Using Conjunctions Rhetorically on Appeal

Past posts have covered repetition and parallelism as rhetorical devices in writing appellate briefs. This one discusses ways to use conjunctions on appeal.

One way, known as polysyndeton, is to add extra conjunctions.  You may, for example, say he was negligent by running the stop sign, texting while driving, and speeding. Or you may say he was negligent by running the stop sign and by texting while driving and by speeding. The difference helps set the rhythm and gives “texting while driving” the same level importance that the other particulars receive.

Or you could do the exact opposite and leave all the conjunctions out. This, known as asyndeton, may likewise create emphasis: he ran the stop sign, texted while driving, was speeding. This too helps set the rhythm by varying the structure.

And may we all get over the myth against starting a sentence with a conjunction? Bryan A. Garner, author of The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, notes that occasionally beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction is itself an effective rhetorical device.

Does anyone used polysyndeton or asyndeton in their briefs? Or consciously begin sentences with conjunctions? Please leave me a reply or reach me here.


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