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Four Elements of Style: Diction Syntax Tone Point of View

Four Elements of Style: Diction Syntax Tone Point of View. Mrs. Stacey Reaves Wilson Hall Sumter, SC sreaves@ftc-i.net. Diction: Word Choice. “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Mark Twain.

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Four Elements of Style: Diction Syntax Tone Point of View

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  1. Four Elements of Style:DictionSyntaxTonePoint of View Mrs. Stacey Reaves Wilson Hall Sumter, SC sreaves@ftc-i.net

  2. Diction: Word Choice • “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Mark Twain

  3. Diction: Word Choice • 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.

  4. Formal (academic or literary writing) Germ Relatives Position Child Superior Communicate Informal (personal writing) Bug Folks Job Kid Boss Get across Ways to Characterize Diction Ex. He is two fries short of a Happy Meal. (slang=highly informal) He’s crazy. (informal) He’s schizophrenic or insane. (formal)

  5. Examples: • The respite from study was devoted to a sojourn at the ancestral mansion. (formal and artificial) • I spent my vacation at the house of my grandparents. (informal and natural) • I endeavored to peruse the volume. (formal and artificial) • I tried to read the book. (informal and natural)

  6. Take it another step… • Colloquial—conversational language • Dialect-is there dialect? • Slang—highly informal and not appropriate for most writing • Jargon—the special language of a profession or group (lawyer or teacher talk, medical terminology, technical words) that is usually formal

  7. 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 boy Ways to Characterize Diction Ex. 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).

  8. Ways to Characterize Diction • Monosyllabic (Anglo-Saxon-think of the Germans who brought us the English language-kill and grunt story-curse words)-one syllable • Polysyllabic (Latinate/Greek-think of Renaissance and beautiful words and adjectives)-many syllables • The more polysyllabic words, the more difficult the text

  9. Denotative (Referential-dictionary) Public servant Financier Law Officer Legislative consultant Investigator Soldier of fortune Connotative (Emotive-emotional) Bureaucrat Speculator Cop Lobbyist Spy Hired kill Ways to Characterize Diction

  10. Euphonious (Pleasant Sounding) …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

  11. Abstract Not material Representing a thought Pleasant tasting Concrete Real, actual Specific, not general Sour tasting Ways to Characterize Diction

  12. 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? • Is there a change in the level of diction in the passage?

  13. 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 the figures of speech serve, and what effect do they have on the passage?

  14. Activity: Use a Diction Style Chart to analyze The Rattler and one of your papers.

  15. 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)

  16. 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. CompoundSentence (two independent clauses joined by a conjunction or a semicolon) The singer bowed to the audience, but she sang no encores. Go and speak.

  17. Simple Compound Complex Compound-Complex Complex Sentence (one independent, one or more subordinate clauses) When I heard the concert, I enjoyed it because she sang beautifully. When I really understand grammar and when I actually put it to use, my grades in English will improve. (two dependent clauses, one independent clause) Compound-Complex (two or more independent and one or more subordinate clauses) The singer bowed while the audience applauded, but she sang no encores. Where you go I will go, and where you dwell I will dwell.

  18. 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. He resigned after denouncing his accusers and asserting his own innocence time and time again. 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. After denouncing his accusers and asserting his own innocence time and time again, the State Department official resigned. Balanced/Parallel-the phrases or clauses balance each other in likeness or structure, meaning, and/or length, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. To err is human, to forgive is divine. Together we planned the house, together we built it, and together we watched it go up in smoke. He was walking, running, and jumping

  19. Sentence Patterns:Natural, Inverted, Split Order • Natural Order-the 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)

  20. Syntax Continued • 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 • The apparition of those faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough… • Repetition- a device in which words sounds, and ideas are used more than once for the purpose of enhancing the rhythm and creating emphasis. • …government of the people, by the people, for the people… • Rhetorical Question-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 writing exam?

  21. Syntax Review • Are the sentences simple and direct or complex and convoluted? • Are the sentences Loose/Cumulative (main idea at the beginning) or Periodic (main idea withheld until end of sentence)? • 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 (contrasting images presented with a balanced word or phrase)? • Does the author use juxtaposition (unrelated ideas, words, phrases placed together for emphasis or surprise)?

  22. Tone • The manner of expression showing the author’s attitude toward characters, events,or situations. • Tone is reflected in the author’s “voice.”

  23. Pedantic Euphemistic Pretentious Sensuous Exact Cultured Plain Literal Colloquial Artificial Detached Poetic Moralistic Slang Idiomatic Esoteric Symbolic Simple Complex Figurative Words to Describe Tone • Vulgar • Scholarly • Insipid • Precise • Learned • Picturesque • Trite • Obscure • Bombastic • Grotesque

  24. Tone passage from Ruth McKenny’s “A Loud Sneer for Our Feathered Friends” We refused to get out of the 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.” How does the author establish the negative attitude the campers have toward Camp Hiwah? Does sentence structure also contribute to tone?

  25. Tone Passage from James Ramsey Ullman’s “Kilimanjaro” 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. What is the author’s attitude toward Kilimanjaro? How does the sentence structure help establish this tone?

  26. Tone Review • What seems to be the speaker’s attitude in the passage? • Is more than one attitude or point of view expressed? • Does the passage have a noticeable emotional mood or atmosphere? • What effect does tone have on the reader?

  27. Point of View • First Person • Narrator uses first person pronouns (I, my, mine, we, our, us, etc. • Access to the narrator’s consciousness • Story is told through the eyes of main character (protagonist), minor character, or outside observer • Narrator is reliable when observer is used, but may not be reliable when told by a character. The narrator may be naïve or biased

  28. Point of View • Third Person Omniscient (all knowing) • Third person pronouns (he, she) mostly • Access to consciousness of more than one character, perhaps all • Story seen through eyes of an outside observer • Reliable as implied author’s voice • Third Person Limited Omniscient • Third person pronouns (he, she) mostly • Access to consciousness of one character • Story seen through eyes of an outside observer, protagonist, or minor character whose presence dominates • Reliable when observer is used, less reliable when character used or when narrator intrudes or comments

  29. 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 character’s mind

  30. Alliteration Assonance Consonance Simile/ Metaphor Conceit Imagery Personification Onomatopoeia Hyperbole Understatement Paradox Oxymoron Pun Irony Antithesis Apostrophe Allusion Symbolism Synecdoche Metonymy Zeugma List of Rhetorical Terms • Anaphora • Asyndeton • Cacophony • Chiasmus • Epistrophe • Euphemism • Juxtaposition • Parallelism • Polysyndeton • Repetition • Rhetorical Question

  31. Activity: Read “The Rattler.” (p. 103 notebook)Analyze elements such as diction, syntax, point of view, and tone.

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