Saturday, January 26, 2013

Random Literary Devices - Sound Effects

Nardvark is currently studying poetry (aren't we all!) and his teacher is trying to cram all this "sound effect" nonsense down his throat. Isn't sound effect something used in Hollywood? Nerdvark helpfully uses Nardvark as a living example to realistically explain how each of the following sound-effect poetic devices work (for more detailed explanation, click on the sound-effect literary device):

Alliteration: Words used close together that begin with the same sound. Nardvark eats noodles with nut-butter. Effect - usually produces a sound that echos the theme or meaning of the poem. In this case, the repeated N-sound could echo the sound of Nardvark munching.

Assonance: String of similar vowel sounds. Nardvark's nose is hopelessly boneless. Effect - usually affects pace or tone. In this example, all the long-O sounds make the sentence slow and dreary.

Consonance: String of similar consonant sounds. When Nardvark walks, his belly looks like Jell-O. Effect - also affects pace and tone. This example is quick and silly, which helps you imagine that bouncy jelly belly.

Sibilance: A really random one, but my students love it: it's basically consonance with the S-sound, which produces a hissing sound. When Nardvark attempts to skate, he slips and slides like an intoxicated porpoise. Effect - echoes the subject or tone of the poem, usually something that makes a hissing sound; in this case, someone skating (or trying to.)

Onomatopoeia: A word that sounds like the sound it describes. Nardvark fell with a plop. Effect - readers can hear the sound.

Euphony: Overall pleasant sound. Nerdvark danced through the garden like a petit ballerina, snuffling at the pink roses with the delicate tip of his slender trunk. Effect - the piece is pleasant to read.  Euphony is usually used in a piece that has a pleasant theme or message, but can be used in paradox to the theme or message for some reason.

Cacophony: Overall unpleasant sound.  Amid the zinging gun shots, Private Nardvark wrenched and wallowed uncautiously through the cantankerous  mud, dragging his misshapen buttocks over misaligned potholes and jagged barbs of wire, searching without success for his troop's trench. Effect - echoes the unpleasant theme or atmosphere of the piece, in this case a war diary of a soldier who is obviously not cut out for war and is about to die.  In fact, he's not cut out for anything except eating banana pizza and napping on his friend's sofa while his friend does all his homework.

Coming up next - "Don't Forget to PEE." Thanks for reading - hope it helps. If you like my blog, please check out my website:


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