Syllepsis: An Unfought Battle in the Language Wars

Alex Segal


Syllepsis (in one meaning of the term) is most commonly thought of as an ungrammatical construction which can in certain contexts function as a figure of speech. Yet the common view is at odds with syllepsis occurring in well-written prose that we experience neither as ungrammatical nor as figurative; and with its being largely ignored by literary and rhetorical analysis. As well as arguing against the common view, the paper considers why the view is so uncontroversial, so common.

Keywords: syllepsis, ellipsis, grammar, figure of speech

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