Accumulation is a stylistic device of rhetoric and can be found in texts of all kinds and literary genre. Accumulation describes the classification of several terms into a not-named or named term, whereby this is detailed and amplified. Often we can find the accumulation in the lyric of the Baroque (→ Literaturepochen).
The term can be derived from the Latin (accumulo) and translate with accumulation. Basically, the translation shows what is involved with the stylistic figure: the accumulation of several words [to an unspecified or just mentioned concept]. Let us look at an example.
Verbs, nouns, adjectives and articles make it come alive.
We have devised the above example. There are different words of the German grammar, and does not mention the upper concept. This would be words or languages in this case. The effect is a greater variety of language and an increased pictoriality of the respective sentence. This image quality can, of course, have a reinforcing effect and make a statement appear more lively.
Now rest all the forests, cattle, people, cities, and fields
This example of accumulation is often found in the literature when the stylistic figure is explained. However, there is often no comment on why this is an accumulation. The sentence is the spiritual evening song. Now all the forests are resting from Paul Gerhardt, the terms forests, cattle, cities, people and fields being accumulative and circumscribing the above-mentioned concept.
Note: Paul Gerhardt is regarded as one of the most important German-speaking church members. It is also the well-known song, I am standing at your cribs here, which Johann Sebastian Bach wrote.
Is something not destroyed by war, sword, flame, and spit?
This verse is from the baroque poet Andreas Gryphius. In contradistinction to the previous examples, the concept of accumulation is called the war, which is further described, elaborated, and detailed by the words sword, flame, and spear.
Lantern, lantern, sun, moon and stars
Also in the lines of a well-known children’s song accumulation follows the doubling of the word lantern (→ Geminatio). The terms sun, moon and stars can be subordinated to the overpowering universe or all, but they do not name it, thus enhancing the image.
Note: All examples add words to an unspecified or mentioned term, which increases the pictorial character of the language, but also the risk that the respective statement appears redundant. The image quality is increased because a clear picture is produced at the receiver when the sun, moon and stars are named and not just the upper hand all.
In linguistics, redundancy means the multiple use of information that is not necessary for understanding the context. There are stylistic devices based exclusively on the principle of redundancy → geminatio, pleonasmus, tautology.
Effect and function of accumulation
It is difficult to attribute a clear and always valid function or effect to a style figure. After all, some texts play with our expectation and turn them upside down. Still, we can try to describe the effect of a stylistic device.
Accumulation accumulates words into a not-named or cited term, and ensures an imagery of language. Thus, a linguistic utterance can be enhanced.
This is because the recipient of the statement has a clearer picture in mind when individual words are named, rather than just mentioning the upperhand. For it would be up to the recipient to imagine what he imagines.
In rhetoric, the stylistic figure can be used to ensure that all listeners understand and record the information, since the linguistic image is repeated in different ways. This also has a reinforcing effect.
This also means that the accumulation contains no further information, but merely has a decorating function. If the unspecified concept were to fall, the recipient of the message would have the same knowledge.
Very often, the accumulation is used in the context of the climax, anticlimax and alliteration and is often used in advertising (example: “Quadratic, Practical, Good” for the upper term Ritter Sport Chocolate (→ Examples for alliteration).