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Skyler Z. Clark English 1010-071 Professor Irene Peterson 04 March 2013 To Win the Prize David Sedaris Me Talk Pretty One Day is an example of the often humorous journey that people take as they learn a new language. Sedaris experience with a mean-natured French professor is an illustration of just how hard it can be to not be capable of proper communication. In his work, Sedaris credibly exemplifies rhetorical sensitivity in his work through personal experience and by showing the emotion, time, and dedication it takes to learn a new language. His use of Pathos, Ethos, Kairos and Logos communicate to the reader just what it is like to learn to speak all over again. Sedaris writes of his experiences learning French. After having briefly studied at a University in New York, and living a summer in Normandy, he embarks on a true quest to learn French. Sedaris moves to Paris, and initially is intimidated by the apparent knowledge of all of the students in his language class. As time progresses however, he realizes that they are no more prepared or developed in their language skills than he. His professor could aptly be described as a dragon; who roaring, seems to roast her pupils under her blaze of tormenting criticisms. Ridiculed every class period Sedaris soon becomes so fearful of failure that he almost ceases to speak entirely. His discomfit speaking is evident as he mourns ...why dont they sell cuts of meat in vending machines? His professor effectually having destroyed his self confidence and hope, he now is only comforted to know that he is not alone in his suffering. The other students converse with one another, exchanging feelings in jumbled sentences of how they are feeling.

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Sometimes me cry alone at night sobs one student, and another to comfort him That be common for I, also, but be more strong, you. After agonizing months in the class, Sedaris realizes during one class period that he has just understood every venom-dripping word of the insult his snake of a professor has just hissed at him. In that moment he basks in the glowing feeling of success. He has not mastered French, but he has taken a small step; he understands, with joy he encourages the beast, I know the thing you speak exact now. Talk more you Pathos, the rhetorical appeal to emotion and imagination, seeps through the lines as Sedaris reports of his French language learning experience. As a reader you empathize with the verbally abused students, and how they dont understand quite enough to even know how they are being abused or the names they are being called. When Sedaris writes of the intimidation he felt upon seeing all the other young, attractive, and well dressed students, you almost cringe with him. He has saturated his writing with using imagery to convey feelings, which is Pathos in its essence. Emotions are fluidly conveyed in his writing, and it makes it not only more interesting to read his story, but effortless, as your mind absorbs the details given, and develops a detailed mental picture. For an individual with little or no experience speaking a new language, it makes sense that it can be difficult to develop adequate language skills. While Sedaris does not qualify himself by stating directly why he is qualified to write about learning language, but his credibility is implied in that he is sharing a personal experience. For this reason the reader knows with certainty that what they have read comes from a credible source. He uses little facts or statistics other than the facts of what happen in the story. For example, he mentions that he took the class in France, and he also mentions the countries of origin of the other students in the class, but he does not make mention of other facts that would be pertinent to Ethos as a rhetorical

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appeal. His writing however isnt written with the intent of Ethos being highly crucial to his story. He has much more molded the story to appeal to his readers though the rhetorical means of Pathos, which he uses most extensively. Logos is used by Sedaris mostly by what he infers through many instances in his story. For example, when describing the French language teacher crouching low for her attack While the optimist [Anna] struggled to defend herself it is nothing but logical for the reader to understand the character of the teacher, as well as the situation in which the students often found themselves. Through this form of writing, the reader can easily draw conclusions about the students, the teacher, and the prejudices held or developed by each. Sedaris piece is in essence timeless. Every day upon this earth, there are those are struggling to learn a new language. Some out of a desire to expand opportunities for work, schooling, or simply to become better educated, others do it out of necessity, for if they do not do so, they will not survive in the foreign country in which they are living. Still others desire to pick up a few phrases for a vacation, sabbatical, or temporary stay in other countries. Regardless of circumstance, people from all over the world can identify with the situation and the feelings Sedaris communicates in his writing. Kairos is effortlessly rooted into Sedaris writing, because barring telepathy, there is no time at which his story would become impertinent. His audience is in each aspect of Sedaris work with him. They feel the heat as he experiences the flames of his disparaging professor. They cringe with him as he contemplates ways to avoid all forms of verbal communication. They empathize for the other students, poisoned day by day through their arduous class prescription. As prescribed by the scholarly language doctors, these students must take this class if they are to improve their French. Ailed by ignorance, Sedaris and his class comrades trudge through their days and studies, and the reader

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feels their exhaustion.. Through each individual rhetorical appeal, Sedaris has appealed to the readers senses and emotions, logic and reasoning, every sentence timely to deliver his message, learning a language is hard, but when you finally achieve your goal, despite the treacherous journey you have taken to win the prize, its worth it.

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Works Cited
Sedaris, David. Me Talk Pretty One Day. (2000) Don Congdon Associates