English Terminology – Part 2

This is Part 2 of the English Terminology series!

1. Active and Passive Voice

Refers to the difference in tone created by changing how verbs are used in sentences. Active voice is where the subject does an action – this makes the tone stronger and more dramatic. Passive voice is where the subject receives the action – this lessens the effect of the action.

For example, “The dog bites the boy” is in active voice – whereas “The boy is bitten by the dog” is in passive voice.

The orator uses active voice to describe the action more dramatically and engage the audience.

2. Bathos

Bathos refers to writing that is overly sentimental to the point of trivialising the emotions. It may become unintentionally humourous.

For example, bad poetry.

3. Caesura

Refers to a pause or stop in a line of a poem that is used to create emphasis. This pause/stop is signaled through a comma or full stop.

For example, in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: “Very big he was of muscle, and of bone.”

The comma in the 2nd line creates a caesura, adding extra emphasis to the end of the sentence.

4. Deus ex machina

Latin term referring to a sudden and unrealistic solution to the complication of a play.

For example, the protagonist waking up to find it was all a dream.

5. Epistolary

Describes a text that is written in the form of letters between its characters. Or more currently, the form of emails.

For example, Shelley’s Frankenstein uses the epistolary style.

Shelley’s use of epistolary style establishes a sense of realism in the events that occur in the novel.

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