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The meaning of «alliteration»

In literature, alliteration is the conspicuous repetition of identical initial consonant sounds in successive or closely associated syllables within a group of words, even those spelled differently.[1][2][3][4] As a method of linking words for effect, alliteration is also called head rhyme or initial rhyme.[5] For example, "humble house", "potential power play",[6] "picture perfect", "money matters", "rocky road", or "quick question".[7][8] A familiar example is "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers". "Alliteration" is from the Latin word littera, meaning "letter of the alphabet"; it was first coined in a Latin dialogue by the Italian humanist Giovanni Pontano in the 15th century.[9] Alliteration is used poetically in various languages around the world, including Arabic, Irish, German, Mongolian, Hungarian, American Sign Language, Somali, Finnish, Icelandic.[10]

Some literary experts accept as alliteration the repetition of vowel sounds,[11] or repetition at the end of words.[12] Alliteration narrowly refers to the repetition of a letter in any syllables that, according to the poem's meter, are stressed,[13][14] as in James Thomson's verse "Come…dragging the lazy languid line along".[15]

Consonance is a broader literary device identified by the repetition of consonant sounds at any point in a word (for example, coming home, hot foot).[16] Alliteration is a special case of consonance where the repeated consonant sound is in the stressed syllable.[17] Alliteration may also refer to the use of different but similar consonants,[18] such as alliterating z with s, as does the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, or as Anglo-Saxon (Old English) poets would alliterate hard/fricative g with soft g (the latter exemplified in some courses as the letter yogh – ȝ – pronounced like the y in yarrow or the j in Jotunheim).[citation needed]

There is one specialised form of alliteration called Symmetrical Alliteration. That is, alliteration containing parallelism,[19] or chiasmus. In this case, the phrase must have a pair of outside end words both starting with the same sound, and pairs of outside words also starting with matching sounds as one moves progressively closer to the centre. For example, "rust brown blazers rule" or "fluoro colour co-ordination forever". Symmetrical alliteration is similar to palindromes in its use of symmetry.

Alliteration is used in the alliterative verse of Old English, Old Norse, Old High German, Old Saxon, and Old Irish. It was an important ingredient of the Sanskrit shlokas.[22][23] Alliteration was used in Old English given names.[24] This is evidenced by the unbroken series of 9th century kings of Wessex named Æthelwulf, Æthelbald, Æthelberht, and Æthelred. These were followed in the 10th century by their direct descendants Æthelstan and Æthelred II, who ruled as kings of England.[25] The Anglo-Saxon saints Tancred, Torhtred and Tova provide a similar example, among siblings.[26]

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Alliteration (Latin)

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