My goodness is often chastened by my sense of sin

Juxtaposition – Making one idea more dramatic
by placing it next to an opposite. In art it is called
chiaroscuro, where a bright white object is placed
next to a black object and thus both are made or
visible. My goodness is often chastened by my sense of
sin, or The gasoline savings from a hybrid car as
compared to a standard car seem excellent until one
compares the asking prices of the two vehicles. The
juxtaposition of the asking prices shows that the
savings are not as significant as they first appear.
Logos – An appeal to reason. Logos is one of the
fundamental strategies of argumentation identified
by Aristotle. It occurs when a writer tries to
convince you of the logic of his argument. Writers
may use inductive argumentation or deductive
argumentation, but they clearly have examples
and a generally rational tone to their language. The
problem with logos is that it can appear reasonable
until you dissect the argument and then find
fallacies that defeat the viability of the argument in
the reader’s eyes. Of course, that presupposes that
the reader is able to identify the fallacies.
Loose Sentence – An independent clause followed
by all sorts of debris, usually dependent clauses.
It is minor, but might appear in the multiplechoice portion of the test. She wore a yellow ribbon
that matched the shingles of the house, which were
painted last year, just before he left for the war.
Malapropism – A wonderful form of word play in
which one word is mistakenly substituted for
another that sounds similar. It doesn’t appear
often, but when it does, it is usually pretty funny.
The name comes from the character of Mrs.
Malaprop in Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals,
who said things like “He is the very pineapple of
politeness” rather than “He is the very pinnacle of
politeness.” Another example comes from the
Duke in Huckleberry Finn, who says “funeral
orgy” instead of “funeral eulogy.”
Metaphor – A figure of speech in which what is
unknown is compared to something that is
known in order to better gauge its importance.
Remember the ripple effect and look for patterns
in metaphors and similes in any piece of
nonfiction prose. The loose floorboards of his mind
rattled as he tried to find his way out of the legal mess
he had made.
Metonymy – A minor figure of speech in which
the name of one thing is substituted for another
with which it is closely associated. You may find
metonymy in multiple-choice questions. The
crown spoke with authority about the gathering crisis
over bread and cheese. “Crown” is not literal, but is
associated with a king or queen.
Non Sequitur – This literally means “it does not
follow.” Non sequitur is an argument by
misdirection and is logically irrelevant. “Should we
invade Canada, Sire?” “Has anyone seen my wand?”
Object – A noun toward which a though, feeling,
or action is directed. Not all sentences have
objects, although all must have subjects and
predicates. The entrance to the dark fortress dared the
knight to try his hand at entering.
Onomatopoeia – A minor figure of speech in
which a sound imitates the thing or action
associated with it. This shows up occasionally in
the multiple-choice questions. Bonks, conks, and
calamities whirled through the air from the shifting
coconut shells hung on strings.
Oxymoron – Two words that together create a sense
of opposition. Oxymorons often call attention to a
particular point in an argument. The mariner’s
cultivated vulgarity was alarming to sailors more
comfortable with the bubbly heaviness of their captain.
Paradox – A major figure of speech in rhetorical
analysis that seeks to create mental discontinuity,
which then forces the reader to pause and seek
some clarity. A paradox is a truth or a group of
sentences that defy our intuition. Be careful how
you pace yourself – by walking too quickly you get
there more slowly, or My silent love grows louder and
louder with each passing moment.
Parallel Syntax (or parallelism) – A pattern of
language that creates a rhythm of repetition often
combined with some other language of repetition.
Parallel sets of sentences or parallel clauses can
exist within a sentence. This is a significant element
in a syntactical analysis. The College Board loves to
ask about parallel syntax and, as its use is a sign of
strong, effective writing, you should write this way
as well. Parallel syntax may best be likened to a
train gaining momentum: It drives though a piece
of nonfiction prose, gathering emotion steam as it
goes. We will fight them on the beaches, and fight them
in the hills, and fight them in the forests, and in the
villages of the dell. One famous speech filled with
parallel syntax is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a
Dream.” Pick a line and it is likely parallel.
Parentheticals – Phrases, sentences, and words
inside parentheses (). In rhetorical analysis, pay
attention to parenthetical statements. Two
questions should arise when you see a
parenthetical: Why are these words inside
parentheses? and Are there other parentheticals that
together make a pattern in the essay? They aren’t a
big deal, but sometimes they merit a paragraph of
analysis. The Big Bopper (J.P. to his friends) rolled
into Chantilly Lace and all the girls went wild.
Participle – A verbal (expressing action or state of
being) that is used as an adjective and most often
ends in –ing or –ed. Participles function as
adjectives, modifying nouns or pronouns.
Creating a ruckus (participle = noun = subject)
confused the robber and led to an escape. Creating a
ruckus (participle = adjective), the hero made the
really bad guys turn away from the hidden treasure.
Passive Voice – The opposite of active voice; in
the passive voice something happens to someone.
