English AP Terms
|Diction||The choice of words in oral and written discourse.|
|Image||A word or phrase representing something that can be seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or felt.|
|Details||facts that are included as well as those that are omitted.|
|Language||the overall use of language. These are words that describe the entire body of words in a text, not isolated bits of diction.|
|Syntax||The organization of language into meaningful structure; or pattern of words, the way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences.|
|Tone||The author's attitude toward the subject begin written about. The characteristic emotion that pervades a work or part of a work—the spirit or quality that is the work's emotional essence.|
|Mood||the emotional tone in a work of literature.|
|Point of view||The relation in which a narrator or speaker stands to the story or subject matter of a poem.|
|Voice|| Real or assumed personality used by the writer or speaker. |
Example: "She assumes the voice of a housewife." The dominating ethos or tone of a literary work.
|Theme||The central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life.|
|Style|| a. An evaluation of the sum of the choices an author makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices. |
b. Classification of authors to a group and comparison of an author to similar authors.
|Semantics||the branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of words, their historical and psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another.|
|Conceit||a witty or ingenious thought; a diverting or highly fanciful idea, often stated in figurative language. A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects. Displays intellectual cleverness as a result of the unusual comparison being made.|
|Trope||a generic name for a figure of speech such as image, symbol, simile, and metaphor.|
|Metaphor|| a figure of speech that compares unlike objects. An implied comparison achieved through a figurative use of words; the word is used not in its literal sense, but in one analogous to it. |
Ex. "Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage" (Shakespeare).
|Extended metaphor||A series of comparisons between two unlike objects.|
|Analogy||A similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them. Can explain something unfamiliar by associating it with or pointing out its similarity to something more familiar. Can also make writing more vivid, imaginative, or intellectually engaging.|
|Catachresis|| a harsh metaphor involving the use of a word beyond its strict sphere. |
Ex. "I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear" (MacArthur).
|Symbol/symbolism||Generally, anything that represents itself and stands for something else. Usually _____ is something concrete—such as an object, action, character, or scene—that represents something more abstract.|
|Personification||A figure of speech in which objects and animals are given human characteristics.|
|Ellipsis|| Omission of a word |
Ex. "Blow the trumpet in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah."
|Occupatio||the rhetorical strategy of claiming the intent of silence on a subject and then naming the subject, often at length. |
Ex. "I'm not going to tell you what will happen if you miss curfew tonight. I'm not going to talk about taking the keys to your car. I'm not going to talk about taking away your cell phone. I'm not even going to talk about turning off the television for a month."
|Paradox|| an assertion seemingly opposed to common sense, but that may yet have some truth in it. |
Ex. "What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young" (George Bernard Shaw).
|Metonymy||(Greek "changed label" or "substitute name") A figure of speech that uses substitution. The vehicle and the tenor already have a relationship outside the text. |
The substitution might be done in several ways:
a. substituting the instrument for the agent,
The pen (metonymic for writing) is mightier than the sword (metonymic for war)
b. the container for the thing contained and vice versa,
"The U.S. (metonymic for the U.S. Olympic athletes) won three gold medals"
c. the author for the work,
Did you bring your Hawthorne today?
d. the sign (symbol) for the thing signified,
"The White House (metonymic for president) declared" rather than "the President declared"
e. the cause for the effect and vice versa.
|Synecdoche||(A form of metonymy).|
A figure of speech using substitution in which
a. a part signifies the whole (fifty masts for fifty ships) or
b. the whole signifies the part (days for life, as in "He lived his days under African skies"), or
c. the name of a material stands for the thing itself, as in pigskin for football.
Different from 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).
|Litotes|| a form of understatement in which the negative of the contrary is used to achieve emphasis or intensity, by denying the contrary of the thing being affirmed. The opposite of hyperbole. |
Ex. "War is not healthy for children and other living things."
|Tautology|| repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence. It is what it is.|
Ex. "With malice toward none, with charity for all" (Lincoln). (notice both clauses mean essentially the same thing)
|Synesthesia|| when one kind of sensory stimulus evokes the subjective experience of another. |
Ex. The sight of red ants makes you itchy. In literature, synesthesia refers to the practice of associating two or more different senses in the same image. "Taste the Pain,"
|rhetoric||the ancient art of finding the best available means of persuasion. Those means of persuasion can be generally divided among logos, ethos, and pathos .|
|rhetorical modes||This flexible term describes the variety, conventions, and purposes of the major kinds of writing. The four most common rhetorical modes (often referred to as "modes of discourse") are as follows: |
(a) The purpose of exposition (or expository writing) is to explain and analyze
information by presenting an idea, relevant evidence, and appropriate discussion.
