Literary meaning diction mean in literature

Diction pronounced DIK-shun refers to word choice and phrasing in any written or spoken text. In fact, every author including you has developed a unique diction! Literally everything ever written is an example of diction! But here are a few particularly interesting examples. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Psalms Is your writing as transparent as a mixture of comminuted particles of rock with water of varying consistency?

Or is it as clear as mud? Graham Hopkins, The Write Stuff.


There are as many types of diction as there are writers, and there will never be a complete list of all of them. The most basic distinction, however, is between formal diction and informal diction. This includes personal emails to people you know well, and certain creative projects. Most modern novels are written with a fairly informal diction, as opposed to older novels, which tended to be more precise and formal. Diction is the main thing that sets the tone of a piece.

In novels and short stories, diction can also help you craft a portrait of your characters. The way someone talks tells us a lot about them, and good authors use this to their advantage in character- creation. For example, a highly educated character would be more likely to use arcane words and complex sentence structure, while a more down-to-earth character would avoid such diction.

Similarly, a younger character would be more likely to use slang than an older one. Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old-men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves. James Joyce, Ulysses. James Joyce was famous for using outlandish, non-standard diction in his novels. Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien thought of his Lord of the Rings as a work of mythology rather than a conventional novel, and we can see this in his diction. His language is not at all vernacular — that is, no one really speaks this way in our world! But it serves to evoke a mythical past and a world of magic and monsters, just the way Tolkien intended. Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Shakespeare had a remarkably unique diction — or at least, it sounds that way to us today. Slang terms are a great example of vernacular diction. They are particularly useful because they change dramatically between subcultures and eras. In many contexts, using slang in this way could be considered offensive. The popular science-fiction series Firefly gives a particularly distinctive diction to its characters.Diction helps writers express ideas and concepts.

The vocabulary of the first sentence is basic. Writers also use diction to engage the reader by playing on their associations with certain words. No matter the effect a writer is trying to achieve with diction, there are key elements to consider. Writers must pick the right word that matches their intent if they want to be understood. After all, writing is only effective if readers can clearly understand it.

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When choosing between multiple words that mean the same thing, writers can consider the connotation—the emotions, associations, or implications—each one evokes. But simply consulting a thesaurus for synonyms can be tricky; writers must pick the word with the right connotation, not just the right definition.

High registers are often used in business contexts, where professionalism is paramount. Informal communication like text messages and blog posts are often written in a lower register that uses everyday speech patterns and vocabulary. In literature, this can make writing seem more authentic or relatable.

As writers can employ several types of diction to best express their ideas, the following are eight commonly used types.

Word choice is essential to effectively expressing that message in a way that makes sense and engages the reader. Take alliteration, or the repetition of a sound in a series of words. This novel follows Stephen Dedalus as he comes of age, achieving intellectual and religious maturity. Part 1 is written in a low and informal register that reflects his young age:.

The narration becomes more precise and complex as Stephen ages, which is demonstrated by this passage from Part This postapocalyptic novel follows a father and son as they traverse a devastated land after a cataclysm destroyed almost all life on Earth.

The narration paints a picture of this wasteland word by careful word:. What follows are the first two stanzas:. This poem mixes abstractions like death and immortality with casual language. Through these choices, the poem depicts Death as a dear friend rather than an unknowable thing to be feared. Want to learn more about the diverse types of diction? Check out this articlewhich lists and defines 27 styles of diction.

literary meaning diction mean in literature

Definition, Usage, and Literary Examples.If you want to understand the flamboyant family of objects that make up our solar system—from puny, sputtering comets to tremendous, ringed planets—you could start by immersing yourself in the technical terms that fill the scientific literature.

Poway Unified anticipates bringing forward two new courses — ethnic studies and ethnic literature — to the school board for review, said Christine Paik, a spokeswoman for the district. The book she completed after that trip, Coming of Age in Samoa, published inwould be hailed as a classic in the literature on sexuality and adolescence. He also told Chemistry World he envisages the robots eventually being able to analyze the scientific literature to better guide their experiments.

