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Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices

Essential Terms:

metaphor is a trope which consists in the use of words (word combinations) in transferred meanings by way of similarity or analogy. Metaphor is the application of a name or a descriptive term to an object to which it is not literally applicable. This is an implied comparison. It is based on analogy or association: Art is a jealous mistress (Emerson).

antonomasia (a variant of METAPHOR) a trope which consists in the use of a proper name to denote a different person who possesses some qualities of the primary owner of the name: Every Caesar has his Brutus (O'Henry).

metonymy is a SD based on association, the name of one thing is used in place of the name of another, closely related to it. There is an objectively existing relation between the object named and the object implied: from the cradle to the grave

SYNECDOCHE (a variant of METONYMY) - a trope which consists in putting part for the whole, the concrete for the general, or vice versa: 1) Two heads are better than one; 2) The hat went away.

irony - a trope which consists in: a) the use of evaluative (meliorative) words in the opposite meanings (cf. ENANTIOSEMY): You’re in complimentary mood today, aren’t you? First you called my explanation rubbish and now you call me a liar; b) “worsening” of the meliorative connotation of a word: I’m very glad you think so, Lady Sneerwell; c) the acquisition of a pejorative connotation by a non-evaluative word: Jack: If you want to know, Cecily happens to be my aunt.- Algernon: Your aunt; Ironic use of words is accompanied by specific suprasyntactic prosody.

zeugma (a variant of SYLLEPSIS)- a figure of speech using a verb or adjective with two nouns, to one of which it is strictly applicable while the word appropriate to the other is not used: 1) to kill the boys and /destroy/ the luggage; 2) with weeping eyes and /grieving/ hearts.

pun (or PLAY UPON WORDS) - a figure which consists in a humorous use of words identical in sound but different in meaning, or the use of different meanings of the same word: "What's the matter with the boy?" - exlaimed Wardle. "Nothen's the matter with me", - replied Joe, nervously. "Have you been seeing any spirits?" - inquired the old gentle­man. "Or taking any?" - added Ben Allen.

interjections and exclamatory words are words we use when we express our feelings strongly and which may be said to exist in language as conventional symbols of human emotions. “Heaven”, “goodgracious!”, “dear me!”, ”God!”, “Come on!”, ”Look here!”, “dear”, “by the Lord!”, “God knows!”, “Bless me!”, “Humbug!” and many others of this kind are not interjections as such; a better name for them would be exclamatory words generally used as interjections, i.e., their func­tion is that of the interjection.

epithet is an attributive characterization of a person, thing or phenomenon. Having a logical meaning, it acquires in the context emotive meaning, rendering the subjective attitude of the writer towards the concepts he evaluates. Semantically we distinguish:

Fixed (logical/usual) epithets are fixed word-combination which have become traditional: sweet smile

Affective (emotive/occasional) epithet serve to convey the emotional evaluation of the object by the speaker: gorgeous, nasty, magnificent

Figurative (transferred/metaphoric) epithets are formed of metaphors, metonymies and similes expressed by adjectives: the smiling sun

Structurally we distinguish:

Simple epithet are built like simple adjectives: true love

Compound epithet are built like compound adjectives: heart-burning sigh

Phrase/sentence epithets - a phrase which has lost its independence and come to refer to a noun describing human behaviour or look (used with the words: 'attitude', 'look', 'expression'). The words in the phrase or sentence epithet are hyphenated or written in inverted commas: a move-if-you-dare expression (“a move-if-you-dare” expression); She looked at me with that please-don’t-touch-me look of hers. (She looked at me with that “ please don’t touch me” look of hers.

Reversed (inverted) epithet - two nouns connected in an "of"-phrase where one part is metaphorical: this devil of a woman

Chain of epithets - a number of epithets which give a many-sided description of an object. Each next epithet is stronger than the previous one, the last is the strongest (from the speaker's point of view): her large blue crying crasy eyes

oxymoron is a figure of speech by means of which contradictory words (notions) are combined: 1) To live a life half-dead, a living death (Milton); 2) Thou art to me a delicious torment (Emerson).

I. Speak on the following:

1. Lexical EMs & SDs based on the interaction of the nominative and contextually imposed meaning:

a) metaphor

b) antonomasia

c) metonymy

d) irony

2. Lexical EMs & SDs based on the interaction of the nominative and the derivative logical meaning:

a) zeugma

b) pun

3. Lexical EMs & SDs based on the interaction of the logical and the emotive meaning:

a) interjections and exclamatory words

b) epithets


II. In your books of either home reading or individual reading find the above mentioned expressive means and stylistic devices and comment upon their structure and stylistic function.

