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Rhetorical Effects of Grammatical Choices in “Only Disconnect”

Language is a phenomenon that has a huge impact on human consciousness, although often, people themselves do not notice it. The use of different phrases, verb tenses, and noun lines can make a strong impression on readers. These techniques can make a piece interesting or boring, dynamic or calm, neutral or emotional. Thanks to this, literature affects readers and leaves a mark in the memory. The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the rhetorical effects of grammatical choices in Gary Shteyngart’s “Only Disconnect.”

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One of the details that catch one’s eye from the very beginning is the use of repeated nouns or verbs. For example, already in the first paragraph, the author uses the words “each post, each tap of the screen, each drag and clic.” On the one hand, thanks to this description, the actions of the smartphone user acquire volume. Readers can see that he is constantly performing dozens of activities thanks to the device. However, at the same time, these nouns denote rather insignificant, small actions. Thus, everything that happens on a smartphone seems somewhat pointless.

The author often uses wordplay typical of smartphone-related vocabulary. A prime example of this technique is the phrase “the birds are twittering, but in a slightly different way than my New York friends.” In this sentence, he refers to the social network Twitter, where people post short texts. Indeed, in the “speech” of birds, there is no semantic load, experiences, interesting thoughts, and problems. In contrast, people’s tweets, even if they are just as short, contain a lot of diverse information. On the one hand, this is good because everyone can share their perspective on a particular issue. On the other hand, it increases the amount of information in the world, sometimes meaningless. This “pollutes” the readers’ minds of social networks and distracts them from the really important matters. The author uses this irony to show this problem and maybe to make readers pay more attention to the real world, not electronic.

The author “plays” with the rhythm of the piece, regularly jumping from one period of his life to another. When it comes to “real” life, such as sitting under a tree, the pace becomes smooth and calm. Some sentences get longer, and readers are immersed in an atmosphere of nature and serenity. These paragraphs are contrasted with parts of the text related to new technologies. They are written at a faster pace to match the speed of modern technological progress. This allows readers to feel the scale of change and reflect on technology’s role in human life.

The author pays special attention to the cohesion of the text so that it becomes as coherent and complete as possible. Even though the text consists of descriptions of different parts of the author’s life, they all seem to be a single whole. Each of these episodes says something about the events that happened to the author in recent years. Only after reading them all can readers get a complete picture of his life path and the impact of technology on his everyday life. Thus, Shteyngart uses a significant number of imaginative means to ultimately obtain an original work that leaves a mark in the memory of readers.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, July 30). Rhetorical Effects of Grammatical Choices in “Only Disconnect”. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-effects-of-grammatical-choices-in-only-disconnect/

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StudyCorgi. "Rhetorical Effects of Grammatical Choices in “Only Disconnect”." July 30, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-effects-of-grammatical-choices-in-only-disconnect/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Rhetorical Effects of Grammatical Choices in “Only Disconnect”." July 30, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-effects-of-grammatical-choices-in-only-disconnect/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Rhetorical Effects of Grammatical Choices in “Only Disconnect”'. 30 July.

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