Repeating yourself

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When Redundancy is not Redundant

Alliteration –repetition of a sound in multiple words: buckets of big blue berries. If we want to be super-technical, alliteration comes in two forms. Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds: many more merry men. If the first letters are the consonants that alliterate, the technique is often called head rhyme. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds: refresh your zest for living. Often assonance can lead to outright rhymes.

Anaphora — repetition of beginning clauses. For instance, Churchill declared, “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost shall be.”

Epistrophe — repetition of a concluding word or endings: “He’s learning fast; are you earning fast?” When the epistrophe focuses on sounds rather than entire words, we normally call it rhyme.

Epanalepsis — repeating a word from the beginning of a clause at the end of the clause: “Year chases year.” Or “Man’s inhumanity to man.” As Voltaire reminds us, “Common sense is not so common.” As Shakespeare chillingly phrases it, “Blood will have blood.” Under Biblical lextalionis one might demand “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life.”

Anadiplosis — repeating the last word of a clause at the beginning of the next clause. As Nietzsche said, “Talent is an adornment; an adornment is also a concealment.” Extended anadiplosis is called Gradatio. For instance, in The Caine Mutiny the captain declares: “Aboard my ship, excellent performance is standard. Standard performance is sub-standard. Sub-standard performance is not allowed.” Biblically speaking, St. Paul claims, “We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope, and hope maketh man not ashamed.” On a more mundane level, the character of Yoda states in Star Wars, Episode I: “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hatred; hatred leads to conflict; conflict leads to suffering.” Gradatio creates a rhythmical pattern to carry the reader along the text, even as it establishes a connection between words.

Diacope (also called Epizeuxis or Repetition) — uninterrupted repetition, or repetition with only one or two words between each repeated phrase. Poe might cry out, “Oh, horror, horror, horror!”

Symploce — Repeating words at both the beginning and the ending of a phrase: In St. Paul’s letters, he seeks symploce to reinforce in the reader the fact that his opponents are no better than he is: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they of the seed of Abraham? So am I.”