This Vocabulary of Alliteration is a new aid in writing poems and songs,
and in the study of phonetic or phonemic syllable divisions.
Alliteration is one of several aural devices in literature making use of
the repetition of single sounds or groups of sounds. It is quite often
believed to be nothing else than the repetition of word-initial sounds,
especially consonants. For such rough and ready alliteration a
special dictionary would hardly be needed.
However, if alliteration is, in a more sophisticated and traditional
fashion, interpreted as the repetition of speech sounds at
the beginning of syllables, and of stressed syllables only,
then word-initial consonance or assonance need not be alliteration and vice
versa. (So that rough does not
alliterate with a word like reward
but with, for instance, ignoramus.)
The first syllables of words often do not receive primary stress in the
present language, not even secondary stress, and therefore specially
prepared lists of words of which the stressed syllables start with the same
sound or sounds will be of interest to anyone studying or creating aural
effects and imagery in verbal communication.
From its very beginning (the 48th year after the end of the Second World
War) this Vocabulary, a labor of love, has been used for
poems and songs, such as
After seven years, all twenty consonants that can play a role in
alliteration and all fifteen vowels became accessible on the Internet.
Another seven years later the
Spelling and Stress Dictionary, with the
same words and phrases as in this Vocabulary, saw the light.
Together, these two reference works are part of one project, a project
which will probably never be completely done and dusted.
WORDS AND PHRASES ENTERED
The words and phrases entered in this dictionary have been selected
and will continue to be selected on the basis of one or more of the
- alliteration (word- or phrase-internal): words and phrases
of which a (primary- or secondary-stressed) syllable alliterates with
another (stressed) syllable of the same word or phrase.
Examples of words with internal alliteration are baobab
(BA-o-BAB or BAO-BAB), intuition
examples of phrases of several words with internal alliteration are
past compare (PAST com-PARE), a mine of information
(MINE of IN-for-MA·ti·on) and cut your coat according to your
cloth (CUT your COAT a-CCOR·d·ing to your CLOTH).
Sometimes there is double alliteration, as in the phrase no guts, no
glory (NO GUTS, NO GLO·r·y).
- basic vocabulary: words that belong to a basic vocabulary of
about 2,000 words and whose first syllable is not stressed.
For example, attack (a-TTACK) under |T| and eleven
(e-LE·v·en) under |L|.
- dialectal or pronunciational variation: words that have
different stress patterns in different dialects or even within one
dialect or sociolect.
For example, hegemony, which is pronounced with primary
stress on the first syllable (and entered as both HE·g·e-MO·n·y and
HE·g·e·m·o·n·y under |H|) or with primary stress on the second
syllable (entered as he-GE·m·o·n·y under both |D| and |G|).
- grammatical interest: words that show an interesting
syllabification or 'stress behavior', such as phrasal verbs or words
whose stress pattern depends on their grammatical category
or number (singular vs plural).
For example, the phrasal verb zero in (ZE·r·o IN) under
|I|; or compound under |K| (COM·p·ound) as a noun or adjective,
and under |P| (com-POUND) as a verb.
- occurrence in TRINPsite works: this dictionary was started
as a tool in the creation of
computer poems and was made
public for the first time as part of TRINPsite
- poetic or literary quality or usage: all literary words and
phrases, and all words that have a literary meaning or usage as well
should eventually be included in this dictionary.
For example, boon companion (BOON com-PAN-ion); assuage
(a-SSUAGE), which may be considered formal or literary; and
topless (TO·p·less), which is a poetic word in the sense of
- spelling: (1) words whose stressed syllables are spelled in a
way which does not immediately and clearly show the first sound in
pronunciation; and (2) words whose number of syllables in the spoken
language deviates from the number suggested by the written language.
Examples in the first category are knee (KNEE) under |N|,
not |K|, and beyond under both |AH| or |O| (bey-OND) and |J|
(be-YOND). An example in the second category is colonel, which
may be supposed to have three syllables, whereas it has only two in the
spoken language (COLO·n·el).
This Vocabulary of Alliteration is concerned with precisely that: real
alliteration (REAL a-LLI·t·e-RA·ti·on),
what some like to call "ear alliteration" to distinguish it from 'eye
However, there is no need to draw such a distinction, for eye
alliteration is as spurious a concept as
(It is safe to say that the phrase happy hour was not coined in a
sober mood.) The repetition of orthographical consonants and/or vowels
is in itself neither proof of end rime nor of alliteration, and has had no
immediate bearing on the selection of words and phrases entered here.
PHONEMIC SYMBOLS USED
The pronunciation symbols chosen for this dictionary consist of simple,
ordinary letters or combinations of such letters: lower-case if unstressed,
and upper-case if stressed.
