Accumulation in Language

Accumulation is a literary device derived from a Latin word meaning "pile up." It involves creating lists of words or phrases that share similar qualities or meanings to emphasize those common qualities. This technique is used to draw attention to specific characteristics and can be found in both literary works and everyday conversations.

Examples in Literature

Example #1: Henry V (by William Shakespeare)

"Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered."

In this passage, Shakespeare uses accumulation to emphasize the nobility and importance of King Harry by listing the names of his loyal followers and subjects.

Example #2: Ulysses (by James Joyce)

"What syllabus of intellectual pursuits was simultaneously possible? Snapshot photography, comparative study of religions, folklore relative to various cultural practices, contemplation of celestial constellations…"

James Joyce employs accumulation to present a variety of intellectual pursuits, highlighting the multitude of options available to individuals.

Example #3: The Little Virtues (by Natalia Ginzburg)

"I don’t know how to manage my time; he does.
I don’t know how to dance and he does.
I don’t know how to type and he does.
I don’t know how to drive …"

Ginzburg uses negation and accumulation to enumerate the differences between herself and another person, creating a contrast through repetition.

Example #4: A Modest Proposal (by Jonathan Swift)

"… having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving those in need, and contributing to the well-being of society…"

Jonathan Swift employs accumulation to outline various motives and actions intended to address societal issues, underscoring the complexity of the proposed solution.

Example #5: When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops (by George Carlin)

"I’m a modern person, digital and technology-oriented;
a person for the current era.
A diversified, multicultural, post-modern thinker;
socially, anatomically, and ecologically aware."

George Carlin uses accumulation to describe contemporary attributes without objectionable content.

Function of Accumulation

The function of accumulation in literature, poetry, and rhetoric is to make language more vivid and contribute to the depth of meaning. It allows writers to describe the qualities of an object or idea through a series of related explanations, making the concept clearer and more impactful. Accumulation is a valuable tool for emphasizing commonalities, creating contrasts, and adding complexity to the narrative.

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