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Иностранные языки Figures of Speech Handbook
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English Stylistics is meant as a manual illustrating the structure, types, usage, and functioning of English speech figures.


I think it is very important to understand the essence of each speech figure, and I share the idea of Thomas A. Knott that “The most important element in a human being is his thought. The next is the manner in which he communicates his thought.”

The manual is intended both for seminars and individual work of intermediate and advanced students of English stylistics (both day- and part-time).

The purpose of English Stylistics is to help the students understand the essence of each speech figure, as well as practice in defining figures of speech both in the context of a sentence (microcontext) and that of a text (macrocontext).

The manual falls into three parts. The first part is the handbook of speech figures. It provides the students of English stylistics with a more or less complete survey of English speech figures, arranged alphabetically. At the beginning of this part, you can find some ideas on existing classifications of English speech figures. Both traditional and modern, Soviet and abroad ideas on the subject were taken into consideration. Yet, it is strongly advisable to read other books on the subject (see Bibliography), because many of important points were outlined very cursorily due to the size of the manual. The second part consists of sentences-drills. It aids the students of stylistics to acquire skills in defining speech figures in the context of a sentence. All the sentences were taken from the books of English and American men of letters. The third part includes texts for stylistic analysis. It enables the user to acquire the skills in stylistic analysis of texts by English and American authors. The texts belong to various literary styles for the students to understand the difference in the usage and effect produced by speech figures in different styles.

The greater part of this manual has already been successfully used in my teaching.

I feel much grateful for the love of the subject to my university TEACHER of stylistics Luybov Anatolyevna Kim …

Yuliya Gafiatulina

Figures of speech,ortropes (the terms used by Yu. M. Skrebnev), rhetorical figures (the term used by Edgar V. Roberts), or stylistic means of a language (the term used by I. R. Galperin, V. A. Kukharenko, and other Soviet linguists (see Bibliography) dealing with stylistics) are particular patterns and arrangements of thought that help to make literary works effective, persuasive, and forceful.

American and British stylists do not divide figures of speech, or, as they call them, rhetorical figures, into any classes or groups.

I. R. Galperin, V. A. Kukharenko, and other Soviet scholars classified all stylistic means of the English language into stylistic devices (SDs) and expressive means(EMs).

They defined stylistic devices as generative models, intentionally intensifying some property of a language unit in an unpredictable and original way. Overuse makes SDs lose their originality, become trite, and, sometimes, be fixed in dictionaries.

Expressive means are defined as language forms used for emotional or logical intensification. They are fixed in the grammars and dictionaries.

I. R. Galperin subdivided stylistic means into the following groups:

a)phonetic SDs(alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, rhyme, and rhythm);

b)lexical SDs and EMs

1) based on the interaction of the dictionary and contextual meanings(metaphor and its subtype (personification), metonymy and its subtypes (antonomasia, synecdoche), and irony);

2) based on the interaction of primary and derivative logical meanings(polysemy, zeugma, and pun);

3) based on the interaction of logical and emotive meanings (interjections, oxymoron, and epithet);

4) based on the interaction of logical and nominative meanings(simile, periphrasis, euphemism, hyperbole, and understatement);

c)syntactical SDs and EMs(climax, anticlimax, antithesis, attachment, asyndeton, polysyndeton, break-in-the-narrative, chiasmus, detachment, ellipsis, enumeration, litotes, parallel constructions, question-in-the-narrative, represented speech, rhetorical questions, suspense, inversion, and repetition).

V. A. Kukharenko classified all stylistic means into the following groups:

a)phono-graphical EMs(onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, and graphon);

b)graphical EMs(italics, capitalization, spacing of lines, and spacing of graphemes, such as hyphenation and multiplication);

c)lexical SDs(metaphor, metonymy, pun, zeugma, irony, epithet, hyperbole, understatement, and oxymoron);

d)syntactic SDs(sentence length, sentence structure, punctuation, rhetorical questions, repetition, parallel constructions, chiasmus, inversion, suspense, detachment, ellipsis, apokuinu construction, polysyndeton, asyndeton, and attachment);

e) lexico-syntactic SDs (antithesis, climax, anticlimax, simile, litotes, and periphrasis).

