Foregrounding of Degrees of Comparison

Foregrounding of Articles

Foregrounding and Translation

Modern English writers and journalists often give preference to foregrounding over, traditional stylistic devices. By foregrounding is understood the use of neutral linguistic means for stylistic purposes. A grammatical form or structure thus acquires great expressiveness and may be regarded as a stylistic device.

Foregrounding reveals and brings forth the potentialities which are inherent in linguistic means. Just as a port a writer senses the expressive possibilities of a word, he sees potential expressiveness in a grammatical structure or form and skillfully uses it. Foregrounding is always individual, is displayed in unexpected contexts and posses a high degree of unpredictability. Practically every grammatical form and every part of speech may be foregrounded, that is used for expressiveness.



The rendering of the meaning of articles has already been considered in the chapter dealing with grammatical problems.

In the following example Iris Murdoch effectively reveals the stylistic force of the two articles, their expressive possibilities and their effective use for stylistic purposes.

Perhaps he would achieve some sort of piece, the piece of an elderly man, a piece of cozy retirement

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The foregrounded articles are compensated lexically.



Degrees of comparison can also be foregrounded. Such foregrounding may be achieved in two ways: either by semantic or by morphological violation of the norm. The semantic violation of the norm is applied to descriptive adjectives which by virtue of their semantics do not admit of comparison. Yet for the sake of expressiveness they are used either in the comparative or in the superlative degrees.

Very good, sir, said the groom, at his most wooden, and sprang down into the road. (Georgette Heyer)


It should be pointed out that in this ase the superlative degree with the preposition at and a possessive pronoun forms a special model and is used absolutely as an elative, which implies that the object described possesses a certain quality beyond comparison.

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The meaning of the elative is rendered by a colloquial intensifier ( ).

Another example of semantic violation:


The station is more daunting than the Gare du Nord: golder, grander.


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The device is preserved in the translation.

The foregrounding of descriptive adjectives is sometimes found in newspapers style as well.

The reports proposals were handed over to a much more political committee

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The inverted commas indicate that newspapers style is more conventional than imaginative prose.

Morphological violation may be described as violation of established grammatical norms for stylistic purposes and the degrees of comparison become functionally charged.

Curiouser and curioser, said Alice. (Lewis Carroll)

Polixena Solovieva, the translator, takes recourse to the same device.

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Annie, could you give me a quart of coffee in a carton?

Itll have to be two points, Eth.

Good. Even gooder. (J.Stainbeck)


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  1. Foregrounding of Word Building
  2. The Adjective. Degrees of comparison of adjectives as stylistic device
  3. This figure of identity consists in expressive comparison of two objects which have something in common.

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Original Metaphors and Their Translation | Foregrounding of Word Building

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