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The alliteration (from Latin ad 'zu' and litera / littera 'letter' ) is a literary style figure or a rhetorical decorative element in which the stressed stem syllables of neighboring words (or components of compounds ) have the same initial sound . A special form of alliteration is the tautogram , in which every word begins with the same letter.

In phonetically written languages, in which a sound has only one spelling, the first letters also match (e.g. “frank and free” or “man and mouse”), as the translation from Latin suggests. However, since the German writing system is not purely phonetic, the identical initials in alliterations are often not written with the same letter. Conversely, it is not automatically an alliteration if the stressed syllables are written in compound words with the same initial letter. For example, “beautiful and clean” is not an alliteration because the letter “s” represents different sounds. In "beautiful" the "s" is part of the grapheme <sch>, which is a [⁠ ʃ ⁠] represents, while the "s" in "clean" a [⁠ for ⁠] represents. Examples of alliteration in which the Stammsilbenanlaute be shown with different letters were, "The f Rühe V OGEL f ängt ..." [ deɐ f ʁy: ə f OGL f ɛŋt ].

Where rules-like alliteration construction of verses are based, it is called alliterative verse or alliteration and alliterative verse . The alliteration is thus a special case of alliteration. Historically, however, alliteration occurs primarily in free form. Related sound figures are the homoioteleuton (same word endings) and assonance (same internal vowels).

Alliteration can underline the association of related expressions. It also makes it easier to remember, which is why it is often used in advertising texts (e.g. "Games, fun and excitement" or "Milk makes tired men happy") and in pointed expressions (e.g. "Country and people" or veni vidi vici ) - is also used in poetic / literary texts ("Röslein, Röslein, Röslein rot"). In addition, the alliteration as a sound figure structures the text on the phonological and musical level.

Literary alliteration

Alliterations were and are widespread in poetry and rhetoric of many languages. Heraclitus expressed an essential idea of ​​his philosophy as follows: Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστί Polemos panton men pater esti , German , 'War [can also be understood in the sense of strife] is the father of all things' .

The Romans also had a penchant for alliteration. Cato was known for ending every speech in the Senate with Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam , 'Besides, I think Carthage should be destroyed' . Another famous example is Caesar's Veni, vidi, vici 'I came, I saw, I won' .

In Germanic verse the alliteration alliteration was developed to a strict principle. Both the Nordic Edda and the Old English Beowulf poem are written in alliterative meters. The earliest evidence of a Germanic alliterative alliterative rhyme is an inscription on a gold horn from Gallehus : ek hlewagastiz holtijaz horna tawido 'I, Hlewagastiz, belonging to Holt, made the horn' .

In modern times, the Finnish Kalevala , which sometimes even uses meaningless words for the sake of alliteration, is the richest in alliteration. There is also a strong tradition of alliteration in Finnish poetry and rhetoric.

In German, literary alliterations can also be found very frequently up to the present day, especially in the Germanizing attempts of the second half of the 19th century ( Wilhelm Jordan : “Da wallen und wogen die Wipfel des Waldes”; Richard Wagner : “Weia! Waga! Woge , you wave, walk to the cradle! Wagala weia! / Wallala weiala weia! "). The use of such phenomena, which is often perceived as involuntarily comical in today's reception, replaces the once intended increase in an outdated pathos, has recently been replaced by the use of alliteration to reinforce “voluntary comedy”. For example, starting in G-Sketch of Heinz Erhardt all words with the letter G . The sketch seems improvised, but is completely planned, including the apparent pauses for reflection.

Non-literary alliteration

In everyday rhetoric, too, alliterations often occur in the formation of phraseological twin formulas (e.g. frank and free, commonplace, straightforward ).

In tabloid journalism , but also in the headlines of other media areas, alliteration is used to dramatize or caricature events. Examples: "Pröll's party pests partners by Pisa test", "Schummel-Schumi", "Roter Raser-Rambo", "Baby -weis", "Baby-Benz", "Eis-Eltern", "Hunger-Hund", "Katzenkraft", "Klum-Kugel", "Schnitzel-Stefan", "Soup-Sylvie", "Box-Blockade", "Beach-Beauties", "Klinsi-kills-King-Kahn", "Tanga-Terror".

Alliterations are also often used in advertising slogans. Examples: “Exit with a sense of proportion”, “Bigger, Better, Burger King”, “ Stinginess is cool ”, “Buy clever clothes at Kik”, “You just like men ”, “ Milk perks up tired men ”, “Because just simple is easy ”.