I. V. Arnold also dwells upon the violations of syntactic structure.

Yu. M. Skrebnev has a somewhat different view on the figures of speech nature. He doesn’t consider litotes to be an independent trope, but a type of meiosis. Periphrasis, epithet, question-in-the-narrative, break-in-the-narrative, represented speech, rhetorical questions, asyndeton, and suspense are not included into Yu. M. Skrebnev’s classification.

As for the rest of speech figures, he divided them intostylistic units (having paradigmatic nature) and stylistic sequences (having syntagmatic nature). Each of the above mentioned can be phonetic, morphological, lexical, syntactical, or semasiological. Thus Professor Skrebnev has the following classification of tropes:

a)paradigmatic phonetics units (graphon, grapheme multiplication, capitalization, and hyphenation);

b) syntagmatic phonetics units (assonance, alliteration, paronomasia, rhythm, and rhyme);

c)paradigmatic morphology units (morphemes and morphological meanings synonymy and variability);

d)syntagmatic morphology units(units of paradigmatic morphology co-occurrence);

e) paradigmatic lexicology units (professionalisms, terms, jargon, neologisms, barbarisms, and poetic, colloquial, official, vulgar, bookish, archaic words);

f)syntagmatic lexicology units (units of paradigmatic lexicology co-occurrence);

g)paradigmatic syntax units (ellipsis, aposiopesis, polysyndeton, nominative sentences, syntactic tautology (prolepsis), inversion, and detachment);

h)syntagmatic syntax units(repetition and chiasmus);

i)paradigmatic semasiology (onomasiology) units, or figures of replacement, subdivided into figures of quantity (hyperbole and understatement) and figures of quality (metonymy and its types (synecdoche and antonomasia), metaphor and its types (allusion and personification), and irony);

j)units of syntagmatic semasiology (onomasiology), or figures of co-occurrence, subdivided into figures of identity (simile), figures of inequality (climax, anticlimax, pun, zeugma, and tautology), and figures of contrast (oxymoron and antithesis).

Alliteration[əֽlitə'rei©n] (from Latin ad – “near” and littera – “a letter”, i.e. “letters near”) – repetition of similar consonant sounds (usually at the beginning of successive/closely following words) to impart a melodic effect to an utterance.

E.g.: a Monday morning meeting, the silver sweep of the sea.

Allusion[‘'lu¸¯n] (from Latin allusio – “a hint”) – a reference to some commonly known literary, historical, mythological, biblical, etc. event.

E.g.: He has the strength of Samson (a strong man in the Bible).

He has the strength of Hercules (a strong man in Greek mythology).

By the Waters of Babylon” by St. V. Benet (a psalm in the Bible).

Anticlimax['ænti'klaimæks] (from Greek άυτι – “against” and κλτμαζ – “ladder”, i.e. “a descending ladder”), bathos['bei½Šs], or back gradation['bækgrə'dei©n] (i.e. “gradual descent”) – a stylistic means opposite to climax (see Climax) – a sudden change of thought from the lofty/serious to ridiculous by adding a weaker element to one/several strong ones mentioned before.

E.g.: He was inconsolable – for an afternoon. (J. Galsworthy)

Antithesis [æn'tiθ‘sis] (from Greek άντιθσις – “contradiction”) – two points of sharp contrast set one against the other, generally in parallel constructions: Antagonistic features are more easily perceived in similar structures.

E.g.: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the era of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of Hope, it was the winter of Despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before usin front and behind…. (Ch. Dickens)

Antithesis stresses the heterogeneity of the described phenomena, demonstrates their contradictory nature, or confronts quite different things.

Stylistic antithesis is different from lexical (i.e. antonyms), though the former is based on the latter. E.g.:

A Soul as full of Worth as void of Pride. (A. Pope) In this sentence words full and void are antonyms, on which antithesis, i.e. the contradiction of words worth and pride, is based.

Antonomasia [·æntənə'meiziə] (from Greek άντονομασία – “re-naming”) – a proper name used for a common one or vice versa.

E.g.: A traitor may be referred to as Brutus.

A man who loves women deserves the name of Don Juan.

I don’t mean only myself, my partner, and the radiologist who does your X-rays; the three I’m referring to are Dr. Rest, Dr. Diet, and Dr. Fresh Air. (R. Cussack)

Semantically antonomasia splits into genuine and trite.

