Four Elements of Style: Diction, Syntax, Tone, Point of View
Four Elements of Style: Diction, Syntax, Tone, Point of View Diction: Word Choice The difference between the right word and almost right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. Mark Twain A study of diction is the analysis of how a writer uses language for a distinct purpose and effect, including WORD CHOICE and FIGURES OF SPEECH. Ways to Characterize Diction Informal (personal
writing): Bug Folks Job Kid Boss Get across Formal (academic or literary writing): Germ Relatives Position Child Superior C0mmunicate
Examples: The respite from study was devoted to a sojourn at the ancestral mansion. (formal) I spent my vacation at the house of my grandparents. (informal) I endeavored to peruse the volume. (formal) I tried to read the book. (informal) Take it another step Colloquial: conversational language, such as dialect. Slang: highly informal; not appropriate for most writing. Jargon: special language of a
profession or group (lawyer or teacher talk, medical terminology, technical words); usually formal. Ways to Characterize Diction (cont.) General: Look Walk Sit Cry Throw Dog Boy Specific: Gaze, stare, peer, ogle Stride, slink, trot,
shuffle Slump, squat, lounge Weep, sob, bawl Hurl, pitch, toss, flip Black Labrador retriever Tall, lanky gent Examples The dishes fell to the floor with a loud noise (crashed or clattered). He walked along slowly (ambled, sauntered). He looked at her in an angry way (glowered, glared). Ways to Characterize Diction (cont.) Monosyllabic (Anglo-Saxon; German):
one syllable. Polysyllabic (Latin/Greek): many syllables. Ways to Characterize Diction (cont.) Denotative (referential; dictionary): Public servant Financier Law Office
(pleasantsounding): through the drizzling rain on the steamy street breaks the morning sun. Liquid infection Tinkle Butterfly Cacophonous (harsh-sounding): their loud songs bang and grate nerves of the wretched listeners.
Pus Pee Maggot Ways to Characterize Diction (cont.) Abstract: Not material Representing an idea or thought Pleasant-tasting Concrete: Real, actual Specific; not general Sour-tasting
Diction Review Are the words monosyllabic or polysyllabic? Is the diction formal or informal? Which one? Colloquial (conversational)? Slang (highly informal)? Jargon (the special language of a certain group or profession)? Is the language concrete or abstract? Figures of Speech Does the passage use unusual images or patterns of imagery? Does the author create analogies, like similes or metaphors?
Does the author use personification? Is there deliberate hyperbole or understatement in the passage? Does the author employ paradox or oxymoron to add complexity? What part do rhythm and sound devices, such as alliteration or onomatopoeia, play in the passage? What purpose do figures of speech serve, and what effect do they have on the passage? Syntax: Sentence Structure Examine sentence patterns and variety for an effect. Function: What is the function of the sentence? Declarative (statement)
Interrogative (question) Imperative (command) Exclamatory (exclamation) Simple, Compound, Complex, & Compound-Complex Grammatical: Which type is the sentence? Simple sentence (one subject, one verb): The singer bowed her head to her adoring audience. Compound sentence (two independent clauses joined by a conjunction or a semicolon): The singer bowed to the audience, but she sang no encores. Go and speak.
Simple, Compound, Complex, & Compound-Complex Complex sentence (one independent, one or more dependent clauses): When I heard the concert, I enjoyed it because she sang beautifully. Compound-Complex (two or more independent and one or more dependent): The singer bowed while the audience applauded, but she sang no encores. Loose Periodic Balanced Loose: main idea stated at the beginning of the sentence followed by additional information. The sentence makes complete sense if brought to a close before the actual ending. We reached Columbia that morning after a
turbulent flight. Periodic: main idea withheld until the end of the sentence. It makes sense only when the end of the sentence is reached. That morning after a turbulent flight, we reached Columbia. Loose Periodic Balanced Balanced/Parallel: the phrases or clauses balance each other in likeness or structure, meaning and/or length. Together we planned the house, together we built it, and together we watched it go up in
smoke. Sentence Patterns: Natural, Inverted, Split Order Natural order: subject comes first followed by the predicate. Oranges grow in California. Inverted order (Sentence inversions): the predicate comes before the subject. In California grow oranges. Split Order: the predicate is divided into two parts with the subject coming in the middle. In California, oranges grow. Syntax (cont.) Juxtaposition: a poetic and rhetorical device in
which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise. After a one-week whirlwind Web romance, they had agreed to meet in Rome, to rendezvous (her phrase) at the papal Easter Mass. Repetition: a device in which words, sounds, and ideas are used more than once for the purpose of enhancing the rhythm and creating emphasis. week after week, semester after semester, after year year Syntax (cont.) Rhetorical questions: a question
which expects no answer; used to draw attention to a point and is usually stronger than a direct statement. If Chase is always right, as you have said, why did he fail the exam? Syntax Review Are the sentences simple and direct or complex and convoluted? Are the sentences Loose (main idea at beginning) or Periodic (main idea at end)? Are there rhetorical questions in the passage? Is there variety in the sentence patterns? Does the author use repetition (words, sounds, ideas
more than once for effect)? Does the author use parallel structure (similarity in words or phrases)? Does the author use antithesis (c0ntrasting images presented with a balanced word or phrase)? Does the author use juxtaposition (unrelated ideas, words, phrases placed together for emphasis or surprise)? Tone The manner of expression showing the authors attitude toward characters, events or situations. Tone is reflected in the authors voice. Words to Describe Tone
Vulgar Scholarly Insipid Precise Learned Picturesque Trite Obscure Bombastic Grotesque Tone We refused to get out of bed when the bugle blew
in the morning, we fought against scrubbing our teeth in public to music, we sneered when the flag was ceremoniously lowered at sunset, we avoided doing a good deed a day, we complained loudly about the food and we bought some chalk and wrote all over the Recreation Cabin, We hate Camp Hiwah. (A Loud Sneer from Our Feathered Friends Ruth McKenny) How does the author establish the negative attitude the campers have toward Camp Hiwah? Does the sentence structure also contribute to the tone? Tone It has been called the House of God. It has been called the High One. The Cold One. The White One.
On close acquaintance by climbers, it has been called a variety of names rather less printable. But to the world at large it is Kilimanjaro, the apex of Africa and one of the great mountains on the earth. (Kilimanjaro James Ramsey Ullman) What is the authors attitude toward Kilimanjaro? How does the sentence structure help establish this tone? Tone Review What seems to be the speakers attitude in the passage? Is more than one attitude or point of view expressed? Does the passage have noticeable emotional mood or atmosphere? What effect does tone have on the
reader? Point of View First Person: Narrator uses first person pronouns (I, me, mine, we, our, us) Access to narrators consciousness Story is told through the eyes of the main character, minor character, or outside observer Narrator may or may not be reliable; may be nave or biased Second Person: Narrator tells the story to another character or audience, using personal pronoun you.
Point of View Third Person Omniscient: Third person pronouns (he, she) Access to consciousness of more than one character Story seen through eyes of outside observer Third Person Limited: Third person pronouns (he, she) Access to consciousness of one character Story seen through eyes of outside observer, protagonist or minor character who dominates Point of View Stream of consciousness: First or third person Unbroken flow of perceptions, thoughts,
and feelings Narrator records in detail what passes through a characters mind List of Rhetorical Terms
Alliteration Assonance Consonance Simile Metaphor Conceit Imagery Personification Onomatopoeia Hyperbole
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