Glossary of AP Language and Composition Vocabulary

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Refers to language that describes concepts rather than concrete images
In an argument, this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent's ideas. It comes from the Latin meaning "against the man."
Ad Hominem
A work that functions on a symbolic level
The repetition of initial consonant sounds, such as "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."
A reference to another more famous work (such as the Bible and the Mythology) contained in a work
A literary device employed to serve as a basis for comparison. It is assumed that what is applies to the parallel situation also applies to the original circumstance. In other words, it is the comparison between two different items.
A story or brief episode told by the writer or a character to illustrate a point.
The word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers.
The presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by word, phrase, clause or paragraphs. "To be or not to be..""Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for you can do for your country..."
A single assertion or a series of assertions presented and defended by the writer
The relationship an author has toward his or her subject, and/or his or her audience
A situation in which all parts of the presentation are equal, whether in sentences or paragraphs or sections of a longer work.
Harsh and discordant sounds in a line or passage in a literary work.
Those who carry out the action of the plot in literature. Major, minor, static and dynamic are types.
The use of slang in writing, often to create local color and to provide an informal tone. Huckleberry Finn is written in this tone.
The inclusion of a humorous character or scene to contrast with the tragic elements of a work, thereby intensifying the next tragic event.
Comic Relief
A clash between opposing forces in a literary work, such as man vs. man; man vs. nature; man vs. god; man vs. self.
Those elements that help create coherence in a written piece.
Connective Tissue
The interpreive level of a word based on its associated images rather than its literal meaning
The process of moving from a general rule to a specific example
The literal or dictionary meaning of a word
The recreation of regional spoken language, such as a Southern way of speaking. Zora Neal Hurston uses this in such works as Their Eyes Were Watching God.
The author's choice of words that creates tone, attitude, and style, as well as meaning.
Writing whose purpose is to instruct or to teach. A didactic work is usually formal and focuses on moral or ethical concerns.
Indicated by a series of three periods, this indicates that some material has been omitted from a given text. It could be a word, a sentence, aparagraph, or a whole section. Be wary of these; they can obscure the real meaning of the writing
The use of a quotation at the beginnig of a work that hints at its theme. Hemingway begins The Sun Also Rises with two. One is "You are all a lost generation" by Gertrude Stein
A more acceptable and usually more pleasant way of saying something that might be inappropriate or uncomfortable. "He went to his final reward" for "he died." They are often used to obscure the reality of a situation. The military use
The pleasant, mellifluous presentation of sounds in a literary work
Background information presented in a literary work.
The body of devices that enables the writer to operate on levels other than the literal one. It includes metaphor, simile, symbol, motif, and hyperbole, etc.
Figurative Language
A device that enables a writer to refer to past thoughts, events, or episodes.
The shape or structure of a literary work
Extreme exaggeration, often humorous, it can also be ironic; the opposite of understatement
A verbal approximation of a sensory impression, concept or emotion
The total effect of related sensory images in a work of literature
The process that moves from a given series of specifics to a generalization
A conclusion one can draw from the presented details
A verbally abusive attack
An unexpected twist or contrast between what happens and what wasintended or expected to happen. It involves dialog and situation, and can be intentional or unplanned . dramatic _________centers around the ignorance of those involved; whereas, the audien
The process of reasoning
A mistake in reasoning
Logical Fallacy
A direct comparison between dissimilar things. "Your eyes are stars" is an example
A figure of speech in which a representative term is sused for a larger idea (The pen is the mightier than the sword).
A speech given by one character (Hamlet's "To be or not to be..."
The repetition or variations of an image or idea in a work used to develop theme or characters .
The speaker of a literary work.
Words that sound like the sound they represent (hiss, gurgle, pop)
An image of contradictory terms (bittersweet, pretty ugly, jumbo shrimp)
The movement of a literary piece from one point or one section to another
A story that operates on more than one level and usually teaches a moral lesson. (The Pearl by John Steinbeck is a fine example.)
A comic imitation of a work that ridicules the original. It can be utterly mocking or gently humorous, It depends on allusion and exaggerates and distorts the original style and content
The aspects of a literary work that elicit pity from the audience. An appeal to emotion that can be used as a means to persuade.
A term used to describe writing that borders on lecturing. It is scholarly and academic and often overly difficult and distant
A sentence that presents its main clause at the end of the end of the sentence for emphasis and sentence and sentence variety. Phrases, dependent clauses precede the main clause.
