Too Lovable Tiger!

Tiger is such a lovable cat! We’re so lucky he found us all those years ago. The Farm just wouldn’t be the same without Tiger.

Copyright 2018 Caroline L. Cooper

What do you think about the way Tiger talks? Prrretty purrrdy, isn’t it? When he purrs– and the real Tiger purrs a lot– that is sort of how he sounds. I wonder if you’ve noticed something else about how Tiger talks. Let’s look at “Chapter IV: The Nominal Problem” as an example. Here are a few words and phrases he says (I’ll leave out the extra r’s):

  • Perfectly pugnacious
  • Perfectly pleasant
  • Perhaps you’d like to be called Priscilla
  • Aubrey! A pretty proper moniker!

These are all examples of alliteration. Alliteration is repeating the same beginning consonant sound in neighboring words. “Perfectly pugnacious.” The word comes from two Latin words, ad (to) and littera (letter), so it literally means “to the letter.” In other words, the letters are near together.

Here are a few examples the famous poet, Tennyson, wrote in some poems for children.

Slow sail’d the weary mariners and saw

And sweet is the color of cove and cave

The Sea-Fairies

Nor bird would sing, nor lamb would bleat,

Nor any cloud would cross the vault,

But day increased from heat to heat,

On stony drought and steaming salt

Mariana in the South

Barketh the shepherd-dog cheerly; the grasshopper carrolleth clearly

Over the pools in the burn water-gnats murmur and mourn

Leonine Elegiacs

In Tiger’s alliterations, your eye can easily see the same letters are near together. In Tennyson’s alliteration, the words are sometime farther apart and your eye alone doesn’t pick up on the sound of the alliteration.

Try reading “On stony drought and steaming salt” aloud. (If you’re not familiar with the spelling, a ‘drought’ [drowt] is a time when there hasn’t been any rain.) Read some of the others aloud, too. (If anyone asks what you’re doing, just tell them your reading Victorian poetry!)

When you read the lines aloud, do you hear an almost musical quality in them? One of the reasons you may is because these are all lines from poems, and Tennyson was a very exacting poet.

In addition to poetry, you’ll find alliteration in tongue-twisters, “Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” in nursery rhymes, in all sort of picture books for new readers– especially picture book dictionaries. These are all used to teach young children how to pronounce and recognize letters and words.

Alliteration is also used to create effects like helping the reader visualize a scene.

So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, first paragraph

That’s a lot of alliteration! But it gives you a pretty good picture of how hard Mole had to work to pop his snout into the sunlight and the warm grass of a great meadow.

Why don’t you try writing two or twelve sentences to show that you, too can write this type of…

Attempt alliteration!

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