AP English Language Glossary

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Personification

The assigning of human qualities to inanimate objects or concepts. An example: Wordsworth's "the sea that bares her bosom to the moon."

Antithesis

the presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by phrase, clause, or paragraphs. "To be or not to be . . ." "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times . . ." "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country . . ."

Oxymoron

From the Greek for "pointedly foolish," ___ is a figure of speech wherein the author groups apparently contradictory terms. Simple examples include "jumbo shrimp" and "cruel kindness."

Sarcasm

from the Greek meaning "to tear flesh," ___ involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something. It may use irony as a device.

Synecdoche

. a figure of speech that utilizes a part as representative of the whole. "All hands on deck" is an example.

Hyperbole

a figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement

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.

Euphony

the pleasant, mellifluous presentation of sounds in a literary work.

Theme

The central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life. Usually, __ is unstated in fictional works, but in nonfiction, the __ may be directly stated, especially in expository or argumentative writing.

Metonomy

a term from the Greek meaning "changed label" or "substitute name" __ is a figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it. For example: a news release that claims "The White House declared" rather than "The President declared"

Paradox

A statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth or validity.

Transition

a word or phrase that links one idea to the next and carries the reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.

Onomatopoeia

a figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words. Simple examples include such words as buzz, hiss, hum.

Cacophony

harsh and discordant sounds in a line or passage in a literary word.

Metaphor

a direct comparison between dissimilar things. "Your eyes are stars" is an example.

Symbol

generally, anything that represents, stands for, something else. Usually, a ___ is something concrete—such as an object, action, character, or scene—that represents something more abstract.

Begging the Question

Often called circular reasoning, __ occurs when the believability of the evidence depends on the believability of the claim.

Invective

an emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.

Understatement

the opposite of exaggeration. It is a technique for developing irony and/or humor where one writes or says less than intended.

Either-or reasoning

When the writer reduces an argument or issue to two polar opposites and ignores any alternatives.

Homily

This term literally means "sermon," but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice.

Pedantic

An adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic, or bookish.

Causal Relationship

In __, a writer asserts that one thing results from another. To show how one thing produces or brings about another is often relevant in establishing a logical argument.

Equivocation

When a writer uses the same term in two different senses in an argument.

Imagery

The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions. On a physical level, __ uses terms related to the five senses; we refer to visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, or olfactory. For example, a rose may present visual __ while also representing the color in a woman's cheeks.

Euphemism

a more acceptable and usually more pleasant way of saying something that might be inappropriate or uncomfortable. "He went to his final reward" is a common __ for "he died." They are also used to obscure the reality of the situation.

Figure of Speech

A device used to produce figurative language. Many compare dissimilar things. Examples are apostrophe, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, metonomy, oxymoron, paradox, personification, simile, synecdoche, and understatement.

Irony

The contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant. The difference between what appears to be and what actually is true.

Satire

A work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and convention for reform or ridicule. Regardless of whether or not the work aims to reform humans or their society, ___ is best seen as a style of writing rather than a purpose for writing. The effect of __, often humorous, is thought provoking and insightful about the human condition.

Alliteration

The repetition of initial consonant sounds, such as "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

Epigraph

The use of a quotation at the beginning of a work that hints at its theme. Hemingway begins The Sun Also Rises with two. One of them is "You are all a lost generation" by Gertrude Stein.

Periodic Sentence

A sentence that presents its central meaning in a main clause at the end. The independent clause is preceded by a phrase or clause that cannot stand alone. The effect is to add emphasis and structural variety.

Narrative

The telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events.

Ethos

an appeal based on the character of the speaker. An __-driven document relies on the reputation of the author.

Situational Irony

a type of irony in which events turn out the opposite of what was expected.

Consonance

Repetition of a consonant sound within two or more words in close proximity.

Pathos

an appeal based on emotion.

Syllogism

From the Greek for "reckoning together," a __ is a deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion.

Logos

an appeal based on logic or reason

Verbal Irony

In this type of irony, the words literally state the opposite of the writer's true meaning

Anecdote

A story or brief episode told by the writer or a character to illustrate a point.

Abstract Language

Language describing ideas and qualities rather than observable or specific things, people, or places.

Ad Hominem

In an argument, this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent's ideas. It comes from the Latin meaning "against the man."

Denotation

the literal or dictionary meaning of a word

Cumulative

Sentence which begins with the main idea and then expands on that idea with a series of details or other particulars

Dramatic Irony

In this type of irony, facts or events are unknown to a character in a play or a piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or other characters in the work

Parody

A work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule.

Connotation

the interpretive level or a word based on its associated images rather than its literal meaning.

Repetition

The duplication, either exact or approximate, or any element of language, such as sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.

Syntax

The grammatical structure of prose and poetry.

