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Literary Terms Glossary
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The following is a list of literary terms; that is, those words used in discussion, classification, criticism, and analysis of poetry, novels and picture books.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

* Satire

Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

A common feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm—"in satire, irony is militant"[2]—but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. This "militant" irony or sarcasm often professes to approve (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist wishes to attack.

Satire is nowadays found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, and media such as lyrics.

* Scan

Scan may refer to:

Acronyms:

  • Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN), a psychiatric diagnostic tool developed by WHO
  • Shared Check Authorization Network (SCAN), a database of bad check writers and collection agency for bad checks
  • Space Communications and Navigation Program (SCaN)
  • S.C.A.N, Stop Child Abuse and Neglect, non-for profit organization based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
  • Businesses:

  • Scan Furniture, a retail chain based in Washington, D.C. specializing in Scandinavian furniture
  • Scan AB or Scan Foods UK Ltd, the Swedish and UK subsdiaries of the Finnish HKScan Oyj
  • Seattle Community Access Network (SCAN) is the public access TV channel is Seattle, Washington
  • Electronics or computer related:

  • Counter-scanning, in physical micro and nanotopography measuring instruments
  • Elevator algorithm (also SCAN) disk scheduling algorithm
  • Image scanner
  • image scanning
  • Optical character recognition, optical recognition of printed text or printed sheet music
  • Port scanner in computer networking
  • Prefix sum is an operation on lists that is also known as the scan operator
  • Scan chain, a type of manufacturing test used with integrated circuits
  • Medical:

  • Medical ultrasonography, the medical procedure for examining internal structures, especially when applied to developing foetuses in the womb
  • X-ray computed tomography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Switch Access Scanning, a technique that allows users with motor impairments to use a computer using switch access
  • Partner assisted scanning, a technique that allows a person with severe disabilities to communicate
  • * Scansion

    Scansion is the act of determining and (usually) graphically representing the metrical character of a line of verse.

    * Scènes à faire

    Scène à faire (French for "scene to be made" or "scene that must be done"; plural: scènes à faire) is a scene in a book or film which is almost obligatory for a genre of its type. In the U.S. it also refers to principle in copyright law in which certain elements of a creative work are held to be not protected when they are mandated by or customary to the genre.

    For example, a spy novel is expected to contain elements such as numbered Swiss bank accounts, a femme fatale, and various spy gadgets hidden in wristwatches, belts, shoes, and other personal effects. These elements are not protected by copyright, though specific sequences and compositions of them can be.

    As another example, in programming, it is often customary to list variables at the beginning of the source code of a program. In some programming languages, it is required to also declare the type of variable at the same time. Depending on the function of a program, certain types of variables are to be expected. If a program deals with files, variable types that deal with files are often listed and declared. As a result, variable declarations are generally not considered protected elements of a program.

    * Sea shanty

    Sea shanties (singular "shanty", also spelled "chantey"; derived from the French word "chanter", 'to sing') were shipboard working songs. Some speculate that shanties may have been sung as early as the 15th century though there is little evidence to support this claim. The shanties that survived to be collected and preserved date from the 19th century through the days of steam ships in the first half of the 20th century.

    * Semiotics

    Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of cultural sign processes (semiosis), analogy, metaphor, signification and communication, signs and symbols. Semiotics is closely related to the field of linguistics, which in its part, studies the structure and meaning of language more specifically. Semiotics is usually divided into three branches, which include:

    Semantics: Relation between signs and the things to which they refer; their denotata, or meaning
    Syntactics: Relations among signs in formal structures
    Pragmatics: Relation between signs and the effects they have on the people who use them

    Semiotics is frequently seen as having important anthropological dimensions; for example, Umberto Eco proposes that every cultural phenomenon can be studied as communication. However, some semioticians focus on the logical dimensions of the science. They examine areas belonging also to the natural sciences – such as how organisms make predictions about, and adapt to, their semiotic niche in the world (see semiosis). In general, semiotic theories take signs or sign systems as their object of study: the communication of information in living organisms is covered in biosemiotics or zoosemiosis.

    Syntactics is the branch of semiotics that deals with the formal properties of signs and symbols. More precisely, syntactics deals with the "rules that govern how words are combined to form phrases and sentences." Charles Morris adds that semantics deals with the relation of signs to their designata and the objects which they may or do denote; and, pragmatics deals with the biotic aspects of semiosis, that is, with all the psychological, biological, and sociological phenomena which occur in the functioning of signs.

