Difference Between Alliteration and Assonance (With Table)

Poetic and prosaic writers use a variety of literary strategies, including alliteration and assonance. They’re designed to engage a reader’s auditory talents while also making the works in which they’re employed enjoyable to read. The two differ mostly in terms of how and where a certain letter type is repeated.

Since alliteration and assonance are so prevalent in poetry and prose, it’s difficult for the average reader to tell them apart. As a result, they’ve been used interchangeably for a long time, and until a distinction is made, confusion will reign.

Alliteration vs Assonance

The main difference between alliteration and assonance is that Consonant repetition at the beginning of nearby words is referred to as alliteration while assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in quick succession.

Alliteration occurs when starting consonant sounds are repeated in two or more nearby words or syllables. It’s when words that share a vowel sound are used close to one another. The repeated sounds are frequently the first or initial ones, but repetition of sounds in non-initial stressed or accented syllables is also common.

Assonance is a literary trick in which vowel sounds are repeatedly repeated quickly and more than twice. It can be found anywhere in a word and is most often found in groups of words near the beginning or end of a sentence, line, or phrase.

Comparison Table Between Alliteration and Assonance

Parameters of ComparisonAlliterationAssonance
Also known asHead rhymeVowel rhyme
Repetition involvesConsonantsVowels
Often usedPoetry and phrasesPoetry and prose
ConnectionA type of consonanceAn independent literary device
ExamplePapa puked near the wall.Try but don’t cry

What is Alliteration?

Alliteration is a literary device with Latin roots meaning “letters of the alphabet.” “Fish fry” is an example of a word connected with the same first consonant sound.

In alliteration, one or more consonant sounds are repeated in nearby words or syllables. As well as commonly used phrases such as “beautiful as a picture” and “dead as a doornail,” which use alliteration, poetry is also widespread in songs, raps, speeches, and other types of writing.

It adds interest to a sentence by repeating the consonant sounds at the beginning of each word. However, it can appear anyplace in a sentence where the stress is placed on a particular word. Alliteration is used with the repetition of the consonant ‘b’ in a line like “rubber baby buggy bumpers for anyone.”

Some lines from William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet XII” use alliteration to emphasize a single consonant note.

Some of Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s lines use a more complicated pattern of alliteration by repeating consonants at the beginning of words and emphasized syllables inside phrases.

Alliteration is often used in conjunction with assonance, the recurrence of stressed vowel sounds inside two or more words with different final consonants, such as “stony” and “holy,” and consonance, the repetition of end or medial consonants, such as “stroke” and “luck,” as a literary device.

What is Assonance?

Vowel rhyme and assonance are both terms used to describe assonance. The words must be close enough to one another so that similar vowel sounds can be heard.

The recurrent vowel sounds are often, but not always, in the center of words that begin with a different consonant and end with another. Many words begin with a lengthy “I,” others end with a long “I,” and some contain the full word, as in the sentence “I’m reminded to line the lid of my eye.” Regardless of how many times you use it, the assonant effect is still there.

When it comes to the word “assonance,” the Latin root “assonare” is where it gets its meaning. Assonance has been defined in the same way it is today since the 1800s.

Rhythm is primarily created via assonance in poetry. It directs the reader’s attention to which syllables need to be stressed.

The creation of rhythm has a cascading impact. Part of what makes proverbs so memorable is the way they get people to remember a group of words by embedding them in their minds.

It’s also been shown that assonance can enhance one’s state of mind. In writing, long vowel sounds such as “oo” and “aa” are thought to slow down the pace and make the piece more solemn. Short vowel sounds, such as the flitting and skipping “I,” are more lively.

Main Differences Between Alliteration and Assonance

  1. In alliteration, consonant sounds are repeated in a series of nearby words while in assonance, vowel sounds are repeated in a rapid sequence of nearby words.
  2. Alliteration is basicaly used to grab the attention of the readers by creating a pleasing sensation. Assonance, on the other hand, is used to create a rhyming effect within lines and to change the atmosphere of literary composition.
  3. Alliteration and assonance differ by their appeal and approach to the readers and by the writers. For example, “How now brown cow?” differs from “The pig put on a few pounds” in their approach to the readers.
  4. Alliteration is used to help remember long strings of words, such as security passwords, but assonance is more commonly utilized to highlight the unique vowel sounds found in the English language.
  5. Alliteration is much used in Old English whereas assonance is much used in Modern English.

Conclusion

Both alliteration and assonance can be helpful teaching aids for a variety of pronunciation and spelling concepts. Poets and writers have long employed these two concepts widely for dramatic effect in their work, especially throughout the classic era. Technically, these two literary norms are not the same, but in practice, they are very similar.

Alliteration and assonance are literary methods that use rapid repetition of sounds. Consonance is a broad term that encompasses a variety of literary devices, including alliteration. Both are used to enhance the enjoyment of a literary work by engaging the listeners’ aural skills.

The biggest distinction between them is where and how the letter sounds repeat. Because of these differences, it’s much easier to figure out what a poem or piece of prose is trying to say, especially when literary devices are employed.

References

  1. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/360690
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27713110

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