The polysyndeton is a rhetorical stylistic device and a form of enumeration (Enumeratio). The polysyndeton means the ordering of equivalent words or phrases, which are linked by the repetition of the same conjunction. At least three elements are connected in this way. The stylistic counterpart is the Asyndeton.
The word comes from the Greek and can be translated meaningfully with multiple connections. Here, the translation shows what the polysyndeton basically means: a multiple connection [by conjunctions] of words or groups of words. Let’s look at an example.
Note: A conjunction is a word type that creates a link between words, phrases, sentences, or sentences. For example, the words ‘and, or, because’ are conjunctions of our language, since they function as links between linguistic elements.
There are elves and foxes and honeys and dactyls on the table.
The above example shows an enumeration of subject covers that are treated for word growth. The equivalent words are not separated by commas, but by the repeated use of the conjunction and connected. Thus from the enumeration becomes a polysyndic turn.
It is important here that the polysyndeton must consist of at least three connected elements in order to be able to speak of a stylistic figure at all. The connection of two words by a single binding word can not be valid in this case. This is called “Syndeton”.
And it wallet, and boils, and breeds, and hisses,
This verse line is taken from the sixth stanza by Friedrich Schiller’s Der Taucher. Here, too, there is a list which does not correspond to the usual picture, since the conjunction and the linking of the individual verbs must be repeated. This slows down the reading speed.
Important: The two examples have a polysyndeton. The effect is a deceleration and reduction of the reading. The polysyndeton serves to emphasize a sentence or state of affairs by inhibiting speech progress. This effect can amplify a statement.
Polysyndetone, asyndeton, syndetone
In this article three different terms have already been named in connection with the style figure. All three describe a kind of enumeration and differ only in details regarding the use of the conjunctions. Let’s look at the differences.
The figures are all based on the term “syndeton”, which can be derived from the Greek word syndetos (σύνδετος). Translating, this can be combined and describes the meaning of syndeton, asyndeton and polysyndeton: the linking of words by conjunctions.
Syndeton: Describes the joining of two words or groups of words by exactly one conjunction.
Examples: “I and you!”, “Tomorrow I eat eggs, sausage and cheese.”
Asyndeton: Is an enumeration of at least three parts which entirely renounces conjunctions.
Examples: “I, you, he, her!”, “I like eggs, sausage, cheese!” → Asyndeton
Polysyndeton: As described in the article: multiple use of the same conjunctions.
Examples: “I and you and her and him!”, “I like eggs and sausage and cheese!”
Further examples of polysyndeta
The best way to illustrate a stylistic device is to use example sentences. Therefore, we would like to introduce you a selection. The conjunctions are respectively highlighted.
And each one takes and gives at the same time and flows and rests. (Meyer)
Unity and Right and Freedom (German National Anthem)
And you will weigh and dance and sing (Goethe)
I’m going back now because I want because I’m a human because I think
It thunders and rains and storms and snows and I am alone.
Do we go to the cinema or do we stay here or do you want to do something else?
Effect and effect of the polysyndeton
Basically, it is, of course, difficult to attribute a clear function to a style figure. Then we run the risk of breaking down every time on exactly this effect and not paying attention to the overall picture. Nevertheless, we can describe the effect of the figure.
A brief overview of the effect and function of the polysyndeton
A polysynthetic expression often uses the same conjunction to link words or groups of words. This reduces the reading speed and puts a sentence or circumstance in the foreground. The insert can thus have a reinforcing and decelerating effect.
The stylistic counterpart is the Asyndeton. The basic form of both stylistic figures and each list is however the Syndeton. This consists of at least three words.