Diction & Tone
Diction refers to the author’s choice of words.Tone is the attitude or feeling that the writer’s words express.
When analyzing diction, consider such questions as:
Is the language concrete or abstract?Are the words monosyllabic or polysyllabic?Do the words have interesting connotations?Is the diction formal or colloquial?Is there any change in the level of diction in the passage?What can the reader infer about the speaker or the speaker’s attitude from the word choice?
What are some of the conclusions we can draw from these answers?
Concrete?Abstract?Monosyllabic wordsPolysyllabic wordsFormalColloquialChange in type of diction?
ChildlikeMature thinkingIntellectually inferiorSophisticatedEducatedIlliterateDoes this indicate an epiphany?
Denotation means the literal, dictionary definition of the word – plump and obese both mean caloricly challengedConnotation means the implied or suggested meaning attached to a word, or the emotional “tag” that goes along with the word.Corpulent, plump, obese, heavy set, fleshy, fat, paunchy, burly, over-weight, roly poly, bulky, portly, weighty, pudgyWhich word do we use to insult someone?Which one do we use to describe someone we like?Which one do we use to describe a cute little baby?
The choice of diction contributes to the toneWhen discussing tone, consider such questions as:
What seems to be the speaker’s attitude in the passage?Is more than one attitude or point of view expressed?Does the passage have a noticeable emotional mood or atmosphere?Can anything in the passage be described as irony?
ALWAYS use an adjective when describing diction and tone.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.
Now --- let’s try it
Bouncing into the room, she lit up the vicinity with a joyous glow on her face as she told about her fiancé and their wedding plans.What are the specific words that create the feeling of the sentence? What words did the author use to create the feeling of the sentence?
Bouncinginto the room, shelitup the vicinity with ajoyousglowon her face as she told about herfiancéand theirweddingplans.Bouncing – lit – joyous – glow – fiancé - weddingWhat kind of words are these?
Bouncinginto the room, shelitup the vicinity with ajoyousglowon her face as she told about herfiancéand theirweddingplans.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.Cheerful diction contributes to the euphoric tone.Or uplifting diction contributes to the joyful tone.
Shehuddledin the corner,clutchingher tattered blanket andshakingconvulsively, as shefeverishlysearched the room for theunknowndangersthat awaited her.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.frightening diction contributes to the alarming tone.
Shelayon the couch in awhite evening dress,whispering softlyin the ear of herfiancé,running her fingers through his hairandgently nibbling his earlobe.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.suggestive diction contributes to the seductive tone.
Harvardaccepted her, allowing this child theopportunitytostudyin the samehallsas the many famousscholarsbefore her, giving her the chance toexcelin her field in thebest collegein the United States.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.lofty diction contributes to the elevated tone.
Burstingthrough the door, theflusteredmotherhollereduncontrollablyat the innocent teacher who gave her child anF.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.fierce diction contributes to the antagonistic tone.
Drawing theattentionof his classmates, as well as his teacher, the studentdaredtoexperimentwith hisprofessor’sintelligencebyinterrogatinghim about theBible.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.challenging diction contributes to the confrontational tone.
Hefurtivelyglanced behind him, forfearof hisimaginedpursuers, thenhurriedlywalked on,jumpingat the slightest sound, even of a leafcracklingunder his own foot.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.threatening diction contributes to the frantic tone.
Gentlysmiling, her mothertenderlytuckedthe covers up around the child’s neck, andcarefully,quietly, left the room, making sure to leave acomfortingray of lightshiningthrough the opened door should the child awake.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.loving diction contributes to the serene tone.
Thelaughingwindskippedthrough the village,teasingthe trees until theydancedwithangerandcajolingthe grass intofighting itself, bladeslappingblade, as thesillydog withgolfballeyes andflopping, tongue bounded across the lawn.____ diction contributes to the ____ tone.humorous diction contributes to the happy-go-lucky tone.
Remember………………………What kind of words are there?And how do they make you feel?
Abhorrent abrupt accusing accusatory admonitory bantering bitter boring brash bucolic calm cautious childish coarse cold colloquial concerned despairing desperate disdainful disgusted ecstatic effusive elated elegiac eloquent embittered erudite exuberant foreboding gloomy harsh haughty hopeful humbleindignant inflammatory irreverent irritated ironicjoking joyful light loving miserable melancholicnervous nostalgic optimistic outraged paranoid passionate patronizing pedantic peaceful pessimistic pitiful pleasant playful proud pompous pretentious questioning reflective reminiscent resigned romantic sadsanctimonious sarcastic sardonic scornful sentimentalserene serious sharp shocked silly solemn somber soothing snobbish snooty sympathetic taunting turgid vexedvibrant whimsical angry anxious appreciative apologetic arrogant audacious condemning dark condescending contemptuous dreamy mocking moralistic mournful persuasive piquant cynical compassionate confidant
The more words you know to describe passages, the more sophisticated your descriptions will be when you analyze authors’ writing
And one last tip………..Never, never, never, never, never say:“the author uses diction”do you mean – the author chooses words?Well, duh!!!!!!Always say:the author uses ______(what kind of) dictionindignant? dark? euphoric?Describe it!!!!!!