III. Do the following exercises:

Exercise I. Analyse the given cases of metaphor from all sides mentioned
above - semantics, originality, expressiveness, syntactic function, vividness and
elaboration of the created image. Pay attention to the manner in which two objects (actions) are identified: with both named or only hint — the metaphorized one – presented explicit:


1. And the skirts! What a sight were those skirts! They were nothing but vast decorated pyramids; on the summit of each was stuck the upper half of a princess. (A. B.)

2. She was handsome in a rather leonine way. Where this girl was a lioness, the other was a panther-lithe and quick. (Ch)

3. He felt the first watery eggs of sweat moistening the palms of his hands. (W. S.)

4. He smelled the ever-beautiful smell of coffee imprisoned in the can. (J. St.)

5. They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate. (W. G.)

6. Geneva, mother of the Red Cross, hostess of humanitarian congresses for the civilizing of warfare! (J. R.)

7. Autumn comes

And trees are shedding their leaves,

And Mother Nature blushes

Before disrobing. (N. W.)

Exercise II. Indicate metonymies, state the type of relations between the object named and the object implied, which they represent, also pay attention to the degree of their originality, and to their syntactical function:


1. He went about her room, after his introduction, looking at her pictures, her bronzes and clays, asking after the creator of this, the painter of that, where a third thing came from. (Dr.)

2. She wanted to have a lot of children, and she was glad that things were that way, that the Church approved. Then the little girl died. Nancy broke with Rome the day her baby died. It was a secret break, but no Catholic breaks with Rome casually. (J. O'H.)

3. "Evelyn Clasgow, get up out of that chair this minute." The girl looked up from her book.

"What's the matter?

"Your satin. The skirt'll be a mass of wrinkles in the back." (E. F.)

4. She saw around her, clustered about the white tables, multitudes of violently red lips, powdered cheeks, cold, hard eyes, self-possessed arrogant faces, and insolent bosoms. (A. B.)

5. "Some remarkable pictures in this room, gentlemen. A Holbein, two Van Dycks and if I am not mistaken, a Velasquez. I am interested in pictures." (Ch.)

6. I crossed a high toll bridge and negotiated a no man's land and came to the place where the Stars and Stripes stood shoulder to shoulder with the Union Jack. (J. St.)

7. He made his way through the perfume and conversation. (I. Sh.)


Exercise III. Analyse various cases of play on words, indicate which type is used, how it is created, what effect it adds to the utterance:

1. After a while and a cake he crept nervously to the door of the parlour. (A. T.)

2. There are two things I look for in a man. A sympathetic character and full lips. (I. Sh.)

3. Dorothy, at my statement, had clapped her hand over mouth to hold down laughter and chewing gum. (Jn. B.)

4. "Someone at the door," he said, blinking.

"Some four, I should say by the sound," said Fili. (A. T.)

5. He may be poor and shabby, but beneath those ragged trousers beats a heart of gold. (E.)

6. Babbitt respected bigness in anything: in mountains, jewels, muscles, wealth or words. (S. L.)

7. Men, pals, red plush seats, white marble tables, waiters in white aprons. Miss Moss walked through them all. (M.)

8. My mother wearingher best grey dress and gold brooch and a faint pink flush under each cheek bone. (W. Gl.)

9. "There is only one brand of tobacco allowed here - 'Three nuns'. None today, none tomorrow, and none the day after." (Br. B.)

10. Good morning," said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining and the grass was very green. (A. T.)



Exercise IV. In the following excerpts you will find mainly examples of verbal irony. Explain what conditions made the realization of the opposite evaluation possible. Pay attention to the part of speech which is used in irony, also its syntactical function:

1. When the war broke out she took down the signed photograph of the Kaiser and, with some solemnity, hung it in the men-servants' lavatory; it was her one combative action. (E. W.)

2. From her earliest infancy Gertrude was brought up by her aunt. Her aunt had carefully instructed her to Christian principles. She had also taught her Mohammedanism, to make sure. (L.)

3. "Well. It's shaping up into a lovely evening, isn't it?"

"Great," he said.

"And if I may say so, you're doing everything to make it harder, you little sweet." (D. P.)

4. Mr. Vholes is a very respectable man. He has not a large business, but he is a very respectable man. He is allowed by the greater attorneys to be a most respectable man. He never misses a chance in his practice which is a mark of respectability, he never takes any pleasure, which is another mark of respectability, he is reserved and serious which is another mark of respectability. His digestion is impaired which is highly respectable. (D.)