Periodic Sentence
The assigning of Human qualities to inanimate objects or concepts (Wordsworth personifies "The sea that bares her bosom to the moon" In the poem "London 1802".)
A type of argument that has as its goal an actionon the part of the audience.
A sequence of events in a literary work
The method of narration in a literary work
A play on words that often has a comic effect. Associated with wit and cleverness, A writer who speaks of " the grave topic of American funerals" may be employing an intentional or unintentional one.
The Latin for "to reduce to the absurd." This is a technique Useful in creating a comic effect (See Twain's At the Funeral.") and is also an argumentative technique. It is considered a rhetorical fallacy, because it reduces an argument to
Reductio ad Absurdum
Refers to the entire process of written communication. Rhetorical strategies and devices are those tools that enable a writer to present a writer to present ideas to an audience effectively.
A question that does not expect an explicit answer. It is used to pose an idea to be considered by the speaker or the audience. Ernest Dowson asks, "Where are they now, the days of wine roses?")
Rhetorical Question
A comic technique that ridicules through caustic language. Tone and attitude may both be described as sarcastic in a given text if the writer employs language, irony and wit to mock or scorn.
A mode of writing based on ridicule, that criticizes the foibles and follies of society without necessarily offering a solution. (Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is a great satire that exposes mankind's condition.)
The time and place of a literary work
An indirect comparison that uses the words like or as to link the differing items in the comparison. ("You eyes are like stars.")
The specific instructionsa playwright includes concering sets, characterization, delivery, etc.
Stage Directions
A unit of poem, similar in rhyme, meter, and length to other units in the poem
The organization and form of a work
The unique way and author preesents his ideas. Diction, syntax, imagery, structure and content all contribute to this
The format of a fromal argument that consists of a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion.
Something in a literary work that stands for something else. (Plato has the light of the sun represents truth in "the Allegory of the Cave.")
A figure of speech that utilizes a part as representative of the whole. ("All hands on deck" is an example.)
The grammatical structure of prose and poetry.
The underlying ideas the author illustrates through characterization, motifs, language, plot, etc.
Simply, the main idea of a piece of writing. It presents the author's assertion or claim. The effectiveness of a presentation is often based on how well the writer presents, develops and supports this
The author's attitude toward his subject.
A word or phrase that links one idea to the next and carriesthe reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph
The opposite of exaggeration. It is a technique for developing irony and/or humor where one writes or says less than intended
Can refer to two different areas of writing. One refers to the relationship between a subject and verb (active and passive). The second refers to the total "sound" of a writer's style.
A familiar provberb or wise saying.
An argument attacking an individual's character rather thatn his or her person on an issue.
ad hominem argument
The repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of consecutive lines or sentences.
A concise statement that expresses succinctly a general truth or idea, often using rhyme or balance.
A detail, image, or character type that occurs frquently in literature and myth and is thought to appeal in a universal way to the unconscious and to evoke a response.
A sentence construction in which elements are presented in a series without conjunctions.
A sentence in which words, phrases, or clauses are set off against each other to emphasize a contrast.
balanced sentence
Insincere or overly sentimental quality of writing/speech intended to invoke pity.
A statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed. ("Susan walked in, and out rushed Mary.")
An expression that has been overused to the extent that its freshness or meaning has worn off.
The point of highest interest in a literary work.
Informal words or expressions not usually acceptable in formal writing.
A sentence with two or more coordinate independent clauses, often joined by one or more conjunctions.
compound sentence
A fanciful, particularly clever extended metaphor.
Details that relate to or describe actual, specific things or events.
concrete details
A sentence in which the main independent clause is elaborated by the successive addition of modifying clauses or phrases.
cumulative sentence
A sentence that makes a statement or declaration.
declarative statement
A situation that requires a person to decide between two equally attractive or equally unattractive alternatives.
Harsh, inharmonious, or dicordant sounds.
The omission of a word or phrase which is grammatically necessary but can be deduced from the context. ("Some people prefer cats; others, dogs".)
A long narrative poem witten in elevated style which presents the adventures of characters of high position and episodes that are important to the history of a race or nation.
A brief, pithy, and often paradoxical saying.
A moment of sudden revelation or insight.
An inscription on a tombstone or burial place.
