Presentation on theme: "Diction, Syntax, and Tone. Diction refers to the authors choice of words. Syntax refers to word order and sentence structure. Tone is the attitude or."— Presentation transcript:
Diction, Syntax, and Tone
Diction refers to the authors choice of words. Syntax refers to word order and sentence structure. Tone is the attitude or feeling that the writers words express.
When analyzing DICTION, consider such questions as: Is the language concrete or abstract? Are the words monosyllabic or polysyllabic? Do the words have interesting connotations? Is the diction formal or colloquial? Is there any change in the level of diction in the passage? What can the reader infer about the speaker or the speakers attitude from the word choice? Is there a change in diction in the poem?
The term diction covers a lot of ground, but here is a somewhat simplified way to approach. Consider analyzing the diction according to where it falls on any of the two main axes: (1) Levels of formality, and (2) Connotation Diction can usually be described as one of three different levels of style: High or Formal: Dignified, elevated, and often impersonal. Elaborate, or sophisticated vocabulary. In some cases, high style can refer to grammar, or syntax, that has been manipulated for an artistic effectthat is, the grammar calls attention to itself. Polysyllabic. Middle or Neutral: Follows rules of grammar and uses common, unexceptional vocabulary. Grammar and vocabulary is meant to be transparent, easily understood. Low or Informal: Plain language of everyday use, including slang, jargon, vulgarity, and dialect. Monosyllabic.
Why Syntax is so important in poetry: In many cases the poet will use diction and syntax in unexpected or deviant ways. This is popularly called poetic license, but poets don't bend the rules of language just because they can; in a good poem, there is always a reason for unusual uses of language. Look for the hidden relation or significance that compensates for the break in the reader's expectations.
Language can also fall somewhere on the following scale. Few works of literature are purely denotative, of course, but they are connotative to varying degrees. Speak of a passage as being highly connotative or Learn to use these words to discuss connotation. Denotative language Literal Exact Journalistic Straightforward Connotative language Poetic Lyrical Figurative Symbolic Metaphoric Obscure Sensuous Grotesque Picturesque
Syntax Syntax refers to word order and sentence structure. Normal word order in English sentences is firmly fixed in subject-verb- object sequence or subject-verb-complement. In poetry, word order may be shifted around to meet emphasis, to heighten the connection between two words, or to pick up on specific implications. The order of the poems words, or syntax, conveys an emotional, psychological and spiritual impact
Deviant Syntax! Semantic deviation: phrase containing a word whose meaning violates the expectations created by the surrounding words: a grief ago (expect a temporal noun); in the room so loud to my own (expect a spatial adjective) - Dylan Thomas Grammatical deviation: phrase containing a word whose grammatical class violates the expectations created by the surrounding words: the little / lame balloonman / whistles far and wee (an adjective instead of a spatial adverb) Anyone lived in a pretty how town (an interrogative indefinite pronoun instead of a declarative indefinite pronoun [someone]; an adverb instead of an adjective). - e.e. cummings
In the English language, figures of speech can be classified into two types: schemes and tropes. Schemes deal with syntax; they change the traditional pattern of words, as in the use of alliteration: The serpent slithered on the shifting sands. In addition to alliteration, some other examples of schemes include anastrophe, apostrophe, hyperbole, parallelism, and pun. Tropes deal with connotation; they include allegory, allusion, innuendo, irony, metaphor, oxymoron, onomatopoeia, metonymy, and synecdoche.
ALWAYS use an adjective when describing diction, syntax, and tone. ____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.
Take the first tercet of "Neck" by Sarah Arvio, recently published in The New Yorker: That isnt done Grabbing your girlfriends neck isnt done I mean it is done by god often enough but not when Im the girl The subject is obscure at first as she contradicts herself and omits natural, vocal pauses through enjambment. Enjambment comes from the French word "to straddle," and occurs when a phrase ends not at a natural line break, but in the next line, as if to "straddle" the two lines. The effect is that we pause at the end of the line without finishing a complete phrase, sounding as if we are short of breath or being "strangled," just as the girlfriend is. So the meaning is confusing syntactically, but lucid sonically.
Anaphora is a term used to describe repetition, deriving from the Greek word "to bring back." The Latin poet Catullus used it in line 63 poem #63: Ego mulier, ego adulescens, ego ephebus, ego puer, Without even knowing Latin, we are struck by the word "Ego," showing the significance of sound even before comprehension in poetry ("Ego," is "I" in Latin, and as you have rightly assumed, ancestral to the English word "ego").
NOW we can talk about TONE: Tone is the poets attitude toward his subject or subjects. A poem might have a tone that implies humor, sarcasm, loss, sadness, joy, acceptance, wonder, confusion, etc. Its also important to note that a poem can embrace more than one tone. If youre having trouble deciding a poems tone, look carefully at the poets choice of individual words, as well as the overall poem.
The choice of diction and syntax contribute to the tone. When discussing tone, consider such questions as: What seems to be the speakers attitude in the passage? Is more than one attitude or point of view expressed? Does the passage have a noticeable emotional mood or atmosphere? Can anything in the passage be described as irony?
Bouncing into the room, she lit up the vicinity with a joyous glow on her face as she told about her fiancé and their wedding plans. What are the specific words that create the feeling of the sentence? What words did the author use to create the feeling of the sentence?
Bouncing into the room, she lit up the vicinity with a joyous glow on her face as she told about her fiancé and their wedding plans. Bouncing – lit – joyous – glow – fiancé - wedding What kind of words are these?
Bouncing into the room, she lit up the vicinity with a joyous glow on her face as she told about her fiancé and their wedding plans. ____ diction contributes to the ____ tone. Cheerful diction contributes to the euphoric tone. Or uplifting diction contributes to the joyful tone.
She huddled in the corner, clutching her tattered blanket and shaking convulsively, as she feverishly searched the room for the unknown dangers that awaited her. ____ diction contributes to the ____ tone. frightening diction contributes to the alarming tone.
She lay on the couch in a white evening dress, whispering softly in the ear of her fiancé, running her fingers through his hair and gently nibbling his earlobe. ____ diction contributes to the ____ tone. suggestive diction contributes to the seductive tone.
Harvard accepted her, allowing this child the opportunity to study in the same halls as the many famous scholars before her, giving her the chance to excel in her field in the best college in the United States. ____ diction contributes to the ____ tone. lofty diction contributes to the elevated tone.
See………… The more words you know to describe passages, the more sophisticated your descriptions will be when you analyze authors writing.
And one last tip……….. Never, never, never, never, never say: The author uses diction... Do you mean – the author chooses words?? Always say: The author uses ______(what kind of) diction. Indignant? Dark? Euphoric? Describe it!!!!!!