What is alliteration? In English, alliteration or repetition of same-word phonemes (phonetic letters) is employed to create word-comparison phrases in stories and poetry. In writing, alliterations are oftentimes integrated into word-creation process, although not alliterations are grammatically correct. In poetry, alliterations are used to enhance the allure and appeal of a poem, play, or story.
In literature, alliterations are the marked repeated repetition of same-word phonemes in consecutive or closely related syllables in a group of words; these are also known as “alliterated words”. As a means of association, what is alliteration in literature is also known as first-line alliterations or first-line rhymes. In modern language most commonly used alliterations are in the verbal aspect of creative writing – in dialogues, essays, and in novels. A good example of a literary alliteration would be when the writer creates a sentence like “You’re really thinking of me”. This alliteration here implies that what is being thought about is what the writer is actually thinking of; in this example, the writer’s thoughts are incorporated in the object of his/her thought, which in turn is coupled with the person he/she is speaking to.
A literary device, a word that allots a specific idea or suggestion to the mind (as in hypnotism), what is alliteration in literature is the use of such devices for that purpose. An example of a literary device that allots a particular thought or idea to the mind is, for argument, a question; in this case, “What is a question?” Another type of alliterative device used in literature is in narrating a story. In narrating a story, what is alliteration in literature is used when the narrator introduces ideas or words to the audience but does not necessarily repeat them.
Alliteration in literature is similar to speech, which has its own rhythm and all the nuances that distinguish one from another. For instance, in poetry, an alliterative drive usually comes between the tonal rhymes (tonal beats) that the poet employs to indicate where a thought or a feeling begins and where it ends. In spoken language, the alliterations are done using syllables and syllable clusters. An example of a literary device alliterating in speech would be the long and low tone, which is often employed to bring emphasis to a single word or to emphasize a phrase. The same can be done in writing: a long and low tone can be used to suggest that the speaker wants to emphasize the first part of a word, where a short and fast tone would want to highlight the second part.
Alliteration in spoken language can also be done by inflection. In American English, for instance, the word “duck” can be repeated as “down” (a single syllable) or as “down like a dove” (two syllables). The alliteration in this example is not from the sound of the word, but from the word’s form. The repetition of the word changes the alliteration from tonal to phonetic, just as the repetition of the name alters the spelling of a single-syllable word in order to create a new word with two syllables that sound the same.
What is alliteration in literature is used extensively in TV comedy skits, where a character repeatedly says, “What’s in the bottle?” to a question that he doesn’t know the answer to. British TV comedy programs, on the other hand, use alliteration to let the actors and actresses convey their internal thoughts without having to utter the entire phrase. One famous example is the Monty Python skit “quote,” which is performed by John Cleese and Michael Palin. The three performers exchange jokes and give the quote as a conclusion to the show, leaving the viewer unaware that the quote was actually said by the three actors themselves.
In spoken American English, the alliterations of common phrases are sometimes used to turn phrases that do not make clear sense into words with clear sound-bite quality. An example of this is “You shouldn’t worry so much about that virus, doctor.” This statement, when taken literally, makes little sense; however, when spoken in a colloquial way, it has the intended impact because it makes a distinction between what is expected and what is taking place. “You should not worry so much about that virus, doctor” is a clear example of alliteration that makes a difference in meaning.
Alliteration can be used with words that have certain sounds to suggest certain ideas. Certain consonants or vowels, for example, can indicate certain ideas like peace, love, or power. Vowels that are similar to certain sounds like a consonant or a vowel can likewise imply certain ideas. When alliterating words with certain sounds, the effect should be to allow the audience to understand the idea more easily. Alliteration can also be used to highlight certain aspects of speech, such as an artistic expression, a dramatic emphasis, or a certain pitch or tone.