Whether you call them rhetorical devices, style elements, linguistic devices, cool wordings or something else: if you want your texts to really make an impact, they have to sparkle (figuratively speaking). Ready to explore some ways to spice up your content? Then this article is for you.
Linguistic devices are a marvellous thing: often, our brain kinda takes notice of such elements in texts we hear or read and they make us pause more or less consciously and notice what was done there. So even if we don’t know what a certain style element is called, they draw the reader’s attention.
The cool thing about linguistic devices is that they can really elevate your writing. If you carefully craft your content and assemble the words artfully, you can elicit all kinds of emotions from your audience. No matter if you choose a little rhyme from time to time … a wonderfully whimsical alliteration … a description so vivid, so real – so colourful, raw and honest that it just. Sucks. You. In.
And what’s even better is that it really doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, what your tone of voice or who your target audience is: you can always use linguistic devices to increase the impact your writing has.
My favourite linguistic devices
So here are some of my favourite linguistic devices, the word confetti I frequently sprinkle over the texts I transcreate or write.
*See what I did there? 😉
An alliteration defines two or more words which start with the same letter or sound – and I just love them! Alliterations are often easily incorporated in almost any copy and they work with a whimsical tone of voice as well as with a more serious brand personality.
|Let’s be weird and wonderful together.
|Wer will Waldbeeren?
|It’s a crisp, clear Winter morning.
|Räubertöchter und Rabauken wollen rennen und raufen.
|The ocean was glistening in the summer sun.
|Es war eine klirrend kalte Nacht.
While they are actually a linguistic device in their own right, anaphers fall into the same category for me. When one or more words are repeated at the beginning of two or more sentences or phrases, that’s an anapher.
|Good for you. Good for me. Good for the world.
|Tag für Tag stehe ich auf, Tag für Tag gebe ich mein Bestes, Tag für Tag kämpfe ich weiter.
|Full of life, full of love.
|Er macht das – aber sicher nicht heute und sicher nicht morgen.
|I want more. More insight, more creativity and, most importantly, more personality.
|Und deshalb will ich mehr. Mehr Zielgruppenverständnis, mehr Kreativität und vor allem: mehr Persönlichkeit.
Metaphor – addressing the elephant in the room
Metaphors are a very common linguistic device that can be used in many, many different ways – I won’t go into too much detail here, but here are some examples where one thing is said to describe something else.
Euphemism: describe something unpleasant with “nicer” words
|“pass away” instead of “dying”
|“suboptimal” instead of “schlecht”
|“let go” instead of “firing”
|“Beitragsanpassung” instead of “Beitragserhöhung”
|“under the weather” instead of “sick”
|“Freudenhaus” instead of “Bordell”
Antithesis: use contrasts to make a point
|Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
|Bist du Freund oder Feind?
|A hot drink for a cold day
|Heiße Styles für kaltes Wetter
|Go big or go home
|Wohnst du noch oder lebst du schon?
Hyperbole: excessive exaggeration
|My feet are killing me
|Sie ist blitzschnell
|Give me a second
|Ich warte schon eine Ewigkeit auf den Bus.
|I’ve told you a million times
|Ich bin so hungrig, ich könnte ein ganzes Zebra essen.
Similes – cute as a button
A simile is a figure of speech that compares two things to describe a similarity.
|Strong as a lion
|Stark wie ein Löwe
|Sleep like a babay
|Schlafen wie ein Stein
|Cool as a cucumber
|Das Meer liegt da wie ein Spiegel
Idioms – no rocket science
An idiom is a turn of phrase with a figurative meaning – which means (not to be dramatic or anything) that they are the bane of a translator’s existence! They are notoriously hard to translate because they simply don’t work in another language (or does “I have the nose full” make much sense to you?). But they can be powerful in getting a point across in a succinct way, which is why they are used frequently.
|That rings a bell
|Hier steppt der Bär
|On a wild goose chase
|Ich hab den Faden verloren
|Ruffle somebody’s feathers
|Er ist nah am Wasser gebaut
Style elements I like to use
Some other examples of linguistic confetti I like to use when working on creative projects are vivid descriptions that really paint a picture in your head – you know, the ones that suddenly bring you back to your childhood days, running around on soft, green grass barefoot.
Another great stylistic element are short, punchy sentences to shake up the rhythm. They create impact in a different way. This becomes especially noticeable when the really short sentences appear within longer ones. The short ones stand out. Like this.
Puns and wordplays can be really fun too, but these are always a slippery slope: they can be really awesome when they are well done and work effortlessly – but when they are forced and too complex to be understood naturally, they can be really annoying. And you always need to make sure that they work with your tone of voice: when a copywriter calls himself a texpert, it’s clear that they mean that they are a text expert – and that can work wonderfully within their branding. But there are plenty of cases where puns and wordplays are a bad idea, so be careful when using them.
If you’re still looking for somebody who can help you find your voice in German (with or without whimsical elements such as puns), pop me an email! I’d love to find out more about your company’s personality and how we can capture it in German.