Asyndeton (a-SIN-dih-tawn): Figure of omission in which normally occurring conjunctions (and, or, but, for, nor, so, yet) are intentionally omitted in successive phrases, or clauses; a string of words not separated by normally occurring conjunctions.

 

Examples

C.S. Lewis: Forget psychology. Forget the inside of men's heads. Judge them by their actions. For example, Mr. Whistler is asleep. Now, from that action, I take it that he has no interest in what I have to say. The puzzle is, that being the case, why is he here at all? So, we construct a plot from Mr. Whistler's actions: he comes, he sleeps. Now, Aristotle would say that the next question is not why, but what is Mr. Whistler going to do next? [Mr. Whistler wakes up.] Good morning, Mr. Whistler. My class is not compulsory, neither are my chairs very comfortable. I suggest --

Peter Whistler: Alright, I'm going.

C.S. Lewis: Thank you. He comes, he sleeps, he goes. So the plot thickens....

-- delivered by Anthony Hopkins and James Frain (from the movie Shadowlands)

"Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn."

-- General Douglas MacArthur, Thayer Award Acceptance Address

"There is and will be rousing language to keep citizens armed and arming; slaughtered and slaughtering in the malls, courthouses, post offices, playgrounds, bedrooms and boulevards; stirring, memorializing language to mask the pity and waste of needless death. There will be more diplomatic language to countenance rape, torture, assassination. The conventional wisdom of the Tower of Babel story is that the collapse was a misfortune; that it was the distraction, or the weight of many languages that precipitated the tower's failed architecture; that one monolithic language would have expedited the building, and heaven would’ve been reached. 'Whose heaven,' she wonders? 'And what kind?' Perhaps the achievement of Paradise was premature, a little hasty if no one could take the time to understand other languages, other views, other narratives."

-- Toni Morrison - Nobel Lecture

"We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line."

-- delivered by Jack Nicholson (from the movie A Few Good Men)

"I told Whitney that I always worried God was going to ask me to be a preacher. I wasn’t sure how much fun ours had. Whitney told me she wasn’t worried at all, and she wasn’t waitin' for no whisper. She told God that she was going to be like Aretha, like her famous cousin Dionne, like her beautiful mother Cissy. There can be little doubt in this room that she has joined their ranks, and as the debate heats up this century -- and it surely will -- about the greatest singer of the last century, as the lists are drawn, it will have little meaning to me if her name is not on it."

-- Kevin Costner, Address at the Public Memorial for Whitney Houston

videofigurekevincostnerasyndeton

"The union's survival, its very existence, sent out a signal to all Hispanics that we were fighting for our dignity, that we were challenging and overcoming injustice, that we were empowering the least educated among us, the poorest among us. The message was clear: If it could happen in the fields, it could happen anywhere: in the cities, in the courts, in the city councils, in the state legislatures."

-- Cesar Chavez, Commonwealth Club Address

"I speak here as a politician and also as a Catholic -- a layperson baptized and raised in the pre-Vatican II Church, educated in Catholic schools, attached to the Church first by birth, then by choice, now by love."

-- Mario Cuomo, Religious Belief and Public Morality

"From now on we are enemies, you and I -- because you choose for your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy; and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation."

-- delivered by F. Murray Abraham (from the movie Amadeus)

"Now as an engineer, a planner, a businessman, I see clearly the value to our nation of a strong system of free enterprise based on increased productivity and adequate wages."

-- Jimmy Carter, 1976 Democratic National Convention Address

"Be one of the few, the proud, the Marines."

-- Marine Corps Advertisement

"This is, of course, the big event of show business and the atmosphere here is pure electricity. But as a television show, it does tend to go slightly off the boil, particularly as we drift into the third and fourth hour. What can we do about it? Firstly, winners, when you make your speech, it's a good tip to remember the three Gs: Be Gracious, be Grateful, Get off."

-- Paul Hogan, Remarks at the 59th Annual Academy Awards

"In my view, Australians should not worry because other people want to come to our country. The day to worry is when immigrants are no longer attracted to our shores. We should be a beacon to all. To our region in particular, we should be a living, happy, civil, contesting democracy that is a model for the emerging democracies around us."

