Universal Human Commonalities (UHC)

Repetition in Language

Repetition is common in language, music, and literature. Repetition has many purposes, including the addition of extra emphasis, intentional exaggeration, and the creation of parallel structure. More subtly, repetition can be used to enhance the meaning of a message by delicately manipulating the language to appear more persuasive. There are no definitive set of rules regarding the translation of repetition. Translators may opt to maintain the repetition, rewrite it with more variability, or eliminate it completely.


Alliteration is the repetition of the first syllable of a word and its sound in a series of words or phrases. Alliteration is restrained to the first syllable or sound of each word in a word group, unlike rhyme which can be dispersed throughout any of a word’s syllables. Similarly, alliteration must take place between successive words, whereas rhyme can occur between words that are far apart from each other. Despite these constraints, alliteration is a prominent feature of language, present in many artistic forms of communication.

Repetition and Variation in Poetry

Repetition and variation in poetry can help strengthen the message of a poem by emphasizing the sentiments that the poem is trying to convey. This is similar to everyday conversation, since “conversation achieves coherence through linguistic features generally regarded as quintessentially literary,” including the use of rhythm, imagery, and repetition and variation. These similarities arise from the fact that conversation, like poetry, depends on interpersonal communication to build meaning.

Reading Poetry

Reading poetry aloud can be difficult since the reader must “render the text so that it can be both comprehended (sense) and appreciated as verse (sound)” by the audience. A proper reading can be achieved by adding stresses to certain words that are more important to the tone and meaning of the poem, or by varying the degree of subtlety when stressing certain words.

The Nature of Poetry

The nature of poetry can be divided into three parts. The first is “the poetic image and idea,” or the meaning of the poem and the message that is being conveyed. The second is the “poetic sounds, or the formal elements in poetry,” such as the meter and verse that contribute to the sounds of the poem. The third and final part is “the marriage of sound and meaning, or the relationship between the formal sounds and the thought.” This last part represents the complex way in which the words and the sounds combine to express the complete meaning of the poem.

Inner States

Human beings have a fundamental need to “comprehend, manage, and share inner states” with one another. The inner states of individual, including his/her “beliefs, feelings, attitudes, goals, and standards,” are an essential feature of both the individual’s personality and how that personality to conveyed to others.


Polysemy is when a word has multiple meanings. Researchers have explored polysemy and found that subjects generally do not store all possible dictionary meanings for words in their memories. “Three metrics were used to represent the meanings that subjects actually access from memory (accessible polysemy): (1) the first meanings subjects think of when asked to define stimulus words, (2) all the meanings subjects generate for words, and (3) the average number of meanings subjects generate”.


Phonemes are a basic element of spoken languages, from which words in that language are built. The International Phonetic Association defines a phoneme as "the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances". Each phoneme represents a basic speech sound, which are used in conjunction with other phonemes to form audible words. For example, the word "kit" begins with the sound of the letter "k", represented by the phoneme /k/.


A noun is a word used to represent a person, place, object or idea. Nouns are common in all languages and are predominantly the first class of words children learn during early language acquisition. Proper nouns are generally names given to specific person, place or object, and are believed to be primarily the first type of noun children learn and use. However, studies have found that of “the nouns acquired by children, only about half are the names of basic level object classes”.


A narrative is an account of events and experiences used to tell a story or to express how one feels. The information conveyed in a narrative can also have an effect on the moral experiences of both the speaker and the listener, depending on the themes of the story being told. Language and communication are considered essential to psychological functioning, as “words (and other signs and symbols) provide the ‘tools’ necessary for thinking, feeling, and acting”.


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