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Advanced Placement Language & Composition Vocabulary

Advanced Placement Language & Composition Vocabulary

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Advanced Placement Language & Composition Vocabulary

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  1. Advanced Placement Language & Composition Vocabulary Literary Terms


  3. ABSTRACT • Opposed to concrete, not quantifiable • Emotions, ideals, concepts, feelings, values… • Something pleasant or pleasing is abstract, while calling something yellow or sour is concrete. • The word domesticity is abstract, but the word sweat is concrete.

  4. ALLEGORY • Prose or verse in which the objects, events or people are presented symbolically, so that the story conveys a meaning other than and deeper than the actual incident or characters described. Often, the form is used to teach a moral lesson. • John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1678);the hero, Christian, flees the City of Destruction and travels through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, and finally arrives at the Celestial City. • The entire narrative is a representation of the human soul's pilgrimage through temptation and doubt to reach salvation in heaven.

  5. ANECDOTE • A short narrative detailing the particulars of an event. • The story usually consists of an interesting biographical incident. • This is seen in The Canterbury Tales. • It is also seen in the beginning of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five when the author is speaking of how he came to write the succeeding story.

  6. ANTITHESIS • Using opposite phrases in close conjunction. • "I burn and I freeze," or "Her character is white as sunlight, black as midnight.“ • The best antitheses express their contrary ideas in a balanced sentence. • It can be a contrast of opposites: "Evil men fear authority; good men cherish it." • It can be a contrast of degree: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for all mankind."

  7. ARCHETYPE • An original model or pattern from which other later copies are made, especially a character, an action, or situation that seems to represent common patterns of human life. • Includes a symbol, a theme, a setting, or a character that some critics think have a common meaning in an entire culture, or even the entire human race. • Recurring symbolic situations, themes, characters, symbolic colors

  8. ATTITUDE • A judgment which an author, character or work expresses.  To be distinguished from tone (the emotion with which views are expressed).  • Tone is emotional, attitude intellectual.  • Wilfred Owen’s poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” expresses the attitude that efforts to glorify war in the name of patriotism are lies that distort its ugly reality.  Often in good poetry the tone is mixed and the attitude complex.

  9. AUDIENCE • The particular group of readers or viewers that the writer is addressing.  • A writer considers his or her audience when deciding on a subject, a purpose for writing and the tone and style in which to write.

  10. CONCRETE • Opposed to abstract; quantifiable • Language that describes qualities that can be perceived with the five senses as opposed to using abstract or generalized language. • Calling a fruit "pleasant" or "good" is abstract, while calling a fruit "cool" or "sweet" is concrete.

  11. CONFLICT • Protagonist/antagonist clash • The tension or problem in the story; a struggle between opposing forces.

  12. Three Types of Conflict • central conflict:  the dominant or most important conflict in the story. • external conflict:  the problem or struggle that exists between the main character and an outside force. (ex:  person vs. person, person vs. society, person vs. nature, person vs. the supernatural, person vs. technology, etc.) • internal conflict:  the problem or struggle that takes place in the main character’s mind (person vs. self). 

  13. CRITICISM • AKA: Critical reading • Careful analysis of an essay's structure and logic in order to determine the validity of an argument. • Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals. • Formalist, feminist, Marxist, mythological, biographical, psychoanalytic, historical, etc.


  15. DEDUCTIVE • Reasoning from the general to the specific. • Students are bad drivers. • Aaron drives recklessly. • Aaron hits small animals daily.

  16. INDUCTIVE • Reasoning from the specific to the general. • Aaron hits small animals daily. • Aaron, a student, drives recklessly. • Students are bad drivers.

  17. DETAIL • Specifically described items placed in a work for effect and meaning. • Elements the author chooses to be specific about. • In some cases, the elements the author chooses not to be specific about. • In E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake,” he gives details about: • the “tarred road” past & present • The “camp on the lake” • The boy “[sneaking] quietly out” past & present • Omits details of anything negative

  18. DICTION • Word choice of an author • The sound of a word • Denotation: dictionary meaning • Connotation: all the emotions the word elicits. • plump = obese denotation is the same = FAT • plump = pleasantly fat is the connotation • obese = medically fat is the connotation

  19. ETHOS • CREDIBILITY • Ethical appeal, means convincing by the character of the author. • We tend to believe people whom we respect. • One of the central problems of argumentation is to project an impression to the reader that you are someone worth listening to, in other words making yourself as author into an authority on the subject of the paper, as well as someone who is likable and worthy of respect.

