As funny as it may sound, I found myself thinking about rhetoric the other day while walking the streets of Florence. While doing so, I realized that rhetoric is all around in many more ways than one. One specific place I found rhetoric was in the words of the many salespeople we passed by.
Especially while walking through the leather market, we had both men and women aggressively inviting us to look around their carts or shops and buy something from them. The first part I found funny was that these salespeople would always just off-the-bat assume we spoke English. I guess we look like the Americans we are. The second part I found funny, and which relates more to rhetoric, is the fact that it was very obvious that these salespeople knew minimal English and it appeared that they were very strategic in the specific English words they learned to say. The things I heard over and over again consisted of things like: “hi pretty lady, come look in my shop”, “beautiful girl, come buy a bag”, and “you need belts?”.
I specify the common phrases not to poke fun, but to point out the trend in simple words that should be flattering and simple to those of us who speak English natively, but know better than to fall for it. The rhetoric these salespeople use is both comical and strategic because they choose very specific words to learn in English to draw those of us who do speak the language in. I think we need to applaud and give credit to these motivated workers for their “work smarter not harder” attitude towards their use of rhetoric in the bustling streets of Italy.