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Figures of Speech – Introduction

This unit explains the different Figures of Speech with examples - Alliteration, Allusion, Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Oxymoron, Onomatopoeia, Anaphora, Ellipsis, Rhyme Scheme, Repetition, Apostrophe.

Figures of speech:

A figure of speech is an expressive use of language to show a special effect by using words in distinctive ways. The special effect may be rhyming sounds or any other.  There are many figures of speech, here are some of them.

 

Alliteration:

The repetition of an initial consonant sound*. It depends on the sound and not on repetition of letters.

*The sound of English alphabets except vowels (a, e, i, o, u).

Ex: “Guinness is good for you” – It is alliterative as words Guinness and good gives similar consonant sound.

Climate change is observed lightly in Tamil Nadu” – Non alliterative as words Climate and Change gives different sound.

 

Allusion:

A reference to a person, place or event that happened – may be real or fiction. The reference may be to any painting, script, character etc.

Ex: “He is a real Romeo with ladies” – Here the reference is to the character “Romeo” in Shakespeare’s plays Romeo and Juliet.

 

Simile:

Comparing two dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common. It is usually done with phrase “like” or “as”.

Ex: “He is as tall as Eifel tower”

 

Metaphor:

An implied comparison between two unlike things that actually have something important in common.

Ex: “The streets were a furnace, the sun an executioner.”   (Cynthia Ozick, “Rosa”) – Here the streets are compared to the furnace and the sun to the executioner.  Here too the comparison is done as like simile but it is in broader sense.

NOTE: Similes mostly uses the comparison words “like” and “as”. The other comparison can be attributed to metaphor.

 

Personification:

A figure of speech in which a lifeless object or abstraction is provided with human qualities or abilities.

Ex: “The wind stood up and gave a shout.” – Here the wind (lifeless object) is compared to a human standing up and shouting.

 

Oxymoron:

A figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear side by side.

Ex: “The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.” – Here the insomnia (habitual sleeplessness) is compared with sleeping – Contradictory words.

 

Onomatopoeia:

The use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.

Ex: “Ding Dong! The door bell is ringing.”

 

Anaphora:

The repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses.

Ex:  “I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, and I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.” (Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, 1940) –

The word “needed” is repeated in the above verses.

 

Ellipsis:

Ellipsis is the omission of one or more words, which must be supplied by the reader.

Ex: “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” (Plato) – Here the second sentence does not contain the word “talk”.

 

Rhyme Scheme:

The arrangement of Rhymes in a poem. Rhyme here stands for the similarity of sounds.

 

Repetition:

It is the simple repeating of a word, within a sentence or a poetical line, with no particular placement of the words, in order to provide emphasis.

 

Apostrophe:

Breaking off the line to address some absent person or thing, some abstract quality, an inanimate object, or a nonexistent character.

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