Assonance

Repetition of a vowel sound within two or more words in close proximity

Voice

can refer to two different areas of writing. One refers to the relationship between a sentence's subject and verb (active and passive). The second refers to the total "sound" of the writer's style.

Infer

To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented.

Argument

A single assertion or a series of assertions presented and defended by the writer

Allusion

A reference contained in a work

Genre

The major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry, and drama.

Stream-of-consciousness

This is a narrative technique that places the reader in the mind and thought process of the narrator, no matter how random and spontaneous that may be.

Allegory

A work that functions on a symbolic level

Explication

The act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text. __ usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.

Parallelism

refers to the grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity.

Semantics

The branch of linguistics that studies that meaning of words, their historical and psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another.

Rhetorical Modes

The flexible term describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of writing.

Analogy

a literary device employed to serve as a basis for comparison. It is assumed that what applies to the parallel situation also applies to the original circumstance. In other words, it is the comparison between two different items.

Figurative Language

Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative and vivid.

Example

an individual instance taken to be representative of a general pattern

Description

The purpose of this rhetorical mode is to re-create, invent, or visually present a person, place, event, or action so that the reader can picture that being described. Sometimes an author engages all five senses.

Narrative Device

This term describes the tools of the storyteller, such as ordering events to that they build to climatic movement or withholding information until a crucial or appropriate moment when revealing in creates a desired effect.

Ethical Appeal

When a writer tries to persuade the audience to respect and believe him or her based on a presentation of image of self through the text.

Exposition

The purpose of this rhetorical mode is to explain and analyze information by presenting an idea, relevant evidence, and appropriate discussion.

Attitude

the relationship an author has toward his or her subject, and/or his or her audience

Backing

Support or evidence for a claim in an argument

Ellipsis

Indicated by a series of three periods, the __ indicates that some material has been omitted from a given text.

Argumentation

The purpose of this rhetorical mode is to prove the validity of an idea, or point of view, by presenting sound reasoning, discussion, and argument that thoroughly convince the reader.

Didactic

writing whose purpose is to instruct or to teach. A ___ work is usually formal and focuses on moral or ethical concerns.

Ambiguity

an event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way.

Narration

The purpose of this type of rhetorical mode is to tell the story or narrate an event or series of events.

Rhetoric

from the Greek for "orator," this term describes the principle governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently, and persuasively.

Third Person Limited Omniscient

This type of point of view presents the feelings and thoughts of only one character, presenting only the actions of all remaining characters

Third Person Omniscient

In ___, the narrator, with a godlike knowledge, presents the thoughts and actions of any or all characters.

Comic Relief

the inclusion of a humorous character or scene to contrast with the tragic elements of a work, thereby intensifying the next tragic event.

Character

those who carry out the action of the plot in literature. Major, minor, static, and dynamic are the types.

Colloquial

the use of slang in writing, often to create local color and to provide an informal tone. Huckleberry Finn in written in a __ style.

Antecedent

the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers.

Style

an evaluation of the sum of the choices an author makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices.

Thesis

The sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author's opinion, purpose, meaning, or proposition.

Authority

Arguments that draw on recognized experts or persons with highly relevant experience.

Chiasmus

Arrangement of repeated thoughts in the pattern of X Y Y X. It is often short and summarizes a main idea.

Deconstruction

a critical approach that debunks single definitions of meaning based on the instability of language. It "is not a dismantling of a structure of a text, but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself."

Balance

a situation in which all parts of the presentation are equal, whether in sentences or paragraphs or sections of a longer work.

Conflict

a clash between opposing forces in a literary work, such as man vs. man; man vs. nature; man vs. God; man vs. self

Tone

Similar to mood, __ describes the author's attitude toward his or her material, the audience, or both.

Prose

One of the major divisions of genre, ___ refers to fiction and nonfiction, including all its forms, because they are written in ordinary language and most closely resemble everyday speech.

Dialect

the recreation of regional spoken language, such as a Southern one. Hurston uses this in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Asyndeton

Commas used (with no conjunction) to separate a series of words. The parts are emphasized equally when the conjunction is omitted; in addition, the use of commas with no intervening conjunction speeds up the flow of the sentence. X, Y, Z as opposed to X, Y, and Z.

Wit

In modern usage, intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights. Usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement.

Point of View

In literature, the perspective from which a story is told.

Deduction

The process of moving from a general rule to a specific example.

Annotation

explanatory notes added to a text to explain, cite sources, or give bibliographical data.

Mood

This term has two distinct technical meanings in English writing. The first meaning is grammatical and deals with verbal units and a speaker's attitude. The second meaning is literary, meaning the prevailing atmosphere or emotional aura of a work.

Diction

the author's choice of words that creates tone, attitude, and style, as well as meaning

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