Challenge (rhetoric)

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A challenge can serve as a dare or an exhortation, motivating a person or persons by "[a]n invitation or summons to a trial or contest of any kind" and thus to "a difficult or demanding task, esp[ecially] one seen as a test of one's abilities or character".[1] In this sense, speakers or writers can use challenges to motivate - to convince people "to perform an action they otherwise [might] not".[2] A challenge can thus become a tool of rhetoric: a rhetorical challenge.[3][4]


  1. ^ "challenge". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Compare
  3. ^ Compare: Turner, Mark (2013). "Iconicity by blending". In Elleström, Lars; Fischer, Olga; Ljungberg, Christina (eds.). Iconic Investigations. Iconicity in language and literature. 12. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 9789027243485. Retrieved 2016-05-24. The beloved sets a rhetorical challenge, which the suitor must meet. Each time he meets it, she sets a new challenge.
  4. ^ de Velasco, Antonio (2010). "The Pliability of Community". Centrist Rhetoric: The Production of Political Transcendence in the Clinton Presidency. Lexington studies in political communication. Lexington Books. p. 143. ISBN 9780739139806. Retrieved 2016-05-24. [...] the story behind the rhetorical power of the term 'challenge' assumes the most importance when the speaker becomes not only a describer of 'challenges' but their maker, when he shifts from using 'challenge' as a noun, to using it performatively as a verb. [...] Recall how one of the more notable traces of Morris's influence on the speech was his organization of an anaphoric structure based on the command, 'I challenge.' Through this device, the speaker could shift from describing issues into a mode of exhortation, epitomized by the repetition of 'I challenge' twenty-five times, and its context-specific entailments - for example, 'I urge,' 'I invite,' and so on.