Why is alliteration used?

+42 votes
asked May 22, 2015 in Education by Neo (880 points)
My English teacher absolutely raves about alliteration in literature, but I don’t really get it. She’s given our class the dictionary definition of alliteration - “when words with the same sound are used repeatedly for additional emphasis” - but to me it just sounds like nonsense. Why would you put a tongue twister into your writing? To make it more difficult for people to understand?! I just think it’s showy and stupid. Why is alliteration used? What effect does alliteration have on the reader (besides perhaps confusion and/or annoyance)?

3 Answers

+14 votes
answered May 30, 2015 by Caroline (1,180 points)
The alliteration effect on a reader is all about setting mood and creating atmosphere. If you spoke with alliteration in everyday conversation, then I’m sure people would find it confusing/annoying…but reading is different. Try reading some classic examples of alliteration and focus not so much on the exact words, but how they make you feel. For instance, read ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll and focus on the raucous, discordant feeling that is created with the use of alliteration (a tone that matches the poem down to a tee). Another of my favourites is ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary…” the sonorous sounds used within this poem create a deliciously unnerving atmosphere for the reader.
commented Jun 3, 2015 by Lateisha (850 points)
Oh, I got why is alliteration used now.
+8 votes
answered May 29, 2015 by Arve (1,020 points)
Alliteration is also used all the time in creating newspaper headlines. “Maxim Murderer Mowed Down”, “Floral Federation Fight for Freedom”, “Caustic Cousins Create Chaos”, etc. It’s eye-catching, engaging and intriguing enough that it makes readers want to find out more by reading the whole story.
+8 votes
answered May 29, 2015 by Aryelle (620 points)
Alliteration is an excellent marketing tool – think how many popular brands use alliteration (e.g. Coca-Cola, Krispy Kreme, Chuckee Cheese’s, etc.). The alliteration makes the brand names easier to remember, which in turn makes us more likely to use them in the future.
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