This Vocabulary of Alliteration is a new aid in writing poems and songs,
and in the study of phonetic or phonemic syllable divisions.
Alliteration is one of several aural devices in literature making use of
the repetition of single sounds or groups of sounds. It is quite often
believed to be nothing else than the repetition of word-initial sounds,
especially consonants. For such rough and ready alliteration a
special dictionary would hardly be needed.
However, if alliteration is, in a more sophisticated and traditional
fashion, interpreted as the repetition of speech sounds at
the beginning of syllables, and of stressed syllables only,
then word-initial consonance or assonance need not be alliteration and vice
versa. (So that rough does not
alliterate with a word like reward
but with, for instance, ignoramus.)
The first syllables of words often do not receive primary stress in the
present language, not even secondary stress, and therefore specially
prepared lists of words of which the stressed syllables start with the same
sound or sounds will be of interest to anyone studying or creating aural
effects and imagery in verbal communication.
After seven years, all twenty consonants that can play a role in
alliteration and all fifteen vowels became accessible on the Internet.
Another seven years later the
Spelling and Stress Dictionary, with the
same words and phrases as in this Vocabulary, saw the light.
Together, these two reference works are part of one project, a project
which will probably be never completely done and dusted.
WORDS AND PHRASES ENTERED
The words and phrases entered in this dictionary have been selected
and will continue to be selected on the basis of one or more of the
alliteration (word- or phrase-internal): words and phrases
of which a (primary- or secondary-stressed) syllable alliterates with
another (stressed) syllable of the same word or phrase.
Examples of words with internal alliteration are baobab
(BA-o-BAB or BAO-BAB), intuition
examples of phrases of several words with internal alliteration are
past compare (PAST com-PARE), a mine of information
(MINE of IN-for-MA·ti·on) and cut your coat according to your
cloth (CUT your COAT a-CCOR·d·ing to your CLOTH).
Sometimes there is double alliteration, as in the phrase no guts, no
glory (NO GUTS, NO GLO·r·y).
basic vocabulary: words that belong to a basic vocabulary of
about 2,000 words and whose first syllable is not stressed.
For example, attack (a-TTACK) under |T| and eleven
(e-LE·v·en) under |L|.
dialectal or pronunciational variation: words that have
different stress patterns in different dialects or even within one
dialect or sociolect.
For example, hegemony, which is pronounced with primary
stress on the first syllable (and entered as both HE·g·e-MO·n·y and
HE·g·e·m·o·n·y under |H|) or with primary stress on the second
syllable (entered as he-GE·m·o·n·y under both |D| and |G|).
grammatical interest: words that show an interesting
syllabification or 'stress behavior', such as phrasal verbs or words
whose stress pattern depends on their grammatical category
or number (singular vs plural).
For example, the phrasal verb zero in (ZE·r·o IN) under
|I|; or compound under |K| (COM·p·ound) as a noun or adjective,
and under |P| (com-POUND) as a verb.
poetic or literary quality or usage: all literary words and
phrases, and all words that have a literary meaning or usage as well
should eventually be included in this dictionary.
For example, boon companion (BOON com-PAN-ion); assuage
(a-SSUAGE), which may be considered formal or literary; and
topless (TO·p·less), which is a poetic word in the sense of
spelling: (1) words whose stressed syllables are spelled in a
way which does not immediately and clearly show the first sound in
pronunciation; and (2) words whose number of syllables in the spoken
language deviates from the number suggested by the written language.
Examples in the first category are knee (KNEE) under |N|,
not |K|, and beyond under both |AH| or |O| (bey-OND) and |J|
(be-YOND). An example in the second category is colonel, which
may be supposed to have three syllables, whereas it has only two in the
spoken language (COLO·n·el).
(It is safe to say that the phrase happy hour was not coined in a
sober mood.) The repetition of orthographical consonants and/or vowels
is in itself neither proof of rime nor of alliteration, and has had no
immediate bearing on the selection of words and phrases entered here.
PHONEMIC SYMBOLS USED
The pronunciation symbols chosen for this dictionary consist of simple,
ordinary letters or combinations of such letters: lower-case if unstressed,
and upper-case if stressed. When applied to whole words and phrases these
symbols constitute a unique double-case phonemic transcription
system -- unique in that it does not make use of the lower-case characters
of the present bicameral script only,
but of capitals as well. In the following lists, however, this double-case
transcription is confined to single sounds and to syllabification and
stress patterns, while the standard spelling of the words is
maintained as much as possible. Where deviation from the standard spelling
could not be avoided the phonemic symbol is put between vertical bars.
Ideally, one phoneme (the unit of speech
used to express and recognize meaning) should correspond with
one character, but such a one-to-one correspondence cannot be
achieved with ordinary letters. Therefore, it is important that
where a phoneme is represented by two characters, the
speech sounds represented by these characters separately never occur in
immediate succession within the same phonemic syllable. Two
characters which would otherwise be separated by a syllable division
must stand for one sound.
In this dictionary there are three two-letter symbols for consonants.
|TH| is the symbol for the first sound in thin, while |DH| is
that for the first sound in then, a difference similar to the
one between |T| and |D|. |SH| is used as may be expected, unlike,
perhaps, the one-letter symbol |J| for the first consonant in a word
like yes. The one- or two-letter symbols for vowels correspond
with the standard spelling in words such as the following: AH, AI[SLE],
[V]EI[N], I[N], [N]O[T] (if the |O| is not consistently replaced with |AH|), OH, OI[L],
[T]OO and [P]U[T]. The vowel in can is transcribed as |AE|; the
one in out as |AU|. The symbol used for a schwa (the first vowel in
ago) is |a|; that for its stressed counterpart (the vowel in
love and bus) is |A|.
