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ASSONANCE,

CONSONANCE
AND
DISSONANCE
English 11 AP Literary Terms K.
Curran

Definitions:
Assonance

Assonance is the repetition of vowel


sounds. For example, "She sells seashells
by the seashore" contains the repetition
of short E and long E sounds - - that's
assonance. So is the old slogan for
Hoover vacuum cleaners: "It beats as it
sweeps as it cleans. There is no actual
rhyme there, in the English sense, but
there is the repetition of vowel sounds.

Consonance

Consonance is the repetition of


consonant sounds, especially at
the end of stressed syllables,
without the correspondence of
vowels, as you would have in
rhyme. An example would be the
repetition of consonants or of a
consonant pattern, especially at
the ends of words, as in blank and
think or strong and string.

More examples of
assonance:
"Strips
of tinfoil
winking
like
people
(Sylvia
Plath,
"The
Bee
Meetin
g")

"Those images that yet


Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gongtormented sea."
(W.B. Yeats, "Byzantium)

"I must confess that in my


quest I felt depressed and
restless."
(Thin Lizzy, "With Love")

More examples of
consonance:
Note the S
sounds
throughout
and the
Ws.
In some
languages,
rhyme is
defined by
internal
vowel and/or
consonant
sounds,
instead of
final rhymes,
as it is in
English.

Stopping by Woods on a
Snowy Evening
by
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Whose woods these are I think
I know.
His house is in the village
though;
He will not see me stopping
here

Dissonance
As a literary term, dissonance means
a harsh or inharmonious sound. It is
similar to the term cacophony.
Generally speaking, writers employ
dissonance on purpose to suggest
anger or discord, or for deliberate
dramatic effect. Dissonance employs
language that is discordant and
difficult to pronounce, such as this line

Dissonance

There are many great examples of


dissonance in literature, but perhaps the
best way to understand the concept is to
think like

A Klingon!

Klingons

In the original Star Trek series in the


1960s, the Klingons were bad guys.
They were unceasingly violent, and had
few, if any redeeming qualities. (They
were developed as characters and
became less cartoonishly evil in later
versions of the series.)
Die-hard Star Trek fans developed a
complete Klingon language and lexicon.
This language reflects the
Klingons natural state of anger.

Klingon to English Harsh,


Baby

Ha-qua ma pay qua


mack!

DaHjajaj QaQ
Daghajjaj!
Ja cho mack raj pen
gah tack!
Hab Sachi Quatch!

Toe Dwa Maj

The bile of the vanquished flows over my


hands!
Have a nice day!
Mate until your blood screams!
Your mother has a smooth forehead!
Merry Christmas

I have used phonetics, of


course
The original Klingon would look
something like:
which would be pronounced Tak marhuk
ped toe murhark, and translates into
Ooooh, that flower arrangement is
soooo fabulous! Dissonant, eh?

Websites gratefully cited


include:

http://www.kli.org/ (The Klingon


Language Institute)
http://www.online-literature.com/frost/
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/updike.htm
http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/lit_term
s/
http://www.hotink.com/warriorgallery/01.
html
http://www.stanford.edu/class/engl187/d
ocs/plathpoem.html