  20. LOGOS • LOGICAL • Persuading by the use of reasoning. • This will be the most important technique, and Aristotle's favorite. • Use deductive and inductive reasoning, and discuss what makes an effective, persuasive reason to back up claims. • Giving reasons is the heart of argumentation, and cannot be emphasized enough.

  21. PATHOS • EMOTIONAL • Persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions. • Language choice affects the audience's emotional response, and emotional appeal can effectively be used to enhance an argument.

  22. IMAGERY • A common term of variable meaning, imagery includes the "mental pictures" that readers experience with a passage of literature. • It signifies all the sensory perceptions referred to in a poem, whether by literal description, allusion, simile, or metaphor. • Imagery is not limited to visual imagery; it also includes: • auditory (sound), • tactile (touch), • thermal (heat and cold), • olfactory (smell), • gustatory (taste), • and kinesthetic sensation (movement).

  23. LANGUAGE • The style of the sentence and vocabulary used in conversation and written communication. • Slang • Formal • Parental • Didactic (lesson-like or “boring”) • Common, etc.

  24. SYNTAX • The physical arrangement of words in a sentence. • The function of a word, phrase, or clause within a sentence. • The function of a word, phrase, or clause within a sentence. • Standard English syntax prefers a Subject-Verb-Object pattern. • Poets may tweak syntax to achieve rhetorical or poetic effects.


  26. ASYNDETON • Consists of omitting conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. In a list of items, asyndeton gives the effect of unpremeditated multiplicity, of an extemporaneous rather than a labored account: • On his return he received medals, honors, treasures, titles, fame. • If, as is the case, we feel responsibility, are ashamed, are frightened, at transgressing the voice of conscience, this implies that there is One to whom we are responsible, before whom we are ashamed, whose claims upon us we fear. --John Henry Newman

  27. ANALOGY • The comparison of two things alike in some respects. • Purpose of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to some familiar one. • In Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis, No. 1,” he uses the analogy of the thief breaking into a person’s home to compare with the King’s actions toward the Colonists.

  28. ANALYSIS • To separate into parts for inspection and evaluation. • A reader can examine the different literary devices used in a text, infer information, interpret the meaning, and then synthesize for overall tone, theme, etc.

  29. ANTIHERO • A protagonist who is a non-hero or the antithesis of a traditional hero. • While the traditional hero may be dashing, strong, brave, resourceful, or handsome, the antihero may be incompetent, unlucky, clumsy, dumb, ugly, or clownish.

  30. BYRONIC HERO • An antihero who is a romanticized but wicked character. Conventionally, the figure is a young and attractive male with a bad reputation. He defies authority and conventional morality, and becomes paradoxically ennobled by his peculiar rejection of virtue. • Byronic heroes are associated with destructive passions, sometimes selfish brooding or indulgence in personal pains, alienation from their communities, persistent loneliness, intense introspection, and fiery rebellion.

  31. CHARACTER • Any representation of an individual being presented in a dramatic or narrative work through extended dramatic or verbal representation. • The reader can interpret characters as endowed with moral and dispositional qualities expressed in what they say (dialogue) and what they do (action).

  32. Character Types • Flat: one-dimensional; built around a single idea or quality • Round: multi-dimensional; complex in temperament and motivation • Static: unchanging over the course of the narrative • Dynamic: capable of growth and change during the course of the narrative • Grotesque: induce both empathy and disgust. • The Hunchback of Notre Dame • The Phantom of the Opera • Beauty and the Beast

  33. CRISIS • The turning point of uncertainty and tension resulting from earlier conflict in a plot. • At the moment of crisis in a story, it is unclear if the protagonist will succeed or fail in his struggle. • The crisis usually leads to or overlaps with the climax of a story, though some critics use the two terms synonymously.

  34. INFERENCE • A judgment based on reasoning rather than on direct or explicit statement. • A conclusion based on facts or circumstances. • For example, advised not to travel alone in temperatures exceeding fifty degrees below zero, the man in Jack London's "To Build a Fire" sets out anyway. One may infer arrogance from such an action.

  35. IRONY • In irony of situation, the result of an action is the reverse of what the actor expected. • Macbeth murders his king hoping that in becoming king he will achieve great happiness. Actually, Macbeth never knows another moment of peace, and finally is beheaded for his murderous act. • In verbal irony, the contrast is between the literal meaning of what is said and what is meant. • A character may refer to a plan as brilliant, while actually meaning that (s)he thinks the plan is foolish. Sarcasm is a form of verbal irony. • In dramatic irony, the audience knows something that the characters in the drama do not. • For example, the identity of the murderer in a crime thriller may be known to the audience long before the mystery is solved.

