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ThatBritGuy:
4. It's very hard to find classes in rhetoric now. It was once taught as a formal skill, because it was so useful. I assume politicians still learn it somewhere and somehow, because pols do rhetoric for a living. But if you're looking for useful rhetoric and not just a list of obscure grammatical constructions, it's not so easy to find that.

In Sweden at least, formal greco-roman rethoric fell out of style in the late 19th century with the advance of the mass movements. The formal rethoric become a suspect marker of a trained liar and replaced with a very dull style marketed as sincere. The a very common start in the latter tradition is "I am not a speaker, but ..." to build up your ethos as a person to be trusted. Very little use of pathos, though that does not guarantee it is factual, only that it is dull.

The learning of this dull rethoric style is made in-house in the political parties and sharpened through years of training in faction battles in youth organisations, student politics etc.

An interesting note is that the US seems to have a more continous tradition from the greco-roman style, in particular the tradition of debate clubs. Viewed from the lens of the dull swedish rethoric, the US political rethoric seems rather over the top, and not seldom quite silly.

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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Dec 5th, 2008 at 05:15:08 PM EST
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