    * Semiotic literary criticism

    Semiotic literary criticism, also called literary semiotics, is the approach to literary criticism informed by the theory of signs or semiotics. Semiotics, tied closely to the structuralism pioneered by Ferdinand de Saussure, was extremely influential in the development of literary theory out of the formalist approaches of the early twentieth century.

    The early forms of literary semiotics grew out of formalist approaches to literature, especially Russian formalism, and structuralist linguistics, especially the Prague school. Notable early semiotic authors included Vladimir Propp, Algirdas Julius Greimas, and Viktor Shklovsky. These critics were concerned with a formal analysis of narrative forms which would resemble a literary mathematics, or at least a literary syntax, as far as possible. They proposed various formal notations for narrative components and transformations and attempted a descriptive taxonomy of existing stories along these lines.

    Propp's Morphology of the Folktale (orig. Russian pub. 1928; English trans. 1958) provides an example of the formal and systematic approach. In successive chapters, Propp analyzes the characters, plot events, and other elements of traditional folktales (primarily from Russia and Eastern Europe). For each of these key components he provides a letter designation (with superscripts to designate specific subtypes). He proceeds to analyze individual tales by transposing them into this notation and then to generalize about their structure.

    * Setting (fiction)

    In fiction, setting includes the time, location, and everything in which a story takes place, and initiates the main backdrop and mood for a story. Setting has been referred to as story world or milieu to include a context (especially society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story. Elements of setting may include culture, historical period, geography, and hour. Along with plot, character, theme, and style, setting is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction. A setting is the time, place and social environment in which a story takes place.

    * Sea shanty

    Sea shanties (singular "shanty", also spelled "chantey"; derived from the French word "chanter", 'to sing') were shipboard working songs. Some speculate that shanties may have been sung as early as the 15th century though there is little evidence to support this claim. The shanties that survived to be collected and preserved date from the 19th century through the days of steam ships in the first half of the 20th century.

    * Sestet

    A sestet is the name given to the second division of an Italian sonnet (as opposed to an English or Spenserian Sonnet), which must consist of an octave, of eight lines, succeeded by a sestet, of six lines. The first documented user of this poetical form was the Italian poet, Petrarch. In the usual course the rhymes are arranged abc abc, but this is not necessary. Early Italian sonnets, and in particular those of Dante, often close with the rhyme-arrangement abc cba; but in languages where the sonority of syllables is not so great as it is in Italian, it is dangerous to leave a period of five lines between one rhyme and another. In the quatorzain, there is, properly speaking, no sestet, but a quatrain followed by a couplet, as in the case of English Sonnets. Another form of sestet has only two rhymes, ab ab I ab; as is the case in Gray's famous sonnet On the Death of Richard West. The sestet should mark the turn of emotion in the sonnet; as a rule it may be said, that the octave having been more or less objective, in the sestet reflection should make its appearance, with a tendency to the subjective manner. For example, in Matthew Arnold's The Better Part, the rough inquirer, who has had his own way in the octave, is replied to as soon as the sestet commences:

    So answerest thou; but why not rather say:
    "Hath man no second life? - Pitch this one high!
    Sits there no judge in Heaven, our sin to see? -
    More strictly, then, the inward judge obey!
    Was Christ a man like us? Ah! let us try
    If we then, too, can be such men as he!"

    Wordsworth and Milton are both remarkable for the dignity with which they conduct the downward wave of the sestet in their sonnet. The French sonneteers of the 16th century, with Ronsard at their head, preferred the softer sound of the arrangement aab ccb I. The German poets have usually wavered between the English and the Italian forms.

    A sestet is also six lines of poetry forming a stanza or complete poem.

    * Shakespearean sonnet - Sonnet

    * Sicilian octave

    The Sicilian octave (Italian: ottava siciliana or ottava napoletana, lit. "Neapolitan octave") is a verse form consisting of eight lines of eleven syllables each, called a hendecasyllable. The form is common in late medieval Italian poetry. In English poetry, iambic pentameter is often used instead of syllabics. The form has a prescribed rhyme scheme of four rhymed couplets (A-B-A-B-A-B-A-B). Although only the final two rhymes are different from the much more common ottava rima, the two eight-line forms evolved completely separately. According to the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, scholars disagree on the origin of the Sicilian octave, but all agree that it is related to the development of the first eight lines of the sonnet (called the octave). It is not clear whether the octave emerged first and influenced the sonnet or vice versa.

