 2.0 months (range 0.9-4.6 months). The average rate of eruption was 0.7 mm per month. Many of the deciduous teeth appeared to demonstrate an “oscillating” pattern of eruption, (emerging and then retreating before emerging again). Timing of oscillation was not specific to stage of eruption or tooth type. This was defined as a “transitional” phase of eruption which appears to be common.

Retrieved from: http://www.aapd.org/upload/articles/lucas9-00.pdf


From the beginning of each of these texts, with the use in one of the more every day term ‘teething’ and in the other of the more formal term ‘eruption of the primary dentition’, we can see a different reader constructed through the choices made in writing the text. The first text, with direct address to the reader (‘your baby’) and non-technical language, suggests a lay reader (a parent concerned about their child). The second text, with more distance created with the reader (‘human infant’ and use of passive voice) and technical language, suggests a specialized reader (someone involved in dentistry). Indeed, the first text is from a Parenting Tips newsletter, while the second text is from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Both of these texts occur within specific kinds of contexts, the first in a society where parents read about how to best take care of their babies, and many experts provide tips to help them do so, and the second within a scientific paradigm of research with the existence of peer-reviewed journals for communicating that research.


Another way to think about these relationships is through the notion of register. Register refers to the variables involved when we communicate of field (the subject matter at hand – what it is the people involved are referring to in terms of experience, real or imagined), mode (the channel of communication – written or spoken, or, more delicately, a textbook, a sermon, a conversation, an e-mail, and SMS, etc.), and tenor (the relationship between interlocutors – symmetrical, as between friends, or asymmetrical, as between a boss and an employee, a teacher and a student). These register variables come together in distinct ways depending on the context of situation (which refers to the more immediate context, such as a specific course here at Saint Louis University’s Madrid Campus) which occurs within a context of culture (an American university culture, for example).





In the text examples above, the field is the same in both cases (‘teething’ or ‘primary dentition’), while the mode and tenor are different. The mode in the first case is an online newsletter, complete with links to ask questions of the experts and other resources for parents, and the mode in the second is a professional journal, also available online, but as a pdf file, with the article following the typical scientific organization of introduction (which includes an explanation of why this research is important to the field), methods, results, discussion, conclusions, followed by an extensive reference section.  The tenor in the first text is between expert and lay reader, while in the second, it is between professionals.



Analyze the following texts using the rhetorical triangle and/or the notion of register.


1)     Keep out!

2)     Whatcha doin’? Wanna get a burger or somethin’?

3)     I am writing to enquire about the position in sales advertised in the Saturday August 12th edition of The Times.

4)     Shadows covered wide areas of European life in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  The vigorous expansion into bordering areas that had marked European history since the eleventh century came to an end.  The Christian West fought to halt the expansion of the Muslim Turks.  Plague, famine, and recurrent wars decimated populations and snuffed out their former prosperity.  The papacy and feudal government struggled against mounting institutional chaos.  Powerful mystical and heretical movements and new critical currents in Scholasticism rocked the established religious and philosophical equilibrium of the thirteenth century.  But for all these signs of crisis the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were not merely an age of breakdown.


5)     Ellis and Mellsop (1985) concluded that de Clérambault’s syndrome is an aetiologically heterogeneous disorder. Theories of aetiology have encompassed alcoholism, abortion, post-amphetamine depression, epilepsy, head trauma and neurological disorders. None of these is relevant in this case. Reviewing various descriptions of the pre-morbid personality in pure cases, Mullen and Pathe (1994: 101) summarise by invoking “a socially inept individual isolated from others, be it by sensitivity, suspiciousness or assumed superiority. These people tend to be described as living socially empty lives...the desire for a relationship is balanced by a fear of rejection or a fear of intimacy, both sexual and emotional”.


6)     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x13 inch pan.

Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl until well blended. Beat the eggs, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl until smooth. Fold in the flour mixture, then stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.


7)     Mary has also been involved this year as a volunteer ESL teacher in our Community English Language program. This program provides free English language instruction for members of the community, and are taught by our university students; the only pre-requisite for teaching on the program is a strong command of English, and a desire to provide a service to the host community while learning about teaching and about Spanish culture through interaction with the community students. Mary has brought to the program an incredible amount of enthusiasm and insight, and her students enjoyed having her as a teacher, and also felt that they had learned quite a bit of English.

Mary's enthusiasm, willingness to work hard, and ability to communicate with people are all qualities which have been of great benefit to our campus.


8)     Step 1. Bolt together all three of the column assemblies. To do this, lay two assemblies down together as shown in Figure 1. Lay one coupler plate across the joint and bolt together using two 2 3/4” long bolts and lock nuts per plate. See Figure 2. Repeat for the other side. Step 2. Repeat this process again so that you have a total of 3 column assemblies bolted together. Set this assembly aside.


9)     Last summer, I worked as a receptionist at the Beaconsfield Family Dental Clinic, where I greeted and interacted with minor and adult patients. In this position, I learned to schedule appointments and handle insurance billing under the direction of the office manager.

I hope you will agree that my skills would be an asset to your practice.


10)   Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived on the edge of the forest.


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