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Diction - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Diction. Complexities of Language. Could've but Didn't …. Literary Artists (the good ones at least) choose their words carefully… It is helpful to consider the things they could’ve done, but chose NOT to… …and then ask yourself why…

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Complexities of Language

could ve but didn t
Could've but Didn't…
  • Literary Artists (the good ones at least) choose their words carefully…
  • It is helpful to consider the things they could’ve done, but chose NOT to…
  • …and then ask yourself why…

EXAMPLE:Quote: “Baby, baby, baby…oooohhhh” (J. Bieber)

C but D: the “artist” could’ve said “darling, darling, darling”…

complexities of language
Complexities of Language
  • Even the most basic elements of language are in fact very complex.
  • Diction (word choice) is one of these basic ingredients.
  • Reasons for employing different types of diction:
    • To communicate with denotative accuracy
    • To evoke emotions
    • To suggest connections
levels of diction
Levels of Diction
  • High or Formal Diction
  • Neutral Diction
  • Informal or Low Diction
high formal diction
High / Formal Diction
  • Creates an elevated tone
  • Free from slang, idioms, colloquialisms, and contractions
  • Often features polysyllabic words, sophisticated syntax, and elegant word choice
high formal diction1
High / Formal Diction

“Discerning the impracticable state of the poor culprit’s mind, the elder clergyman, who had carefully prepared himself for the occasion, addressed to the multitude a discourse on sin, in all its branches, but with continual reference to the ignominious letter. So forcibly did he dwell upon this symbol, for the hour or more during which his periods were rolling over the people’s heads, that it assumed new terrors in their imagination, and seemed to derive its scarlet hue from the flames of the infernal pit.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter

neutral diction
Neutral Diction
  • Uses standard language and vocabulary
  • Without elaborate words
  • May include contractions
neutral diction1
Neutral Diction

“The shark swung over and the old man saw his eye was not alive and then he swung over once again, wrapping himself in two loops of the rope. The old man knew that he was dead but the shark would not accept it. Then on his back, with his tail lashing and his jaws clicking, the shark plowed over the water as a speedboat does. The water was white where his tail beat it and three-quarters of his body was clear above the water when the rope came taut, shivered, and then snapped. The shark lay quietly for a little while on the surface and the old man watched him. Then he went down very slowly.”

Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

low informal diction
Low / Informal Diction
  • The language of everyday use
  • Relaxed and conversational
  • Includes simple and common words, idioms, slang, jargon, and contractions.
low informal diction1
Low / Informal Diction

“Three quarts of milk. That’s what was in the icebox yesterday. Three whole quarts. Now they ain’t none. Not a drop. I don’t mind folks coming in and getting what they want, but three quarts of milk! What the devil does anybody need with three quarts of milk?”

Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye

types of diction
Types of Diction
  • Slang
  • Colloquial Expressions
  • Jargon
  • Dialect
  • Concrete Diction
  • Abstract Diction
  • Denotation
  • Connotation
concrete vs abstract diction
Concrete vs. Abstract Diction
  • Concrete Diction
    • Specific words that describe physical qualities or conditions
      • “Something soft and furry moved around her ankles”
      • “He was black all over, deep silky black, and his eyes, pointing down toward his nose were bluish green.”
  • Abstract Diction
    • Denotes ideas, emotions, conditions, or concepts that are intangible
      • impenetrable / incredible / inscrutable / inconceivable / unfathomable
denotation vs connotation
Denotation vs. Connotation
  • Denotation
    • The exact, literal definition of a word
    • Independent of any emotional association or secondary meaning
  • Connotation
    • The implicit, rather than explicit meaning of a word
    • Suggestions, associations, and emotional overtones attached to a word