    The form is a variant of the strambotto, which is one of the earliest verse forms in the Italian language. The strambotto was used in Sicily and Tuscany, and consisted of either six or eight hendecasyllables. The rhyme scheme varied, but the Tuscan was form generally did not use the Sicilian octave scheme; the most common was A-B-A-B-C-C-D-D.

    The Sicilian octave is rare in Italian after the Renaissance and has seldom been used in English except as an illustration of the form. Before the 15th century, however, it was used often by poets in southern Italy, and was an important influence for Petrarch in his sonnets. Boccaccio, who popularized and may have invented the unrelated ottava rima, used the Sicilian octave a total of once, in his early romance Filocolo.

    * Simile

    A simile is a figure of speech that indirectly compares two different things by employing the words "like", "as", or "than". Even though similes and metaphors are both forms of comparison, similes indirectly compare the two ideas and allow them to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors compare two things directly. For instance, a simile that compares a person with a bullet would go as follows: "Chris was a record-setting runner and as fast as a speeding bullet." A metaphor might read something like, "When Chris ran, he was a speeding bullet racing along the track."

    A mnemonic for a simile is that "a simile is similar or alike."

    * Slant rhyme - Half rhyme

    Half rhyme or slant rhyme, sometimes called sprung, near rhyme, oblique rhyme, off rhyme or imperfect rhyme, is consonance on the final consonants of the words involved. Many half/slant rhymes are also eye rhymes. Half/slant rhymes are widely used in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Icelandic verse. An example is ill and shell. Half/slant rhyme has been found in English-language poetry as early as Henry Vaughan, but it was not until the works of W. B. Yeats and Gerard Manley Hopkins that it found wide use among English-language poets. In the 20th century half/slant rhyme has been used widely by English poets.

    * Slice of life

    Slice of life is a theatrical term that refers to a naturalistic representation of real life, sometimes used as an adjective, as in "a play with 'slice of life' dialogue." The term originated in 1890–95 as a translation from the French phrase tranche de vie, credited to the French playwright Jean Jullien (1854–1919).

    Jullien introduced the term not long after a staging of his play, The Serenade, as noted by Wayne S. Turney in his essay, "Notes on Naturalism in the Theatre":

    The Serenade was introduced by the Théâtre Libre in 1887. It is a prime example of rosserie, that is, plays dealing with corrupt, morally bankrupt characters who seem to be respectable, "smiling, smiling, damned villains..." Jullien gave us the famous apothegm defining naturalism in his The Living Theatre (1892): "A play is a slice of life put onstage with art." He goes on to say that "...our purpose is not to create laughter, but thought." He felt that the story of a play does not end with the curtain which is, he says, "only an arbitrary interruption of the action which leaves the spectator free to speculate about what goes on beyond..."

    In the 20th century, it expanded to mean "the realistic description or representation of events and situations in everyday life in literature, film, journalism, etc."

    During the 1950s, the phrase had common critical usage in reviews of live television dramas, notably teleplays by JP Miller, Paddy Chayefsky[4] and Reginald Rose. At that time, it was sometimes used synonymously with the critical label "kitchen sink realism," adopted from British films and theatre.

    * Sobriquet

    A sobriquet (pronounced SOH-bri-kay) is a nickname, sometimes assumed, but often given by another. It is usually a familiar name, distinct from a pseudonym assumed as a disguise, but a nickname which is familiar enough such that it can be used in place of a real name without the need of explanation. This salient characteristic is of sufficient familiarity that the sobriquet can become more familiar than the original name. For example, Genghis Khan, who is rarely recognized now by his original name, Temüjin; or Mohandas Gandhi who is better known as Mahatma Gandhi. Well known places often have sobriquets, such as New York City, often referred to as the Big Apple. The term can therefore apply to the nickname for a specific person, group of people or even a place.

    * Soliloquy

    A soliloquy is a device often used in drama whereby a character relates his or her thoughts and feelings to him/herself and to the audience without addressing any of the other characters. Soliloquy is distinct from monologue and aside. Soliloquies are similar to yet distinct from a monologue; an exclusive view of a character's dramatized action within a play-world, typically addressing another character or group of characters.

