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TONE word Student-friendly definition allusive makes many allusions, or references to things that are well-known by many people (references to the Bible, literature, art, mythology, etc.) ambiguous unclear; could be interpreted more than one way ambivalent undecided; having both positive and negative feelings towards something antagonistic extremely unfriendly; almost verbally attacking another person anxious worried, uneasy apathetic showing no emotion or concern apologetic sorry, regretful apprehensive fearful, uneasy, worried that something bad might happen audacious really bold or daring; shocking belligerent eager to fight or argue benevolent kind bewildered confused biting words that emotionally “sting” the other person blunt insensitive; saying something “like it is”, without caring whether or not you offend someone brisk quick, energetic (speaking quickly without pausing for chit-chat or friendly conversation) candid to be honest, open, outspoken celebratory full of a desire to celebrate/party about something that is joyful clinical unemotional, scientific compassionate feeling sadness for another person’s bad situation and wanting to relieve that person’s pain condescending to talk “down” to someone, like that person is beneath you or of less quality (as if you are superior) contemptuous to be full of hatred towards someone detached to remove all your emotions from a situation; to be sort of numb diabolical having the qualities of the devil didactic teaching, instructive dreary dull, boring, sad earnest full of seriousness, effort, and focus empathetic trying to understand what another person is going through, even if you have not experienced it yourself facetious joking around, usually at an inappropriate time; being sarcastic fanciful imaginary, unreal ghoulish ghost-like, but even more grotesque or monstrous giddy to be light-headed or ditzy with joy gleeful full of joy grave very serious gushy to be overly complimentary (to the point of seeming insincere) haughty arrogant; looking down on people holier-than- acting like you are so religious that you are better than everyone else; thou being judgmental hostile unfriendly; treating someone like an enemy impartial not taking sides incredulous unbelieving indifferent not caring what happens indignant to be insulted; to be angry at something that is unfair irreverent disrespectful, especially being disrespectful towards something that is holy mournful full of sadness and grief nostalgic happily remembering the past, especially remembering the past as a better time than the present objective to not take sides optimistic to have a positive outlook on life, to think good things will happen patronizing to talk down to someone, to treat a person almost as if he or she is your child pessimistic to have a negative outlook on life, to think bad things will happen poignant something that moves you emotionally pretentious “putting on airs”; trying to act showy or flashy provocative to spark an interest in something (especially a controversial topic or sex) restrained to hold back seductive sexual, trying to seduce someone sentimental remembering the past, placing special attachment on certain times, things skeptical to be doubtful, to think something is probably not true sly sneaky solemn serious, quiet, respectful somber serious, dark, depressing strident harsh, loud, irritating sympathetic trying to experience another person’s feelings/emotions taunting teasing; to mock someone to try to challenge him/her tender kind, gentle, lovingly tranquil peaceful, calm, relaxing understated to lessen the importance of something, to make it seem like it’s not a big deal (when really it IS) vexed to be extremely bothered or irritated vibrant to be full of life wistful to fondly remember the past zealous to be eager, passionate, almost obsessed DIDLS: The Key to TONE Diction - the connotation of the word choice What words does the author choose? Consider his/her word choice compared to another. Why did the author choose that particular word? What are the connotations of that word choice? Images - vivid appeals to understanding through the senses - concrete language What images does the author use? What does he/she focus on in a sensory (sight, touch, taste, smell, etc.) way? The kinds of images the author puts in or leaves out reflect his/her style? Are they vibrant? Prominent? Plain? NOTE: Images differ from detail in the degree to which they appeal to the senses. Details - facts that are included or those that are omitted What details are does the author choose to include? What do they imply? What does the author choose to exclude? What are the connotations of their choice of details? PLEASE NOTE: Details are facts or fact-lets. They differ from images in that they don't have a strong sensory appeal. Language - the overall use of language, such as formal, clinical, jargon What is the overall impression of the language the author uses? Does it reflect education? A particular profession? Intelligence? Is it plain? Ornate? Simple? Clear? Figurative? Poetic? Make sure you don't skip this step. Sentence Structure - how structure affects the reader's attitude What are the sentences like? Are they simple with one or two clauses? Do they have multiple phrases? Are they choppy? Flowing? Sinuous like a snake? Is there antithesis, chiasmus, parallel construction? What emotional impression do they leave? If we are talking about poetry, what is the meter? Is there a rhyme scheme? DICTION: Laugh: guffaw, chuckle, titter, giggle, cackle, snicker, roar Self-confident: proud, conceited, egotistical, stuck-up, haughty, smug, condescending House: home, hut, shack, mansion, cabin, home, residence Old: mature, experienced, antique, relic, senior, ancient Fat: obese, plump, corpulent, portly, porky, burly, husky, full-figured IMAGES: The use of vivid descriptions or figures of speech that appeal to sensory experiences helps to create the author's tone. My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun. (restrained) An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king. (somber, candid) He clasps the crag with crooked hands. (dramatic) Love sets you going like a fat gold watch. (fanciful) Smiling, the boy fell dead. (shocking) DETAILS: Details are most commonly the facts given by the author or speaker as support for the attitude or tone. The speaker's perspective shapes what details are given and which are not. LANGUAGE: Like word choice, the language of a passage has control over tone. Consider language to be the entire body of words used in a text, not simply isolated bits of diction. For example, an invitation to a wedding might use formal language, while a biology text would use scientific and clinical language. • When I told Dad that I had goofed the exam, he blew his top. (slang) • I had him on the ropes in the fourth and if one of my short rights had connected, he'd have gone down for the count. (jargon [language reserved for a specific discipline]) • A close examination and correlation of the most reliable current economic indexes justifies the conclusion that the next year will witness a continuation of the present, upward market trend. (turgid, pedantic [dry and academic]) SENTENCE STRUCTURE: How a sentence is constructed affects what the audience understands. Parallel syntax (similarly styled phrases and sentences) creates interconnected emotions, feelings and ideas. Short sentences are punchy and intense. Long sentences are distancing, reflective and more abstract. The inverted order of an interrogative sentence cues the reader to a question and creates tension between speaker and listener. Short sentences are often emphatic, passionate or flippant, whereas longer sentences suggest greater thought. Sentence structure affects tone and can signal a tonal shift—the author’s changing attitude about the subject.
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