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Language epithets (traditional)


5. Speech epithets = slavish knees, sleepless bay

6. Fixed epithets (used in ballads and folklore) = dark forest, green wood, good ship, brave cavaliers.

7. Epithets can also be classified according to part of speech, as they can be expressed by any notional speech part - noun, verb, adjective, adverb.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. In other words, it is a combination of two words in which the meanings of the two clash, being opposite in sense. E.g.: sweet sorrow, nice rascal, pleasantly ugly face, horribly beautiful, a deafening silence, etc.

  1. Types of stylistic devices. Lexical EMs and SDs. Simile, periphrasis, euphemism, hyperbole, understatement.

Simile is a figure of speech in which the subject is compared to another subject. The formal elements of a simile are like, as, as if, as though, such as, seem, etc. E.g. : A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. Simile is a comparison of two unlike things.

Periphrasis is a very peculiar stylistic device which basically means paraphrasing, using an indirect form of expression instead of a simpler one, in other words, using a complicated syntactical structure instead of a word.

Logical periphrases are phrases synonymic with the words which were substituted by periphrases: Mr. Du Pont was dressed in the conventional disguise with which Brooks Brothers cover the shame of American millionaires. (M.St.) The conventional disguise stands here for the suit and the shame of American millionaires - for the paunch (the belly). This periphrasis may be also considered euphemistic, as it offers a more polite qualification instead of a coarser one.

Figurative periphrasis is made, in fact, of phrase-metonymies and phrase- metaphors, as we may see from the following example: The hospital was crowded with the surgically interesting products of the fighting in Africa (I.Sh.) where the extended metonymy stands for the wounded.

Hyperbole is largely synonymous with exaggeration and overstatement. It is a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used due to strong feelings or is used to create a strong impression and is not meant to be taken literally. It is very deliberate and gives greater emphasis to the statement. It is often used in poetry and is a literary device. Like all other SDs, it is fresh = original = genuine when first used, and trite = dead = stale when often repeated.

The exaggerated phenomenon can be different (size, quantity, emotion, etc.). E.g.: I could eat a horse, I've heard that a billion times.

The antonym to hyperbole is understatement. E.g.: He has a brain the size of a pinhead, The little woman, she was of pocket size...

  1. Syntactical EMs and SDs. General considerations. Neutral and stylistically coloured syntactical structures. The Syntactical whole (SPU) and the paragraph. The difference between them. Rhetorical question.

The majority of English words are neutral. Neutral words do not have stylistic connotations. Their meanings are purely denotative. They are such words as table, man, day, weather, to go, good, first, something, enough. Besides neutral vocabulary, there are two great stylistically marked layers of words in English word-stock: literary vocabulary and colloquial vocabulary. Literary vocabulary includes bookish words, terms, poetic and archaic words, barbarisms and neologisms. Colloquial vocabulary embraces conversational lexis, jargonisms, professionalisms, dialectal, slangy and vulgar words. Neutral words form the lexical backbone of all functional styles. They are understood and accepted by all English-speaking people. Being the main source of synonymy and polysemy, neutral words easily produce new meanings and stylistic variants. Compare: mouse = 1) a small furry animal with a long tail; 2) mouse = a small device that you move in order to do things on a computer screen; 3) mouse = someone who is quiet and prefers not to be noticed.
Supra-phrasal unit (SPU) is used to denote a larger unit than a sentence. is also characterized by the fact that it can be extracted from the context without losing its relative semantic independence. This cannot be said of the sentence, which, while representing a complete syntactical unit, may, however, lack the quality of independence.
consists of one sentence or a string of sentences. It is necessary to find the elements into which any text may fall. In other words, there must be certain constituent units of which any text is composed.
Phonemes, the smallest language units, function within morphemes and are dependent on them, morphemes function within words, words within sentences, and sentences function in larger structural frames which we shall call "supra-phrasal units". Consequently, neither words nor separate sentences can be regarded as the basic constituents of a text. They are the basic units of lower levels of language-as-a-system.
Thus the sentence: "Guy glanced at his wife's untouched plate", if taken out of the context, will be perceived as a part of a larger span of utterance where the situation will be made clear and the purport of verbal expression more complete.
Guy glanced at his wife's untouched plate.
"If you've finished, we might stroll down. I think you ought to be starting."
She did not answer. She rose from the table. She went into her room to see that nothing had been forgotten and then side by side with him walked down the steps.
So a supra-phrasal unit may be defined as a combination of sentences presenting a structural and semantic unity backed up by rhythmic and melodic unity. there may be considerable variety in the arrangement of SPUs and of paragraphs, ranging from what might be called clearly-marked borderlines between the supra-phrasal unit to almost imperceptible semantic shifts. It follows then that the paragraphs in the belles-lettres prose style do not necessarily possess the qualities of unity and coherence as is the case with paragraphs in other styles of speech and particularly in the scientific prose style. SPUs are to be found in particular in poetical style. Here the SPUs, as well as the paragraphs, are embodied in stanzas.
A paragraph is a graphical term used to name a group of sentences marked off by indentation at the beginning and a break in the line at the end. But this graphical term Paragraph structure in the belles-lettres and publicistic styles is strongly affected by the purport of the_author. The length of a paragraph normally varies from eight to twelve sentences. The longer the paragraph is, the more difficult it is to fallow the purport of the writer. In newspaper style, however, most aragraphs consist of one or perhaps two or three sentences. However, paragraph building in belles-lettres prose generally lacks unity, inasmuch as it is governed by other than logical principles.