Genuine (Poetic/Fresh/Original/Newly-created) antonomasia is fresh and absolutely unexpected (see example about Dr. Rest, Dr. Diet, etc. above).

The original figurative meaning of trite (dead/hackneyed/ stale/banal/stereotyped) antonomasia has been forgotten due to the overuse (see examples about Brutus and Don Juan).

Apokuinu construction[ֽæpә'kju¸inəkən'strk©n] (from Greek άπο – “off”) – the omission of pronominal/adverbial connectives to create a blend of the main and the subordinate clauses so that the predicative/object of the first clause is simultaneously used as the subject of the second one.

E.g.: There was a door led into the kitchen. (Sh. Anderson)

He was the man killed that deer. (R. P. Warren)

It is used as a means of speech characteristics in dialogues, in reported speech, and the type of narrative known as “entrusted”, in which the author entrusts the feeling of the story to an imaginary narrator who is either an observer or participant of the described events.

Assonance['æs(ə)nəns] (from French assonance – “accord”) – repetition of similar vowel sounds (usually at the beginning of successive/closely following words) to impart a melodic effect to an utterance.

E.g.: about the house, moaning and groaning.

Asyndeton[ə'sinditən] (from Greek ασύυδετου – “without connection”) – a stylistic means opposite to polysyndeton (see Polysyndeton) – deliberate omission of conjunctions.

E.g.: Soames turned away; he had an utter disinclination to talk … (J. Galsworthy) In this sentence conjunction because is omitted, which makes the subordinate clause almost independent.

Attachment [ə'tæt©mənt], annexation[ֽænək'sei©ən], or gap-sentence link– connection of two seemingly unconnected sentences for the reader to grasp the idea implied, but not worded.

E.g.: She and that fellow ought to be the sufferers, and they are in Italy. (J. Galsworthy) Though the second part seems unmotivated, and the whole sentence, incoherent, we understand that “those who ought to suffer are enjoying themselves in Italy”.

Attachment stirs up the reader’s/listener’s suppositions, associations, and connections, under which the sentence can really exist.

Break-in-the-Narrative ['breikinðə'nærətiv] (aposiopesis)[ֽæpŠsaiəu'pi:sis] (from Greek άποσιώπησις – “concealment”) – a break of a sentence for a rhetorical effect (to reflect emotional or/and the psychological state of the speaker).

A sentence may be broken on the following grounds:

- The speaker’s emotions prevent him from finishing it.

E.g. George loves Emily and tries to make a proposal: “Emily, if I do improve and make a big changewould you beI mean could you be …” “Yesyes.”(Th. Wilder)

- The speaker desires to cut short the information with which the sentence begun.

E.g.: This is a story how a Baggins had an adventure. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end. (J. Tolkien)

- The speaker doesn’t want to call the things their names.

E.g. in the play Suddenly Last Summer by W. Tennessee a rich old woman tries to make a doctor to operate on the brains of her niece, being afraid of her revelations. The doctor is not willing to call the things their names: In your letter, last week, you made some reference to a – to a – fund of some kind … it’s – well – risky …

- The speaker is uncertain as to what exactly he is to perform, most often in threats.

E.g.: You just come home or I’ll …

To mark the break dashes and dots are used (see examples above). It is only in cast-iron structures that full stops may also appear.

E.g.: Good intentions, but.

It depends.

Capitalization [kə·pitəlai'zei©(ə)n] – some common nouns written with capital letters. Capitalization takes place in the following cases:

- In address or personification, which gives some importance and solemnity to the text.

E.g.: Music! Sphere-descended maid; Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom’s aid!” (W. Collins)

Such solemnity may be ironical.

E.g.: He’s a big chap. Well you’ve never heard so many well-bred commonplaces come from beneath the same bowler hat. The Platitude from Outer Space – that’s brother Nigel. (J. Osborne)

- To show that words are pronounced with emphasis or loudly.

E.g.: And there was dead silence. Till at last came the whisper: “I didn’t kill Henry. No, NO!” (D. H. Lawrence)

“WILL YOU BE QUIET!” he bawled. (A. Sillitoe)

Some poets of the 20th century do not use capital letters at all. For example, edward estlin cummings (1894 – 1962):

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