Analyzing Voice

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Last updated: April 24, 2019
In literary analysis, what is diction?
Diction refers to word choice. It can be described as abstract or concrete and formal or informal.

To what does connotation refer?
Connotation refers to the association people have with words beyond the dictionary definition. For example, the word “dove” refers to a specific bird, though many consider it a symbol of peace.

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To what does denotation refer?
Denotation is the dictionary definition of a word.

To what does style refer?
Style refers to the way in which a test is written. An analysis of an author’s style includes looking at all the devices the writer uses to express meaning.

The message, the material, the medium are all part of the author’s style.

To what does voice refer?
Voice refers to the distinctive features of a particular writer or text. An author’s voice is present in a text, even if the author is not the narrator.

To what does vulgate refer?
The vulgate refers to the lowest level of diction. This is the unschooled language of the common people.

What are the levels of diction?
The levels of diction refer to the formality of word choice. The most elevated language is formal diction, followed by general, colloquial, and vulgate.

What is abstract diction?
Abstract diction is the use of language in general terms, such as “the little dog,” versus “the 5 pound dachshund.”

What is active voice?
Active voice is when the subject of the sentence is doing something, as opposed to being acted upon. For example: “Krista closed the door” (active) instead of “The door was closed by Krista” (passive).

What is an analogy?
An analogy is the use of something more familiar to explain something new and/or complex. The point of comparison is used to demonstrate the similarities between the two entities.

What is an explication?
An explication is a detailed explanation of a literary text.

An explication should be the starting point for literary analysis; it is not considered to be the final word in analysis of work.

What is colloquial diction?
Colloquial diction refers to the word choice of everyday usage. It’s also known as informal diction.

What is concrete diction?
Concrete diction refers to language that is marked by extensive details, creating clear images.

What is general diction?
General diction refers to the speech of educated native speakers.

General diction is more formal than colloquial English but not as elevated as formal English.

What is imagery?
There are two types of imagery: literal and figurative. Literal imagery is descriptive, appealing to the senses and relating to concrete information. Figurative imagery is the use of figures of speech to describe abstract ideas, attempting to make the abstract more concrete.

What is jargon?
Jargon refers to the specialized and often technical language and vocabulary of a particular group.

What is literal language?
Literal language refers to the denotative meaning of words. Literal language is typical informative and straightforward.

What is passive voice?
Passive voice is when the subject of a sentence is acted upon instead of committing an action. For example: “The snowball was thrown by Erik,” is passive, whereas “Erik threw the snowball,” uses the active voice.

What is persona?
The persona is the speaker. Although the persona is known as the voice of the author, it is not necessarily the author.

What is poetic license?
Poetic license is the liberty a writer sometimes takes with the typical rules of grammar, punctuation, and/or syntax in order to fulfill his creative process.

What is sarcasm?
Sarcasm, the lowest form of verbal irony, is intentional derision usually used with intent to harm.

What is syntax?
Syntax refers to the manner in which a writer constructs a sentence and how it affects a reader’s understanding.

What is tone?
Tone refers to attitude and is revealed by word choice. The combination of diction, details, and imagery results in the tone. A character’s tone may not be identical to the author’s.

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