Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nardvark Discovers Really Random Literary Devices: Five Kinds of Imagery!

Everyone who's ever stayed awake during English class knows about imagery. It's where language is used really descriptively, so an image is created in the reader's imagination.

Yeah, cool. 

But did you know, did your teacher ever tell you, that imagery can be further subdivided into five kinds?  Five kinds of imagery, that correspond with the five senses: supercool! Well, Nardvark thinks so. He loves his five senses.

Here they are: the five kinds of imagery...
Visual Imagery - describe what you can see

Aural Imagery - describe what you can hear
Olfactory Imagery - describe what you can smell
Gustatory Imagery - describe what you can taste
Tactile Imagery - describe what you can feel

Now here is a fun exercise you can do to practise using the five kind of imagery: Get five things. Write a paragraph about each one, using one kind of imagery in each paragraph, and without mentioning what the thing is in the paragraph. Try to write the paragraph so descriptively the someone can guess what you're describing. Read the paragraphs to someone and see if they can figure out what you wrote about. If they can, congratulations! You may be the world's next Emily Bronte!

Which type of imagery is easiest to use? Why do you think this is? Which is hardest to use? Why? Which type of imagery would you use most if you were writing from the point of view of someone who is visually impaired? How about if you were writing from the point of view of a dog? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Denotation vs. Connotation

White, creamy, cow, chocolate milk, annoying babies, yogurt, ice cream, butter, cute babies, mother, latte, vanilla, smoothie, cats...
Today I asked my students to tell me what they associated with the word "milk", and these are some of the words they came up with.

The dictionary defines milk as:

The dictionary definition of a word is the DENOTATION.
But a word means so much more than the dictionary definition. When we are studying, writing about, or talking about literature, we have to look at all the associations, or CONNOTATIONS, surrounding the word. That's what my students came up with, above. What other connotations can you think of for milk? 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nardvark Discovers Really Random Literary Devices: Synesthesia

As well as being a bizarre neurological condition that may involve seeing a 3D calendar in ones mind's eye or considering letters of the alphabet to have colours and personalities, synesthesia is a cool literary device. 

Synesthesia is a literary device whereby the author or poet describes something by using the "wrong" sense; for example a coffee shop that smells red or an absolutely delicious new painting in the elevator lobby.

Surprise your English teacher by pinpointing the use of this funky writing tool in the following examples:

"I Heard a Fly Buzz" by Emily Dickinson contains the line "With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz – ". Emily used a colour (blue) to describe a sound (the buzzing of a fly.)

 In C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter's voice when he enters the Beavers' hiding place is "tired and pale in the darkness."  Here Lewis used a visual adjective (pale) to describe a sound (Peter's voice).

Now. Examples of synesthesia we hear and use every day, without even realisizing we're being all literary -- he/she's so hot; my boyfriend has been really cold lately; this book is so dry; that movie made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside... 

Next time you are looking for literary tools in English class, look for synesthesia.  Your English teacher will smile with noisy teeth.