Word Choice, Word Order, and Tone UNDERSTANDING TYPES OF DICTION
Diction A poet’s choice of words Poetic Diction: The use of elevated language rather than ordinary language (used in English poetry) Formal Diction: dignified, impersonal, and elevated use of language Middle Diction: Less formal level of diction, spoken by most educated people Informal Diction: uses colloquialism (a conversational style)
Diction Dialect: spoken by definable groups of people from a particular geographic region Jargon: a category of language defined by a trade or profession
Denotations and Connotations Denotations: Literal, dictionary meanings of a word For example: sick, bird, etc. Connotations: associations and implications that go beyond a word’s literal meaning Connotations derive their resonance from a person’s experiences with a word. For example, sick can have a positive association, bird can mean woman, etc.
Word Order Syntax: The ordering of words into meaningful verbal patterns. A poet can manipulate the syntax of line to place emphasis on a word
Tone The writer’s attitude toward the subject, the mood created by all the elements in the poem. Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “Common Ground” on page 805
Writing Exercise Write a response focusing on word order, tone, or diction on Sharon Old’s “Last Night” on page 816. Is the speaker male or female? How does the language convey gender? How does the tone change?