Word choice. “A writer’s diction may be characterized, for example, by archaism, or by Latinate or Anglo-Saxon derivations; and it may be described according to oppositions such as abstract/concrete, literal/figurative, and formal/colloquial.” Chris Baldick, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford UP, 1990)
Diction shifts can encode a world of meaning. For example, the sudden shift from blunt, vulgar diction to loftier, almost prophetic diction in Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse” suggests that the poem is in fact a kind of hymn or sermon, not just a mock-sermon or a joke.
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