    Soliloquies were frequently used in poetic dramas; dramas in prose tend to use a more realistic speaking style and rarely if ever feature them. The plays of William Shakespeare feature many soliloquies. The "To be or not to be" speech in Hamlet is perhaps the most famous one in the English language. Macbeth's "Tomorrow and tomorrow" speech and Juliet's "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" are other famous examples of Shakespearean soliloquies (although Juliet's speech is overheard by Romeo).

    * Sonnet

    The sonnet is one of several forms of poetry originating in Europe. The term "sonnet" derives from the Occitan word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning "little song" or "little sound". By the thirteenth century, it had come to signify a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure. The conventions associated with the sonnet have evolved over its history. The writers of sonnets are sometimes referred to as "sonneteers," although the term can be used derisively. One of the best-known sonnet writers is William Shakespeare, who wrote 154 of them (not including those that appear in his plays). A Shakespearean, or English, sonnet consists of 14 lines, each line containing ten syllables and written in iambic pentameter, in which a pattern of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable is repeated five times. The rhyme scheme in a Shakespearean sonnet is a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g; the last two lines are a rhyming couplet.

    Traditionally, English poets employ iambic pentameter when writing sonnets, but not all English sonnets have the same metrical structure: the first sonnet in Sir Philip Sidney's sequence Astrophel and Stella, for example, has 12 syllables: it is iambic hexameters, albeit with a turned first foot in several lines. In the Romance languages, the hendecasyllable and Alexandrine are the most widely used metres.

    * Speaker - Grammatical person

    Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns. It also frequently affects verbs, sometimes nouns, and possessive relationships.

    * Spenserian stanza

    The Spenserian stanza is a fixed verse form invented by Edmund Spenser for his epic poem The Faerie Queene. Each stanza contains nine lines in total: eight lines in iambic pentameter followed by a single 'Alexandrine' line in iambic hexameter. The rhyme scheme of these lines is "ababbcbcc."

    * Sprung rhythm

    Sprung rhythm is a poetic rhythm designed to imitate the rhythm of natural speech. It is constructed from feet in which the first syllable is stressed and may be followed by a variable number of unstressed syllables. The British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins claimed to have discovered this previously-unnamed poetic rhythm in the natural patterns of English in folk songs, spoken poetry, Shakespeare, Milton, et al. He used diacritical marks on syllables to indicate which should be drawn out (acute e.g. á ) and which uttered quickly (grave e.g. è ). Some critics believe he merely coined a name for poems with mixed, irregular feet, like free verse. However, while sprung rhythm allows for an indeterminate number of syllables to a foot, Hopkins was very careful to keep the number of feet he had per line consistent across each individual work, a trait that free verse does not share.

    * Strambotto - Ottava rima

    Ottava rima is a rhyming stanza form of Italian origin. Originally used for long poems on heroic themes, it later came to be popular in the writing of mock-heroic works. Its earliest known use is in the writings of Giovanni Boccaccio.

    The ottava rima stanza in English consists of eight iambic lines, usually iambic pentameters. Each stanza consists of three alternate rhymes and one double rhyme, following the a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c pattern. The form is similar to the older Sicilian octave, but evolved separately and is unrelated. The Sicilian octave is derived from the medieval strambotto and was a crucial step in the development of the sonnet, whereas the ottava rima is related to the canzone, a stanza form.

    * Stanza

    In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse" (distinct from the refrain, or "chorus").

    A stanza consists of a grouping of lines, set off by a space, that usually has a set pattern of meter and rhyme.

    In traditional English-language poems, stanzas can be identified and grouped together because they share a rhyme scheme or a fixed number of lines (as in distich/couplet, tercet, quatrain, cinquain/quintain, sestet). In much modern poetry, stanzas may be arbitrarily presented on the printed page because of publishing conventions that employ such features as white space or punctuation.

    * Stigma of print

    The stigma of print is the concept that an informal social convention restricted the literary works of aristocrats in the Elizabethan and Tudor age to private and courtly audiences — as opposed to commercial endeavors — at the risk of social disgrace if violated, and which obliged the author to profess an abhorrence of the press and to restrict his works from publication. The stigma is usually confined to creative literature rather than to pious or scholarly works. It is assumed to apply especially to poetry and drama.

    The concept was first popularised by Edward Arber in 1870. Arber wrote that "The Poets of that age, wrote for their own delectation and for that of their friends: and not for the general public. They generally had the greatest aversion to their works appearing in print.". This was said to be linked to the ideal of the courtier promoted by Baldassare Castiglione, who wrote that courtiers should keep their poetic work close, only circulating them among friends.