Both the second identities of many superheroes (Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, etc.) and the residents of Duckburg from the Disney comics in the German version have mostly alliterative names. Examples: Donald Duck , Dagobert Duck , Mickey Mouse , Kater Karlo, Klaas Klever, the triplets Tick Trick and Track, Daniel Düsentrieb . Also, Lucky Luke , the title character of a Belgian comic book series, or invented by Swedish children's authors George Johansson figure Gary Gadget can be mentioned here.

The Italian confectionery manufacturer Ferrero brought various series of collectible figurines, whose names were always formed from an alliteration, onto the market with its product Kinder-Surprise, also known as " surprise egg ". Examples: Teenie Tapsi Törtels, Happy Hippos, Crazy Crocos, Dapsy Dinos, Peppy Pingos, Drolly Dinos, Funny Fanten, Mega Mice.

The versions of the successful Linux distribution Ubuntu have names consisting of an adjective and an animal name, each beginning with the same letter. Examples: Warty Warthog, Hoary Hedgehog, Breezy Badger, Dapper Drake, Edgy Eft, Feisty Fawn, Gutsy Gibbon, Hardy Heron, Intrepid Ibex, Jaunty Jackalope, Karmic Koala, Lucid Lynx, Maverick Meerkat and Natty Narwhal.

The following alliteration is known as an old nursery rhyme : "We Viennese laundromats wanted to wash white laundry if we knew where soft warm water would be". Several tongue twisters are also based on alliteration (for example, "Between two plum branches chirping two Siskins . Two Zeisige chirping between two plum branches").

Some television programs such as Bauer sucht Frau or Daughter-in-Law Wanted use alliterations extensively, with which they overemphasize their recordings or make them look ridiculous: “The determined tent builder defies the blowing winds and maneuvers every light gray herring into the resilient ground.” In the moderation of the film series SchleFaZ , Oliver Kalkofe and Peter Rütten use many terms and also longer sentences from alliterations.

The journalist and writer Kurt Tucholsky published under the pseudonyms Theobald Tiger and Paul Panther.

The titles of the former radio show Soft & Careful as well as the follow-up podcast Fest & Flauschig are alliterations, whereas the Alliteration Am Arsch podcast adapts them ironically and contradictingly - while here the real names of the two presenters, Bastian Bielendorfer and Reinhard Remfort , are also alliterations are.

Special forms

Within a word

With words like tangle , knickknack, mishmash, zigzag, odds and ends, singsang and others, both syllables begin with the same letter, more precisely with the same initial sound . Often the whole syllable is doubled - except for the vowel . In German, the vowel of the second syllable often follows the third ablaut row of the vowel of the first syllable. That is why these types of words are called alliterative. Some of these words also imitate in their sound the thing they describe or the process they describe ( onomatopoeia / onomatopoeia ).

Intensiva using the link -sitz-

Special forms of alliteration within a word are the formations using the connective syllables -itze- , which are usually used in colors to reinforce properties and can usually be found in dialect variations in southern and western German language areas. The original derivation is to be assumed in the word lightning , the first or the first two letters of the initial sound of the adjective is / are introduced in the word and connected with the connecting link -itze- . Examples:

  • sparkling blue
  • gitzgelb (visualized / simplified: quince yellow)
  • gritty gray
  • green
  • scarlet

Beyond this intensive focus on colors, one can find corresponding dialectic word formations in other adjectives, for example

  • sparkling clean
  • brite wide
  • tiny

Sparkling clean is to be understood here as sparkling clean . An analogous alliteration with a noun (initial + -itze- + word) is the heat flash ( quick- tempered person), the regular formation would be lightning flash . In order to avoid repeating the whole word, the initial sound was omitted and later reinterpreted as "heat".


Web links

Wiktionary: Alliteration  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Diether Krywalski (Ed.): Handlexikon zur Literaturwissenschaft. Volume 1: Aesthetics - Literary Studies, mat. (= Rororo 6221 Rororo manual ). Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1978, ISBN 3-499-16221-0 .
  2. ^ The G-Sketch by Heinz Erhardt on YouTube
  3. Tongue twisters
  4. Martin Weber: "Wanted daughter-in-law" & "Farmer is looking for a wife": The RTL dome shows in direct comparison. In: October 28, 2014, archived from the original on November 7, 2014 ; accessed on August 6, 2019 (payment barrier).
  5. Bastian Bielendorfer and Reinhard Remfort: Alliteration Am Arsch. Retrieved November 18, 2019 .
  6. ^ Linguistic studies by Heinrich Tischner , accessed on September 26, 2011.