Figures of speech: Sound devices

Figures of speech that focus on certain sounds are called sound devices. Some repeat specific words within or across phrases, clauses and sentences, while others repeat certain sounds in nearby words.

Writers of all kinds use sound devices because the repetition, rhythm (and sometimes rhyme) that they create make them great for emphasizing main ideas, persuading readers and listeners, evoking emotion, and making writing catchy or memorable. That's why you'll find examples of sound devices in texts as varied as poems, political speeches, advertising slogans and nursery rhymes!

See if you can identify the sound device in the example given in each of the questions below. We bet that you'll learn some new words, just like we did when writing this quiz!

1. The expression “through thick and thin”
2. The tongue twister “she sells seashells by the seashore”
3. From Yoda in The Phantom Menace: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
4. The traditional proclamation to announce both a monarch’s death and a successor to the throne: “The King is dead; long live the King.”
5. The slip of the tongue “Lip your zip!”
6. From the nursery rhyme “This Little Piggy,” the lines: “This little piggy stayed home. / This little piggy had none.”
7. From The Swallower Swallowed, Barbara Bray’s English translation of Réjean Ducharme’s famous novel L’Avalée des avalés: “Every page is a town. Every line a street. Every word a house.”
8. The courtroom affirmation: “I solemnly affirm that the evidence to be given by me shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
9. From “The Canadian Herd-Boy” by Susanna Moodie, the lines “Cobos! Cobos! far down the dell / More faintly falls the cattle-bell.”
10. The opening lines from the Christmas carol “Silent Night”: “Silent night, holy night / All is calm, all is bright”