Literary Terms/*Each of the Next Three weeks’ Tests will be over 1/3 of the List
AllusionA direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art. Allusions can be historical, literary, religious, topical, or mythical. There are many more possibilities, and a work may simultaneously use multiple layers of allusion.
AnalogyA similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them. An analogy can explain something unfamiliar by associating it with or pointing out its similarity to something more familiar. Analogies can also make writing more vivid, imaginative, or intellectually engaging.
ConnotationThe non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning. Connotations may involve ideas, emotions or attitudes
DenotationThe strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color. (Example: the denotation of knife- a utensil for cutting – Connotation – knife – such as knife in the back – anger fear violence betrayal
DictionRelated to style, diction refers to the writers word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness. FOR AP EXAMSyou should be able to describe the uthors diction and understand how it compliments his purpose (along iwth
imagery syntax, literary devices, etc)
Figurative LanguageWriting or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative and vivid
Figure of speechA device used to produce figurative language. Many compare dissimilar things. Figures of speech include apotrophe hyperbole irony metaphor oxymoron paradox personification simile syneddoche understatement
GenreThe major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry, and drama.However, genre is a flexible term; within these broad boundaries exist many subdivisions that are often called genresthemselves. For example, prose can be divided into fiction (novels and short stories) or nonfiction (essays, biographies,autobiographies, etc.). Poetry can be divided into lyric, dramatic, narrative, epic, etc. Drama can be divided into tragedy,comedy, melodrama, farce, etc. On the AP language exam, expect the majority of the passages to be from the following genres: autobiography, biography, diaries, criticism, essays, and journalistic, political, scientific, and nature writing. There may be fiction or poetry.
HyperboleA figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. (The literal Greek meaning is “overshoot.”) Hyperboles often have a comic effect; however, a serious effect is also possible. Often, hyperbole produces irony. The opposite of hyperbole is understatement.
ImageryThe sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions. On a physical level, imagery uses terms related to the five senses: visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory. On a broader and deeper level, however, one image can represent more than one thing. For example, a rose may present visual imagery while also representing the color in a womans cheeks and/or symbolizing some degree of perfection. An author may use complex imagery while simultaneously employing other figures of speech, especially metaphor and simile. In addition, this term can apply to the total of all the images in a work. On the AP language exam, pay attention to how an author creates imagery and to the effect of this imagery.
Inference/inferTo draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented. When a multiple choice question asks for an inference to be drawn from a passage, the most direct, most reasonable inference is the safest answer choice. If an inference is implausible, its unlikely to be the correct answer. Note that if the answer choice is directly stated, it is not inferred and it is wrong. You must be careful to note the connotation – negative or positive – of the choices. Adapted from V. Stevenson, Patrick Henry High School, and Abrams Glossary of Literary Terms
Irony/ironicThe contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant, or the difference between what appears to be and what is actually true. Irony is often used to create poignancy or humor. In general, there are three major types of irony used in language: (1) verbal irony – when the words literally state the opposite of the writers (or speakers) meaning (2) situational irony – when events turn out the opposite of what was expected; when what the characters and readers think ought to happen is not what does happen (3) dramatic irony – when facts or events are unknown to a character in a play or piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or other characters in the work.
MetaphorA figure of speech using implied comparison of seemingly unlike things or the substitution of one for the other, suggesting some similarity. Metaphorical language makes writing more vivid, imaginative, thought provoking, and meaningful.
MoodThe prevailing atmosphere or emotional aura of a work. Setting, tone, and events can affect the mood. Mood is similar to tone and atmosphere.
NarrativeThe telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events.
onomatopoeiaA figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words. Simple examples include such words as buzz, hiss, hum, crack, whinny, and murmur. If you note examples of onomatopoeia in an essay passage, note the effect.
ParadoxA statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth or validity. (Think of the beginning of Dickens Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”)
ParallelismAlso referred to as parallel construction or parallel structure, this term comes from Greek roots 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 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….”) The effects of parallelism are numerous, but frequently they act as an organizing force to attract the readers attention, add emphasis and organization, or simply provide a musical rhythm. Adapted from V. Stevenson, Patrick Henry High School, and Abrams Glossary of Literary Terms
ParodyA work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule. It exploits peculiarities of an authors expression (propensity to use too many parentheses, certain favorite words, etc.) Well-written parody offers enlightenment about the original, but poorly written parody offers only ineffectual imitation. nuances of the newer work. Occasionally, however, parodies take on a life of their own and dont require knowledge of the original.
