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Study: Rhymes perceived as more authoritative

 5:47 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting study on the use of rhyme in business communications:

The researchers found that even though all participants strongly held
the belief that rhyming is in no way an indicator of accuracy, they nonetheless
tended to perceive the rhyming statements as more accurate than those that did
not rhyme.

InsiderInfluence article [insideinfluence.com]



 5:50 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Johnnie Cochran was right all along! ;)


 6:29 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

A client sent me this article and we're in a consideration right now about testing it on his seminar titles. He's been using alliteration, and I think that would test just as well as rhyming does, and with a bit more dignity as well.

Here's my theory -- when your communication is clearly beyond "struggling with words" and you are so on top of your subject matter that you can afford some word play -- of any type -- then that "mastery" is what comes through.


 1:12 am on Jun 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


Approaching the problem of which rhyming schemes
To use in a poem, (the output of memes)

Can often lead poets to cry in a panic:
"I cannot decide on depressed or on manic!"

Which tone to take, in order to show
The best illustration of how his thoughts go

Together to form that which cannot be said
Any other way, except in his head...

But that is what poems do for us all
They help us to see what's behind the wall

Of rational, logical, orderly thought--
and bring forth the wonder of all that is not.

troels nybo nielsen

 10:08 pm on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

John Keats: Ode on a Grecian Urn


 10:16 pm on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)


mastery of communication of a subject matter can only be accepted by minds also at a similar level. hence though what is stated maybe true, in some cases its not so!

Language and thinking - great area of exploration - Donaldson, Ayre and a few others seriously got into this area.


 10:52 pm on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

William C. Casey, a professor of sociology at Princeton from '31-'59, based his teaching curriculum on the way that language has been based on actions/thoughts, and how current actions/thoughts are in part abstracted from a language that was based on past actions/thoughts...

A couple of his students compiled their lecture notes and wrote a book about his teachings and philosophy. It's called "The Real Real World of William C. Casey" (ISBN 0806963387).

Casey's assertion is that the closer you get to the root of the word, the closer you are to the context of the original "feel" that inspired the creation of the word, and to the "truth" of the language.

Paying close attention to the context in which words are used with respect to their roots is yet a powerful language tool that used in conjunction with your other tools may lead to surprising (or not so surprising) results.

Just some food for thought/action.


 4:56 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

rhymes access a more fundamental part of the human brain, they get interpreted by the 'musical' nodes of the brain, that tend to offer more direct access to core functionality than words do, it's also why music works in ways that language has problems doing, something like the inner priviliges windows grants certain processes.

this was discussed extensively by Heidegger, I also witnessed this process first hand when my girlfriend at the time's father was dying of a brain tumor, they removed the speech component of his brain, but he could still sing songs, and rebuilt his language capabilities using that part of his brain.

there's a reason things like the vedas, all long epic poems, were done in rhyme, it's easier for the human brain to retain that kind of structure than an essentially random construction, when those were created they were passed on by memory, no print or web, and that's the best way for our minds to remember long passages.


 5:41 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nice insights - thanks isitreal.

I've read that many of the top commercial copy writers are poets, at least in their spare time. This would certainly correlate. In fact, professional copy writers concern themselves very much with elements like "scan" and "flow" -- much more about the poetic aspects of their copy than the informational aspects.

One of the hallmarks of great copy is that it flows like poetry - whether it rhymes or not. Have you ever read copy that is actually rhyming and metered poetry, but it's formatted like prose? It's rare, but I have seen it, and it has an overall effect that holds the readers' attention very well.


 5:51 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

One of the more famous pieces of copy:

think mink

I only had to hear that one time to remember it for the rest of my life.

troels nybo nielsen

 7:06 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting: From a starting point where conscience is regarded as a product of the brain you can come to the result that song is a more fundamental phenomenon than speech? From my own completely opposite starting point this makes perfect sense. In fact some spiritual traditions have said the same for milleniums.

And from my own writings I have learned that those texts where I manage to put a decent amount of elemental musical beauty with a naturally flowing and pulsating rhythm and some subtle rhyming do indeed seem to work best with readers.


 7:22 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

From a starting point where conscience (read: consciousness) is regarded as a product of the brain

It's not so much consciousness being a product of the brain as certain precise functions, like speech, vision, song/music/poetry etc, being primarily situated in the brain. And that language, going through those centers, and when used well, can better access certain deeper features of our psyche than when it's used poorly, as you, and most writers/poets/musicians/songwriters/ad copy writers etc have discovered.

I'm not going to get into what consciousness is or isn't, except to note I don't believe that the popular anglo/american definition of it as an 'epiphenomena of the brain' is an adequate description.

troels nybo nielsen

 7:41 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks for catching my typo or whatever it was that my level of consciousness allowed me to perform! :)


 8:31 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I wonder if this would have an effect on Adwords copy... could help drop my cpc.


 9:33 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is good news - I can employ struggling poets cheaply instead of professional copywriters. There must be a few comedians out there as well - put the 2 together and hey presto...


 4:53 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Two addenda to this fascinating thread:

(1) It's a little before my time, but I recall Mom telling me about Burma-Shave shaving cream's national billboard campaigns [two-lane.com], an overt use of commercial poetry in the middle of the 20th Century.

Each billboard comprised five separate billboards in close succession, and since the driver knew to expect a poem, he or she would be more likely to read all five billboards. E.g.,

In school zones
Take it slow
Let the little
Shavers grow

(2) I haven't yet tested response rate of poetry vs. prose in commercial email, but I will say that a client for whom I compose a weekly mailing tells me she gets a lot of positive feedback when I start out the email with an original poem (3-4 stanzas of rhyming couplet quatrains).

However, I think what gets the good response is the combination of the clever subject matter (when I've had enough coffee to make it clever) along with the rhyming, not just the fact that, "WhooEEE, them's purty words right thar!"

(Hey, I just realized that this is my 200th post! Whoo-hoo!)


 7:38 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm compelled to note that the Burma Shave campaign predated billboards and were much smaller "eye-level" signs on the side of the road.

Not that it makes a significant difference to this conversation, but just wanted to make sure the youngsters have an accurate understanding of the campaign. ;)


 8:11 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

On US television there is currently a commercial for a prescription medicine that is in fully rhyming verse. It's recited quite eloquently by Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard.)

I've noticed that it seems to be going into more frequent rotation - a sure sign that some metric or other says it's working.


 8:33 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

What the article didn't mention was that the original study was funded by the NUPA (National Unemployed Poets Association). ;)


 8:35 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Check for the book "Verse by the Side of the Road" by Frank Rowsome Jr. The book is quite interesting - goes into a fair amount of detail about Burma-Shave's ad campaign, and I believe quotes all of the various jingles.

I remember watching for them when I was a child - we drove from California to Arkansas and Missouri twice a year to see my grandparents. I can't remember exactly when I stopped seeing them....


 7:22 pm on Jun 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have it! It came to me in a flash!

Go Gecko!

it's perfect. Hope nobody thought of that before or I'll have to deal with plagiarism issues.


 1:08 am on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

"NO! I am a GECKO! You want GEIKO!"

*laughing* Okay, it was a long long week, and it's FRIDAY - ooohhhh - FRIDAY WORD GAME....


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