An Introduction to Alliterations


Alliteration is also known as initial rhyme or head rhyme. This is a simple literary device that consists of the repetition of the initial consonants sounds which are identical. These similar initial sounds of the consonants are also present in a successive or some other syllable which might be closely associated with the presented group of words. These words can also be spelled differently but their sound should be similar. This particular literary device is used in a number of scenarios by various authors or writers from all across the globe. A few examples for this literary device can be ‘humble house’, ‘She sells sea shells by the sea shore’, ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’, ‘anxious ants avoid the anteater’s advances’, and many other examples. It is also important for the readers to know that most of the cases of alliteration start with a consonant instead of a vowel. Majority of the tongue twisters are also posing as excellent examples for this particular concept.

Features of Alliteration

There are a few important points that an individual who is trying to learn this particular topic must be aware of. And some of those points which an individual must be aware of about alliteration are mentioned below.

  • The world ‘alliteration’ has Latin roots. This means that this word was derived from the Latin word littera. And the literal meaning of this word is the ‘letter of the alphabet’
  • According to some sources, it has also been established that the word ‘alliteration’ was first coined in the 15th century by an Italian humanist who was named Giovanni Pontano. This word was first used in one of Giovanni Pontano’s Latin dialogue
  • There are also a significant amount of literary experts who accept alliteration as being the repetition of the end words or the repetition of just the vowel sounds
  • According to the poem’s meter, alliteration must be referred to as the repetition of any letter in any syllables. These repetitions of the letters must also be stressed. For example, consider the phrase ‘come…dragging the lazy languid line along’. This particular phrase was taken from a James Thomson verse. And in this verse, it can be clearly observed that the letter ‘l’ is stressed and repeated four different times
  • According to various experts, alliteration can also be simply considered as a special case of consonance. And for the readers who are unaware about what consonance means they can simply consider it to be a literary device in which there is a repetition of the sounds of the consonants at any specific point in the words that might be present in any particular phrase. A few good examples for this case could be, coming home, hot food, and many such cases. And in case of alliteration where the repeated sounds of the consonants are actually present in the syllable which is stressed
  • Alliteration can also be referred to as the repeated use of different consonants which might sound similar. An example of this case could be s and z
  • There are also many forms of alliteration. And one such special form of alliteration is the Symmetrical Alliteration. Here, the symmetrical alliteration simply refers to a type of alliteration that contains chiasmus or parallelism. An example of this could be the phrase ‘rust brown blazers rule’. Here, it can be clearly observed that the pair of the outside end words is starting with a similar consonant which has the same sound. And as an individual move towards the center of the phrase then both of those words are also starting with the same consonant which has the same sound. So, it can be concluded that symmetrical alliteration consists depict symmetry just like the palindromes

Different Examples for the Use of Alliteration

Alliterations are one of those literary devices which can be used in a number of different scenarios and different types of literature. And some of those examples for the use of alliteration are mentioned below.
First, we will be taking a look at some of the most famous examples of the use of alliteration in various literature pieces. And some of those examples of alliteration in the various literature pieces are mentioned below.

  • ‘And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain’. This phrase is taken from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven
  • ‘For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky’ and ‘the furrow followed tree’. These phrases are taken from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner which was written by the talented Samuel Tyler Coleridge
  • ‘I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet’. This particular phrase is from the poem Acquainted with the Night which was written by Robert Frost
  • Another excellent example of alliteration is the novel, Alphabetical Africa. This novel was written by Walter Abish and was officially published in the year 1974. In this novel, Walter Abish started the chapter one and only uses the letter ‘a’ for starting all words in that entire chapter. Walter Abish takes up a similar approach for chapter two in which he only uses the words which begin from the letter ‘b’. He continues this till chapter 26, in which he allows himself to use any word irrespective of the letter it starts from. And after that chapter, Walter Abish again takes up the similar approach but the only difference this time is that he reverses the entire procedure.

Types of Alliteration

There are a number of different types of alliterations. And some of those different types of alliterations are mentioned below.

  • General Alliteration

This is the general form of alliteration which is used for various authors and poets from all across the globe. We have also discussed a number of examples of this type of alliteration above.

  • Consonance

Consonance is also a type of alliteration which refers to the repetition of the sounds of the consonants in either the middle, the starting, or the end of a phrase or a sentence. This particular type of alliteration has also been discussed in more details in the features section.

  • Assonance

There are a number of students who find it harder to differentiate between alliteration and assonance. Assonance simply refers to the repetition of the sounds of the vowel at any specific place within a word. There are a few instances or examples of assonance which can also be considered as a good example for alliteration

  • Unvoiced Alliteration

There are a few cases in the English language in which the starting letter of any particular word might not be spoken or expressed in speech as that letter might be silent. But that silent letter can also contribute to the formation or expression of alliteration. An example for this case could be ‘Perry just poked a pink pterodactyl’.

  • Animal Alliteration

This is one of the most fun and simpler forms of alliteration. An example for this type of alliteration could be ‘Arthur the alligator ate an atomic apple and an aqua avocado’. In this case, it is the letter ‘a’ which is used to express the alliteration

These are some of the most common types of alliteration. Alliterations can be used by authors and poets to highlight some particular sound or to attract readers towards those literary pieces. There are also many other objectives that alliterations can be used to fulfill.

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