  36. MICROCOSM • “Small world” representing an entire idea through a small situation or conflict. • Macrocosm and microcosm is an ancient Greek schema of seeing the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos: • the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to • the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level).

  37. MOOD/ATMOSPHERE • The atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work, partly by a description of the objects or by the style of the descriptions. • A work may contain a mood of horror, mystery, holiness, or childlike simplicity, to name a few, depending on the author's treatment of the work.

  38. MOTIF • A conspicuous recurring element, such as a type of incident, a device, a reference, or verbal formula, which appears frequently in works of literature. • For instance, the "loathly lady" who turns out to be a beautiful princess is a common motif in folklore. • The man fatally bewitched by a fairy lady is a common folkloric motif appearing in Keats' "La Belle Dame sans Merci." • The motif of the "beheading game" is common in Celtic myth—Sir Gawain & the Green Knight

  39. POLYSYNDETON • The use of a conjunction between each word, phrase, or clause, and is thus structurally the opposite of asyndeton. The rhetorical effect of polysyndeton, however, often shares with that of asyndeton a feeling of multiplicity, energetic enumeration, and building up. • [He] pursues his way, / And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. --John Milton • When it was announced that the vending machines were going to have apples instead of Cheetos, and orange juice instead of Coke, the students cried and bawled and sobbed and complained and whined and protested.


  41. ANAPHORA • The repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences, commonly in conjunction with climax and with parallelism. • In books I find the dead as if they were alive; in books I foresee things to come; in books warlike affairs are set forth; from books come forth the laws of peace. --Richard de Bury • Will he read the book? Will he learn what it has to teach him? Will he live according to what he has learned? • They are masters who instruct us without rod or ferule, without angry words, without clothes or money. --Richard de Bury

  42. HYPOPHORA • Consists of raising one or more questions and then proceeding to answer them, usually at some length. A common usage is to ask the question at the beginning of a paragraph and then use that paragraph to answer it: • What behavior, then, is uniquely human? My theory is this . . . . --H. J. Campbell • But what was the result of this move on the steel industry? The annual reports for that year clearly indicate. . . .

  43. PEDANTIC • Bookish and scholarly in tone, often boring and dull due to little interest on the part of the listener. • Using “big” words just for the sake of showing off.

  44. PLAGIARISM • Accidental or intentional intellectual theft in which a writer, poet, artist, scholar, or student steals an original idea, phrase, or section of writing from someone else and presents this material as his or her own work without indicating the source via appropriate explanation or citation.

  45. PLOT • The structure of a story. • The sequence in which the author arranges events in a story. • The structure of a five-act play often includes the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. • The plot may have a protagonist who is opposed by antagonist, creating what is called, conflict. • A plot may include flashback or it may include a subplot which is a mirror image of the main plot. • For example, in Shakespeare's, "King Lear," the relationship between the Earl of Gloucester and his sons mirrors the relationship between Lear and his daughters

  46. POINT OF VIEW • The way a story gets told and who tells it. • It is the method of narration that determines the position, or angle of vision, from which the story unfolds. • Point of view governs the reader's access to the story.

  47. Points of View • First person: the narrator speaks as "I" and the narrator is a character in the story who may or may not influence events within it. • Third-person narrative: the narrator seems to be someone standing outside the story who refers to all the characters by name or as he, she, they, and so on. • Dramatic third person point of view or objective: the narrator reports speech and action, but never comments on the thoughts of other characters.

  48. Points of View • Limited: a narrator who is confined to what is experienced, thought, or felt by a single character, or at most a limited number of characters. • Omniscient: a narrator who knows everything that needs to be known about the agents and events in the story, and is free to move at will in time and place, and who has privileged access to a character's thoughts, feelings, and motives. • Unreliable narrator: a narrator who describes events in the story, but seems to make obvious mistakes or misinterpretations that may be apparent to a careful reader. Unreliable narration often serves to characterize the narrator as someone foolish or unobservant.

  49. REPETITION • Word, sound, phrase, or idea used for emphasis • An excellent technique in persuasive speeches. • Always pay attention to repetition in writing—the author has a point to make!

  50. RHETORIC • The art of persuasive argument through writing or speech--the art of eloquence and charismatic language. • The earliest known studies of rhetoric come from the Golden Age, when philosophers of ancient Greece discussed logos, ethos, and pathos.