The religion shaped all facets of life: art, medicine, literatureand even dynastic politics. Speaking of the literature you love, the Bloomsbury writers crop up in your collection repeatedly. Literature in the 14th century, Strohm points out, was an intimate, interactive affair.

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Fruitcake quickly acclimated to its American home, and even plays a supporting role in American literature. Celebrities flocked to this glamorous and buzzy temple of literature and culture. He was an elector, and had a taste for music and literature. But he was not on that account forced to confine himself to literature. The material used was flannel, and such interments are frequently mentioned in the literature of the time. The historians of literature scarcely deign to mention a few names, or the editors of selections to extract a few sonnets.

But more important to the historian of literature even than the development of qualities is the evolution of types.

Come in here. You want to know about this. So intriguing! But, alas, that is not how books begin.

What is Diction? Definition of Diction in Literature

So, how well do you know the actual opening lines from some of literature's greatest novels? Correctly match these memorable openers with their works of fiction and consider yourself an excellent listener! David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Literature, belles-lettres, letters refer to artistic writings worthy of being remembered. In the broadest sense, literature includes any type of writings on any subject: the literature of medicine; usually, however, it means the body of artistic writings of a country or period that are characterized by beauty of expression and form and by universality of intellectual and emotional appeal: English literature of the 16th century.

Belles-lettres is a more specific term for writings of a light, elegant, or excessively refined character: His talent is not for scholarship but for belles-lettres. Letters rare today outside of certain fixed phrases refers to literature as a domain of study or creation: a man of letters.

What is Diction in Literature? Definition, Examples of Literary Diction

Words nearby literature literateliteratiliteratimliterationliteratorliteratureliteratuslithlithagoguelithargelithe. Content related to literature 10 Songs You Had No Idea Were Inspired By Literature That song you hum every day while brushing your teeth might actually have been inspired by a great work of literature, deep themes and all.

How well do you know the actual opening lines from some of literature's greatest novels? Words related to literature essaydramastorynovelproseinformationpoetryresearchleafletpamphletlorebrochurearticlecompositionbiographyhistorycommentabstractdisquisitionthesis. Example sentences from the Web for literature If you want to understand the flamboyant family of objects that make up our solar system—from puny, sputtering comets to tremendous, ringed planets—you could start by immersing yourself in the technical terms that fill the scientific literature.

Powell August 26, Nautilus. The case for using literature to kickstart conversations about race at work Sarah Todd July 12, Quartz.

A History of Mourning Richard Davey.Diction is defined as the style of either spoken or written word as determined by word choice. Diction refers to the quality of a group of words. Good diction includes using the appropriate words to express ideas, words that are formatted appropriately for the context in which they are used, and the words chosen are understandable by the reader.

literary meaning diction mean in literature

Proper diction helps authors to get their ideas across to their audience. Poor word choices can distract readers or alienate readers which can result in a misinterpretation of the message or even a total rejection of the message.

When talking about diction, it is possible to be discussing either written words or spoken words. The overall idea is similar regardless of whether the words are written or spoken but there are a few key differences to be aware of.

Word choice refers to written words such as prose and poetry and can help establish important aspects of the writing like tone and mood. A novelist would carefully examine their word choice to be sure that they are accurately establishing mood and will modify diction in dialogue for different characters to be sure that their personality traits shine through the writing.

Enunciation refers to spoken aspects of diction such as the cadence with which spoken words are delivered, voice inflections, energy that a speech contains, etc. For example, an orator calling for political mobilization would speak loudly, directly, and clearly in order to emphasize the urgency of their message. This helps readers to pick up on mood and atmosphere so that the reading can impact them in the way the writer meant to accomplish.

Diction is used to help establish genres as well. For example, poetry diction will often be drastically different from prose diction.

