Assonance – how to understand it

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Assonance – definition

assonance Assonance is a figure of speech featuring the repetition of vowel sounds.

redbtn The repetitions are usually close together, to create a euphonious effect.


‘The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.’

‘We love to spoon ‘neath the moon in June.’

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye

[TENNYSON – ‘The Lady of Shalott’]


redbtn You can see from these examples that the device is used a lot in song lyrics and poetry.

redbtn Because the vowels are ‘open’ sounds, it creates a generally soothing effect.

redbtn The repeated sound also makes the text easy to memorise.

redbtn It is also popular in advertising, for the same reasons.

redbtn NB! This device can easily become cloying.

redbtn The repetition of vowel sounds creates rhyme and a generally soothing effect.

redbtn Phonologically, it is interesting to note that the same sound may be represented by different combinations of letters:

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye

redbtn The same sound here is produced by /ei/, /i/, /ie/, and /ye/.

Self-assessment quiz follows …

© Roy Johnson 2003

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