PersonificationA figure of speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects by endowing them with human attributes or emotions. Personification is used to make these abstractions, animals, or objects appear more vivid to the reader.
Point of viewIn literature, the perspective from which a story is told. There are two general divisions of point of view, and many subdivisions within those. (1) first person narrator tells the story with the first person pronoun, “I,” and is a character in the story. This narrator can be the protagonist, a secondary character, or an observing character. (2) third person narrator relates the events with the third person pronouns, “he,” “she,” and “it.” There are two main subdivisions to be aware of: a. third person omniscient, in which the narrator, with godlike knowledge, presents the thoughts and actions of any or all characters b. third person limited omniscient, in which the narrator presents the feelings and thoughts of only one character, presenting only the actions of all the remaining characters. In addition, be aware that the term point of view carries an additional meaning. When you are asked to analyze the authors point of view, the appropriate point for you to address is the authors attitude.
RepetitionThe duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as a sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.
SarcasmFrom 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. Mr. Hunsicker never uses sarcasm.
StyleThe 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 We can analyze and describe an authors personal style and make judgments on how appropriate it is to the authors 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 authors 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.
Symbol/symbolismGenerally, 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 (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 works 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.
ThemeThe 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. Ex: Dont judge someone until you walk a mile in their shoes.
ThesisIn expository writing, the thesis statement is the sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the authors opinion, purpose, meaning, or position. Expository writing is usually judged by analyzing how accurately, effectively,and thoroughly a writer has proven the thesis.
ToneSimilar to mood, tone describes the authors 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 authors tone. Some words describing tone are playful, serious, businesslike, sarcastic, humorous, formal, ornate, sardonic, somber, etc.
Understatementthe 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 Swifts 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.”
Active VoiceThe opposite of passive voice, the active is essentially any sentence with an active verb. Johnny Appleseed planted his seeds in the garden. The active verb is “planted.” Active voice is usually preferred in writing because it expresses more energy and command of the essay than does the passive voice.
Argument From IgnoranceAn argument stating that something is true because it has never been proven false. Such arguments rely on claims that are impossible to prove conclusively, and they often go both ways. There are no aliens because we have never identified aliens or Aliens exist because we have never proven they dont. Similarly, God exists because no one has proven He doesnt (and vice versa)
BandwagonAlso called vox populi. This argument is the “everyones doing it” fallacy and it especially appreciated, for example by politicians trying to get voters to agree that everyone agrees that we should all agree to reduce taxes and by teenagers who argue that they should be allowed to go to the concert because all their friends are going.
begging the questionThis argument occurs when the speaker states a claim that includes a word or phrase that needs to be defined before the argument cab proceed. Because of the extreme conditions before us, we must vote for tax. (Uh, what conditions are being called “extreme?”)
Cause and EffectAnother fallacy, this is also known by another name post hoc ergo propter ho ( Latin for “after this, therefor because of this”). Such an argument falls under the general umbrella of a causality fallacy or a false cause. It seems that every time you turn on the same on television, the teams loses. Therefor, you come to believe that you are the cause of the losses. (It sounds silly, but people do it all the time. Think about superstitions)
Complex SentenceA sentence that is a combination of a dependent clause and an independent clause. If you walk to the top of the tower, you will find a sacred sardine can.
Compound SentenceA sentence structure made up of two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. Dont open the door or a deadly smell will kill you.
Compound Complex SentenceA combination of a compound and a complex sentence. Because the swamp is near you back door, you might expect the Creature from the Black Lagoon to put in an appearance and tear apart Uncle Als fishin shack if it is in his way.
DialectA regional speech pattern; the way people talk in different parts if the world. Dialect is a from or regionalism in wriing and is often refereed to as “colloquial language”
DistractorA distractor is a possible answer that seems to be correct but is either wrong or is not as good as other answers.
JargonA pattern of speech and vocabulary associated with a particular group of people. It typically appears only in the multiple-choice section and is not significant. Computer analysis have their own vocabulary, as do doctors, astronauts, and plumbers.That is their jargon. To some extent, this glossary and book are an effort to provide you with a new (though we hope not entirely new) jargon.
JuxtapositionMaking on idea more dramatic by placing it next to its opposite. In art it is called chiaroscuro, where a bright white object is placed next to a black object and thus both are made more visible. My goodness is often chastened by my sense of sin, or The Gasoline savings from a hybrid car as compared to a standard car seem excellent until one compares the asking prices of the two vehicles. The juxtaposition of the asking prices shows that the savings are not as significant as they first appear.
