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Tmesis

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Tmesis

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Tmesis is the insertion of one word into another.

Example

Abso-bloody-lutely stupid!

Any-old-where you find it.

Be you ware of the dangers.

Discussion

The breaking up of the word in tmesis draws attention to it by adding emphasis. It makes the reader slow down and piece together the divided word and so think more about it. The inserted word is hence often a swear word, to add visible and unavoidable emotion.

Tmesis can also be used for comic effect, with the exaggeration over-done. Exaggeration is often used in comedy in this way. Swearing is also used in comedy to shock and destabilize.

The key part of tmesis is splitting of the word and insertion of another word. It does not always have to have strong emphasis, such as 'be you ware' instead of 'you beware'. However, the device, by its very use, still draws attention.

The word 'tmesis' is sometimes is used to indicate 'skipping text'.

Tmesis comes from the Greek word for 'cutting'.

Classification: Distortion, Attention

See also

Attention principle

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