praeteritio

High schools don’t offer Latin much anymore. When I was in school, we could take four years of Latin. And I did. In third year Latin, you study the orations of Cicero. Cicero used many rhetorical devices. One that I find that I use a lot is praeteritio. It can be used when trying to get a point across to your kids by appearing not to have actually harped upon the subject.

praeteritio – A device that functions in the manipulation of the speaker-audience relationship. Claiming that he will not deal with a certain topic, the speaker mentions it anyway.

So for instance, the other night when Sarah forgot here cell phone, I said in my email, “I won’t lecture you on how important it is to keep your cell phone with you.” Ah, praeteritio, a parent’s sneaky device.

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