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The Adjective. Degrees of comparison of adjectives as stylistic device

The invariant grammatical meaning of adjective is the meaning of quality that is closely connected with the notion of value and consequently with the emotiveness and expressiveness. This fact enables us to presume an important role of adjectives in the development of stylistic resources of a given language.

The category of comparison of English and Ukrainian adjective is one of the most stylistically powerful grammatical categories. The superlative and comparative forms of adjectives are not expressive or stylistically marked as such. But there exist numerous ways of intensifying their semantic and stylistic volume.

In English the essential stylistic effect can be created

1) by specific syntactic structures, e.g.:


the sweetest of babies, the most foolish of wives, she is as foolish as can be, is she as foolish as all that, she is that foolish;

2) by different lexical intensifiers that deepen the emotive, expressive and evaluative volume of the adjective in a certain context;

3) repetition and synonymic substitutions:


Oh, Josie, you are a naughty girl, you really are. I was hoping you’d have everything nice and clean and tidy when I came in (J. Osborn).

4) by the shift in valency between an adjective and a noun:


the white rush, the shrill girl his hungry ribs and shoulders, my idiotic shoelaces;

5) by violation of the rules of –er and –est morphemes valency:


“Curiouser and curiouser !” cried Alice ( she was so much surprised that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English (L. Carrol).

You cannot be deader than dead (E. Hemingway).

"You're the bestest good one - she said - the most bestest good one in the world" (H. E. Bates).

The above-mentioned transposition is also possible in Ukrainian:


Поетеса обіцяла, що її сестри покажуть Кобилянській усю околицю, що вона побачить уже таку Україну, “україннішої” за яку нема (А. Костенко).

Для мене найпроблемніша за проблем –

Проблема серця і чола народу (м. Вінграновський).

Besides the degrees of comparison affixation and word-building are the other ways to change the quality of an adjective (e.g. boyish, reddish, ice-cold). The system of adjectival suffixes and word-building patterns is more developed in Ukrainian: преглибокий, величезний, страшенний, яснісінький, білесенький, рясношумний, предковічний, премудрий, надлюдський, щонайкращий, якнайбільший, розчудесний, чистий-пречистий, густий-прегустий, архішкідливий, ультрамодний, добрячий, багатющий etc.

Most Ukrainian qualitative adjectives can have contracted and noncontracted forms which opposition is also regarded as stylistically relevant. They are frequently used in folklore to express positive attitude towards the person or thing described, to intimidate the atmosphere of the speech or to make the utterance sound solemn and poetic:


Пливе човен добра повен; зелен гай; ясен місяць угорі; рясен піт; будь здоров.

Ночі безсоннії, гори високії, сестра молодая, діва пречистая, дружина вірная.

Modern authors frequently resort to this opposition as the source of various stylistic devices.



Читайте також:

  1. Foregrounding of Degrees of Comparison
  2. Interrelation of Etymological and Stylistic Characteristics of Words.
  3. LECTURE 1. Contrastive Stylistic as a Linguistic Discipline
  4. LECTURE3.2. Text stylistics as branch of functional stylistics. Subject, tasks.
  5. National Character of Stylistic Systems
  6. Polyfunctional Character of Stylistic Devices
  7. Problems of phonostylistics
  8. Rendering of stylistic meaning in translation
  9. Rendering of Trite and Original Devices
  10. Stylistic classification of English and Ukrainian vocabulary
  11. Stylistic devices based on the meaning of the category of case
  12. Stylistic devices based on the meaning of the category of number

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The Article. Stylistic functions of English articles | The pronoun. Stylistic functions of pronoun

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