The term supra-phrasal unit (SPU) is used to denote a
larger unit than a sentence. It generally comprises a number of sentences
interdependent structurally (usually by means of pronouns, connectives,
tense-forms) and semantically (one definite thought is dealt with). Such
a span of utterance is also characterized by the fact that it can be extract-
ed from the context without losing its relative semantic independence.
This cannot be said of the sentence, which, while representing a complete
syntactical unit, may, however, lack the quality of independence. A supra-phrasal unit may be defined as a combination of sentences presenting a structural and semantic unity backed up by rhythmic and melodic unity.

A paragraph is a graphical term used to name a group of sen-
tences marked off by indentation at the beginning and a break in the line
atthe end.

  1. Compositional patterns of syntactical arrangement. Stylistic inversion, detachment, parallelism, chiasmus.

Inversion/Change of Word Order aims at making one of the members of the sentence more conspicuous, more important, more emphatic.

Talent Mr.Micawber has; capital Mr.Micawber has not.

Came frightful days of snow and rain.

Detached Construction is a secondary part of a sentence, placed so that it seems formally independent of the word it logically refers to. The detached part, being torn away from its referent, assumes a greater degree of significance.

Steyne rose up, grinding his teeth, pale, and with fury in his eyes.

This stylistic device is akin to inversion, detached construction produces a much stronger effect. I want to go, he said, miserable.

A variant of detached construction is parenthesis. Parenthesis is a qualifying, explanatory or appositive word, phrase, sentence, etc. which interrupts a syntactic construction, giving an utterance an additional meaning or emotional colouring. It is indicated in writing by commas, brackets or dashes.

Carl, a great singer, was not a good dancer.

Parallel Construction may be encountered not so much in the sentence as in the macro-structures. The necessary condition in parallel construction is identical, or similar, syntactical structure in two or more sentences or parts of a sentence in close succession:

There were real silver spoons to stir the tea with, and real china cups to drink tea out of, and plates of the same to hold the cakes and toast in.

Parallel Construction is most frequently used in enumeration, antithesis and climax, thus consolidating the general effect achieved by these stylistic devices.

In the following example parallelism backs up repetition, alliteration, and antithesis, making the whole sentence almost epigrammatic:

And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,

And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot.

Parallel Construction emphasizes the similarity, diversity, contrasts the ideas equates the significance of the parts.

Our senses perceive no extremes. Too much sound deafens us; too much light dazzles us; too great distance or proximity hinders our view.

Parallelism always generates rhythm; hence it is natural to be used in poetry.

Chiasmus/ Reversed Parallel Construction is based on the repetition of a syntactical pattern, but it has a cross order of words and phases.

1. In peace sons bury their fathers,

But in war fathers bury their sons.

2. Down dropped the breeze,

The sails dropped down.

Chiasmus lays stress on the second part of the utterance and always brings in some new shade of meaning or additional emphasis.

  1. Compositional patterns of syntactical arrangement. Repetition, enumeration, suspense, climax, antithesis, litotes.

Repetition is used when the speaker is under the stress of strong emotions. It shows the state of mind of the speaker.Stop!-she cried. Dont tell me! I dont want to hear; I dont want to hear what youve come for. I dont want to hear.The repetition I dont want to hear shows the excited state of mind of the speaker. Repetition aims at fixing the attention of the reader on the key-word of the utterance.

Enumeration is a stylistic device by which separate things, objects, phenomena, actions or properties are named one by one so that they produce a chain. The links of the chain are forced to display some semantic homogeneity.
The grouping of sometimes absolutely heterogeous notions meets the peculiar purport of the writer. Enumeration is frequently used to depict scenery through a tourists eyes as it gives one an insight into the mind of the observer.

Suspense consists in arranging the matter of communication in such a way that the less important parts are amassed at the beginning, the main idea being withheld till the end of the sentence. Thus the readers attention is held and his interest kept up, as he is in the state of uncertainty and expectation. Suspense sometimes goes together with Climax.

Climax/Gradation is the arrangement of sentences which secures a gradual increase in significance, importance or emotional tension in the utterance. The gradual increase in significance may be maintained in three ways: logical, emotional and quantitative. Emotional climax is mainly found in sentences.
It was a lovely city, a beautiful city, a fair city, a veritable gem of a city.
Quantitative climax is an evident increase in the volume of the concepts:
They looked at hundreds of houses, they climbed thousands of stairs, they inspected innumerable kitchens.
The function of this stylistic device is to show the relative importance of the things as seen by the author.

Antithesis is a stylistic opposition, setting thing one against the other. In order to characterize a thing or phenomenon from a specific point of view, it may be necessary to find points of sharp contrast.

1. A saint abroad, and a devil at home.

2. Youth is lovely, age is lonely,

Youth is fiery, age is frosty.

3. Man proposes, God disposes.

Antithesis has the basic function of rhyme-forming because of the parallel arrangement on which it is founded.

Crabbed age and youth

Cannot live together:

Youth is full of pleasance,

Age is full of care

Litotesis a peculiar use of negative construction: the negation plus noun or adjective establish a positive feature in a person or thing. It is a deliberate understatement used to produce a stylistic effect. Litotes is not a pure negation, but a negation that includes affirmation.

It is not bad.-(Is a good thing)

He is no coward.-(He is a brave man)

Such negative constructions have a stronger effect on the reader than affirmative ones.

She was not without taste.

The constructions with two negations: not unlike, not unpromising, not displeased make positive phrases.


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