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Stylistic functioning of morphologival forms

Essential Terms:


simile (or LITERARY COMPARISON) a figure of speech which consists in an explicit likening of one thing to another on the basis of a common feature: 1) Bees flew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers (Laurie Lee); 2) Marjorie… appeared quite unconscious of the rarity of herself,... wearing her beauty like a kind of sleep (Laurie Lee).


periphrasis - a figure of speech which names a familiar object or phenomenon in a round - about or indirect way (by means of a circumlocution instead of a word).

1) Of all the days that's in the week
I dearly love but one day

And that's the day that comes between

A Saturday and Monday.

2) I understand you are poor and wish to earn money by nursing the little boy, my son, who has been so prematurely deprived of what can never be replaced (Dickens).

Periphrases are classified into:

a) figurative (metonymic and metaphoric)- phrase-metonymies and phrase-metaphors: "The hospital was crowded with the surgically interesting products of the fighting in Africa" (I. Sh.);

b) logical - 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.)

Periphrasis may be also considered euphemistic when offers a more polite qualification instead of a coarser one.

euphemism - I. a trope in which an unpleasant or offensive thing is described by an indirect, polite or conventional word: With my various friends we had visited most of these tiny, dark, smoky bars, and drunk drinks of minute size and colossal price and watched the female ‘ hostesses ’ at their age-old work ( G.Durrell).

II. a figure of speech which consists in describ­ing an unpleasant or offensive object or phenomenon in a polite round-about way (a variant of periphrasis): They think we have come by this horse in some dishonest manner (Dickens).

hyperbole – a trope which consist in a deliberate exaggeration of a feature essential to an object or phenomenon (cf. MEIOSIS). The function is to intensify the feature: Her family is one aunt about a thousand years old (Sc. Fitzgerald).

meiosis - a trope which consists in a deliberate understatement.


decomposition of a set phrase is alike to pun (play upon words), it is the interplay between the literal meaning and the phraseological meaning (i.e. figurative):

- I'm eating my heart out.

- It's evidently a diet that agrees with you. You are growing fat on it. (Maugham)

allusion is a reference to characters and events of mythology, legends, history, specific places, literary characters that, by some association, have come to stand for a certain thing or idea. They are based on the accumulated experience and knowledge of the writer who expects a similar knowledge of the reader. The full impact of an allusion comes to the reader who is aware of the origin of the word, phrase, place or character allude to: “The town gossips called her Virgin Jekyll and Miss Hyde.”


The allusion here is to R.L. Stevenson’s story “a strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

MORPHEMIC REPETITION - repetition of the affix in a number of adjacent words: It was there again, more clearly than before: the terrible expression of pain in her eyes; unblinking, unaccepting, unbelieving pain.

THE EXTENSION OF MORPHEMIC VALENCY – a stylistic device which is based on ascribing of a morpheme of one part of speech to another, which is normally not correlated with this part of speech: “ Mr. Hamilton, you haven’t any children, have you?” “Well, no. And I’m sorry about that I guess. I am sorriest about that. ”

I. Speak on the following:


1. Figure of identity:

a) simile

b) periphrasis & euphemism as a variant of periphrasis

2. Figures of inequality:

a) hyperbole

b) meiosis


3. Particular use of set expressions:
a) decomposition of a set phrase

b) allusion

4. The stylistic functioning of grammatical forms:

a) morphemic repetition and the extension of morphemic valency

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. In the following examples concentrate on cases of hyperbole and understatement. Pay attention to their originality or staleness, toother SDs promoting their effect, to exact words containing the foregrounded emotive meaning:


1. I was scared to death when he entered the room. (S.)

2. The girls were dressed to kill. (J. Br.)

3. Newspapers are the organs of individual men who have jockeyed themselves to be party leaders, in countries where a new party is born every hour over a glass of beer in the nearest cafe. (J. R.)

4. I was violently sympathetic, as usual. (Jn. B.)

5. Four loudspeakers attached to the flagpole emitted a shattering roar of what Benjamin could hardly call music, as if it were played by a collection of brass bands, a few hundred fire engines, a thousand blacksmiths' hammers and the amplified reproduction of a force-twelve wind. (A.S.)

6. The car which picked me up on that particular guilty evening was a Cadillac limousine about seventy-three blocks long. (J. B.)

7. Her family is one aunt about a thousand years old. (Sc. F.)

8. He didn't appear like the same man; then he was all milk and honey-now he was all starch and vinegar. (D.)

9. She was a giant of a woman. Her bulging figure was encased in a green crepe dress and her feet overflowed in red shoes. She carried a mammoth red pocketbook that bulged throughout as if it were stuffed with rocks. (Fl. O'C.)

10. She was very much upset by the catastrophe that had befallen the Bishops, but it was exciting, and she was tickled to death to have someone fresh to whom she could tell all about it (S. M.)

11. Babbitt's preparations for leaving the office to its feeble self during the hour and a half of his lunch-period were somewhat less elaborate than the plans for a general European War. (S. M.)

