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Tropes. Figure of quality

Trope is a rhetorical figure of speech that consists of a play on words, i.e. using a word in a way other than what is considered its literal or normal form. Tropes comes from the Greek word “tropos” which means a “turn”. We can imagine a trope as a way of turning a word away from its normal meaning, or turning it into something else.

Tropesinclude: epithet, metaphor, metonymy, oxymoron, periphrasis, personification, simile, etc.

Epithetis an adj. or an adjective phrase appropriately qualifying a subject (noun) by naming a key or important characteristic of the subject.

Semantics-oriented epithet classification by prof. I.Screbnev: 1. metaphorical epithet (lazy road, ragged noise, унылая пора), 2. Metonymical (brainy fellow), 3. Ironic.

Structural characteristics of epithets: 1. Preposition, one-word epithet (a nice way); 2. Postposition, one-word or hyperbation (the eyes watchful); 3. Two-step (immensely great); 4. Phrase (a go-to-hell look); 5. Inverted (a brute of a dog, a monster of a man).

Oxymoron is a combination of two semantically contradictory notions, that help to emphasise contradictory qualities simultaneously existing in the described phenomenon as a dialectical unity (V.A.Kucharenko). e.g. ”low skyscraper”, “sweet sorrow”, “nice rascal”, “pleasantly ugly face”.

Periphrasisis a device which, according to Webster’s dictionary, denotes the use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter and plainer form of expression. e.g. The lamp-lighter made his nightly failure in attempting to brighten up the street with gas. \[= lit the street lamps\] (Dickens)

Personification is a metaphor that involves likeness between inanimate and animate objects (V.A.Kucharenko). e.g. ”the face of London”, “the pain of ocean”;

Simile is an imaginative comparison of two unlike objects belonging to two different classes on the grounds of similarity of some quality (V.A. Kucharenko).e.g. She is like a rose.

Figures of Replacement (Tropes)are divided into two classes:

Figures of quantitywhich are hyperbole or overstatement, i.e. exaggeration and meiosis or understatement, i.e. weakening.

Figures of qualitywhich are metonymy, metaphor, irony.

Figures of quality

Metaphor is a transference of names based on the associated likeness between two objects, on the similarity of one feature common to two different entities, on possessing one common characteristic, on linguistic semantic nearness, on a common component in their semantic structures. e.g. ”pancake” for the “sun” (round, hot, yellow); e.g. ”silver dust” and “sequins” for “stars”

Metonymyis a transference of names based on contiguity (nearness), on extralinguistic, actually existing relations between the phenomena (objects), denoted by the words, on common grounds of existence in reality but different semantic (V.A.Kucharenko). e.g. ”cup” and “tea” in “Will you have another cup?”;

Irony is astylistic device in which the contextual evaluative meaning of a word is directly opposite to its dictionary meaning. The context is arranged so that the qualifying word in irony reverses the direction of the evaluation, and the word positively charged is understood as a negative qualification and (much-much rarer) vice versa. The context varies from the minimal – a word combination to the context of a whole book. e.g. It must be delightful to find oneself in a foreign country without a penny in one’s pocket.

Irony can be of three kinds: verbal irony isa type of irony when it is possible to indicate the exact word whose contextual meaning diametrically opposes its dictionary meaning, in whose meaning we can trace the contradiction between the said and implied (e.g. She turned with the sweet smile of an alligator. (J.Steinbeck) (V.A. Kucharenko); Dramatik irony happens when a reader or viewer knows more information that a character in book or in a movie; Situational irony is a kind of joke that is against you or situation.


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