Definitions

assonance

assonance

[as-uh-nuhns]
assonance: see rhyme.

Assonance is repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the "oo" (ou/ue) sound is repeated within the sentence and is assonant.

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

The eponymous student of Willy Russell's Educating Rita described it as "getting the rhyme wrong".

Assonance can also be used in forming proverbs, often a form of short poetry. In the Oromo language of Ethiopia, note the use of a single vowel throughout the following proverb, an extreme form of assonance:

  • kan mana baala, aʔlaa gaala (“A leaf at home, but a camel elsewhere"; somebody who has a big reputation among those who do not know him well.)

In more modern verse, stressed assonance has become the main literary device in modern rap, starting with gangsta rap like 2Pac in the 1990s, departing from rap's foundations in the 80's rapper like Slick Rick when rhyme at the end of each line was the cornerstone of poetic expression. An example is Public Enemy's 'Don't Believe The Hype': "Their pens and pads I stash 'cause I've had it / I'm not an addict, fiending for static / I see their tape recorder and I grab it / No, you can't have it back, silly rabbit / I'm going to my media assassin / Harry Allen, I've got to ask him / Yo Harry, you're a writer, are we that type? / 'Don't believe the hype'".

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