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Word of the day: anacoluthia

Ashley Bethard • Sep 2, 2010 at 2:47 PM

For those of you familiar with my nerdiness, it should come as no surprise that I love words about grammar and the English language. With that said, today’s pick is one of those words.

Anacoluthia, a noun pronounced “an-uh-kuh-LOO-thee-uh,” means “lack of grammatical sequence or coherence, especially in a sentence.” Though it generally describes a grammatically garbled sentence, an anacoluthon is a technical term in rhetoric that describes “a construction involving a break in grammatical sequence, as in, ‘It makes me so — I just get angry.’”

Here’s an example from a selected writing by Jorge Luis Borges: “At one time or another, we have all suffered through those unappealable debates in which a lady, with copious interjections and anacoluthia, swears that the word ‘luna’ is more (or less) expressive than the word ‘moon.’”

In Ronald Silliman’s “The age of huts,” he uses it this way: “Anacoluthia, parataxis — there is no grammar or logic by which the room in which I sit can be precisely re-created in words. If, in fact, I were to try to convey it to a stranger, I’d be inclined to show photos and draw a floor map.”

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