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Alliteration & Consonance

Fundamental and Crucial Parts of English Language

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Alliteration & Consonance

What are Alliteration & Consonance and how are they used?

Alliteration and consonance are both fundamental and crucial parts of English language and literature. Alliteration is a literary device that can be identified as the repetition of various consonant sounds which occur at the beginning of the words in a sentence. Though many consider alliteration as a tongue twister, it is mostly utilized to emphasize an important point within a literary work. This method of linking words is at times referred to as a head rhyme or even initial rhyme. However, various literary experts also consider the repetition of vowel sounds as alliteration. The ideal method of detecting alliteration is to sound out the words of that particular sentence and detect any words which has identical consonant sounds in the beginning. Furthermore, the utilization of alliteration in a literary work can help make it extremely memorable, while stressing certain points. Moreover, alliteration can also be utilized as a mnemonic device that aids an individual to retain information. Alliteration is greatly used in children’s stories as it adds a certain playfulness to the serious content. However, the overuse of alliteration is also not recommended. This is due to the fact that the excessive use of alliteration can turn a piece of literary work into a tongue twister. If used properly, alliteration is heavily successful in creating a certain rhythm and mood. For instance, the repetition of the ‘s’ consonant implies a snake-like sound. Thus, an atmosphere of slyness and danger is created. Some examples of alliteration include: ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’ and ‘I saw a saw that could out saw any other saw I ever saw.’

Consonance, as a literary device, refers to the repetition of consonant sounds. However, unlike alliteration, these sounds occur at the end of a sentence. Nonetheless, it can also refer to a repetition of sounds in the middle of a given word. This repetition occurs in rapid succession. Moreover, there are various purposes of a consonance. Firstly, when used in poetry, a consonance provides the poem’s structure with a melodious rhyming effect. However, many individuals confuse the concept of consonance with assonance. The main strand of distinction between these two literary devices is that assonance is the reiteration of similar vowels within a sentence, word or even a phrase. There is also a major point of difference between alliteration and consonance. While consonance only indicates the rhyming of consonant sounds, alliteration may also involve the repetition of vowel sounds as well. Though consonance is majorly found in poetry, this device can be used in prose as well. In prose, the author’s use of consonance helps to reiterate a particular theme or major idea. Moreover, the use of consonance also enhances the imagery that is present within the literary work. Some major examples of consonance are, ‘Mike likes his new bike,’ ‘he stood on the road and cried,’ and ‘he struck a streak of bad luck.’ Thus, the proper use of alliteration and consonance can stylistically adorn and enhance any work of literature. 

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