Figures of repetition - words

Repetition of a word or words is divided into several sub-categories, depending on a few things:
  • the position of the repeated word/words
  • changing in the meaning
  • changes in the a word itself.
In my humble opinion, unless you are not going to show off on the exam or in front of your teacher, there is no need to learn all names, but a few. It is more important to spot the repetition and the effect of it on the reader than get the right Greek name for it.

The same word/words may occur in a different position within a sentence, close to each other, in different phrases or in different sentences, or they may occur at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of sentence/sentences. There is a special name for a repetition of a word which occur at the beginning and then at the end of a sentence; as well as a name for another figure, when one word ends a sentence and starts another one.

The most important repetition of words in this group are:

Anaphora (repetition of the first word/words in lines, clauses or sentences);

Here, in the Churchill's speech we find the anaphora at the beginning of sentences and clauses:
'We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.'
Anaphora adds rhythm to the text, makes prose sounds more like a poem and poem sounds even more poetical. It appeals to emotions focusing on the particular element of the piece of writing.

Anadiplosis (repetition of the last word/phrase from the previous line, clause, or sentence at the beginning of the next);

From John Milton’s Lycidas
'For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas and hath not left his peer.'
Epistrophe (repetition of word/words at the end of sentences, clause or phrase);

From Shakespeare, The Tempest (4.1.108-109; 116-17)
'Hourly joys be still upon you!
Juno sings her blessings on you. [. . .]
Scarcity and want shall shun you,
Ceres' blessing so is on you.'

Polyptoton (repetition of words with the change in endings or forms);

Wisdom is not always wise, said the man wisely

Antanaclasis (repetition of the same words but with the change of the meaning);

From Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet 
'Two household, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona (where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hand unclean.'

In the first case, 'civil' refers to citizens of a city, whereas the second 'civil' to the behaviour, refine, sophisticated, polite. 

There is a special case of repetition, called polysyndeton when a conjunction is repeated many times. Predominantly it happens with and, but, or, nor. 
This figure of speech slows down the rhythm of the text and its actions. 

From  Ernest Hemingway, After the Storm
'I said, ‘Who killed him?’ and he said ‘I don’t know who killed him, but he’s dead all right,’ and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights or windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Key and she was right only she was full of water.'


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