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Anacoluthon

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Anacoluthon

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Anacoluthon occurs in a sentence when syntax changes and the logical sequence does not progress as expected.

Example

If you had come then I am not there.

When the light shinesif you ever return.

I ran South and West is where the heart is.

Discussion

Anacoluthon typically occurs when the expectation created by the start of the sentence is not fulfilled. When we hear something, we tend to predict ahead, and grammatical syntax helps us do this. The sentence thus does not flow easily, although two parts of the sentence may well be logically related.

Anacoluthon can occur when the sentence breaks into two, typically using punctuation such as a dash. It may also be turned on a word that has meaning both in the first part and the second part. Another way of creating change is to change the tense.

Anacoluthon can be a simple error, although it is also used for deliberate effect, often causing mild confusion and hence attention. It may also be used in poetry and prose to make readers pause and think about any hidden meaning.

Anacoluthon is sometimes confused with Anacoloutha. Just to make matters worse, the plural of anacoluthon is 'anacolutha'.

It comes from the Greek 'an', meaning ‘not’, and 'akolouthos,' meaning ‘following’. It thus means 'lacking sequence'.

Classification: Distortion, Meaning

See also

Confusion principle, Using syntax

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