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In fact, it is not words being organized into stanzas that necessarily makes a poem, it is the skillful use of diction to manipulate words and phrases to have poetic qualities. Readers will not always identify well with stories that do not have appropriately created characters who are portrayed realistically.

For example, an uneducated character would not speak like the author probably speaks. James Joyce is known for his unique style in writing, especially his novel Ulysses. He tends to use non-standard diction in order to create an effect of slight absurdity which resonates well with readers who prefer unique, artistic writing styles. The following example shows that Joyce seems to write in only a style that he truly understands, leaving readers to analyze and make inferences:.

Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old-men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves. One of the famous Romantic poets, John Donne is known for using colloquialisms in his poems unlike some of his other Romantic contemporaries.

This made his poems easier to identify with for the working class. He is a celebrated lawyer and uses formal language in most of his speaking. For example:. Diction is the use of language in either written or spoken form in which authors or speakers carefully manipulate word choice in order to achieve an effect. Diction can be formal, casual, or slang depending on the desired results.Dictionchoice of words, especially with regard to correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.

Any of the four generally accepted levels of diction—formal, informal, colloquialor slang—may be correct in a particular context but incorrect in another or when mixed unintentionally. Most ideas have a number of alternate words that the writer can select to suit his purposes.

The widest scope for literary style is offered at the level of word choice. Most modern writers, however, prefer particular, concrete, and emotive words and take advantage of the evocative values of technical, dialectcolloquial, or archaic terms when it suits their purpose. Diction Article Additional Info. Home Literature Literary Terms. Print Cite. Facebook Twitter. Give Feedback External Websites. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article requires login.

External Websites. Literary Devices - Diction. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: acting: Genuine and feigned emotion. The principles of good diction can be so taught. He was well aware of something more than diction in acting but he….

The Ramblera twopenny sheet issued twice weekly in London by the publisher John Payne between andeach issue containing a single anonymous essay; such periodical essays appeared, all but four written by Samuel Johnson. Poetic diction, grandiose, elevated, and unfamiliar language, supposedly the prerogative of poetry but not of prose.

History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Dayevery day in your inbox! Email address.Definition of Diction in Literature. Diction and imagery together are what convey the intended tone to the reader. What is the meaning of diction? Through diction, an author expresses a particular tone or attitude through his speaker. The choice of words is purposeful in order to convey a particular style or have an intended effect on the audience.

For this purpose, we would want to carefully choose words that are persuasive. If you simply want someone to help you with a task, you may want to be direct but also include words that are encouraging.

The type of diction you employ will vary depending on the audience and occasion. The speaker or writer must be aware of the situation and purpose of writing in order to convey an appropriate tone. Formal: Formal diction is appropriate when the speaker wants to convey a message and keep the situation impersonal. With formal diction, it is important to remember to be direct, speak in third person, and be sure to use proper grammar.

literary meaning diction mean in literature

Casual: Casual diction is appropriate when writing literature or speaking with friends. Because it is used in a more casual setting, it will more closely resemble everyday speech and does not always follow the rules of grammar strictly. Slang: Slang diction will vary depending on the setting or context.

Words will be ones that may only be familiar to people during a certain time period or setting and are constantly changing. So far in this article, we have discussed diction in these sense of word choice. However, there is an additional type of diction that means the way in which someone says something, i.

If someone were to speak with an accent, his or her diction may affect the ability of the audience to understand the message. Diction is important in order for a writer to convey authentically his message. Depending on the purpose of the writing and the intended audience, the author will want to pay close attention to the words chosen in order to accomplish this objective.

For instance, if a book or script is supposed to have taken place in the American South, the diction of the characters should not appear as a Northerner might speak. This might take the form of variant spellings or altered spellings to resemble Southern pronunciations more closely. Here are some examples of diction in literature. The diction in literature will depend on such factors as the setting, intended audience, as well as the intended tone.

Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham. In this book, Twain uses many colloquialism and idioms particular to a specific region and specific time period in the United States.

