What Is Epiphora? (Deliberate Repetition)
EpiphoraEpiphora is a writing technique that involves repeating terms at the back of neighboring clauses or sentences. (NB: Epiphora is also called "epistrophe.")
Examples of EpiphoraEpiphora is deliberately repeating terms at the end of clauses or sentences. For example:
- "He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
- "She's safe, just like I promised. She's all set to marry Norrington, just like she promised. And you get to die for her, just like you promised." (Jack Sparrow) (Note that the words do not have to be identical. The copied structure is also part of the epiphora.)
Other Types of RepetitionThere are three main types of repetition:
- Epiphora (repetition at the end of neighboring clauses)
- Anaphora (repetition at the start of neighboring clauses)
- Commoratio (repetition of the same idea in neighboring clauses)
More Examples of EpiphoraThis is an example from "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare:
- BASSANIO: Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive for what I gave the ring,
And how unwillingly I left the ring
When naught would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
(Remember that the copied structure is also part of the epiphora. So, "to whom," "for whom," and "for what" are considered part of the shared endings.)
- "...that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
- "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child."
Examples of Epiphora in SongsHere is an example of epiphora that features in "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé:
- ‘Cause if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it
If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it
Don’t be mad once you see that he want it
‘Cause if you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it.
Why Should I Care about Epiphora?Repetition creates pattern and rhythm. Therefore, it is widely used in poetry and song (i.e., verse). It is less common in business writing, but it does have some utility. Used infrequently, deliberate repetition like epiphora can:
- Be used for emphasis.
- Be memorable.
- Make an impact.
- Make you look confident.
- In our opinion, the answer to the current situation is not making 10 people redundant. All that achieves is making 10 people redundant.