Dennis Glover analyses the PM’s party conference speech in a piece for the Weekend Australian. It’s an interesting piece but there’s one thing about it that’s driving me mad.
Nobody in the Labor party can open their mouth without mentioning Tony Abbott. And while it would be unseemly to mention him by name in a speech to the party faithful, Gillard can’t resist sneaking in an allusion to his habit of saying “no”:
… we govern for growth by saying yes.
Yes to the skills, to the infrastructure.
Yes to keeping the doors of trade open, to walking the reform road in office every day.
And for that still to be true tomorrow, we still have work to do.
This is the key to Labor’s economic approach: Labor says yes to Australia’s future.
To trade training in high schools, to extra university places.
To better roads and ports and to high speed broadband.
To a nation strong and respected in the Asian Century.
Glover explains that the "Labor says yes" theme is "a technique the Ancients called …" And that’s what’s driving me mad. Glover’s piece doesn’t say what the Ancients called it. The word is missing. Did he type the name in Greek and lose it when the piece was edited? Did he forget to look it up?
The repetition of "Yes" and "To" at the beginning of lines is called anaphora. The omission of "Labor says yes" from the beggining of lines is called ellipsis. But what is the technique of covert allusion called?
Update: Mystery solved. As commenter Wilful notes, the term is ‘praeteritio’. The missing word now appears in the online version of Glover’s piece (copy and paste "a technique the Ancients called praeteritio" into Google — making sure you include the quotation marks — and you’ll be able to access it).
Readers who wanted to quibble might point out that praeteritio (or paralipsis) requires the speaker to announce that they are not going to say something, say it, then move on. However I have no desire to quibble with somebody of Glover’s rhetorical expertise.