From the Greek meaning "to tear flesh," sarcasm involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something. It may use irony as a device, but not all ironic statements are sarcastic (that is, intended to ridicule). When well done, sarcasm can be witty and insightful; when poorly done, it is simply cruel.
A work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform or ridicule. Regardless of whether or not the work aims to reform human behavior, satire is best seen as a style of writing rather than a purpose for writing. It can be recognized by the many devices used effectively by the satirist: irony, wit, parody, caricature,
hyperbole, understatement, and sarcasm. The effects of satire are varied, depending on the writer's goal, but good satire, often humorous, is thought provoking and insightful about the human condition. Some modern satirists include Joseph Heller (Catch 22) and Kurt Vonnegut (Cat's Cradle, Player Piano).
The branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of words, their historical and psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another.
The consideration of style has two purposes:
(1) An evaluation of the sum of the choices an author makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices. Some authors' styles are so idiosyncratic that we can quickly recognize works by the same author.
We can analyze and describe an author's personal style and make judgments on how appropriate it is to the author's purpose. Styles can be called flowery, explicit, succinct, rambling, bombastic, commonplace, incisive, laconic, etc.
(2) Classification of authors to a group and comparison of an author to similar authors. By means of such classification and comparison, we can see how an author's style reflects and helps to define a historical period, such as the Renaissance or the Victorian period, or a literary movement, such as the romantic, transcendental, or realist movement.
The word (with any accompanying phrases) or clause that follows a linking verb and complements, or
subject of the sentence by either (1) renaming it (the predicate nominative) or (2) describing it (the
predicate adjective). These are defined below:
(1) the predicate nominative - a noun, group of nouns, or noun clause that renames the subject. It, like the predicate adjective, follows a linking verb and is located in the predicate of the sentence.
Example: Julia Roberts is a movie star.
movie star = predicate nominative, as it renames the subject, Julia Roberts
(2) the predicate adjective -- an adjective, a group of adjectives, or adjective clause that follows a linking verb. It is in the predicate of the sentence, and modifies, or describes, the subject.
Example: Warren remained optimistic.
optimistic = predicate adjective, as it modifies the subject, Warren
Like all clauses, this word group contains both a subject and a verb (plus any accompanying phrases or modifiers), but unlike the independent clause, the subordinate clause cannot stand alone; it does not express a complete thought. Also called a dependent clause, the subordinate clause depends on a main clause (or independent clause) to
complete its meaning. Easily recognized key words and phrases usually begin these clauses. For example: although, because, unless, if, even though, since, as soon as, while, who, when, where, how and that.
Example: Yellowstone is a national park in the West that is known for its geysers.
underlined phrase = subordinate clause
From the Greek for "reckoning together," a syllogism (or syllogistic reasoning or syllogistic logic) is a deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises (the first one called "major" and the second called "minor") that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion. A frequently cited example proceeds as follows:
major premise: All men are mortal.
minor premise: Socrates is a man.
conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is a mortal.
A syllogism's conclusion is valid only if each of the two premises is valid. Syllogisms may also present the specific idea first ("Socrates") and the general second ("all men").
Generally, anything that represents itself and stands for something else. Usually a symbol is something
concrete -- such as an object, action, character, or scene - that represents something more abstract. However, symbols and symbolism can be much more complex. One system classifies symbols into three categories:
(1) natural symbols are objects and occurrences from nature to symbolize ideas commonly associated with them (dawn
symbolizing hope or a new beginning, a rose symbolizing love, a tree symbolizing knowledge).
(2) conventional symbols are those that have been invested with meaning by a group (religious symbols such as a cross
or Star of David; national symbols, such as a flag or an eagle; or group symbols, such as a skull and crossbones for
pirates or the scale of justice for lawyers).
(3) literary symbols are sometimes also conventional in the sense that they are found in a variety of works and are more generally recognized. However, a work's symbols may be more complicated, as is the jungle in Heart of Darkness.
On the AP exam, try to determine what abstraction an object is a symbol for and to what extent it is successful in representing that abstraction.
a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole or, occasionally, the whole is used to represent a part. Examples: To refer to a boat as a "sail"; to refer to a car as "wheels"; to refer to the violins, violas, etc. in an orchestra as "the strings." **Different than metonymy, in which one thing is represented by another thing that is commonly physically associated with it (but is not necessarily a part of it), i.e., referring to a monarch as "the crown" or the President as "The White House."
The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences. Syntax is similar to diction, but you can differentiate them by thinking of syntax as groups of words, while diction refers to the individual words. In the multiple- choice section of the AP exam, expect to be asked some questions about how an author manipulates syntax. In the essay section, you will need to analyze how syntax produces effects.
The central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life. Usually theme is unstated in fictional works, but in nonfiction, the theme may be directly state, especially in expository or argumentative writing.
In expository writing, the thesis statement is the sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author's opinion, purpose, meaning, or position. Expository writing is usually judged by analyzing how accurately, effectively, and thoroughly a writer has proven the thesis.
Similar to mood, tone describes the author's attitude toward his material, the audience, or both. Tone is easier to determine in spoken language than in written language. Considering how a work would sound if it were read aloud can help in identifying an author's tone. Some words describing tone are playful, serious, businesslike, sarcastic, humorous, formal, ornate, sardonic, somber, etc.
A word or phrase that links different ideas. Used especially, although not exclusively, in expository and argumentative writing, transitions effectively signal a shift from one idea to another. A few commonly used transitional words or phrases are furthermore, consequently, nevertheless, for example, in addition, likewise, similarly, on the
contrary, etc. More sophisticated writers use more subtle means of transition.
The ironic minimalizing of fact, understatement presents something as less significant than it is. The effect can frequently be humorous and emphatic. Understatement is the opposite of hyperbole. Example: Jonathan Swift's A Tale
of a Tub: "Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse."
in modern usage, intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights. A witty statement is humorous, while suggesting the speaker's verbal power in creating ingenious and perceptive remarks. Wit usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement. Historically, wit originally meant basic understanding. Its meaning evolved to include speed of understanding, and finally, it grew to mean quick perception including creative fancy and a quick tongue to articulate an answer that demanded the same quick perception.