(b) The purpose of argumentation is to prove the validity of an idea, or point of view,
by presenting sound reasoning, discussion, and argument that thoroughly convince the
reader. Persuasive writing is a type of argumentation having an additional aim of urging
some form of action.
(c) The purpose of description is to recreate, 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 in description; good descriptive writing can be sensuous
and picturesque. Descriptive writing may be straightforward and objective or highly
emotional an subjective.
d) The purpose of narration is to tell a story or narrate an event or series of events.
This writing mode frequently uses the tools of descriptive writing.
|Bathos||the use of insincere or overdone sentimentality. Compare to pathos, a higher form of emotional appeal.|
|Persona||The role or façade that a character/speaker assumes or depicts to the reader, a viewer, or the world at large. It works hand in hand with ethos, the ethical attitude of this speaker.|
|Dramatic irony||A circumstance in which the audience or reader knows more about a situation than a character.|
|Verisimilitude||Similar to the truth; the quality of realism in a work that persuades readers that they are getting a vision of life as it is.|
|Wit||the quickness of intellect and the power and talent for saying brilliant things that surprise and delight by their unexpectedness; the power to comment subtly and pointedly on the foibles of the passing scene. It often uses humor, but it isn't the same as humor.|
|Grotesque||Characterized by distortions or incongruities|
|Invective|| a direct verbal assault; a denunciation. An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language. |
Ex. "this sanguine coward, this bedpresser, this horseback breaker, this huge hill of flesh."
|Irony||a mode of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is stated, often implying ridicule or light sarcasm.|
|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, 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 or banal.|
|Pathetic fallacy||Faulty reasoning that inappropriately ascribes human feelings to nature or non-human objects.|
|Epigram||A concise but ingenious, witty, and thoughtful statement.|
|Aphorism||A short, pithy statement of a generally accepted truth or sentiment.|
|Apostrophe||Direct address, usually to someone or something that is not present; also, a sudden turn from the general audience to address a specific group or person or personified abstraction absent or present. A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. |
Ex. "For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel. Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him."
|Periphrasis||The use of an unnecessarily long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution. |
Ex. "Hampton court is on the Thames near Hampton":
Close by those meads, forever crowned with flowers,
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers,
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
Which for the neighb'ring Hampton takes its name (Pope).
|Aporia|| expression of doubt (often feigned) by which a speaker appears uncertain as to what he should think, say, or do. |
"Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do?'" Luke 16
|Allusion||A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art.|
|Ambiguity||The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.|
|Satire||A work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform or ridicule. (_____ is a genre or a style. Irony is a tone).|
|Periodic sentence||A sentence that departs from the usual word order of English sentences by expressing its main thought only at the end. In other words, the particulars in the sentence are presented before the idea they support. The opposite of loose sentence. This independent clause is preceded by a phrase or clause that cannot stand alone. |
Ex. After a long, bumpy flight and multiple delays, I arrived at the San Diego airport.
|Loose sentence||A sentence that follows the customary word order of English sentences, i.e., subject-verb-object. The main idea of the sentence is presented first and is then followed by one or more subordinate clauses. A type of sentence in which the main idea (independent clause) comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units such as phrases and clauses.|
Ex. I arrived at the San Diego airport after a long, bumpy ride and multiple delays.
|Elliptical construction|| A sentence containing a deliberate omission of words. In the sentence |
Ex. "May was hot and June the same." (The verb was is omitted from the second clause).
|Antecedent||The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.|
|Clause||A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb. An independent, or main, clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. A dependent, or subordinate clause, cannot stand alone as a sentence and must be accompanied by an independent clause.|
|Subordinate clause||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. |
These easily recognized key words and phrases usually begin these clauses: although, because, unless, if, even though, since, as soon as, while, who, when, where, how and that.
|Anaphora|| the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines. |
Ex. "He has refused . . . He has forbidden . . . He has called . . . He has dissolved . . ."
|Epistrophe||repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive clauses. |
Ex. "In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo—without warning. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia—without warning. In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria—without warning. In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia—without warning. Later in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland—without warning. And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand—and the United States—without warning" (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
|Congeries|| A heaping together and piling up of many words that have a similar meaning.|
Ex. "This morning you have been rude, obnoxious, impolite, oafish."