LogosAn appeal to reason. Logos is one of the fundamental strategies of argumentation identified by Aristotle. It occurs when a writer tries to convince you of the logic of his argument. writers may use inductive argumentation or deductive argumentation, but they clearly have examples and generally rational tome to their language. The problem with logos is that is can appear reasonable until you dissect the argument and then find fallacies that defeat the viability of the argument on the readers eyes. Of course, that presupposes that the readers is able to identify the fallacies.
ObjectA noun toward which thought, feeling, or action is directed. Not all sentences have objects, although all must have subjects and predicates.The entrance to the dark fortress dared the knight to try his hand at entering.
ParentheticalsPhrases, sentences, and words inside parentheses (). In rhetorical analysis, pay attention to parenthetical statements. Two questions should arise when you see parenthetical: Why are these words inside parentheses? and Are there other parentheticals that together make a pattern in the essay? They arent a big deal, but sometimes they merit a paragraph of analysis. The Big Bopper (J.P to his friends) rolled into Chantilly Lace and all the girls went wild.
ParticipleA verbal (expression action or a state of being) that is used as an adjective and most often ends in -ing or -ed. Participles function as adjectives, modifying nouns or pronouns. Creating a ruckus (participle = noun = subject) confused the robbers and led to an escape. Creating a ruckus (participle = adjective), the hero made the really bad guys turn away from the hidden treasure.
Passive VoiceTh opposite of active voice; in the passive voice something happens to someone: Mordred was bitten by the dog, rather than the active form The dig bit Mordred.
PhraseA grouping of words that define or clarify. The syntactical definition of “phrase” is a group of words that is not a sentence because there is no verb. There are many different forms, but the most common is the prepositional phrase. The monster jumped into the swamp.
PredicateThe formal term for the verb that conveys the meaning or carries the action of the sentence. The fair maiden awakened form a deep sleep to find an ogre at hr beside.
Predicate AdjectiveAm adjective that follows a linking web and modifies the subject of the sentence. The gigantic whirlpool was inky black, and there was no moon.
Predicate NominativeA noun or pronoun that uses a linking verb to unite, describe, or rename the noun in the subject of the sentence. The silly dwarf is a squirrel.
PunA play on words. In an argument, a pun usually calls humorous attention to particular point. He kept waving at the princess. He was a devoted fan.
SimileA critical figure of speech in an argument when what is unknown is compared to something that is known using the word “like,” “as,” or “than” in order to better perceive its importance. Remember the ripple effect and look for patterns in similes and metaphors in any piece of nonfiction prose. The trolls fishing technique was like a mercenary throwing bombs in the water to catch trout.
Simple SentenceAn independent clause. It has a subject and a verb, and thats pretty much it. The giant chopped down the bean tree.
SubjectThe formal term for the noun that is the basic focus of the sentence. It is who or what is doing the action in the sentence. An anxious gryphon got lost in the queens maze.
ThesisThe writers statement of purpose. Every well-written essay will have one. It is how the reader identifies what the writer is arguing, the position the writer is taking, the action the writer is advocating. Essentially, it is the focal intent of the essay., A _____ is used to define and direct an essay and is worth 1 point. In it you must answer all parts of the question and then prove it to be true within the remainder of your essay.
AllegoryA story in which each aspect of the story has a symbolic meaning outside the tale itself.
Frame story/taleA narrative structure that provides a setting and exposition for the main narrative in a novel. Often, a narrator will describe where he found the manuscript of the novel or where he heard someone tell the story he is about to relate. The frame helps control the readers perception of the work, and has been used in the past to help give credibility to the main section of the novel
SatireA work that reveals a critical attitude toward some element of human behavior by portraying it in an extreme way.
PersonaThe person created by the author to tell a story, or the voice in a poem. Whether the story is told by an omniscient narrator or by a character in it, the actual author of the work often distances himself from what is said or told by adopting a persona–a personality different from his real one. Thus, the attitudes, beliefs, and degree of understanding expressed by the narrator may not be the same as those of the actual author. Some authors, for example, use narrators who are not very bright in order to create irony.
Setting.The total environment for the action of a fictional work. Setting includes time period (such as the 1890s), the place (such as downtown Warsaw), the historical milieu (such as during the Crimean War), as well as the social, political, and perhaps even spiritual realities. The setting is usually established primarily through description, though narration is used also.