What is Polysyndeton?

The polysyndeton is a figure of speech that is in the category of syntax pictures.

It is characterized by the use of syndets, that is, of connective elements (conjunctions) in compound periods.

the polysyndeton forms the syndectic coordinated clauses, the most used elements being: and, or, neither.

This figure of syntax is widely used as a stylistic resource, especially in poetic and musical texts.

This repetitive use of conjunctions gives an idea of ​​addition, succession and continuity, offering more expressiveness to the text.

In addition to the polysyndeton, other syntax figures are: Ellipse, zeugma, hyperbatic, silepsis, asyndeton, anaphora, anacolutton and pleonasm.

Examples

Below are some examples of phrases with polysyndetons in music and poetry:

  • The waves come and go / And they go and are like time.” (Music "Mermaid" by Lulu Santos)
  • While men exercise their rotten powers / Indians and priests and queers, blacks and women / And teenagers make the carnival.” (Music "Rotten Powers" by Caetano Veloso)
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  • I sing and sing the present, and also the past and the future, / Because the present is all the past and all the future.” (Triumphal Ode by Fernando Pessoa)
  • From the cloister, in patience and quiet, / Work and persist, and file, and suffer, and yours!” (“To a poet” by Olavo Bilac)

Polysyndeton and Anaphora

THE anaphora is a figure of syntax that is also related to repetition.

What makes it different from the polysyndeton is that this repetition can be words or expressions, and not just connective elements. Generally, anaphora appears at the beginning of sentences.

For a better understanding, see below an example of an anaphora and polysyndete:

"And the look would be anxious waiting
And the head at the taste of grief shaking
And the heart running away and the heart coming back
And the minutes passing and the minutes passing..."

("Looking back", Vinícius de Moraes)

Above, we have an example where the two figures of speech are present through the repetition of the conjunction "and".

Polysyndeton and Asyndeton: Differences

Unlike the polysyndeton, the asyndeton is a figure of speech characterized by the omission of coordinating conjunction:

Examples:

  • Tarcisio didn't like music, the arts, or travelling. (Polysyndeton)
  • Tamara liked to dance, sing, write, travel, go out with friends. (Asyndeton)

Fun Facts: Did You Know?

From the Greek, the term “polysondeton” is formed by the word “poles” (many) and by the verb “syndeo” (join, link). Thus, the word polysyndeton means “many connections”.

Learn all about figures of speech by reading the articles:

  • Figures of Language
  • Thought Figures
  • Word Pictures
  • Syntax figures
  • Sound Figures
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