    The argument was supported by statements from George Puttenham regarding "courtly makers" who wrote poetry but who did not circulate it beyond a small circle of friends. Earlier aristocratic poets such as Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey had made no effort to have their works published; their poems only appeared in print after the authors' deaths. J.W. Saunders argued that for such poets publication was "an unimportant and somewhat discreditable aspect of authorship".

    While there is good evidence that aristocractic authors often acted as though they were indifferent to print publication, a number of scholars have doubted that there was any stigma associated with it by the Elizabethan age. Saunders refers to the "unimportance of the printed-book audience" for such writers. According to Ian Hamilton, the practice — if it existed — was honoured more in the breech than in the observance. Steven May argues that while there is almost no aristocratic publication of creative literature in the early Tudor period, the publication of poetry is fairly common in the reign of Elizabeth, indicating that there was little or no stigma attached to it by this period.

    * Stereotype

    A stereotype is a held popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions.

    * Stream of consciousness (narrative mode)

    In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual's point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character's thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her actions.

    Stream-of-consciousness writing is usually regarded as a special form of interior monologue and is characterized by associative leaps in syntax and punctuation that can make the prose difficult to follow. Stream of consciousness and interior monologue are distinguished from dramatic monologue, where the speaker is addressing an audience or a third person, which is used chiefly in poetry or drama. In stream of consciousness, the speaker's thought processes are more often depicted as overheard in the mind (or addressed to oneself); it is primarily a fictional device. The term was introduced to the field of literary studies from that of psychology, where it was coined by philosopher and psychologist William James.

    * Structuralism

    Structuralism is an intellectual movement that developed in France in the 1950s and 1960s, in which human culture is analysed semiotically (i.e., as a system of signs).

    Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism appeared in academia in the second half of the 20th century and grew to become one of the most popular approaches in academic fields concerned with the analysis of language, culture, and society. The structuralist mode of reasoning has been applied in a diverse range of fields, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, and architecture. The most famous thinkers associated with structuralism include the linguist Roman Jakobson, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, and the literary critic Roland Barthes. As an intellectual movement, structuralism came to take existentialism's pedestal in 1960s France.

    Structuralism argues that a specific domain of culture may be understood by means of a structure—modelled on language—that is distinct both from the organisations of reality and those of ideas or the imagination—the "third order". In Lacan's psychoanalytic theory, for example, the structural order of "the Symbolic" is distinguished both from "the Real" and "the Imaginary"; similarly, in Althusser's Marxist theory, the structural order of the capitalist mode of production is distinct both from the actual, real agents involved in its relations and from the ideological forms in which those relations are understood. According to Alison Assiter, four ideas are common to the various forms of structuralism. First, that a structure determines the position of each element of a whole. Second, that every system has a structure. Third, structural laws deal with co-existence rather than change. Fourth, structures are the "real things" that lie beneath the surface or the appearance of meaning.

    In the 1970s, structuralism was criticised for its rigidity and ahistoricism. Despite this, many of structuralism's proponents, such as Jacques Lacan, continue to assert an influence on continental philosophy and many of the fundamental assumptions of some of structuralism's critics (who have been associated with "post-structuralism") are a continuation of structuralism.

    * Syntax

    In linguistics, syntax (from Ancient Greek σύνταξις "arrangement" from σύν syn, "together", and τάξις táxis, "an ordering") is the study of the principles and rules for constructing sentences in natural languages.

    In addition to referring to the discipline, the term syntax is also used to refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual language, as in "the syntax of Modern Irish."

    Modern research in syntax attempts to describe languages in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find general rules that apply to all natural languages. The term syntax is also used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of mathematical systems, such as logic, artificial formal languages, and computer programming languages.

    * Subplot

    A subplot is a secondary plot strand that is a supporting side story for any story or the main plot. Subplots may connect to main plots, in either time and place or in thematic significance. Subplots often involve supporting characters, those besides the protagonist or antagonist.

    In William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II, the main plot concerns Henry's growth from "Hal" the prince to "Henry" the king and the reconquest of French territory. A subplot, however, concerns Falstaff's participation in the battles. Falstaff and Henry meet at several points, and Falstaff is a familiar of Henry's, but his plot and Henry's do not mix. Even though they may be thematically connected, they are not connected in action.