In this novel, she had to be purposeful with her words because she had created a society in which the first person had been eliminated.

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It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own.Diction is a writer's unique style of expression, especially his or her choice and arrangement of words. A writer's vocabulary, use of language to produce a specific tone or atmosphere, and ability to communicate clearly with the reader are all essential parts of diction.

If a writer favors specific words or phrases and uses them throughout his or her work, those are also considered to be part of the writer's general diction, though a writer might also modify his or her diction to achieve certain effects, such as to create characters of different types and backgrounds.

Diction can seem like a very broad term that includes all of a writer's style, but it's possible to break down the concept by looking at some specific examples. The poem "Shakespeare," by the 18th century English poet Matthew Arnold, is a particular good case study for investigating and understanding the key elements of diction. In this poem, Arnold pays tribute to Shakespeare by consciously adopting Shakespeare's diction in three specific ways: word choiceregisterand tone.

First read the poem below paying attention to Arnold's choice and arrangement of words and then continue on for an explanation of each aspect of Arnold's diction. Others abide our question. Thou art free. We ask and ask—Thou smilest and art still, Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill, Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty. Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea, Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place, Spares but the cloudy border of his base To the foil'd searching of mortality.

And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know, Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure, Didst tread on earth unguess'd at. All pains the immortal spirit must endure, All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow, Find their sole speech in that victorious brow. The first thing to notice is that Arnold mimics Shakespeare's distinctive word choice — most notably, he uses the formal "thou" as in "thou art" and "thou didst"which was no longer in common use when Arnold was writing.

He also describes Shakespeare's brilliance in the lofty terms typical of Shakespeare's own writing—for example, he writes that the playwright was such a transcendent visionary that he dwelt in the "heaven of heavens" and knew the "stars and sunbeams.

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Arnold, here, is carefully modeling his word choice after Shakespeare's to create a particular effect. In other words, by choosing and arranging his words in a particular way Arnold can make his poem seems to belong to a different era and take on the lush style of Shakespeare's prose. Another aspect of diction that Arnold borrows from Shakespeare is his registerwhich means level of speech. Register refers to whether a piece of writing is formal or informal, or whether the writer is using "high," "neutral," or "low" diction.

For example, if writing a cover letter for a job, you would likely use high diction: "Thank you for your consideration. It would be a privilege to contribute to the betterment of this institution. I'll look forward to hearing from you. Talk to you soon.

While today's readers generally think of Shakespearean register as high diction because of his elegant, archaic vocabulary and syntax, Shakespeare actually employed a whole range of different registers in each of his plays, which he varied as the plot and mood developed. In other words, Shakespeare's writing mimicked all different types of speech in order to convey the linguistic conventions of the broad cross-sections of society that existed during his time. Arnold's imitation of Shakespeare's register, then, is complicated—to Arnold's 18th century readers, most or all of Shakespeare's writing would have seemed simply to be high diction, and thus Arnold's imitation would have come across, too, as high diction.

This choice makes sense in the context that Arnold had a conservative view of the poetic tradition: he believed that poets of his day could only achieve greatness by referring back to the classics, such as Shakespeare and Homer. However, if Arnold had different ideas about poetry, he might have chosen to imitate Shakespeare's use of register by mixing the high and low diction of his own time, just as Shakespeare had done two centuries before.

Were this the case, Arnold could have juxtaposed archaic, Shakespearean language with the profane, idiomatic, or ungrammatical language commonly in use in 18th century England. This would have preserved the sense of shifting registers that Shakespeare's writing gave in its own time, though using contemporary language might have made it less clear to 18th century readers that Arnold was imitating the Bard.

The tone or atmosphere of a piece of writing is also considered to be part of diction. It's important to note that tone is significantly affected by word choice and diction, so it's not always easy to tell the different elements of diction apart. However, it's crucial, when analyzing diction, to look closely at how a writer develops the tone of a book, play, or poem by making very small changes in their word choice or level of speech.


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