5. Several months ago a magazine named Playboy which concentrates editorially on girls, books, girls, art, girls, music, fashion, girls and girls, published an article about old-time science-fiction. (M. St.)

6. Apart from splits based on politics, racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds and specific personality differences, we're just one cohesive team. (D. U.)

7. I had been admitted as a partner in the firm of Andrews and Bishop, and throughout 1927 and 1928 I enriched myself and the firm at the rate of perhaps forty dollars a month. (Jn. B.)

8. Last time it was a nice, simple, European-style war. (I. Sh.)

9. But every Englishman is born with a certain miraculous power that makes him master of the world. As the great champion of freedom and national independence he conquers and annexes half the world and calls it Colonization. (B. Sh.)

Exercise V.Analyse the following cases of antonomasia. State the type of meaning employed and implied; indicate what additional information is created by the use of antonomasia; pay attention to the morphological and semantic characteristics of common nouns used as proper names:

1. "Her mother is perfectly unbearable. Never met such a Gorgon." (O.W.)
2. Cats and canaries had added to the already stale house an entirely new dimension of defeat. As I stepped down, an evil-looking Tom slid by us into the house. (W. Gl.)

3. Kate kept him because she knew he would do anything in the world if he were paid to do it or was afraid not to do it. She had no illusions about him. In her business Joes were necessary. (J. St.)

4. In the moon-landing year what choice is there for Mr. and Mrs. Average-the programme against poverty or the ambitious NASA project? (M. St.)

5. We sat down at a table with two girls in yellow and three men, each one introduced to us as Mr. Mumble. (Sc. F.)

Exercise VI.Discuss the structure and semantics of epithets in the following examples. Define the type and function of epithets:


1. He has that unmistakable tall lanky "rangy" loose-jointed graceful closecropped formidably clean American look. (I. M.)

2. He's a proud, haughty, consequential, turned-nosed peacock. (D.)

3. The Fascisti, or extreme Nationalists, which means black-shirted, knife-carrying, club-swinging, quick-stepping, nineteen- year-old-pot-shot patriots, have worn out their welcome in Italy. (H.)

4. Harrison-a fine, muscular, sun-bronzed, gentle-eyed, patrician-nosed, steak-fed, Gilman-Schooled, soft-spoken, well-tailored aristocrat was an out-and-out leaflet-writing revolutionary at the time. (Jn. B.)

5. Her painful shoes slipped off. (U.)

6. She was a faded white rabbit of a woman. (A. C.)

7. And she still has that look, that don't-you-touch-me look, that women who were beautilul carry with them to the grave. (J. B.)

8. Ten-thirty is a dark hour in a town where respectable
doors are locked at nine. (T. C.)

9."Thief!" "Pilon shouted. "Dirty pig of an untrue friend!"(J. St.)

10. He acknowledged an early-afternoon customer with a be-with-you-in-a-minute nod. (D. U.)

11. His shrivelled head bobbed like a dried pod on his frail stick of a body. (J. G.)

12. The children were very brown and filthily dirty. (V. W.)

13. Liza Hamilton was a very different kettle of Irish. Her head was small and round and it held small and round convictions. (J. St.)


Exercise VII. In the following sentences pay attention to the structure and semantics of oxymorons. Also indicate which of their members conveys the individually viewed feature of the object and which one reflects its generally accepted characteristic:

1. He caught a ride home to the crowded loneliness of the barracks. (J.)
2. Sprinting towards the elevator he felt amazed at his own cowardly courage. (G. M.)

3. He behaved pretty lousily to Jan. (D. C.)

4. There were some bookcases of superbly unreadable books. (E. W.)
6. Absorbed as we were in the pleasures of travel-and I in my modest pride at being the only examinee to cause a commotion-we were over the old Bridge. (W. G.)

7. Harriet turned back across the dim garden. The lightless light looked down from the night sky. (I. M.)

8. Sara was a menace and.a tonic, my best enemy; Rozzie was a disease, my worst friend. (J. Car.)

9. A neon sign reads "Welcome to Reno-the biggest little town in the world." (A. M.)

10. Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield are Good Bad Boys of American literature. (V.)

11. You have got two beautiful bad examples for parents. (Sc. F.)


Reference list:


Galperin I. R. Stylistics. - Part IV (B). p.p. 139-146,148-164.

Арнольд И. В. Стилистика §11-12 с. 82-92; 94-95.

Kukharenko V. A. A Book of Practice in Stylistics. - p.p. 22-24; 37-38; 40-41; 42-44; 46-47; 53-55; 60-61.


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