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A. INTENTIONAL MIXING OF THE STYLISTIC ASPECT OF WORDS




Heterogeneity of the component parts of the utterance is the basis for a stylistic device called b a th s. Unrelated elements are brought together as if they denoted things equal in rank or belonging to one class, as if they were of the same stylistic aspect. By being forcibly linked together, the elements acquire a slight modification of meaning. "Sooner shall heaven kiss earth(here he fell sicker)

Oh, Julia! what is every other woe? (For God's sake let me have a glass of liquor;

Pedro, Battista, help me down below) Julia, my love!(you rascal, Pedro, quicker)

Oh, Julia!(this curst vessel pitches so) Beloved Julia, hear me still beseeching!" (Here he grew inarticulate with retching.)

Such poetic expressions as 'heaven kiss earth', 'what is every other woe'; 'beloved Julia, me still beseeching' are joined in one flow of utterance with colloquial expressions'For God's .sake; you rascal; help me down below', 'this eurst vessel pitches so'. This produces an effect which serves the purpose of lowering the loftiness of expression, inasmuch as there is a sudden drop from the elevated to the commonplace or even the ridiculous.

As is seen from this example, it is not so easy to distinguish whether the device is more linguistic,or more logical. But the logical and linguistic are closely interwoven in problems of stylistics. Another example i£ the following

"But oh? ambrosial cashl Ah! who would lose thee? When we no more can use, or even abuse thee!"

("Don Juan")

Ambrosial is a poetic word meaning 'delicious', 'fragrant', /divine*. 'Cash is a common colloquial word meaning 'money', 'money that a person actually has', 'ready money'.

Whenever literary words come into collision with non-literary ones there arises incongruity, which in any style is always deliberate, inasmuch as a style presupposes a conscious selection of language means,

The following sentence from Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" illustrates with what skill the author combines elevated words and phrases and common colloquial ones in order to achieve the desired impact on the reader it being the combination of the supernatural and the ordinary.

"But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for."

The elevated ancestors, simile, unhallowed, disturb (in the now obsolete meaning of tear to pieces) are put alongside the colloquial contraction the Country's (the country is) and the colloquial done for.

This device is a very subtle one and not always discernible even to

an experienced literary critic, to say nothing of the rank-and-file read-

er. The difficulty lies first of all in the inability of the inexperienced

reader to perceive the incongruity of the component parts of the utterance.

Byron often uses bathos, for example,

"They grieved for those who perished with the cutter And also for the biscuit-casks and butter."

^ copulative conjunction and as well as the adverb also suggest the homogeneity of the concepts those wfio perished and biscuit-casks and butter. The people who perished are placed on the same level as the biscuits and butter lost at the same time. This arrangement may lead to at least two inferences:

1) for the survivors the loss of food was as tragic as the loss of friends who perished in the shipwreck;

2) the loss of food was even more disastrous, hence the elevated grieved ... for food.

It must be born in mind, however, that this interpretation of the subtle stylistic device employed here is prompted by purely linguistic analysis: the verbs to grieve and to perish, which are elevated in connotation, are more appropriate when used to refer to people and are out of place when used to refer to food. The eyery-day-life- cares and worries overshadow the grief for the dead, or at least are put on the same level. The verb to grieve, when used In reference to both the people who perished and the food which was lost, weakens, as it were, the effect of the first and strengthens the effect of the second.

The implications and inferences drawn from a detailed and meticulous analysis of language, means and, stylistic devices can draw additional information from the communication. This kind of implied meaning is derived not directly from the words but from a much finer analysis called supralinear or sup raseg mental.

Almost of the same kind are the following lines, also fram Byron:

"Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter, Sermons and soda-water the day after."

Again we have incongruity of concepts caused by the heterogeneity of the conventionally paired classes of things in the first line and the alliterated unconventional pair in the second line. It needs no proof

that the words sermons and soda-water are used metonymically here signifying 'repentance' and 'sickness' correspondingly. The decoded form of this utterance will thus be: "Let us now enjoy ourselves in spite of consequences." But the most significant item in the linguistic analysis here will, of course, be the identical formal structure of the pairs 1. wine and women; 2. mirth and laughter and 3. sermons and soda-water. The second pair consists of words so closely related that they may be considered almost synonymous. This affects the last pair and makes the words sermons and soda-water sound as if they were as closely related as the words in the first two pairs. A deeper insight into the author's intention may lead the reader to interpret them as a tedious but unavoidable remedy for the sins committed.

Byron especially favours the device of bathos in his "Don Juan." Almost every stanza contains ordinarily unconnected concepts linked together by a coordinating conjunction and producing a mocking effect or a realistic approach to those phenomena of life which imperatively demand recognition, no matter how elevated the subject-matter may be.

Here are other illustrations from this epoch-making poem:

"heaviness of heart or rather stomach;"

"There's nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms

As rum and true religion"

"...his tutor and his spaniel"

"who loved philosophy and a good dinner"

"I cried upon my first wife's dying day And also when my second ran away"

We have already pointed out the peculiarity of the device, that it is half linguistic, half logical. But the linguistic side becomes especially conspicuous when there is a combination of stylistically heterogeneous words and phrases. Indeed, the juxtaposition of highly literary norms of expression and words or phrases that must be classed as non-literary, sometimes low colloquial or even vulgar, will again undoubtedly produce a stylistic effect, and when decoded, will contribute to the content of the utterance, often adding an element of humour. Thus, for instance, the following from Somerset Maugham's "The Hour before Dawn": ^ v

"'Will you oblige me by keeping your trap shut, darling?' he retorted."

The device is frequently presented in the structural model which we shall call heterogeneous enumeration (see p. 216).




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