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Adjunction

The adjunction contains information that may be highly relevant to the listener but is not linguistically necessary for the sentence to be understandable. For example, a man could say that he ate lunch in the park. The sentence "I ate lunch" would be able to stand alone, which means that the phrase "in the park" is an adjunction. Therefore, the adjunction always also makes a sentence more complex; it adds onto the simple base of the sentence in order to convey further information about questions such as who, what, where, when, why, and how.

The term

Adjunction is a rhetorical or literary term that is used to refer to a sentence in which the verb is placed at either the very end or the very beginning instead of in the middle. The word is from the Latin adjunction for “join,” and its first known use was in 1618. It is common in older texts, writing, and poetry. An adjunct is an optional part of a sentence, phrase, or clause in linguistics that will not change the sentence if taken out. The word, phrase, or sentence in question is often adverbial and integrated into a sentence.

How to use

The adjunct, from which “adjunction” is derived modifies the form, phrase, or word in question, making it adverbial. It is important to remember that an adjunct is not an argument. 

The adjunction generally adds additional information to the subject of the clause or sentence it modifies, but the sentence or clause can stand alone without the adjunction. Generally, this information is clarifying in nature. Information about the where, why, or how of the subject is most common.

Adjunctions at the beginning of clauses, phrases, or sentences are very common in writing from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. An example of an adjunction is: “Fades physical beauty with disease or age.” This quote is from Rhetorica Ad Herennium Book Four. 

An example of an adjunction is John F. Kennedy’s statement: “For every man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of poverty.”

When adjunction is used

Garrett Epp defined adjunction as one verb controlling two clauses, positioned either at the beginning of the first clause or the end of the second clause in 1994. Geoffrey von Vinsauf defined it as an easy and “adorned” expression, its simplicity falling kindly on the ears.

The word “epizeugma” has also been used in place of “adjunction,” and was referred to frequently in historical grammatical texts such as Silva Rhetoricae and Ad Herennium.

Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying, “Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation” contains an adjunction, as does Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream.”

It is interesting to note that adjunction is not the same in languages other than English, and many languages routinely configure sentences, phrases, and clauses in this manner to begin with. The different placement of verbs and nouns in different languages makes adjunction vary, as well. Placing the verb at the beginning of the sentence gives it immediate primacy, which emphasizes the word. Because the structure is unusual in English, it also serves to provide variance and attention-grabbing word use for literary audiences. 

Two other meanings of the word adjunction exist, one in the field of mathematics, and one in the field of logic. In mathematics, an adjunction is the joining of two sets, without overlapping jointly. These joined sets represent a larger set or the relation between two of these sets. In logic, an adjunction is the act of asserting a single formula in place of two previously asserted formulae.

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