    Subplots are distinguished from the main plot by taking up less of the action, having less significant events occur, with less impact on the 'world' of the work, and occurring to less important characters. When, as in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward, about a group of patients at that ward, no one character's story clearly predominates, the plots will not be distinguished into the main plot and subplots. Because of their brevity, short stories and to a large extent, novellas, usually contain no subplot.

    In screenwriting, a subplot is referred to as a "B story" or a "C story," etc.

    * Syllogism

    A syllogism (Greek: συλλογισμός – syllogismos – "conclusion," "inference") or logical appeal is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two others (the premises) of a certain form, i.e. categorical proposition.

    In Prior Analytics, Aristotle defines syllogism as "a discourse in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so." (24b18–20)

    Despite this very general definition, he limits himself first to categorical syllogisms (and later to modal syllogisms). The syllogism was at the core of traditional deductive reasoning, where facts are determined by combining existing statements, in contrast to inductive reasoning where facts are determined by repeated observations. The syllogism was superseded by first-order predicate logic following the work of Gottlob Frege, in particular his Begriffsschrift (Concept Script)(1879).

    * Symbol

    A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On maps, crossed sabres may indicate a battlefield. Numerals are symbols for numbers (amounts). All language consists of symbols. Personal names are symbols representing individuals.

    * Synecdoche

    Synecdoche (from Greek synekdoche (συνεκδοχή), meaning "simultaneous understanding") is a figure of speech in which a term is used in one of the following ways:

    Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing (pars pro toto), or
    A thing (a "whole") is used to refer to part of it (totum pro parte), or
    A specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class, or
    A general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class, or
    A material is used to refer to an object composed of that material, or
    A container is used to refer to its contents.

    * Synesthesia

    Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia, plural synesthesiae or synaesthesiae), from the ancient Greek σύν (syn), "together," and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), "sensation,"is a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.

    In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored, while in ordinal linguistic personification, numbers, days of the week and months of the year evoke personalities. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be "farther away" than 1990), or may have a (three-dimensional) view of a year as a map (clockwise or counterclockwise). Yet another recently identified type, visual motion → sound synesthesia, involves hearing sounds in response to visual motion and flicker. Over 60 types of synesthesia have been reported, but only a fraction have been evaluated by scientific research. Even within one type, synesthetic perceptions vary in intensity and people vary in awareness of their synesthetic perceptions.

    While cross-sensory metaphors (e.g., "loud shirt," "bitter wind" or "prickly laugh") are sometimes described as "synesthetic," true neurological synesthesia is involuntary. It is estimated that synesthesia could possibly be as prevalent as 1 in 23 persons across its range of variants. Synesthesia runs strongly in families, but the precise mode of inheritance has yet to be ascertained. Synesthesia is also sometimes reported by individuals under the influence of psychedelic drugs, after a stroke, during a temporal lobe epilepsy seizure, or as a result of blindness or deafness. Synesthesia that arises from such non-genetic events is referred to as "adventitious synesthesia" to distinguish it from the more common congenital forms of synesthesia. Adventitious synesthesia involving drugs or stroke (but not blindness or deafness) apparently only involves sensory linkings such as sound → vision or touch → hearing; there are few, if any, reported cases involving culture-based, learned sets such as graphemes, lexemes, days of the week, or months of the year. An extremely strong association may also be deemed "synesthesia".

    Although synesthesia was the topic of intensive scientific investigation in the late 19th century and early 20th century, it was largely abandoned by scientific research in the mid-20th century, and has only recently been rediscovered by modern researchers. Psychological research has demonstrated that synesthetic experiences can have measurable behavioral consequences, while functional neuroimaging studies have identified differences in patterns of brain activation. Many people with synesthesia use their experiences to aid in their creative process, and many non-synesthetes have attempted to create works of art that may capture what it is like to experience synesthesia. Psychologists and neuroscientists study synesthesia not only for its inherent interest, but also for the insights it may give into cognitive and perceptual processes that occur in synesthetes and non-synesthetes alike.

    * Syntax

    In linguistics, syntax (from Ancient Greek σύνταξις "arrangement" from σύν syn, "together", and τάξις táxis, "an ordering") is the study of the principles and rules for constructing sentences in natural languages.

    In addition to referring to the discipline, the term syntax is also used to refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual language, as in "the syntax of Modern Irish."

    Modern research in syntax attempts to describe languages in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find general rules that apply to all natural languages. The term syntax is also used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of mathematical systems, such as logic, artificial formal languages, and computer programming languages.

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    Published - February 2011






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