Sunday with Zin: Literaria, Part 1

Hello I am Zin and I have been left to my own Literary Devices!

I am very Aristotelian! I like classifications! Organization! That may seem strange because
I seem so disorganized but I am fond of little boxes and spaces where everything fits even if those boxes and spaces are of odd shapes and live in alternate dimensions!

So of course I love literary terms! All those categories! Each nicely defined! And Latinate (or Greekinate) names for them all! I have talked about apostrophe quite a bit in connection with my Second Person Study (which is not all mine any more, sigh) but there are so many more to have fun with!

I was inspired to do this now by several things. First: in December Jeff Rose on Zoetrope wrote a humorous story that mentioned a character reading a fictional “French’s Tongue-In-Cheek Guide To Literary Devices” and I so want him to write this Guide, sort of like Ambrose Bierce and his Devil’s Dictionary but for Literary Devices! Jeff is a very funny writer!

Then just a couple of days ago, my flash-idol Randall Brown posted about his favorite literary device, aralipsis, on flashficiton.net. I did not even know there was a word for this structure! Then I discovered there is another word for it, paralipsis so imagine! I now have two words for something I never knew had even one name before!

So I thought, I need to bone up on my Literary Devices! I used to know a lot of them but that was a long time ago and I have forgotten. You can follow along! Impress your friends with words like Adynaton and Metonymy! Sure everyone knows about hyperbole and verisimilitude, but have they heard of Hapax legomenon? In fact I will start there!

Hapax legomenon is not really a literary device! I started the Second Person Study with a story that was not in second person , so I will start here with what is actually a description, not a tool, and I may include other literary terms that are not devices in this Literaria category! Maybe my Aristotelianism needs some fine-tuning! A hapax legomenon is means a word that is only used once in the whole record of a language, or sometimes in the entire body of work or an author, or even in a single text. So it is what would be the tiniest word you get when you do a Wordle! It is a big deal to those who investigate dead languages because the best way to discover the meaning of a word is to see it used in different ways and a hapax does not let you do that! The phrase itself is from the Greek and literally means “a thing said once.”

We must, each of us for himself, decide what in it represents the best in usage–and what is merely a corruption that has become more or less widespread or is, indeed, a mere hapax legomenon..

— John Simon, Paradigms Lost


It also happens to be the title of the Swarthmore College Classics Journal, a book of poetry by Ivan Argüelles, and several blogs. It is too bad I will not be adopting any more cats because I think it would make a wonderful pet name!

If you have a favorite literary term let me know and I will be sure to include it!

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