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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One down and two to go!

Well, one daughter has started her Freshman year of high school - another is set to start her Senior year Wednesday and the third starts preschool next Monday (yes preschool, next year I get to put one in college and one in kindergarten!) So it is time for my next Back to School Post!


Figures of Speech (and other devices for spicing up your writing)
by Caroline Taggart,
Author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

A figure of speech is technically an expression used in a nonliteral (that is, a figurative) way, such as when you say My lips are sealed. Obviously, this is not possible unless you have put glue over them. When most people learn ways to expand their writing style, they are often directed to utilize such techniques as alliteration and onomatopoeia, which poets also use for effect. Here is a basic list that you may (or may not) remember:

alliteration: when a number of words in quick succession begin with the same letter or the same letter is repeated. For example, Full fathom five thy father lies, as Ariel sings in The Tempest.

assonance: similar to alliteration, but now with the repetition of vowel sounds. For example, And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side/ Of my darling -- my darling -- my life and my bride,/ In the sepulchre there by the sea,/ In her tomb by the sounding sea. (Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee)

euphemism: replacing an unpleasant word or concept with something less offensive, as in substituting the term Grim Reaper for death. Some are also intended to be funny, as when morticians refer to corpses as clients.

hyperbole: Pronounced hy-PER-bo-lee. Not HY-per-bowl. Exaggeration for effect, as in I've told you a hundred times. This is the opposite of . . .

litotes: understatement for effect, as when not bad means completely wonderful. Litotes can be interpreted differently, depending on culture and verbal emphasis.

metaphor: an expression in which a word is used in a nonliteral sense, saying that x is y rather than x is like y, which would be a simile. For example, Macbeth's Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.

metonymy: Merriam-Webster defines this as "a figure of speech consisting of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated." For example, the term press, which originally was used for printing press, now connotates the news media. Easily confused with synecdoche.

onomatopoeia: a word or phrase that sounds (a bit) like the sound it is meant to convey: buzz, purr, or Tennyson's the murmuring of innumerable bees.

oxymoron: an apparent contradiction for effect, the classic example being jumbo shrimp.

personification: giving human qualities, such as emotions, desires, and sensations to an inanimate object or an abstract idea. Emily Dickinson's The Railway Train is often cited as an example of personification:

I like to see it lap the miles,
And lick the valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at tanks;
And then, prodigious step
Around a pile of mountains . . .

simile: a comparison that -- unlike a metaphor -- expresses itself as a comparison, usually with the words as or like. Examples include dead as a dodo or like a bat out of hell.

synecdoche: a form of metonymy, but in this instance specifically "a whole for the part or a part for the whole." For example, a set of wheels used to denote the term automobile, or the command All hands on deck to summon a crew of sailors.

The above is an excerpt from the book I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School by Caroline Taggart. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2009 Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Author Bio
Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School, has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer's Market UK 2009.

For more information please visit www.amazon.com

3 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Oh wow! Your emotions will be all over the place next year. I hope all of your girls have a wonderful school year.

Kelly said...

My kids are spread out too. (I thought I was done a couple of times....sold off all the baby furniture...*surprise!!!) I have a 14 year old, 20 year old, almost 28 year old and a *gulp....almost 31 year old....dang...I'm old...)

One year we had a law school graduation in April, a college graduation in May and a high school graduation in June. But its been fun, I wouldn't change any of it. (The "baby" keeps me young....(ish)!

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh great! I keep trying to learn all the words (especially when sons are preparing for exams...)

My youngest is heading off to college again soon... taking his driving test first. Busy times. Wishing you well.

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