12. The little woman, for she was of pocket size, crossed her hands solemnly on her middle. (G.)

13. We danced on the handkerchief-big space between the speak-easy tables. (R.W.)

14. She wore a pink hat, the size of a button. (J. R.)

15. She was a sparrow of a woman. (Ph. L.)

16. And if either of us should lean toward the other, even a fraction of an inch, the balance would be upset. (O.W.)

17. He smiled back, breathing a memory of gin at me. (W. G.)

18. About a very small man in the Navy. This new sailor stood five feet nothing in sea boots. (Th. P.)

19. She busied herself in her midget kitchen. (Т. С.)

20. The rain had thickened, fish could have swum through the air. (T. C.)

Exercise II. Pay attention to thestylistic function of various lexical expressive means used individually and in convergence:


1. Constantinople is noisy, hot, hilly, dirty and beautiful. It is packed with uniforms and rumors. (H.)

2. Across the street a bingo parlour was going full blast; the voice of the hot dog merchant split the dusk like an axe. The big blue blared down the street. (R. Ch.)

3. "I guess," said Mr. Hiram Fish sotto voce to himself and the world at large, "that this has been a great little old week." (Ch.)

4. The good ships Law and Equity, these teak-built, copper-bottomed, iron-fastened, brazen-faced, and not by any means fast-sailing Clippers, are laid up in ordinary. (D.)

5. An enormous grand piano grinned savagely at the curtains as if it would grab them, given the chance. (W. Gl.)

6. On little pond the leaves floated in peace and praised heaven with their hues, the sunlight haunting over them.(G.)

7. From the throats of the ragged black men, as they trotted up and down the landing-stage, strange haunting notes. Words were caught up, tossed about, held in the throat. Word-lovers, sound-lovers-the blacks seemed to hold a tone in some warm place, under their red tongues perhaps. Their thick lips were walls under which the tone hid. (Sh. A.)

8. It was relief not to have to machete my way through a jungle of what-are-you-talking-aboutery before I could get at him. (J. A.)

9. Outside the narrow street fumed, the sidewalks swarmed with fat stomachs. (J. R.)

10. The owner, now at the wheel, was the essence of decent self-satisfaction; a baldish, largish, level-eyed man, rugged of neck but sleek and round of face-face like the back of a spoon bowl. (S. L.)

11. His fingertips seemed to caress the wheel as he nursed it over the dark winding roads at a mere whispering sixty. (L. Ch.)

12. We plunged in and out of sun and shadow-pools, and joy, a glad-to-be-alive exhilaration, jolted through me like a jigger of nitrogen. (Т. С.)

13. These jingling toys in his pocket were of eternal importance like baseball or Republican Party. (S. L.)


Exercise III. State the function of the following cases of morphemic repetition:

1. She unchained, unbolted and unlocked the door. (A. B.)

2. It was there again, more clearly than before: the terrible expression of pain in her eyes; unblinking, unaccepting, unbelieving pain. (D. U.)

3. We were sitting in the cheapest of all the cheap res­taurants that cheapen that very cheap and noisy street, the Rue des Petits Champs in Paris. (H.)

4. Laughing, crying, cheering, chaffing, singing, David Rossi's people brought him home in triumph. (H. C.)

5. The procession then re-formed; the chairmen resumed their stations, and the march was recommenced. (D.)

6. We are overbrave and overfearful, overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers, we're oversentimental and realistic. (P. St.)

7. There was then a calling over of names, and great work of signing, sealing, stamping, inking, and sanding, will exceedingly blurred, gritty and undecipherable results. (D.)

8. Three million years ago something had passed this way, had left this unknown and perhaps unknowable symbol оf its purpose, and had returned to the planets-or to the stars (A.C.)

9. "Sit down, you dancing, prancing, shambling, scram­bling fool parrot! Sit down!" (D.)

Exercise IV. Analyze the morphemic structure and the purpose of creating the occasional words in the following examples:

1. The girls could not take off their panama hats because this was not far from the school gates and hatlessness was an offence. (M. Sp.)

2. David, in his new grown-upness, had already a sort of authority. (I. M.)

3. That fact had all the unbelievableness of the sudden wound. (R. W.)

4. Lucy wasn't Willie's luck. Or his unluck either. (R. W.)

5. She was waiting for something to happen or for everything to un-happen. (Т. Н.)

6. "You asked him."

"I'm un-asking him," the Boss replied. (R. W.)

7. She was a young and unbeautiful woman. (I. Sh.)

8. "Mr. Hamilton, you haven't any children, have you?"

"Well, no. And I'm sorry about that, I guess. I am sorriest about that." (J. St.)

9. "To think that I should have lived to be good-morninged, by Belladonna Took's son!" (A. T.)


Reference list:

Galperin I. R. Stylistics. - Part IV. p.p. 166-177,187-189.

Kukharenko V. A. A Book of Practice in Stylistics. - p.p. 18-19; 57-58.


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