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periodic sentence


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A long sentence in which the completion of the syntax and sense is delayed until the end, usually after a sequence of balanced subordinate clauses. The effect is a kind of suspense, as the reader's attention is propelled forward to the end, as in this sentence from Ann Radcliffe's Romance of the Forest (1791), describing the heroine's response to an unwelcome sexual advance:While he was declaring the ardour of his passion in such terms, as but too often make vehemence pass for sincerity, Adeline, to whom this declaration, if honourable, was distressing, and if dishonourable, was shocking, interrupted him and thanked him for the offer of a distinction, which, with a modest, but determined air, she said she must refuse.See also hypotactic, latinate.

While he was declaring the ardour of his passion in such terms, as but too often make vehemence pass for sincerity, Adeline, to whom this declaration, if honourable, was distressing, and if dishonourable, was shocking, interrupted him and thanked him for the offer of a distinction, which, with a modest, but determined air, she said she must refuse.

Subjects: Literature.


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