Mordred was bitten by the dog, rather than The dog
bit Mordred.
Pathos – An appeal to emotion. This is one of the
fundamental strategies of argumentation
identified by Aristotle. Typically, pathos
arguments may use loaded words to make you
feel guilty, lonely, worried, insecure, or confused.
The easiest way to remember what pathos
arguments are is to see most advertising as a form
of pathos argument.
Periodic Sentence – A sentence with several
dependent clauses that precede the independent
clause. An easy way to remember this is to think
of the independent clause as appearing
immediately before the period (periodic
sentence). While watching the cave and wondering
why the rain had not stopped, nor even abated, the hero
filed his fingernails and waited.
Personification – Giving human attributes to nonhuman things. Although the use of
personification in an argument makes something
in the issue seem more approachable or
potentially agreeable, you will not find to many
examples of it in nonfiction prose. The rain
grumbled all night as rain slapped the windows.
Phrase – A grouping of words that define or
clarify. The syntactical definition of “phrase” is a
group of words that is not a sentence because
there is no verb. There are many different forms,
but the most common is the prepositional phrase.
The monster jumped into the swamp.
Point of View – The perspective from which the writer
chooses to present his or her story (fiction) or essay
(nonfiction). This is a fundamental part of any writing. The
first element of point of view is the normal fictional element
of writing in the first, second, or third person (omniscient or
limited), which refers to the person telling the story. The
second element of point of view dealing with nonfiction
refers to the writer’s attitude. Is he or she obsessive, neutral,
dogmatic, and so forth? What is the nature of the persona
who has composed the essay? You will usually have a pretty
good sense of this unless the passage contains a shift in
point of view. The author may deliberately alter his or her
attitude toward the subject in order to give you a different
perspective or to convey a better sense of balance toward the
topic. You should be alert in your analysis of both multiplechoice passages and essay passages fro shifts in point of
view. They are always significant.
Poisoning the Well – A person or character is
introduced with language that suggests that he is
not at all reliable before the listener/reader knows
anything about him. The next speaker, an alcoholic
wife-abuser, will seek to sway us to his view that the
Fleur de Lis should become our state flower.
Polysyndeton – The use of consecutive
coordinating conjunctions even when they are not
needed. The effect is to render the reader
somewhat breathless. He was overwhelmed, as if by
a tsunami, and by the fishes, and by the seaweed, and
by the salt spray from the heavens.
Predicate – The formal term for the verb that
conveys the meaning or carries the action of the
sentence. The fair maiden awakened from a deep sleep
to find an ogre at her bedside.
Predicate Adjective – An adjective that follows a
linking verb and modifies the subject of the
sentence. A gigantic whirlpool was inky black, and
there was no moon.
Predicate Nominative – A noun or pronoun that uses
a linking verb to unite, or rename the noun in the
subject of the sentence. The silly dwarf is a squirrel.
Premise – Another word for a claim. A premise is
a statement of truth, at least to the person making
the argument. Premises come in many shapes,
sizes, and colors. They can be limited and
absolute – two parallel lines will remain equidistant
forever – or they can be vague and open-ended –
China’s trade policy with the United States is unfair.
Every argument has a premise, and most of what
you read on the Language AP test is
argumentative, so get used to the word and
become comfortable identifying claims and
deciding whether you agree, disagree, or are
waiting to make up your mind.
Prompt – In essay questions, prompt has two
definitions: the correct one and the common
one. The correct one is that the prompt is the
paragraph or language that defines the essay
task. It does not include the passage itself. The
common definition of prompt is one you will
hear teachers and consultants use to refer to
any and all parts of an essay question.
Pun – A play on words. In an argument, a
pun usually calls humorous attention to a
particular point. He kept waving at the
princess. He was a devoted fan.
Red Herring – An argument that distracts
the reader by raising issues irrelevant to
the case. It is like being given too many
suspects in a murder mystery.
Repetition – A fundamental form or
rhetorical stress that calls the reader’s
attention to a particular word, phrase, or
image for the emphasis of meaning.
Repetition is a basic part of all rhetorical
analysis. It also reinforces the power of
parallel syntax. She certainly was beautiful, the
way a cow is beautiful standing in the beautiful
radiance of a moonlight night.
Rhetorical Question – A question whose answer is assumed, a
rhetorical question is designed to force the reader to respond in a
predetermined manner and is a significant tool in the study of
rhetoric. One of the most basic purposes for rhetorical questions is
cheerleading. Rhetorical questions, therefore, propel an argument
emotionally. They often look like extensions of a logical argument,
but more often than not, they are setting you up to agree with the
writer. As with parallel syntax, rhetorical questions are excellent
devices to use in the development of your own essay writing. As
graders, we notice when you use them-if you use them to
effectively nurture your argument. There are other types of
rhetorical questions, but they always follow the same basic
pattern: the writer asks herself something and then answers the
question in the next sentence or paragraph. Another form is when
the question functions as an ironic assault on the writer’s
adversaries. This kind of rhetorical question can have many uses,
and you should notice its function whenever you encounter one in
nonfiction prose. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Who’s afraid
of the Jolly Green Giant? Are we? No!!!
