Alliterations Are All Around
Alliteration comes from the Latin word “Latira,” which literally just means “letters of alphabet.” Now, usually people give you the Latin meaning of a word, because it is useful in defining whatever they are talking about. Well, “letters of the alphabet” doesn’t actually help us define what we mean when we talk about alliteration in the English language. As much as one might think. I just thought I’d let you guys in the Latin meaning…
Alliteration is the repeating of consonant sounds, usually the first consonant, in two or more words that are close in proximity to one another.
We see example of alliteration almost everywhere we look. Companies use it to advertise their product to us like:
American Airlines, Dunkin Donuts, Best Buy, Chuck E. Cheese’s, and so on.
As you can see in each of these examples, the initial consonant is being repeated.
Take a look at this excerpt from John Donne’s poem “Death Be Not Proud:”
“One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”
In this example, we see multiple examples of alliteration. Short and Sleepe, and wee and wake are right next to each other, and a little more obvious to identify; but we also see an example where the alliteration is separated by other words with death and die.
Look at this next example from a poem by John Piper:
“See him in the square,
Kept from subtle snare:
On the scent of truth.”
In this example he repeats the consonant multiple times throughout this line of the poem. One important thing to know is that alliteration does not depend on letters but on sounds. For instance: “Phase of pain” would not be alliteration, because even though both words start with a p, they make different sounds. However, here is an example of alliteration with two different letters that form the same consonance: “Phase of fame.”
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