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Literary Terms
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Ms. Hutcheson's AP Language Page

Knowing these terms will help you immensely!

AP English Language Definitions


 ad hominen fallacy--(Latin for to the man) a fallacy of logic in which a persons character or motive is attacked instead of that persons  argument.

 ad populum fallacy--(Latin for to the crowd) a fallacy of logic in which the widespread occurrence of something is assumed to make it true or right: e.g. The Escort is the most widely sold ear in the world; therefore, it must he the best.

 allegory--a story in which the people, places, and things represent general concepts or moral qualities.

 allusion--a brief reference to a person. place, event, or passage in a work of literature or the Bible assumed to be sufficiently well known to be recognized by the reader: e.g. I am Lazarus, come from the dead. I. S. Eliot

 analogy--a comparison between two things in which the more complex is explained in terms of the more simple: e.g. comparing a year-long profile of the stock index to a roller-coaster ride.

 anecdote--a short entertaining account of some happening, frequently personal or biographical.

 anticlimax--a sudden drop from the dignified or important in thought or expression to the commonplace or trivial, oft en for humorous effect.

 appeal to authority--citation of information from people recognized for their special knowledge of a subject for the purpose of strengthening a speaker or writers arguments.

 argumentation--exploration of a problem by investigating all sides of it; persuasion through reason.

 begging the question--a fallacy of logical argument that assumes as true the very thing that one is trying to prove:

 cause and effect--examination of the causes and/or effects of a situation or phenomenon; e.g. Essay topics such as How did the incumbent mayor lose the election? or What causes obesity? are well suited to cause and effect exposition.

 chronological ordering--arrangement in the order in which things occur; may ~OVC from past to present or in reverse chronological order, from present to past.

 classification as a means of ordering--arrangement of objects according to class; e.g. media classified as print, television, and radio.

 colloquial expression--words and phrases used in everyday speech but avoided in formal writing; e.g. Jack was bummed out about his chemistry grade instead of Jack was upset about his chemistry grade.

 damning with faint praise--intentional use of a positive statement that has a negative

 implication; e.g. Your new hairdo is so...interesting.

  digression--a temporary departure from the main subject in speaking or writing.

 ellipsis1. In grammar, the omission of a word or words necessary for complete construction but understood in context. E.g. If (it is) possible, (you) come early. 2. The sign (...) that something has been left out of a quotation. To be or not...that is the question.

 euphemism--the use of a word or phrase that is less direct, hut that is also less distasteful or less offensive than another; e.g. he is at rest is a euphemism for he is dead.

 expository writing--writing that explains or analyzes.

 false dilemma--a fallacy of logical argument which is committed when too few of the available alternatives are considered. and all but one are assessed and deemed impossible or unacceptable; e.g. A father speaking to his son says, Are you going to go to college and make something of yourself, or are you going to end up being an unemployable bum like me? The dilemma is the sons supposed choice limitation: either he goes to college or he will be a bum. The dilemma is false, because the alternative of not going to college but still being employable has not been considered.

Hyperbole--an extravagant exaggeration of fact, used either for serious or comic effect; e.g.

Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep
To undertake the death of all the world,

So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.

Shakespeare. Richard III

 imagery--lively descriptions which impress the images of things upon the mind: figures of speech.

 inverted syntax--reversing the normal word order of a sentence; e.g.

Whose woods these are I think I know. Robert Frost

 irony--a method of humorous or sarcastic expression in which the intended meaning of the words is the opposite of their usual meaning; e.g. saying that a cold, windy, rainy day is lovely.

 post hoc fallacy--(from the Latin: post hoc, ergo propter hoc, meaning after this, therefore because of this.) This fallacy of logic occurs when the writer assume that an incident that precedes another is the cause of the second incident. For example: Governor X began his first term in January. Three months later, the state suffered severe economic depression. Therefore, Governor X caused the states depression. The chronological order of events does not establish a cause-effect relationship.

 rhetoric--the art of using words effectively in writing or speaking so as to influence or persuade.

 rhetorical question--a question asked for rhetorical effect to emphasize a point. No answer being expected; e.g. Robert, is this any way to speak to your mother?

 satire--a literary work in which vices, abuses, absurdities. etc. are held up to ridicule and contempt; use of ridicule, sarcasm. irony, etc. to expose vices, abuses, etc.

 simile--a figure of speech involving a comparison using like or as: e.g.

0 my love is like a red, red rose. Robert Burns

 spatial ordering--organization of information using spatial cues such is top to bottom, left to right. etc.

 syllogism--a form of reasoning in which two statements or premises are made and a logical conclusion is drawn from them; a form of deductive reasoning. Example:

Major Premise: I and G Construction builds unsafe buildings.

Minor Premise: I and G Construction built the Tower Hotel.

Conclusion:The Tower Hotel is an unsafe building.  symbol--something that stands for another thing; frequently an object used to represent an abstraction. e.g. the dove is a symbol of peace.

 syntax--in grammar, the arrangement of words as elements in a sentence to show their relationship.

 tone--a way of wording or expressing things that expresses an attitude; the tone may be angry. matter-of-fact, pedantic, ironic, etc.

 understatement--deliberately representing something as much less than it really is. Jonathan Swift wrote. Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance.



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