What is alliteration and why do we use it in English?
Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds (Consonants) in neighboring words. It is a stylistic form of writing. The initial consonant sound is usually repeated in two or more neighboring words.
If you notice, I didn’t say the repetition of “letters.” This is because this style of writing is relying more on an auditory (sound) interpretation rather than a cognitive one. In other words…a rhythmic expression. Like a whistle, an unusual sound, or a large “bang,” alliteration catches our attention.
In its shortest form it can be just two words: Breaking Bad
It can also be quite long: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Alliteration can be used in beautiful poetic form:
Good night! Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow. Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”
And hundreds of thousands of teens have sung along with:
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
The Rock band “AC/DC”
You can find alliteration in classic American literature: ·
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee.Ta …Vladimir Nabokov
Hear the loud alarum bells, Brazen bells! What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells! …Edgar Allan Poe
Because it is the repetition of the same sound in alliteration the actual consonants may be different:
Fantastic philosophers are full of fiction
Neat knots need not be re-k
People learning English have great difficulty with this because even though the words are written, alliteration is based on sound. Mistakes can be made. For example, if neighboring words start with the same consonant but a different initial sound, it is not alliteration.
Cherie gave a cute child a carrot.
Although they start with the same consonants, there is no similar sound and if you say it out loud you notice there is no since or rhythm. But now compare the last example with this:
Carrie gave a cute cat a carrot.
There are also two other similar stylistic ways of writing:
Assonance: Repetition of internal vowel sounds: Example: How now brown cow!
Consonance: Repetition of internal or ending consonant sounds: Example: Pick the ticket in your pocket.
So when you find yourself tapping your toe to a poem, or singing a song or reading a runic rhyme, just remember it’s just another alliteration appearing again!
Oh and also, the main character in Breaking Bad is ……….Walter White!