Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Butler: Useful Aids for Alliteration

Continuing to look at the little pamphlet Alliterated Sermon Outlines" by John G. Butler, he gives several sources of finding that "right" word to make an alliterated outline.  I have used the thesaurus, both paper and on-line.  But I never thought of using a speller.  I knew that certain letters worked better than others, but I had never seen it broken down as thoroughly as Butler has done. 

Alliteration may be passe, but as someone who loves words and loves symmetry, I find them rewarding. 

    • Thesaurus-A thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms. It is an invaluable aid for alliteration. Purchase several brands. The more words the better. Get a thesaurus that says it has 30,000 or more words.


    • Dictionary -A dictionary is needed to have the right meaning of a word. As an example, it will distinguish between “sorrow” and “remorse.” All remorse is sorrow, but not all sorrow is remorse. Dictionaries vary in size. The more words the better. Old dictionaries can be a problem, for words change meaning over the years.
    • Speller- Sometimes in desperation when the thesaurus does not give me a word I need, I will go to a speller and go through the entire list of words under a particular letter. A speller is better for this search than a dictionary because it lists the words without the meaning and thus it is easier to search through the words quicker.
    • Internet- Use your computer internet services. Places such as "" will help. Do a Google search for more help.
    • Gift- Alliteration skill is often more a gift from God than anything else. Some many try very hard to alliterate and just cannot do it. That may reflect a lack of a gift, not a lack of intelligence. Gifts need to be developed, of course. A gifted piano player needs to practice to develop his gift. The gift of alliteration can be developed using our suggestions. But if you lack the gift, don’t be discouraged. Simply use the gifts you do have.
    • Letters -Some letters alliterate better than other letters. The following is how I evaluated the letters. Other preachers may have different favorites, but these are mine.
      • BestC, P, R, S (I work these four letters to death.)
      • GoodD, I, M, W (These letters will sometimes work as well as the first four letters above.)
      • FairA, B, E, F, N, V, T, L (These letters will give good outlines but not as frequently as the above letters.)
      • SeldomG, H, O (If I can alliterate with these letters I think I am really on a roll—sometimes they do work well.)
      • Rare to NeverQ, U, X, Y, Z (The only letter of this group that I have used much is “u” and that is general in an “un” prefix like unwanted, untamed, unfruitful, etc.)

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