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A.Word.A.Day--asyndeton

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: words about words.

asyndeton (uh-SIN-di-ton, -tuhn) noun

Omission of conjunctions, as in "I came, I saw, I conquered."

[From Late Latin, from Greek, from neuter of asyndetos (not linked), from a- + syndetos (bound together), from syndein (to bind together), from syn- + dein (to bind).]

Asyndeton is a powerful device to indicate extemporaneous effect, and to add intensity or force to diction. Imagine if it were "I came, I saw, and I conquered." It's easy to see how rhythm is lost.

If you're itching to use all those conjunctions you've saved with the use of asyndeton, try polysyndeton, as in "Uncle Charlie gobbled cookies and bagels and pizza and pasta."

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"The unwillingness to waste words shows up in the address's telegraphic quality -- the omission of coupling words, a technique rhetoricians call asyndeton. Triple phrases sound as to a drumbeat, with no 'and' or 'but' to slow their insistency: 'We are engaged... We are met... We have come...'" The Words That Remade America: Lincoln at Gettysburg; The Atlantic Monthly (Boston); Jun 1992.

X-Bonus

Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched. -Guy de Maupassant, short story writer and novelist (1850-1893)

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