Saturday, 24 November 2012

Definition of Assonance

Ever since 1983 when I saw the movie Educating Rita, my all time favorite film, I've been curious about the definition of Assonance. It didn't help that Michael Caine's character Prof Bryant in giving an example of assonance actually used a consonance. Nor did Julie Walter's character Rita help when she said assonance means "getting the rhyme wrong".
 You're probably thinking that I should get a life but to be fair I saw the movie 30 years ago and only this morning have I really tried to understand assonance. A few years back I read Stephen Fry's book An Ode Less Travelled and he covered partial rhymes, including assonance but I read it fueled by wine. I will read it again sober. Is it worth a read? you ask. Absolutely.  I couldn't fail to discourage you less.
As some will know I'm a rhymester rather than a poet but I have covered poetic devices before...
According to Wikipedia "Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the /uː/ ("o"/"ou"/"ue" sound) is repeated within the sentence and is assonant." A fuller example could be "Do you use blue hue, too?"
After several hours pootling around the internet I now understand it, and like it. Here's some easy to understand examples

"It beats . . . as it sweeps . . . as it cleans!"  slogan for Hoover vacuum cleaners

She's ferocious
And she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
(Lyrics to 'Bette Davis Eyes')

 "I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless."
(Thin Lizzy, "With Love")


”West Beast East Beast” by Dr. Seuss
Upon an island hard to reach,
The East Beast sits upon his beach.
Upon the west beach sits the West Beast.
Each beach beast thinks he's the best beast.
Which beast is best?...Well, I thought at first,
That the East was best and the West was worst.
Then I looked again from the west to the east
And I liked the beast on the east beach least.

I've even written my own example, which goes

Why am I inclined to blink my eye?
Why does champagne make me squawk?
"It's bolliphobia" said QI's Fry
You fear the popping cork
(Jon Bratton 2012)

(I made up bolliphobia because until now there hasn't been a word for what is a common fear because there are about 2 dozen cork popping fatalities a's more common than spider bites and that fear has always had its own name)
By the way, my favorite TV show is QI and my favorite celebrity is Stephen Fry so I'm hoping that one day Stephen will raise the subject of bolliphobia because it is Quite Interesting
Anyhoo, that's the  definition of assonance  for you

1 comment:

harada57 said...
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