Asyndeton: • A condensed form of expression in which elements customarily joined by conjunctions are presented in series without conjunction. The parts are emphasized equally when the conjunction is omitted; in addition, the use of commas with no intervening conjunctions speeds up the flow of the sentence.
“veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered.) Julius Caesar “…government of the people, by the people, for the people…” Abraham Lincoln
Polysyndeton: • The use of more conjunctions than is normal. This strategy stresses equally each member of the series. It makes the sentence slower and the items more emphatic than in the asyndeton.
“…pursues his way, And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.” Milton from Paradise Lost
Anaphora: • Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer’s point more coherent.
“We cannot dictate-we cannot consecrate- we cannot hallow this ground.” Abraham Lincoln
Chiasmus: • A rhetorical device in which certain words, sounds, concepts or syntactic structures are reversed or repeated in reverse order. The term chiasmus is derived from the x-shaped Greek letter chi; the implication is that the two parts of a chiastic whole mirror each other as do the parts of the letter x.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair.” William Shakespeare Macbeth “Her soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling….” James Joyce “The Dead”
Not all Chiasmus is precise! “Flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Pres. John F. Kennedy
Chiastic structure may also create or heighten paradox! “…why it (is) that eating something good could make me feel so terrible, while vomiting something terrible could make me feel so good.” Amy Tan
A pattern of syntactic reversal such as the following also constitutes a kind of chiasmus: “Into the rain ran the cat; the dog followed into the darkness.” (Prepositional phrase, verb, subject, subject, verb, prepositional phrase)
“…works without show and without pomp presides.” (Verb, prepositional phrase, prepositional phrase, verb) Alexander Pope “essay in Criticism”
Sonic Chiasmus “In Xanadu did Kubla khan…” Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Anecdote: • A brief account of some interesting or entertaining and often humorous incident. Lacking the complexity of the short story, an anecdote simply relates a particular episode or event that makes a single point.
EXAMPLE: • The story of George Washington and the cherry tree
Syntax • The arrangement – the ordering, grouping, and placement – of words within a sentence. • Syntax has also been viewed as one of the two components of diction (the other being vocabulary).
EXAMPLE: “I rode across the meadow.” Vs. “Across the meadow rode I.”
Synecdoche • (suh-NEK-duh-kee) • A figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole
EXAMPLE: • Referring to a car as “wheels” • “We hope everyone will lend a hand in completing this project.”
Litotes ( Lie-Ta-Tees) or (Lie-Toe-Tees) • A form of understatement in which a thing is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite • Authors often use litotes to achieve an ironic effect
Litotes ( Lie-Ta-Tees) or (Lie-Toe-Tees) • Sometimes used synonymously with meiosis (intentional understatement for humorous or satiric effect)
EXAMPLE • The test was “not bad.” • A few unannounced quizzes are not inconceivable. • War is not healthy for children and other living things. • One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. (meiosis)
Euphemism • A device (figure of speech) in which indirectness replaces directness of statement, usually in an effort to avoid offensiveness
Euphemism • “senior citizens” vs. “old people” • “in the family way” vs “pregnant • “rest room” vs. “toilet” • “pass away” vs. “die”