Almost any phoneme can be a stave, that is, an alliterating sound binding
together two or more syllables in one or more words. (It is only indirectly
that a stave may be said to bind together two or more words.) The
thirty-five staves are ordered alphabetically on the basis of the one or
two letters of which their symbol consists:
The vowels in up and err are treated as one
phoneme |A|, since they never correspond with a difference in meaning.
Note furthermore that |J| stands for one consonant sound and that the
orthographical j in a word like job stands for
two consonant sounds: |D| and |ZH|. Similarly, the ch in a
word like choice stands for |T| and |SH|. Words of which a stressed
syllable starts with such sounds are listed under |D| and |T| respectively.
Two phonemes are missing in the above table: |NG| (as in long) and
|ZH| (as in genre). They do not occur at the beginning of syllables,
or only in foreign words and sometimes a word whose second syllable starts
with su, such as c[a]esura, when |ZH| may occur in |ZHOO| or
|ZHU| at the beginning of the stressed second syllable, provided this
su is not pronounced as |ZJOO| or
(|NG| is common at the end of words, while |ZH| is common as a second
phoneme after |D|.)
The words and phrases in this dictionary are represented in a way which
is needed and which suffices to show their occurrence and possible use
in alliteration. On the one hand this representation takes more
pronunciational features into account than a standard spelling, on the
other hand it looks more like a standard spelling than a phonetic,
or even phonemic transcription, and is therefore easier to read for
those familiar with only ordinary orthography.
The following table should make this clear for the words
vocabulary, of and alliteration:
sharp division between syllables, as in
AN-gle (angle, |AENG-gal|) and de-SERT (desert, if
one of two fuzzy boundaries between
two syllables, the consonantal sound(s) between the dots
being their overlap, as in AN·g·el (angel,
|EIN·dzh·al|) and DE·s·ert (desert, if
(part of a) stressed
syllable (which is not at the same time part of another, unstressed
beginning and end of one or more
sounds represented in a way deviating from the standard spelling,
usually x replaced with |k-S|, |K·s| or |g-Z|, sometimes a sound
not represented in the standard spelling at all, such as
|J| or |W|
space between two words pronounced together (in the
a hyphen in the standard spelling
sharp, hyphened division between
syllables of one word (the equivalent of -:)
the following letter must or may be capitalized in the
ABBREVIATIONS BETWEEN SQUARE BRACKETS
as an adjective
as an adverb
word or phrase
which is (especially) literary or poetic
word or phrase with a literary meaning or use as well
word or phrase whose use is literary (or poetic) or formal
(or technical) for the same meaning(s)
as a noun
as a preposition
as a verb
one of several dialectal or merely
pronunciational variants (which do not immediately succeed each other in
RULES FOR DERIVING THE OR A STANDARD SPELLING
As the function of this global dictionary is to list the words and
expressions which alliterate on the basis of their syllabification and
placement of stress, deviation from the standard orthography could not
always be avoided. Yet, of any entry in this dictionary anyone can find out
the 'correct' spelling by following a number of simple, fixed rules. These
rules must be applied to the complete form of an entry, which means that it
should contain, first of all, all syllables and overlaps between syllables.
Thus, in e|g-Z|IST/-Z|I·st·ed the complete forms are
e|g-Z|IST and e|g-Z|I·st·ed. Furthermore,
entries containing an apostrophe (') which represents the optional elision
of a vowel, resulting in a reduction of the number of syllables, will have
to be replaced with the preceding form in which that vowel is both written
and pronounced. Thus, the complete form of both
DI·ff'·rent and DI·ff·er'nt is
DI·ff·e·r·ent, with the possible exception of
poetry where the apostrophe may be maintained to indicate the number of
syllables with which such a word should be pronounced. Given these complete
forms (with or without an apostrophe) the algorithm to derive the or a
standard spelling is:
turn all capitals into small letters;
delete all dots (·) and hyphens (-);
replace any = sign or colon (:) with a hyphen;
replace any + sign with a space;
replace |gz| or |ks| with x, and |kw| with qu;
delete all other vertical bars with the letters in between;
replace any letter preceded by a $ sign with the
corresponding capital letter.
POLICY WITH RESPECT TO ALTERNATIVE SPELLINGS
It is this same policy which is followed in this dictionary and which
should explain why, for example,
advertize, rime and thru are entered first, while
advertise, rhyme and through are added as
Sometimes a word or phrase, such as love-letter or love
letter, is found in two or three orthographical variants
of the following type: as one word without a hyphen, as one word with a
hyphen and as two words. In such a case it is only the variant with the
smallest number of words and hyphens that is entered, unless there are
more differences in spelling between the variants. In this Vocabulary
love letter is therefore represented by LOVE=LE·tt·er
instead of LOVE LE·tt·er or LOVE+-LE·tt·er, but both the variant
all right and the variant alright are represented
in the entry al[l+]-RIGHT.
OTHER WORKS OF LITERARY OR LINGUISTIC INTEREST
Those interested in literature may also want to visit:
Fiction and drama
Those with a serious interest in the spoken or written language and
(philosophical) linguistics may also want to read
a division of
a chapter of
Those fond of playing with language may also want to try one of several