Latin assonance

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Assonance, the recurrence of sounds in proximity, is a common feature of language, observable in all periods of Latin. Three kinds may be mentioned.


The repetition of initial sounds appears in formulaic language of all levels in (a) idioms and proverbs; (b) prayers; (c) legal formulae.


The repetition of final sounds is an almost inevitable consequence of Latin inflexion, e.g. ‘excitatus senatus, inflammatus populus Romanus’. Its effectiveness in fixing formulaic language is seen in idiomatic and religious language.


Latin inflexion also facilitates occasional rhyme, which reinforces syntactic or metrical boundaries. Over one‐fifth of elegiac pentameters (see metre, greek, 4(b) Dactylic) display internal rhyme, between the two halves of a line, almost always involving an adjective and noun in agreement.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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