Anacoluthon  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An anacoluthon (from the Greek, anakolouthon, from an-: 'not' + akolouthos: 'following') is a rhetorical device that can be defined as a grammatically incorrect sentence. More specifically, anacoluthons (or "anacolutha") are created when a sentence abruptly changes from one structure to another. Grammatically, anacoluthon is an error; however, in rhetoric it is a figure that shows excitement, confusion, or laziness. In poetics it is sometimes used in dramatic monologues and in verse drama. In prose, anacoluthon is often used in stream of consciousness writing, such as that of James Joyce, because it is characteristic of informal human thought.

In its most restrictive meaning, anacoluthon requires that the introductory elements of a sentence lack a proper object or complement. For example, if the beginning of a sentence sets up a subject and verb, but then the sentence changes its structure so that no direct object is given, the result is anacoluthon. Essentially, it requires a change of subject or verb from the stated to an implied term. The sentence must be "without completion" (literally what "anacoluthon" means). A sentence that lacks a head, that supplies instead the complement or object without subject, is anapodoton.

As a figure, anacoluthon directs a reader's attention, especially in poetry, to the syntax itself and highlights the mechanics of the meaning rather than the object of the meaning. It can, therefore, be a distancing technique in some poetry.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Anacoluthon" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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