|Diction and Syntax|
When using these tools in analyzing poetry, pay attention to their specific effects in the poem, how they contribute to the poem's meaning. In many cases the poet will use diction and syntax in unexpected or deviant ways; look for the hidden relation or significance that compensates for the break in the reader's expectations.
A. Collocation: tendency of words in a language to occur in close proximity to each other (based on logical and meaningful relationships between then, patterns of association and usage, etc). Collocation can be ascertained by experience, reading, and study of dictionaries that give multiple examples in the form of quotations, such as the Oxford English Dictionary). As illustrated below, the same word can have very different collocations. Poets can draw on collocations to create special effects and nuances of meaning.
B. Denotation: the neutral concept signified by the word; the straight dictionary definition. This can vary according to time period and cultural context.
C. Connotation: the sum of associations and implied attitudes carried by the word; the feelings it evokes. This will also vary according to time period and cultural context. See ambiguity for a discussion of how an analysis of denotation and connotation can contribute to poetic effect.
D. Paradigmatic Figures: an individual, unexpected word use (generally involves only one deviant or unexpected item). Where the writer faces a choice between equivalent items, he/she will choose one that is not equivalent.
E. Syntagmatic Figures: unusual or unexpected change in the sequential arrangement of words (generally involves more than one deviant item).