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Q: reversed phrases ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: reversed phrases
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: oliver-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 12 Dec 2002 15:13 PST
Expires: 11 Jan 2003 15:13 PST
Question ID: 123856
Some speeches use the same phrase again, but reversed, to make a
point. The best example I can think of is
"Think not what your country can do for you but what you can do for
your country"
I also heard somone talking about policy reagrding a retirement home
"We aim to add life to years not years to life"
Tha same trick is also used in some jokes, but I can't think of any
that are not to rude for this place, Im sure you can though.

I remember hearing this discussed on BBC radio 4 Some time (years)
ago. An Accademic had written a book on the subject, giving many
examples and a history of the technique. I think he called the phrases
kyasms, well thats what it sounded like. He enthused about them
saying, you dont get into kyasms, kyasms get into you.

My question is whats the name of the book? 

The author is probably british given that I heard about it on bbc
It's just occured to me the topic must be related to spoonerisms.
Ill can post some more examples if it's helpful.
Subject: Re: reversed phrases
Answered By: voila-ga on 12 Dec 2002 18:03 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings Oliver,

Thanks for your question on chiasmus.  I subscribe to chiastic quotes
from so I was familiar with this literary

The book you're looking for is probably, "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or
A Kiss Fool You," by Dr. Mardy Grothe.  It's quite possible that Dr.
Grothe was on a book tour in the UK and was interviewed by the BBC.

Dr. Grothe is a psychologist from Boston who also has a background in
management consulting.  The magazine "Inc." did a 1984 cover story
calling him a pioneer in the emerging field of "business therapy." 
"NLaFKYoaKFY" is Dr. Grothe's first language book, having contributed
on three business-related  projects with Peter Wylie, "Problem Bosses:
Who They are and How to Deal With Them," "Problem Employees:  How to
Improve Their Performance, and "Can This Partnership Be Saved?: 
Improving or Salvaging Your Key Business Relationships"

Additional Books on Chiasmus:

Pardon Me, Do You Know What Chiasmus Means? 

From "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms" by Chris

"chiasmus [ky-AZ-mus] (plural -mi), a figure of speech by which the
order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in
the second.  This may involve a repetition of the same words:
"Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure" --Byron or just a
reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas . . . . The
figure is especially common in 18th century English poetry, but is
also found in prose of all periods.  It is named after the Greek
letter chi (x), indicating a "criss-cross" arrangement of terms. 
Adjective: chiastic."

Masters of Chiasmus include Winston Churchill, JFK, Oscar Wilde,
George Bernard Shaw, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shakespeare, Benjamin
Frankin, and Confucius.  You can read their contributions here:

The Double Chiasmus:

For a review of Dr. Grothe's book published in hardback by Viking in
July 1999:

From the BBC:


Spoonerisms are a result of changing around, especially accidentally,
the initial sounds of two or more words when speaking, eg,
'well-boiled icicle' for well-oiled bicycle. Others include 'sky as a
height', 'nark staked', and 'dain brammage'.


Chiasmus is a figure of speech, where wit is conveyed through the
reversal of words or phrases in clauses. Often used in verse, it
becomes a poem of parallels. The word comes from the Greek letter Chi,
which looks like an X. Most chiasmus follow an ABBA method, where word
or phrase A is used in the a clause, then B, then B again, and finally
A. A good example of this would be, 'Never let a fool kiss you, or a
kiss fool you'. Some chiasmus can become lengthy to the point they are
not obvious in their symmetry.

Additional Stylistic Devices:

Glossary of Rhetorical Terms with Examples:

Forging Alliances with Words:

Shaping Science with Rhetoric: The Cases of Dobzhansky, Schrödinger,
and Wilson. Leah Ceccarelli. xii + 204 pp. University of Chicago

Chiasmus in Antiquity, John Welch, editor, Research Press reprint,

Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon:

Davidic Chiasmus:

Cry Criasmus:

Favorite Chiasmus Quotations:

I checked best prices entering the ISBN at and found a "like new" copy of Dr.
Grothe's book at for $3.50.

I trust this is the word and book you're seeking.  If there is
additional information you require, please don't hesitate to ask for a
clarification.  I love researching the things I love.  Language is
sure one of them!

Best holiday wishes, Oliver

Clarification of Answer by voila-ga on 12 Dec 2002 18:34 PST
Sorry, Oliver, I forgot your joke --

"What's the difference between men and women?  
A woman wants one man to satisfy her every need.  
A man wants every woman to satisfy his one need." ;-) 

There are some pretty hysterical language examples on the BBC link I
gave you earlier.  I got totally side-tracked reading them and forgot
my assignment.

Dr. Grothe is also working on a chiastic jokes/riddle page.  You can
submit your favorites here:

oliver-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Wow, every thing I needed to know. This had been bugging me for a long
Answers is like magic I post my question go to bed, and in the
morining I have a well written answer.
Best holiday wishes to you also.

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