Doris Hall is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher in domywriting specializing in educational, health, safety and domestic issues. Previously, she spent five years in marketing in the self-help, health and health and safety sectors before leaving to start a family. She now edits and writes content for the Health and Safety Executive. Doris graduated in 1993 with an honors degree in English Literature.
Used frequently in poetry, but also in other forms of literature, aural devices such as alliteration, assonance, and consonance create patterns of sounds. This repetition provides emphasis for words, phrases, or lines that are intended to catch the reader's attention, thus making them memorable.
Alliteration Alliteration is the repetition of sounds, usually of consonants or consonant clusters, in the beginning of two or more words. To be alliterative, these words must be either adjacent or in close proximity to each other, and they must have the same sound.Although this may seem like a new concept to many people, most of us have grown up enjoying alliteration in the form of Mother Goose rhymes, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers..."; tongue twisters, "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick,"; and Dr. Seuss books, "Ben bends Bim's broom/ Bim bends Ben's broom..." ("Fox in Socks").Shakespeare used alliteration in his sonnets and plays, and because of this, many of the lines containing examples of the device become ingrained in the minds of his readers. For example, the first few lines from "Macbeth" contain alliteration: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair:/ Hover through the fog and filthy air." A visual and aural reading of these lines reveals the repetition of "f" in multiple words.
Consonance Similar to alliteration, consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in multiple, adjacent words; the difference is that this repetition occurs within or at the ends of words that are near each other.This device is often confused with rhyme, another pattern that involves the repetition of sounds. If a writer was aiming to rhyme, an example might look like: "thank," "drank," and "spank." The difference between consonance and rhyme is that rhyme repeats the vowel sound, along with the succeeding consonant sounds. In the three words above, -ank sounds the same in each. Consonance, however, involves just the repetition of consonant sounds, not vowel and consonant sounds. We can modify these words to create consonance, but this involves changing the preceding vowel sounds. Doing so would create the new words "think," "drank," and "spunk" while leaving the -nk consonant sound only intact; these examples mirror true consonance.Consonance is often used in poetry, seen in the poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost: "Whose woods these are I think I know/ His house is in the village though..." In these two lines, the "z" sound, created by an "s," is repeated in "whose," "woods," "these," "his," and "is." The "s" in "house" however does not qualify since it is pronounced as a soft "s."