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Lecture 3.1 Inversion. Detachment. Ellipsis. Aposiopesis. Parallelism. Chiasmus. Apochoinu

Syntax is not so showy a means of expression as the lexicon. In spite of this, syntax is known to be rather a powerful element of style which fact is especially important if we speak about written speech.

Stylistically marked syntactical patterns, as I.R. Galperin defines them, are making a special system presented by the peculiarities of the structural design of utterances which bear some emotional colouring. This means that such utterances are stylistic in the organization of their relevance and therefore non-neutral.

Stylistic syntactical patterns may be viewed as the variants of general syntactical models characterizing the language.

Syntactical stylistic devices are based on the syntactical arrangement of the elements of a sentence or a larger unit like one text, on the particular use of the lexical meanings of stylistic patterns and on the particular ways of combining separate parts of the utterance.

Inversion.The most evident stylistic device in English is inversion (from Latin inversio meaning displacement).

It is common knowledge that the word order of the English sentence is strictly fixed for the sake of showing the syntactical function of each word in a sentence. The most general pattern is Subject + Predicate + Object. Any violation of this pattern which doesn’t alter the meaning of the sentence but only adds logical stress and emotional colouring is known to be stylistic inversion.

The most typical patterns of inversion in English are as follows:

a) the predicate placed before the subject

Indolent, willful and pretty was her aspect. (Sh. Bronte)

b) both the adverbial modifier and the predicate precede the subject

Against the wall stood a broken oar.

c) the object placed at the head of the sentence

Little change had they undergone in those years.

d) the attribute following the word it modifies

And a fighting machine with its legs contracted, crumple and abbreviated stood across the corner of the pit. (H. G. Wells)

e) the adverbial modifier placed at the beginning of a sentence

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Slowly I thrust myself out through the red weed. (H. G. Wells)

All the above structures are known as emphatic, which means that they place a definite emphasis on the element of the sentence which is marked by its inverted position.

Detachment.This is separating a secondary part of the sentence with the main aim of emphasizing it. This separation usually leads to a logical break between the main and a secondary parts of the sentence. As a result, the detached element acquires an unexpected degree of independence.

Detachment may also be regarded as a kind of inversion as the same is its aim to make some word or words more prominent. Yet evident also is the difference between detachment and inversion.

The detached element stands in artificial isolation from the member of the sentence it belongs to. The separation marks may be a dash or brackets or a comma or even a full stop.

The most common type of detachment is that in which an attribute or an adverbial modifier is isolated from the words it refers to.

A silver tray was brought in – with German plums.

Another variety of detachment is parenthesis or insertion. It not only emphasizes but also provides additional explanation and specifies the utterance. Parenthesis is usually an additional sentence inserted within another sentence.

I listened – I was deaf! – but everything was still.

Ellipsis.From Greek – defect. This is a deliberate omission of some part of an utterance manifested by one word or more words for a definite stylistic purpose. This device best of all manifests itself in the written speech because the omission of some parts of a sentence in oral speech may be regarded a norm.

Ellipsis in fiction is in most cases used in the characters’ speech to give it the characteristics of vitality or naturality. Ellipsis enables the author to convey the emotional state of his mood, for example, astonishment, surprise, perplexity, etc.

Then suddenly he was struck. By nothing at all.

Hence we should differentiate stylistic ellipsis from the non-stylistic cases.

Ellipsis is sometimes used in parallel constructions. The most important thing is that the lost element in ellipsis should be easy to reconstruct, it should be neatly presupposed.

The sky was dark and gloomy, the air damp and raw, the streets wet and floppy. (Dickens)

Aposiopesis.From Greek – to be silent. The difference between ellipsis and aposiopesis is in the fact that in the latter case the lost element is not so easy to reconstruct. Sometimes reconstruction is impossible. Aposiopesis is a sudden break in speech as if the speaker was unable or unwilling to express what is on his mind. Occurring in oral speech aposiopesis is often accompanied by gestures, mimics, special intonation of the remaining elements which all help supply the missing words.

Parallelism.Syntactical parallelism is a similarity of structures of several successive clauses, sentences or even paragraphs. Parallelism is a kind of repetition creating rhythm in the utterance. The elements do not have to be literary repeated but parallelism is always better perceived when it is based on some element of the structure which is repeated literary.

He talked of war, he talked of death and destruction, he told of all the ugly things he came across.

1) complete parallelism (balance) is full copying of syntactical structures

The warm Sun is failing

The bleak wind is wailing

The bare boughs are sighing

The pale flowers are dying. (Shelly)

2) partial parallelism unlike balance is the coincidence of successive structures in their perhaps important parts

I stared incredulously,

I gave an articulate cry.

I gripped his arm.

Antithesis is often used in parallel constructions which is done with the aim of bringing forth both similarity and difference in the compared objects.

It was not like the beginning of a journey, it was like the beginning of a dream.

Parallel constructions often employ syntactical repetition. Sometimes combined with climax or anticlimax.

Chiasmus.From the Greek letter X [chi] meaning a cross. Chiasmus is also named reversed parallelism and is in fact an example of parallel constructions in which the word order of the first unit be at sentence or word combination is inverted in the second one.

He said that with a smile that was like a frown, and with a frown that was like a smile.

Polished in courts and hardened in the field, renowned for conquest and in council skilled.

He rose up and down sat she.

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. – J.F.K.

Apochoinu.From Greek apo – from, choinu – general. This is a blend of two clauses in which one utterance performs two syntactical functions at a time, for example, the predicate or the object of the first clause simultaneously serves as the subject of the second one. Most widely this construction which is known to be typically English was used in the Old English and Middle English. In modern English it usually testifies to careless or highly colloquial speech of uneducated people.

Give me a moment. It is my hand resists, my flash shrinks back from the accursed thing. (Stivenson)

There are lots of vulgar people live in Grosvenor Square.


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