|Parallelism||The repetition of identical or similar syntactic elements (word, phrase, clause). From Greek root meaning "beside one another." It refers to the grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity. This can involve, but is not limited to, repetition of a grammatical element such as a preposition or verbal phrase. |
Ex. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of believe, it was the epoch of incredulity [. . .]"
|Antithesis|| a form of parallelism. Opposition or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction. |
Ex. "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue" (Barry Goldwater). (notice, this is also an intentional comma splice).
|Isocolon|| A form of parallelism. The repetition of phrases or clauses of equal length and corresponding grammatical structure. |
Ex. "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."
|Chiasmus|| a form of parallelism. Two corresponding pairs arranged not in parallels (ab-a-b) but in inverted order (a-b-b-a); from shape of the Greek letter chi (X). |
Ex. "Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always"
|Asyndeton|| lack of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words. |
Ex. "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty" (Kennedy)
|Polysyndeton||the repetition of conjunctions in a series of coordinate words, phrases, or clauses. |
Ex. "I said, 'Who killed him?' and he said, 'I don't know who killed him but he's dead all right,' and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Bay and she was all right only she was full of water" (Hemingway).
|Parataxis|| Clauses or phrases arranged independently (a coordinate, rather than a subordinate, construction). |
Ex. "We ran, we sang, we told jokes." (notice, this sentence is also an example of anaphora).
|Hypotaxis|| An arrangement of clauses or phrases in a dependent or subordinate relationship. |
Ex. "As we ran, we sang and told jokes."
|Inversion|| The usual word order is rearranged, often for the effect of emphasis or to maintain the meter. |
Ex. "In silent night when rest I took" ( Anne Bradstreet).
|Syllogism||From the Greek for "reckoning together," 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").
|Ad Hominem||a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting).|
|Begging the Question||a fallacy in which the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true. This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because simply assuming that the conclusion is true (directly or indirectly) in the premises does not constitute evidence for that conclusion. Obviously, simply assuming a claim is true does not serve as evidence for that claim. This is especially clear in particularly blatant cases: "X is true. The evidence for this claim is that X is true." Some cases of question begging are fairly blatant, while others can be extremely subtle. |
Ex. "If such actions were not illegal, then they would not be prohibited by the law."
|Red Herring||This is the most general fallacy of irrelevance. Any argument in which the premises are logically unrelated to the conclusion commits this fallacy. The name of this fallacy comes from the sport of fox hunting in which a dried, smoked herring, which is red in color, is dragged across the trail of the fox to throw the hounds off the scent. Thus, a "red herring" argument is one which distracts the audience from the issue in question through the introduction of some irrelevancy. This frequently occurs during debates when there is an implicit topic, yet it is easy to lose track of it. By extension, it applies to any argument in which the premises are logically irrelevant to the conclusion.|
|Straw man argument||one of the best-named fallacies, because it is memorable and vividly illustrates the nature of the fallacy. Imagine a fight in which one of the combatants sets up a man of straw, attacks it, then proclaims victory. All the while, the real opponent stands by untouched. The Straw Man is a type of Red Herring because the arguer is attempting to refute his opponent's position, and in the context is required to do so, but instead attacks a position—the "straw man"—not held by his opponent or one which makes his opponent's position seem simplistic or blatantly immoral.|
|Appeal to nature||What is logically wrong with appealing to nature? One problem is that the concept of the natural is vague. For instance, is the human use of fire "natural"? Is it "natural" for people to wear clothes? The vagueness of the notion of naturalness does not mean that it is useless, since there are many clear cut cases of the natural and the unnatural. However, an appeal to nature which is based on a borderline case will be unsound because it will be unclear whether its premise is true or false. Another problem is that the word "natural" is loaded with a positive evaluation, much like the word "normal." So, to call something "natural" is not simply to describe it, but to praise it.|
|Loaded language||A word or phrase is "loaded" when it has a secondary, evaluative meaning in addition to its primary, descriptive meaning. When language is "loaded," it is loaded with its evaluative meaning. A loaded word is like a loaded gun, and its evaluative meaning is the bullet. The problem with it is that the logic of the argument isn't convincing the reader as much as the language is pushing the reader's buttons.|
|Loaded question||A question with a false, disputed, or question-begging presupposition. A loaded question is a question with a false or questionable presupposition, and it is "loaded" with that presumption. The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" presupposes that you have beaten your wife.|