-- Rupert Murdoch, Bring Back the Pioneer

"The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies."

-- Barack Obama, West Point Speech



"When we listen to the better angels of our nature, we find that they celebrate the simple things, the basic things -- such as goodness, decency, love, kindness."

-- Richard Nixon, First Presidential Inaugural Address

"This is a reading from a sermon delivered in 1630 by the Pilgrim leader John Winthrop, who was aboard the ship the Arbella on his way from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

Now the only way to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.

We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body."

-- Sandra Day O'Connor, Reading of Winthrop at the Funeral for Ronald Reagan

Note: Also contains anaphora, parallelism, climax

"Americans are not of one race or one religion. Our belief in religious freedom, political freedom, economic freedom -- that's what makes an American. Our belief in democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human life -- that's how you become an American. There's no nation in the history of the world, and no city, that has seen more immigrants in less time than America. And people continue to come here in large, large numbers to seek freedom, opportunity, decency, civility."

-- Rudy Giuliani, 9/11 speech to the United Nations General Assembly

"We thought that we [The Rolling Stones] were totally unique. I mean, there was no one like us. And then we heard there was a group from Liverpool. Now, they had long hair, scruffy clothes, but they had a record contract, and they had a record in the charts with a bluesy harmonica on it called "Love me do."

-- Mick Jagger, Beatles Rock & Roll HOF Induction Introduction

"I want to thank [Lt.] General Huntoon for that very, very kind introduction. I also want to thank Secretary McHugh, the Class of 1961 bar presenters, all of our distinguished guests, all of the parents, families, friends who are joining us tonight. And of course, I want to say thank you for inviting me here to the United States Military Academy. It's breathtaking. This is my first visit to West Point. It will not be my last. And I am truly humbled to speak to you tonight on an evening that is so special for all of you, for this Academy, for your families, for this country."

- Michelle Obama, 2011 U.S. Military Academy Graduation Banquet

"You've heard of those one-hit artists. They'll have the hottest song in the summer, but then you never hear from then again. It happens in every profession. The best example, really, is romance, and one that we can all relate to. Check this out. So you meet this person. Boy, are they fine, kind, sensitive, loving, witty, charming, intelligent. But then the next time you meet them, it's just not the same. They did not take it to a better place.

-- Stevie Wonder, Harvard Law School Forum Address

Note: This passage also contains enumeratio and analogy (where one-hit artists are compared with potential love interests, wherein the first encounter, full of wonder and excitement, ultimately gives way to unfulfilled expectations.)

Commodore Paris: "It isn't uncommon, you know, even for a captain to want to leave. There's no relative direction in the vastness of space. There's only yourself, your ship, your crew. It's easier than you think to get lost."

-- delivered by Shohreh Aghdashloo, (from the movie Star Trek Beyond)

"Three months ago in Jerusalem, and again three weeks ago here in Washington, I met with Arab and Israeli children who spent the summer together in a program called the Seeds of Peace. By developing new friendships, they are demolishing old prejudices. By reaching across communities, they are resolving a conflict that has far too long divided their peoples. It is their spirit which truly brings us here today -- their lives, their dreams, their futures. Let us resolve not to betray them."

- Warren Christopher, Oslo II Signing Ceremony Address

Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03): "So, my understanding is Compassion [International] really focuses on holistic child development programs. Is the spiritual component of Compassion's holistic approach contextualized in any way?"

Mr. Stephen Oakley:  "Thank you. Yeah, absolutely. We operate in 26 countries, in all three areas of the world -- Asia, Africa, and Latin America. And we understand, we recognize very well that each of those is very different. We have to contextualize our programming, both for the region that we're in, and it has to be contextualized from an age perspective. So, to the extent that there is a spiritual and values-driven component to our programming, it is age appropriate; it's culturally appropriate. We teach values that transcend all of the world's great religions. The values that we're teaching in India would be values taught by the Hindu faith, by the Muslim faith, Buddhist faith. They would transcend each of those religions."

-- House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Compassion International in India

 

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