In a subsystem of this system regular capitals are used for syllables with
primary stress and small capitals for syllables with secondary stress.
When applied to whole words and phrases these symbols constitute a unique
double-case phonemic transcription system — unique in that it
does not make use of the lower-case characters of the present bicameral
script only, but of capitals as well.
In the following lists, however, this double-case transcription is confined
to single sounds and to syllabification and stress patterns, while the
standard spelling of the words is maintained as much as possible.
Where deviation from the standard spelling could not be avoided the
bicameral phonemic symbol is put between vertical bars.
Ideally, one phoneme (the unit of speech used to express and recognize
meaning) should correspond with one character, but such a one-to-one
correspondence cannot be achieved with a limited set of twenty-six letters.
Therefore, it is important that where a phoneme is represented by two
letters of necessity, the speech sounds represented by these characters
separately never occur in immediate succession within the same phonemic
Two letters which would otherwise be separated by a syllable division must
stand for one sound.
An |H|, for instance, can only occur at the beginning of a syllable; so,
wherever it occurs in a transcription immediately after a vowel or
consonant, it must be part of a two-letter symbol for a phoneme other than
|H|, as in |SHORT| (short) or |OH·v·ar| (over).
In |HAUS-HOHLD| (household), however, there is no |SH| in the
middle; there is an |S| at the end of the primary-stressed first syllable
and an |H| at the beginning of the secondary-stressed second syllable.
(A variant pronunciation is |HAU-SOHLD|.)
In this dictionary there are three two-letter symbols for consonants.
|TH| is the symbol for the first sound in thin, while |DH| is
that for the first sound in then, a difference similar to the
one between |T| and |D|. |SH| is used as may be expected, unlike,
perhaps, the one-letter symbol |J| for the first consonant in a word
like yes. The one- or two-letter symbols for vowels correspond
with the standard spelling in words such as the following: AH, AI[SLE],
[S]AW, [B]E[D], [S]EE,
[V]EI[N], I[N], [N]O[T] (if the |O| is not consistently replaced with |AH|), OH, OI[L],
[T]OO and [P]U[T]. The vowel in can is transcribed as |AE|; the
one in out as |AU|. The symbol used for a schwa (the first vowel in
ago) is |a|; that for its stressed counterpart (the vowel in
love and bus) is |A|.
Almost any phoneme can be a stave, that is, a syllable-initial sound
binding together two or more syllables with primary or secondary stress in
one or more words.
(It is only indirectly that a stave may be said to bind together two or
Conversely, a stave need not consist of one phoneme only; it may also
consist of a cluster of phonemes, such as the common clusters |SK|, |ST|
and |SP|, which are listed separately in this Vocabulary under the
single-phoneme stave |S|.
In the following table the thirty-five elementary, that is, single-phoneme,
staves have been ordered alphabetically on the basis of the one or two
letters of which their symbol consists:
|Staves and initial sounds|
all, or, ought|
unit, euro, ewe||
(if not |AH|)|
cent/scent, pseud |
The vowels in up and err are treated as one
phoneme |A|, since they never correspond with a difference in meaning.
Note furthermore that |J| stands for one consonant sound and that the
orthographical j in a word like job stands for
two consonant sounds: |D| and |ZH|. Similarly, the ch in a
word like choice stands for |T| and |SH|. Words of which a stressed
syllable starts with such sounds are listed under |D| and |T| respectively.
Two phonemes are missing in the above table: |NG| (as in long) and
|ZH| (as in genre).
They do not occur at the beginning of syllables, or only in foreign words
and sometimes in a word whose second syllable starts with su, such
as c[a]esura, when |ZH| may occur in |ZHOO| or |ZHU| at the
beginning of the stressed second syllable, provided this su is not
pronounced as |ZJOO| or |ZJU|.
(|NG| is common at the end of words and syllables, while |ZH| is common as
a second phoneme after |D|.)
The words and phrases in this dictionary are represented in a way which
is needed and which suffices to show their occurrence and possible use
On the one hand this partial transcription takes more pronunciational
features into account than a standard spelling; on the other hand it looks
more like a standard spelling than a complete phonetic, or even phonemic,
transcription, and is therefore easier to read for those familiar with
only ordinary orthography.
This is shown below for the words vocabulary, of and
IN THIS DICTIONARY
|OF, Of, of
||AHV, OV, av
For an illustration of the use of the symbols of this dictionary
in a complete phonemic transcription see the aural analyses of
Ananda and of
Whereas Creatures ....
TRINPsite also features a list of
Model terms in which the
above bicameral phonemic characters are used to show how these special
words must or may be pronounced.
