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Change Of Name

Updated Mar 26, 2023

Understanding the Rhetorical Device of Change of Name

When it comes to effective communication, rhetoric plays a crucial role. Rhetorical devices are linguistic tools used to persuade, emphasize, or evoke specific emotions in an audience. One such powerful device is the "change of name." This technique involves altering the name of a person, place, or thing to influence perception, create associations, or convey deeper meaning. In this article, we will explore the significance of the rhetorical device of change of name and provide accurate examples to illustrate its impact.

1. The Power of Renaming

Names hold significant meaning, and changing them can have a profound effect on how individuals or objects are perceived. By altering a name, speakers tap into the psychological influence it carries, allowing them to shape opinions and attitudes. Renaming can evoke emotions, create associations, or even reframe an entire narrative.

Example 1: Rebranding a Product

Consider the case of a struggling smartphone company aiming to revamp its image and increase sales. By changing the name of their flagship model from "XtremeTech 5000" to "Infinity Pro," the company not only evokes a sense of exclusivity and sophistication but also distances itself from any negative connotations associated with previous models. This change of name helps create a fresh perspective and piques consumer interest, ultimately boosting sales.

Example 2: Political Campaigns

Politicians often use change of name as a rhetorical device to influence public perception. By renaming policies, initiatives, or even opponents, they can shape public opinion and generate support. For instance, a politician advocating for stricter gun control measures may reframe the debate by calling it "common-sense firearm regulations." This change of name emphasizes the idea of reasonableness and appeals to a wider audience, potentially swaying opinions in their favor.

2. Establishing Associations

Changing a name can also establish new associations or connections, allowing speakers to convey a particular message or manipulate public perception.

Example 1: Environmental Activism

In the realm of environmental activism, renaming a natural resource or location can draw attention to specific issues. The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," a massive collection of marine debris, was renamed the "Plastic Soup." This change of name vividly portrays the severity of the problem, evoking images of pollution and emphasizing the urgent need for action. By altering the name, environmentalists successfully establish a strong association between the issue and its detrimental impact.

Example 2: Social Movements

Social movements often utilize the device of change of name to emphasize their goals and rally support. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States, for instance, strategically shifted the narrative by referring to themselves as the "Freedom Movement." This change of name immediately resonated with the values of equality, justice, and individual liberty, helping to mobilize individuals and inspire action.

3. Conveying Deeper Meaning

Change of name can also be employed to convey deeper meanings or symbolize transformations, adding layers of significance to the message being communicated.

Example 1: Literature and Symbolism

In literature, authors frequently use change of name as a rhetorical device to convey character development or transformation. In J.K. Rowling's renowned Harry Potter series, the protagonist's nemesis, Tom Riddle, adopts the name "Lord Voldemort." This change symbolizes his descent into darkness and his desire to distance himself from his Muggle (non-magical) heritage. By altering his name, Voldemort creates a new identity that reflects his sinister aspirations and ultimate quest for power.

Example 2: Personal Transformation

On a personal level, individuals may use change of name to signify personal growth or a new chapter in their lives. This can be seen in instances where individuals adopt new names after significant life events, religious conversions, or gender transitions. These name changes hold deep personal meaning and reflect the individual's journey of self-discovery and self-definition.

In conclusion, the rhetorical device of change of name holds tremendous power in shaping perception, establishing associations, and conveying deeper meanings. Through carefully altering names, speakers can evoke emotions, influence opinions, and frame narratives to effectively communicate their desired message. Understanding this device allows us to recognize its impact in various contexts, from marketing strategies to political campaigns and literary works. By harnessing the potential of the change of name, communicators can create impactful messages that resonate with their target audience.


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