Glossary of AP English Language Literary Terms

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Word choice, particularly as an element of style. Different types and arrangement of words have significant effects on meaning. An essay written in academic diction would be much less colorful, but perhaps more precise than street slang.
The study of rules whereby words or other elements of sentence structure are combined to form grammatical sentences.
A small piece of information. In a paragraph, the main idea tells what the paragraph is about, and the details give information to support or explain the main idea.
A word that appeals to one or more of our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, or smell. Imagery can be found in all sorts of writing, but it is most common in poetry.
The art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse. Rhetoric focuses on the interrelationships of invention, arrangement and style in order to create a felicitous (apt, well chosen) and appropriate discourse.
A writer's attitude toward his or her subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language and organization on the sentence and global levels.
Emphasis or stress on certain words or parts of words
Accentual Verse
A system of verse in which accents are used to determine the length of lines of poetry. The number of syllables per line is unimportant. Accentual verse is found mainly in the works of the earliest poets, dating from the eighth century.
Accentual-syllabic verse
A type of verse in which the counting of accents and syllables occurs within the same line. It is the type of poetry most people instantly recognize as "poetic," for it has a definite beate and often rhymes.
Aesthetic movement
In the earlier nineteenth century, a devotion to beauty developed in France. This movement rejected that the value of literature was related to morality or some sort of usefulness. Instead, it put forth the idea that art was independent of any moral or didactic end. The Aesthetic's slogan was "art for art's sake," and many writers involved actively attacked the idea that art should serve any "purpose" in the traditional sense. In the late 1900s in England, Oscar Wilde and Walter Pter represented the movement. The term fin de siecle (end of the century), which earlier stood for progress, came to imply decadence--great refinement of style but a marked tendency toward the abnormal or freakish in content. When used as a proper noun, Decadence refers to the Aesthetic movement.
Ad Hominem
Latin for "against the man." When a writer personally attacks his or her opponents instead of their arguments.
A story, fictional or non-fictional, in which characters, things and events represent qualities or concepts. The interaction of these characters, things and even events is meant to reveal an abstraction or truth. The characters and other elements may be symbomlic of the ideas referred to.
The repetition of initial consonant sounds. Or vowel sounds in successive words or syllables that repeat.
An indirect reference to something (usually a literary text) with which the reader is supposed to be familiar. Allusion is often used with humorous intent, to establish a connection between writer and reader, or to make a subtle point.
Abstract Language
Language describing ideas or qualities rather than observable or specific things, people or places. The observable or "physical" is usually described in concrete language.
An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one-way. Also, the manner of expression of such an event or situation may be ambiguous. Artful language may be ambiguous. Unintentional ambiguity is usually vagueness.
An analogy is a comparison to a directly parallel case. When a writer uses an analogy, he or she argues that a claim reasonable for one case is reasonable for another analogous one.
Repition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repition and helps make the writers point more coherent.
A brief recounting of a relevant episode. Anecdotes are often inserted into fictional or non-fictional texts as a way of developping a point or injecting humor.
A balancing of two opposite or contrasting words, phrases, or clauses –especially parallel in position and structure. A device in which two irreconcilable opposites or strongly contrasting ideas are placed in sharp juxtaposition and sustained tension.
Ex. They promised freedom and provided slavery;
Ex. The world will little note nor long remember what we say her, but it can never forget what they did here.
Ex. Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike;
Ex. Resolved to win, he meditates his way,
By force to ravish, or by fraud betray.
Ex. Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.
Ex. Beauty and the Beast

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