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Tricola

1 May 2010

If you’ve ever stalked me on Facebook and looked intently, you’ll see that one of my interests is “tricolon”. I find tricola (the plural form) one of the most interesting aspects of linguistic practice that I can think of. Society has taught us that perfection comes in threes. Some salient examples: the Trinity, the three branches of US government, the five-paragraph essay with three body paragraphs, the three legs of the Anglican “stool”.

Tricola are a natural development of this obsession with the number three. It is a sentence with three clearly defined parts  of the same length, usually ascending (tricolon crescens) or descending (tricolon diminuens) in intensity. Tricola are used in rhetoric and formal orations to emphasize points within this sense of perfection. Some famous examples of the tricolon are:

  • Veni, vidi, vici.” (I came, I saw, I conquered) –Julius Caesar
  • “…With malice toward none, with charity toward all, with firmness in the right…” –Abraham Lincoln
  • Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, equality, fraternity[brotherhood])–French national motto
  • Citius, altius, fortius (Swifter, higher, stronger) –Olympic motto
  • “Government of the people, by the people, for the people…” –Abraham Lincoln
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