Medial Figures

Steve Jobs uses various short slogans that are usually displayed on the screen and accompanied with a icon or picture. He pronounces them when they appear on the screen, yet he puts them into a whole sentence, which creates a smooth impression. Sometimes these slogans also form the theme and/or summary of a section.
Thus, these slogans are more than just a phrase, they are used in synchronization with structure and visual elements. They require a combination of preparation, performance, and media synchronization (voice and visual). Their effect is to generate a catchy impression, raise retention, and provide a central message. Due to their complexity and multi-functionality, they seem to be the medial counterpart to figures of speech. Thus, the term “medial figures”, whereas figures of speech “only” use verbal and para-verbal effects, medial figures work only in combination with multimedia elements the presenter uses.

Here is the list of the major slogans (in order of appearance in the iPhone keynote):

  • “Enjoy your media on your big screen TV” [00:12:36]
  • “Buttons & controls can’t change” [00:32:12]
  • Breakthrough – “5 years ahead of any other phone” [00:34:54]
  • “Sync with iTunes – Just like iPod” [00:36:43]
  • “Charge and sync” [00:37:54]
  • Design – “Something wonderful in your hand” [00:38:03]
  • “Touch your music” [00:40:47] and [00:48:53]
  • “You had me at scrolling” [00:48:45]
  • “Use contacts like never before” [00:49:42]
  • “Internet in your pocket” [01:16:35]
  • “Your life in your pocket” [01:30:50] – “The ultimate digital device” [01:30:54]

The main slogan of the keynote is “Apple is reinventing the phone”, yet Steve Jobs changes the tense of the verb all the time. Note the similarity to the figure of speech polyptoton:

  • “Today, today Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.” (between [00:29:19] and [00:29:30])
  • “So, we’re gonna reinvent the phone.” (between [00:30:59] and [00:31:01])
  • “We wanna reinvent the phone.” ([00:49:02])
  • “… you’ll agree, we have reinvented the phone. OK.” ([01:01:23])
  • “iPhone. Today Apple is reinventing the phone.” ([01:26:56])

The question is are these more than just slogans? Are these figures of speech 2.0?

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