Assonance

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Assonance is "a resemblance in the sounds of words or syllables, either between their vowels (e.g. meat, bean) or between their consonants (e.g. keep, cape)".[1] This latter kind, in which the consonants remain the same but the vowel changes, in American usage is generally called consonance.[2] Often the two types are combined, as between the words six and switch, in which the vowels are identical, and the consonants are similar but not completely identical.

Rhyme, in which the final stressed syllables of words differ in their initial consonant while the rest of the word is identical, as in six and mix, or history and mystery, is a special case of assonance.

Together with alliteration and consonance,[3] vocalic assonance serves as an important element in verse.

Assonance occurs more often in verse than in prose. It is used in (mainly modern) English-language poetry, and is particularly important in Old French, Spanish and the Celtic languages.

Examples[edit]

English poetry is rich with examples of assonance:

That solitude which suits abstruser musings

on a proud round cloud in white high night

— E. E. Cummings, if a cheerfulest Elephantangelchild should sit

It also occurs in prose:

Soft language issued from their spitless lips as they swished in low circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong.

— George Galloway, at a US Senate hearing, May 2005.[4]

English-language hip hop relies on assonance, which is sometimes hard to distinguish from slant rhyme:

Some vodka that'll jumpstart my heart quicker than a shock when I get shocked at the hospital by the doctor when I'm not cooperating...

Dead in the middle of little Italy little did we know that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddly.

— Big Pun, Twinz

Can't tell me shit about the tricks of this trade

Switchblade, with a little switch to switch blades

And switch from a six to a sixteen-inch blade

— Eminem, "Rap Game"

It is also heard in other forms of popular music:

I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless

— Thin Lizzy, "With Love"

Dot my I's with eyebrow pencils, close my eyelids, hide my eyes. I'll be idle in my ideals. Think of nothing else but I

— Keaton Henson, "Small Hands"

Assonance is common in proverbs, such as:

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The early bird catches the worm.

These proverbs can be a form of short poetry, as in the following Oromo proverb, which describes someone with a big reputation among those who do not know them well:

kan mana baala, aʔlaa gaala (A leaf at home, but a camel elsewhere)

Note the complete assonance in this Amharic proverb:

yälämmänä mänämmänä (The one who begs fades away)

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