Rhetorical Shift – This occurs when the
author of an essay significantly alters his or
her diction, syntax, or both. It isn’t exactly
a different writer who is writing, but it
feels awfully close to it. Rhetorical shifts
are important to recognize because they
are dramatic and usually occur at critical
points in an argument.
Simile – A crucial figure of speech in an
argument when what is unknown is
compared to something that is known
using the word “like,” “as,” or “than” in
order to better perceive its importance.
Remember the ripple effect and look for
patterns in similes and metaphors in any
piece of nonfiction prose. The troll’s fishing
technique was like a mercenary throwing
bombs in the water to catch a trout.
Simple Sentence – An independent clause.
It has a subject and a verb, and that’s
pretty much it. The giant chopped down the
bean tree.
Slippery Slope (Also called the Domino
Theory) – this fallacy of argumentation
argues that one thing inevitably leads to
another. Politicians love to use it as a form
of exaggeration. We cannot allow insurgents
into the borders towns or they will control the
entire country by next winter.
Stem – In the multiple-choice section, this is
the question you are asked to complete with
the given possible answers. Which of the
following best describes Cyberus’s attitude
toward the avengers.
Straw Man – This occurs when a person
engaging in an argument defines his
opponent’s position when the opponent is
not present and defines it a manner that is
easy to attack. It is a fairly easy fallacy to spot
and recognizing it has been helpful with
rhetorical analysis questions in the past.
Politicians use it frequently: My opponent
believes that issuing parking tickets to firsttime DUI offenders will reduce the damage
they do to our city and our citizens.
Subject – The formal term for the noun
that is the basic focus of the sentence. It is
who or what is doing the action in the
sentence. An anxious gryphon got lost in the
queen’s maze.
Subordinate Conjunction – A conjunction
that makes an independent clause into a
dependent clause. There is a huge list of
subordinate conjunctions, but some of the
more common are: because, since, which, if,
when, and although.
Syllogism – In its basic from, this is a three-part argument
construction in which two premises lead to a truth. The
term has appeared in the multiple-choice section a few
times, but it is also helpful if you can both spot and use a
syllogistic argument. In its simplest form, a syllogism
looks like this: All human beings are mortal. Heather is a
human being. Therefore, Heather is mortal. You can also
produce really odd ones that are incorrect. All crows are
black. The bird in my backyard is black. The bird in my backyard
is a crow. This is a false argument because an implies
premise-all blackbirds are crows-is false, and thus the
logic falls apart. Another is: Some televisions are black and
white. All penguins are black and white. Some televisions are
penguins. There is both misinformation here and false
implied premises. Also, despite these simple examples, a
syllogistic argument can be set up in three paragraphs: An
essential truth is defended. An essential truth is defended.
A conclusion is drawn.
Synecdoche – A minor figure of speech in
which a part is used for the whole,
synecdoche shows up occasionally in
multiple-choice questions. Our favorite is
All hands on deck. (One assumes the rest
of the sailors’ bodies will follow . . .)
Syntax – The study of the rules of
grammar that define the formation of
sentences. Syntax is critical to the
analysis of all the passages on the AP
English Language test.
Synthesis – To unite or synthesize a variety
of sources to achieve a common end. We use
this term almost exclusively to refer to the
new synthesis question on the exam. Using
your wits and argumentative skill, you
combine memory, commentary you’ve
recently read, and a discussion to create a
single coherent argument. For example, you
may argue and conclude that bicycles would
be safer in battle than a Hummer.
Theme – Theme is the basic message or
meaning conveyed through elements of
character and conflict. The term appears
often in literature and is paralleled in
nonfiction prose be an argument’s thesis.
Thesis – The writer’s statement of purpose.
Every well-written essay will have one. It is
how the reader identifies what the writer is
arguing, the position the writer is taking,
the action the writer is advocating.
Essentially, it is the focal intent of the essay.
Tricolon – A sentence with three equally distinct
and equally long parts (separated by commas
rather than colons, despite the name). Such
sentences are dramatic and often memorable, but
they are used infrequently. The most famous is I
came, I saw, I conquered. Another might be The
dragon wept, the cow bellowed, and the sheep fleeced.
Understatement – This creates exaggeration by
showing restraint. It is the opposite of hyperbole.
The knight said the giant, “Please hand me the barrel of
ale if it’s not too heavy for you.”
Zeugma – A minor device in which two or more
elements in a sentence are tied together by the
same verb or noun. Zeugmas are especially acute
if the noun or verb does not have the exact same
meaning in both parts of the sentence. She dashed
his hopes and out of his life when she walked through
the door.
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