An Introduction to Anacoluthon

Anacoluthon (derives from the Greek word anakolouthon, literally means “lacking sequence”), is a figure of speech which consists in the abrupt disruption in syntaxOpens in new window resulting from two non-parallel grammatical constructions.

Anacoluthon invariably occurs as a result of unexpected interruption or discontinuity in the flow of syntactic structure within a sentence resulting to illogical coherence of thought.

To simplify this definition, it's the act of starting a sentence one way, but ending it midway by introducing an inconsistent subject that is entirely different from the start-up subject.

Examples of Anacoluthon
  • “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
    “To talk of many things:
    Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
    And cabbages—and kings—
    And why the sea is boiling hot—
    And whether pigs have wings.”
  • — (Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter)
    The example is intstrumental in understanding what have been said earlier about the term anacoluthon, notice the introduction of these unmatching ideas “To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— And cabbages—and kings — This is the kind of ludicrous effect anacoluthon adds to a sentence.
  • “Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart.”
  • — (William Shakespeare, Henry V IV iii 34-6)

    Like in other Shakespearean works, here Williams Shakespeare deployed anacoluthon to blend this verse with style and vibrancy.
Further Readings:
Silva Rhetoricae, Figures | Anacoluthon Opens in new window
Literary-Devices | Definition & Examples of AnacoluthonOpens in new window