Assonance

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Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance[1] serves as one of the building blocks of verse. Assonance does not have to be a rhyme; the identity of which depends merely on sequence of both vowel and consonant sounds. Thus, assonance is a resemblance of units that are generally less than a syllable.

Assonance occurs more often in verse than in prose. It is used in (mainly modern) English-language poetry, and is particularly important in Old French, Spanish and the Celtic languages.[2]

Examples[edit]

English poetry is rich with examples of assonance:

That solitude which suits abstruser musings

on a proud round cloud in white high night

— E. E. Cummings, if a cheerfulest Elephantangelchild should sit

It also occurs in prose:

Soft language issued from their spitless lips as they swished in low circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds.

— James Joyce, "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"

English-language hip hop relies on assonance, which is sometimes hard to distinguish from slant rhyme:

Fire at the private eye hired to pry in my business.

— Eminem, Criminal

Dead in the middle of little Italy little did we know that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddly.

— Big Pun, Twinz

It is also heard in other forms of popular music:

I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless

— Thin Lizzy, "With Love"

Assonance is common in proverbs, such as:

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The early bird catches the worm.

These proverbs can be a form of short poetry, as in the following Oromo proverb, which describes someone with a big reputation among those who do not know them well:

kan mana baala, aʔlaa gaala (A leaf at home, but a camel elsewhere)

Note the complete assonance in this Amharic proverb:

yälämmänä mänämmänä (The one who begs fades away)

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Khurana, Ajeet "Assonance and Consonance" Outstanding Writing
  2. ^ A concise, tongue in cheek summing up of assonance is given by Rita, the eponymous character of Educating Rita, i.e. assonance is getting the rhyme wrong.

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