Students sometimes feel vaguely
the correct attitude toward what they are reading, but are unable to clarify and intensify the mood because they lack a vocabulary
adequate to describe it. To such students the following list if attitudes should prove helpful.
Hint for May11 Test: all AP writes
benefit from a definition of tone. Needless to say, you provide evidence from the text to prove what you are saying about
chiefly rational: explanatory, instructive, didactic, admonitory, condemnatory, indignant, puzzled, curios, wistful, pensive,
thoughtful, preoccupied, deliberate, studies, candid, guileless, thoughtless, innocent, frank, sincere, questioning, uncertain,
doubting, incredulous, critical, cynical, insinuating, persuading, coaxing, pleading, persuasive, argumentative, oracular.
of pleasure: peaceful, satisfied, contented, happy, cheerful, pleasant, bright, sprightly, joyful, playful, jubilant,
of pain: worried, uneasy, troubled, disappointed, regretful, vexed, annoyed, bored, disgusted, miserable, cheerless, mournful,,
sorrowful, sad, dismal, melancholy, plaintive, fretful, querulous, irritable, sore, sour, sulky, sullen, bitter, crushed,
of passion: nervous, hysterical, impulsive, impetuous, reckless, desperate, frantic, wild, fierce, furious, savage, enraged,
angry, hungry, greedy, jealous, insane.
of self-control: calm, quiet, solemn, serious, serene, simple, mild, gentle, temperate, imperturbable, nonchalant, cook,
of friendliness: cordial, sociable, gracious, kindly, sympathetic, compassionate, forgiving, pitying, indulgent, tolerant,
comforting soothing, tender, loving, caressing, solicitous, accommodating, approving, helpful, obliging, courteous, polite,
of unfriendliness: sharp, severe, cutting, hateful, unsocial, spiteful, harsh, boorish, pitiless, disparaging, derisive,
scornful, satiric, insolent, insulting, impudent, belittling, contemptuous, accusing, reproving, scolding, suspicious.
of comedy: facetious, comic, ironic, satiric, amused, mocking, playful, humorous, hilarious, uproarious.
of animation: lively, eager, excited, earnest, energetic, vigorous, hearty, ardent, passionate, rapturous, ecstatic, feverish,
inspired, exalted, breathless, hasty, brisk, crisp, hopeful.
of apathy: inert, sluggish, languid, dispassionate, dull, colorless, indifferent, stoical, resigned, defeated, helpless,
hopeless, dry, monotonous, vacant, feeble, dreaming, blasť, sophisticated.
of self-importance: impressive, profound, proud, dignified, lofty, imperious, confident, egotistical, peremptory, bombastic,
sententious, arrogant, pompous, stiff, boastful, exultant, insolent, domineering, flippant, saucy, positive, resolute, haughty,
condescending, challenging, bold, defiant, contemptuous, assured, knowing, cocksure.
of submission and timidity: meek, shy, humble, docile, ashamed, modest, timid, unpretentious, respectful, apologetic,
devout, reverent, servile, obsequious, groveling, contrite, obedient, willing, sycophantic, fawning, ingratiating, deprecatory,
submissive, frightened, surprised, horrified, aghast, astonished, alarmed, fearful, terrified, trembling, wondering, awed,
astounded, shocked, uncomprehending.
It is apparent that this list is not complete, and that it is not free from inconsistency. Though all these attitudes
are stated by adjectives some express logical, and some emotional relations, some are attitudes toward what is said and some
toward an opposing person or solution, some describe a state of mind and others a mood or emotion. But all are descriptions,
of how one may speak.
Of course one term alone is seldom and adequate to describe a mood or motive, and several of these terms may need to
be combined to express the right shade of meaning. For instance, you may speak with scornful boldness or with cheerful boldness,
with tender apology, or with ironic, apology, with mournful sympathy, or with inspiring sympathy. Make whatever combinations
seem most accurate. The purpose of the list is merely to furnish a vocabulary of attitudes to which you may turn when the
right words seem to elude you.
Please note that you cannot adequately describe an attitude as “animated” “emotional” or “passionate”
What we wish to know about a speakers utterance is the kind of animation or passion or emotion she feels. She may be animated
either by courage or fear. She may speak in a passion of hate or of love.
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