A term used to point out a characteristic of a person. (Swift-footed Achilles) Can be abusive, or offensive, but are not so by definition. (The Rock, Jake "the Snake")
A formal speech praising a person who has died.
A sentence expressing strong feeling, usually punctuated with an exclamation mark.
exclamatory sentence
An interjection to lend emphasis; sometimes a profanity.
A brief story that leads to a moral, often using animals as characters.
A story that concerns an unreal world or contains unreal characters; it may be merely whimsical, or it may present a serious point.
A character who embodies a single quality and who does not develop in the course of the story.
flat character
The presentation of material in such a way that the reader is prepared for what is to come later in the work.
A story within a story. (Chaucer's Canterbury Tales)
frame device
A major category or type of literature.
A sermon or moralistic lecture.
Excessive pride or arrogance that results in a downfall of the protagonist of a tragedy.
A question that rasis a hypothesis, conjecture or supposition. (See rhetorical question)
hypotheical question
An expression in a given language that cannot be understood from the literal meaning of the words in the expression; or, a regional speech or dialect.
A suggesion an author or speaker makes (implies) without stating it directly. (Note: the author/sender implies; the reader/audience infers.)
Deriving general principles from particular facts or instances. ("Every cat I have ever seen has four legs; cats are four-legged animals.)
inductive reasoning
An intensely vehement, highly emotional verbal attack.
Specialized language or vocabulary of a particular group or profession.
Placing two elements side by side to present a comparison or contrast.
A narrative handed down from the past, containing historical elements and usualy supernatural elements.
Light verse consisting of five lines of regualr rhythm in which the firs, second, and fifth lines (each consisting of three feet) rhyme, and the second and third lines (each consisting of two feet) rhyme.
A narrator who presents the story as it is seen and understood by a single character and restricts information to what is seen, heard, thought or felt by that one character.
limited narrator
Deviating from normal rules or methods in order to achieve a certain effect.(intentional sentence fragments, for example)
literary license
A type of understatement in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite. (describing a particularly horrific scene by saying "It was not a pretty picture.)
The mistaken substitution of one word for another word that sounds similar. ("The doctor wrote a subscription.")
A concise statement, often offering advice; an adage.
The emotional atmosphere of a work.
A character's incentive or reason for behaving in a certain manner; that which impels a character to act.
A traditional story presenting supernatural characters and episodes that help explain natural events.
A story or narrated account.
An inference that does not follow logically from the premises. (literally, does not follow)
non sequitur
A narrator who is able to know, see, and tell all, including the inner thoughts and feeling of the characters.
omniscient narrator
An apparently contradictory statement that actually contains some truth.
The use of corresponding grammatical or syntactical forms.
A restatement of a text in a different form of in different words, often for the purpose of clarity.
A comment that interupts the immediate subject, often to qualify or explain.
A strong verbal denunciation.
The action of a narrative or drama.
The use, for rhetorical effect, of more conjunctions than is necessary or natural.
The falling axtion of a narrative; the events following the climax.
Literary techniques used to heighten the effectiveness of expression.
rhetorical devices
A question requiring thought to answer or understand; a puzzle or conundrum.
A term describing a character or literary work that reflects the characteristics of Romanticism, the literary movement beginning in the 18th century that stressed emotion, imagination, and individualism.
A character who demonstrates some complexity and who develops or changes in the course of a work.
round character
A person or group that bears the blame for another.
A real or fictional episode; a division of an act in a play.
A sentence consisting of one independent clause and no dependent clause.
simple sentence
Nonstandard grammatical usage; a viaolation of grammatical rules.
An artistic movement emphasizing the imagination and characterized by incongruous juxtapositions and lack of conscious control.
A construction in which one word is used in two different senses. ("After he threw the ball, he threw a fit.")
An object that is used to represent something else.
Describing one kind of sensation in terms of another. ("A loud color," "a sweet sound")
synesthesia or synaesthesia
Needless repetition which adds no meaning or understanding. ("widow woman," "free gift")
The subject treated in a paragraph or work.
A work in which the protagonist, a person of high degree, is engaged in a significant struggle and which ends in ruin or destruction.
A work in three parts, each of which is a complete work in itself.
Overused and hackneyed
The point in a work in which a very significant change occurs.
turning point
The customary way language or its elements are used.
The everyday speech of a particular country or region, often involving nonstandard usage.

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