An Introduction to Asyndeton
Asyndeton (etymologically from the Greek word ‘asindeton’ literally “unconnected”), is a figure of speechOpens in new window which consists when one or more conjunctions are omitted between series of related clauses, either to express vehemence or speed; or sometimes it may be from a noble negligence of nice accuracy, arising from an engrossment to the delivery of ideas.
In alternative thoughts (we can say), asyndeton is the absence of a coordinating conjunctionOpens in new window where it might have been expected between related clauses. For example,
- veni, vidi, vici and its English translation,
- "I came, I saw, I conquered".
Using asyndeton gives a drastic effect of speeding up the rhythmic pattern of a verseOpens in new window and creating long lasting memorable idea. Asyndeton is often contrasted with syndetonOpens in new window (syndetic coordination) and polysyndetonOpens in new window, which describe the use of one or multiple coordinating conjunctions, respectively.
Ways of Applying Asyndeton and Examples
Likewise, the same pattern may be employed with phrases:
Asyndeton with phrases is used with other figures, the Hazlitt article combines asyndeton with isocolonOpens in new window (phrases with similar structure); while that of Churchil blends asyndeton with anaphoraOpens in new window (words repeated at the beginning of next clauses).
Here, the effect of leaving out any conjunctions tends to suggest that each word (terrified, tortured, destroyed) adds to or perhaps improves upon the previous one; the speaker thinks better of each word uttered and substitutes a stronger choice.
Here, the short phrase repeated thrice with the same start, without conjunctions, and with a different ending each time, adding a classic and sonorous pattern: