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Abstract Language

describes ideas and qualities, rather than observable or specific things

Ad Hominem

attack on one's opponent, rather than the opponent's argument

Allegory

symbolic story that has a second meaning beneath the surface one

Alliteration

repetition of initial consonant sounds in words

Allusion

indirect reference to famous events or characters from history, literature, or mythology

Ambiguity

event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way; intentional vagueness

Anachronism

placement of an event, person, thing out of its proper place in time

Anaphora

repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row

Antithesis

juxtaposition of two contrasting ideas

Ethos

appeals to the audience's sense of morals or principles

Logos

appeals to the audience's sense of logic and reasoning

Pathos

appeals to the audience's emotions

Apostrophe

address to the dead as though they were living; to the inanimate as if animate; to the absent as if present

Argumentation

exploring a problem by examining all sides of it; persuasion through reason

Archetype

stereotype of literature

Assonance

repetition of similar vowel sounds

Assumption

when details are not stated but must be inferred by the reader

Asyndeton

series of words separated by commas without conjunctions

Balance

construction in which both halves of the sentence have the same length and importance

Catharsis

cleansing release of unhealthy emotions

Causal Relationship

one thing results from another

Chiasmus

arrangement of repeated thoughts in the pattern XY-YX

Cliche

expression so often used its freshness and originality have worn off

Comic Relief

humor in the serious action of a tragedy; enriches the quality of the work

Concrete Language

describes specific, observable things rather than ideas or qualities

Connotation

emotions associated with a word

Consonance

repetition of consonant sounds; not limited to the first letter of words

Conventional

following traditional techniques of writing

Cumulative

sentence that begins with the main idea and expands on that idea with a series of details

Denotation

dictionary definition of a word

Formal Diction

used in serious books and lofty discourse

Informal Diction

found in relaxed but polite and cultivated conversation

Colloquial Diction

everyday usage that may contain terms accepted in a group but not universally acceptable

Slang

newly coined words that are not yet a part of formal usage

Didactic

literature designed to teach or instruct

Digression

temporary departure from the main subject in speaking or writing

Elegy

formal poem lamenting the death of a particular person

Elliptical

deliberate omission of words implied by context

Empathy

reader understands closely what the character is feeling

Enthymeme

syllogism (logical argument) in which the major premise is unstated but meant to be understood

Epithet

adjective used to point out a characteristic of a person or thing

Euphemism

mild word used to substitute an unpleasant or offensive word

Foreshadowing

method used to build suspense by providing hints of what is to come

Figurative Language

words that are inaccurate literally, but describe by calling to mind sensations or responses that the thing described evokes

Freight Train

sentence consisting of three or more short independent clauses joined by conjunctions

Generalization

basing a claim upon an isolated example or asserting that a claim is true rather than probable

Genre

major category into which a literary work fits

Grotesque

bizarre, incongruous, ugly, unnatural, or abnormal

Hyperbole

overstatement or exaggeration of facts

Idiom

use of words or grammatical construction peculiar to a given language, or an expression that cannot be translated literally into a second language

Imagery

use of language to represent sense experience

Auditory Imagery

use of language to represent an experience pertaining to sound

Gustatory Imagery

use of language to represent an experience pertaining to taste

Kinesthetic Imagery

use of language to represent an experience pertaining to the movement of muscles, tendons, or joints

Olfactory Imagery

use of language to represent an experience pertaining to smell

Tactile Imagery

use of language to represent an experience pertaining to touch

Visual Imagery

use of language to represent an experience pertaining to sight

Inversion

word order that places a modifier or verb before the subject

Situational Irony

contrast between what is normally expected and what actually occurs

Dramatic Irony

reader or audience knows more about the events of a story than the character in the story

Verbal Irony

what is said is the opposite of what is meant

Juxtaposition

placement of two things side by side for the purposes of examination

Litote

understatement that purposefully represents something as much less significant as it is, achieving an ironic effect

Loose Sentence

main clause comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units

Metaphor

comparison without using "like" or "as"

Metonymy

designation of one thing with something closely associated with it

Mood

atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work

Motif

frequently recurring character, incident, or concept in a work of literature

Negative-Positive

sentence that begins by stating what is not true and then ending by stating what is true

Onomatopoeia

word whose sound suggests its meaning

Oxymoron

paradox that combines terms normally seen as opposites

Parallelism

similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses

Paradox

statement that appears contradictory yet expresses a truth when viewed from another angle

Parody

comic imitation of another work often for ridicule

Pedantic

scholarly, academic writing that borders on lecturing

Parenthesis

insertion of some verbal unit in a position that interrupts the normal flow of the sentence

Periodic Sentence

main clause comes last, preceded by dependent grammatical units

Polysyndeton

sentence that uses "and" or another conjunction (with no commas) to separate items in a series; X and Y and Z

Personification

attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract concepts

Pun

play on words that utilizes a word's multiple meanings

Realism

faithful representation of reality to make a story more believable

Red Herring

when an author raises an irrelevant issue to draw attention away from the real issue

Rhetoric

art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse

Rhetorical Criticism

analyses the techniques employed in a literary work to impose the author's view on the reader

Sarcasm

verbal irony that uses insincere praise to express bitter and caustic disapproval

Satire

used to arouse laughter at targets such as people or groups to expose human folly

Simile

comparison using "like" or "as"

Stream of Consciousness

writing technique that uses frequent illogical and incoherent digressions to reproduce the raw flow of consciousness

Structure

organization or arrangement of various elements in a work

Narrative Structure

chronological organization used to convey a story

Dramatic Structure

organization used in plays that consists of a series of scenes, each of which is presented in vivid detail

Discursive Structure

organization used in an argument or essay

Style

arrangement of words in a manner that expresses the author's individuality and his or her intent

Rhetorical Question

question used to emphasize a point; no answer is expected

Syllepsis

grammatical construction in which one word relates to two words in very different ways

Syllogism

format of a formal argument that consists of a major premise, minor premise, and conclusion

Symbol

character, object, or event in literature that represents something larger than itself

Synecdoche

figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole

Synesthesia

one sensory experience is described in terms of another sensory experience

Syntax

manner in which words are joined to make phrases, clauses, and sentences

Theme

main idea that the author expresses in a literary work

Thesis

claim or proposition that a writer must strive to prove effectively and thoroughly

Tone

attitude of the speaker of a work of literature expresses to the reader through language

Voice

total "sound" or "feel" of a writer's style that is present behind characters, narrators, and personae of literature

Wit

intellectual humor that suggests the speaker's verbal power in creating ingenious and perceptive remarks

Zeugma

writer uses one word to govern several successive words or clauses

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