In the article “Figures of Speech, Ethos, and Aristotle: Notes Toward a Rhetoric of Business Communication” the author makes an argument that there exists a range of books which claim to offer advice on how to write better business letters. They argue that many authors point out to the importance of economical phrasing while maintaining clarity as the guiding principle for business writing. It is argued that clarity in business communication is not accidental but rather happens through deliberate effort. The author seems to believe that business communication is influenced by restrictions on stylistic strategies since it is believed that too much artifice in writing may interfere with comprehension. It is argued that style ought to be inferred only by the reader rather than be a deliberate attempt by the author. The author is, however, of the opinion that style ought not to be condemned wholesale since business writing involves a range of uses some of which may need to resort to style. Writing of memos, reports and letters is different from sales and advertising, as deliberation in style is important for each piece of business writing.


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The author’s purpose in the writing of the article is to persuade the audience. The author makes use of a range of rhetorical and analytical tools towards achieving his ends. In the instance of persuasion, he makes use of words which portray that what he is saying is his opinion. For instance, he says that business people seem to have an innate understanding of the importance of image. The author also offers instruction on how business writing ought to be undertaken by asserting how different types should be written to enhance their effectiveness. Using memos and advertisements as an example, he persuades us that the two business documents would call for a deliberate use of style. He makes use of antimetabole in the assertion that you can take Salem out of the country but you cannot take the country out of Salem. He also makes use of a rhetorical question in his persuasion: “Did business writers in the early part of this period make such ready use of the figures as their later counterparts?” Then he proceeds to quote Rockefeller in order to persuade the audience. The use of such tools is very successful in creating a persuasive argument since after reading the article one is inclined to fully agree with the writer.

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