THE SOUTHERN COMMUNICATION JOURNAL 55 (SUMMER, 1990), 337-354
WORDS AND NUMBERS: MATHEMATICAL DIMENSIONS OF RHETORIC
BY ALLEN H. MERRIAM
This essay investigates how numbers function rhetorically by influencing persuasive appeals, the structure of messages, and our use of .language. The author argues that "three" is the dominant numerical motif of rhetoric in the English language.
"The ladies men admire, I've heard, Would shudder at a wicked word. Their candle gives a single light; They'd rather stay at home at night. They do not keep awake till three, Nor read erotic poetry. They never sanction the impure, Nor recognize an overture. They shrink from powders and from paints … So far, I've had no complaints.''