SYLLABIFICATION, STRESS AND SPELLING SYMBOLS
|-||sharp division between syllables, as in
AN-gle (angle, |AENG-gal|) and de-SERT (desert, if
|·||one of two fuzzy boundaries between
two syllables, the consonantal sound(s) between the dots
being their overlap, as in AN·g·el (angel,
|EIN·dzh·al|) and DE·s·ert (desert, if
|CAP ||(part of a) stressed
syllable (which is not at the same time part of another, unstressed
|| |||beginning and end of one or more
sounds represented in a way deviating from the standard spelling,
usually x replaced with |k-S|, |K·s| or |g-Z|, sometimes a sound
not represented in the standard spelling at all, such as
|J| or |W||
|+||space between two words pronounced together (in the
|:||a hyphen in the standard spelling|
|=||sharp, hyphened division between
syllables of one word (the equivalent of -:)|
|$||the following letter must or may be
capitalized in the standard spelling even when not occurring at the
beginning of a sentence
ABBREVIATIONS BETWEEN SQUARE BRACKETS
|adj ||as an adjective|
|adv||as an adverb|
|lit||word or phrase
which is (especially) literary or poetic|
||word or phrase with a literary meaning or use as well|
||word or phrase whose use is literary (or poetic) or formal
(or technical) for the same meaning(s)|
|n||as a noun|
|pre||as a preposition|
|v||as a verb|
|var||one of several dialectal or merely
pronunciational variants (which do not immediately succeed each other in
RULES FOR DERIVING THE OR A STANDARD SPELLING
As the function of this global dictionary is to list the words and
expressions which alliterate on the basis of their syllabification and
placement of stress, deviation from the standard orthography could not
always be avoided. Yet, of any entry in this dictionary anyone can find out
the 'correct' spelling by following a number of simple, fixed rules. These
rules must be applied to the complete form of an entry, which means that it
should contain, first of all, all syllables and overlaps between syllables.
Thus, in e|g-Z|IST/-Z|I·st·ed the complete forms are
e|g-Z|IST and e|g-Z|I·st·ed. Furthermore,
entries containing an apostrophe (') which represents the optional elision
of a vowel, resulting in a reduction of the number of syllables, will have
to be replaced with the preceding form in which that vowel is both written
and pronounced. Thus, the complete form of both
DI·ff'·rent and DI·ff·er'nt is
DI·ff·e·r·ent, with the possible exception of
poetry where the apostrophe may be maintained to indicate the number of
syllables with which such a word should be pronounced. Given these complete
forms (with or without an apostrophe) the algorithm to derive the or a
standard spelling is:
- turn all capitals into small letters;
- delete all dots (·) and hyphens (-);
- replace any = sign or colon (:) with a hyphen;
- replace any + sign with a space;
- replace |gz| or |ks| with x, and |kw| with qu;
- delete all other vertical bars with the letters in between;
- replace any letter preceded by a $ sign with the
corresponding capital letter.
POLICY WITH RESPECT TO ALTERNATIVE SPELLINGS
The values of linguistic
systems, a section of
the Book of Instruments
it is stated that where there are two or more options with respect to
grammatical form or spelling, the most regular (or least irregular) and
the most phonetic (or least unphonetic) variant is given priority,
regardless of its being perhaps traditionally less frequently used in a
particular part of the world or even worldwide.
It is this same policy which is followed in this dictionary and which
should explain why, for example,
advertize, rime and thru are entered first, while
advertise, rhyme and through are added as
Sometimes a word or phrase, such as love-letter or love
letter, is found in two or three orthographical variants
of the following type: as one word without a hyphen, as one word with a
hyphen and as two words. In such a case it is only the variant with the
smallest number of words and hyphens that is entered, unless there are
more differences in spelling between the variants. In this Vocabulary
love letter is therefore represented by LOVE=LE·tt·er
instead of LOVE LE·tt·er or LOVE+-LE·tt·er, but both the variant
all right and the variant alright are represented
in the entry al[l+]-RIGHT.
Independent past compare is an example of an expression with double
alliteration: the words
as well as the words
These terms appear in the document for the stave |P| under words and
phrases with primary stress on the third syllable, as shown in the
following part of a screenshot of that page.
In the one-word phrase
independent the primary stress is on
pen(d), the secondary stress on
in(d) — the
(d) is part of a fuzzy border between syllables.
In the two-word phrase
past compare the primary stress is on
pare, the secondary stress on
The font type used in the three-word image is Liberation Serif (bold),
slightly adjusted; the font size is 12 pixels in general but 14 pixels
for the two syllables with primary stress.
This is the reason for the difference in size between
PARE on the one hand and
PAST on the other.
Nonetheless, all three of these syllables carry the same stressed |P|.
The double alliteration in the total expression is therefore not a
double- but a single-stave double alliteration.
OTHER WORKS OF LITERARY OR LINGUISTIC INTEREST
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(philosophical) linguistics may also want to read
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