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Lecture 4: Lexical Stylistic Devices

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default Lecture 4: Lexical Stylistic Devices

Post by log on Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:36 pm

Lecture 4: Lexical Stylistic Devices
1. Interaction of primary dictionary and contextually imposed meanings
2. Interaction of primary and derivative logical meanings
3. Interaction of logical and emotive meanings
4. Interaction of logical and nominal meanings
5. Intensification of a certain feature of a thing or phenomenon
6. Peculiar use of set expressions.
Words in a context may acquire additional lexical meanings not fixed in the dictionaries, what we have called contextual meanings. The latter may sometimes deviate from the dictionary meaning to such a degree that the new meaning even becomes the opposite of the primary meaning. What is known in linguistics as transferred meaning is practically the interrelation between two types of lexical meaning: dictionary and contextual.
The transferred meaning of a word may be fixed in dictionaries as a result of long and frequent use of the word other than in its primary meaning. In this case we register a derivative meaning of the word. Hence the term transferred should be used signifying the development of the semantic structure of the word. In this case we do not perceive two meanings. When we perceive two meanings of the word simultaneously, we are confronted with a stylistic device in which the two meanings interact.
Classification of Lexical Stylistic Devices
There are 3 groups.
1. The interaction of different types of lexical meaning.
a) primary dictionary and contextually imposed meanings (metaphor, metonymy, irony);
b) primary and derivative logical meanings (zeugma and pun);
c) logical and emotive (epithet, oxy’moron);
d) logical and nominative (antonomasia);
2. Intensification of a feature (simile, hyperbole, periphrasis).
3. Peculiar use of set expressions (clichés, proverbs, epigram, quotations).
I. The Interaction of Different Types of Lexical Meaning
1. Interaction of Dictionary and Contextually Imposed Meaning
The relation between dictionary and contextual meanings may be maintained along different lines: on the principle of affinity, on that of proximity, or symbol - referent relations, or on opposition. Thus the stylistic device based on the first principle is metaphor, on the second, metonymy and on the third, irony
A metaphor is a relation between the dictionary and contextual logical meanings based on the affinity or similarity of certain properties or features of the two corresponding concepts. Metaphor is the power of realizing two lexical meanings simultaneously. Metaphor can be embodied in all the meaningful parts of speech, in nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and sometimes even in the auxiliary parts of speech, as in prepositions. Metaphor as any stylistic devices can be classified according to their degree of unexpectedness. Thus metaphors which are absolutely unexpected, are quite unpredictable, are called genuine metaphors. e. g. Through the open window the dust danced and was golden. Those which are commonly used in speech and are sometimes fixed in the dictionaries as expressive means of language are trite metaphors or dead metaphors e. g. a flight of fancy, floods of tears.
Trite metaphors are sometimes injected with new vigour, their primary meaning is re-established alongside the new derivative meaning. This is done by supplying the central image created by the metaphor with additional words bearing some reference to the main word. e. g. Mr. Pickwick bottled up his vengeance and corked it down.
The verb " to bottle up " is explained as " to keep in check", to conceal, to restrain, repress. So the metaphor can be hardly felt. But it is revived by the direct meaning of the verb "to cork down". Such metaphors are called sustained or prolonged. Stylistic function of a metaphor is to make the description concrete, to express the individual attitude.
Metonymy is based on a different type of relation between the dictionary and contextual meanings, a relation based not on affinity, but on some kind of association connecting the two concepts which these meanings represent on a proximity
The proximity may be revealed:
1) between the symbol and the thing it denotes;
2) in the relations between the instrument and the action performed with this instrument;
e.g. His pen is rather sharp.
3) in the relation between the container and the thing it contains; e.g. He drank one more cup.
4) the concrete is put for the abstract;
e. g. It was a representative gathering (science, politics).
5) a part is put for the whole;
e.g. the crown - king, a hand - worker.
Metonymy represents the events of reality in its subjective attitude. Metonymy in many cases is trite.
e.g.:" to earn one's bread", "to keep one's mouth shut".
Irony is a stylistic device also based on the simultaneous realization of two logical meanings - dictionary and contextual, but the two meanings are in opposition to each other. The literal meaning is the opposite of the intended meaning. One thing is said and the other opposite is implied.
e.g. Nice weather, isn't it? (on a rainy day).
2. Interaction of Primary and Derivative Logical Meanings
There are special SDs which make a word materialize distinct dictionary meanings. They are zeugma and the pun. Zeugma is the use of a word in the same grammatical but different semantic relations to two adjacent words in the context, the semantic relations being on the one hand literal, and on the other, transferred. e. g. Dora, plunging at once into privileged intimacy and into the middle of the room.
Zeugma is a strong and effective device to maintain the purity of the primary meaning when two meanings clash. The pun is another S.D. based on the interaction of two well-known meanings of a word or a phrase. It is difficult to draw a hard and fast distinction between zeugma and pun. The only reliable distinguishing feature is a structural one: zeugma is the realization of two meanings with the help of a verb which is made to refer to different subjects or objects ( direct and indirect). The pun is more independent. Like any S.D. it must depend on a context. But the context may be of a more expanded character, sometimes even as large as a whole work of emotive prose.
e.g.- Did you miss my lecture ?
- Not at all.
Pun seems to be more varied and resembles zeugma in its humourous effect only.
3. Interaction of Logical and Emotive Meaning
Interjections and Exclamatory Words Interjections 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. In traditional grammars the interjection is regarded as a part of speech. But there is another view which regards the interjection as a sentence.
However a close investigation proves that interjection is a word with strong emotive meaning.
e. g. Oh, where are you going to, all you Big Steamers?
The interjection oh, by itself may express various feelings such as regret, despair, disappointment, sorrow, surprise and many others. Interjections can be divided into primary and derivative. Primary interjections are generally devoid of any logical meaning. Interjections such as: Heavens! Good gracious! God knows! Bless me! are exclamatory words generally used as interjections. It must be noted that some adjectives and adverbs can also take on the function of interjections - such as terrible! awfully! great! wonderful! splendid! These adjectives acquire strong emotional colouring and are equal in force to interjections.
The epithet is based on the interplay of emotive and logical meaning in an attributive word, phrase or even sentence, used to characterize an object and pointing out to the reader some of the properties or features of the object with the aim of giving an individual perception and evaluation of these features or properties.
Classification of Epithets
From the point of view of their compositional structure epithets may be divided into:
1) simple (adjectives, nouns, participles): e.g. He looked at them in animal panic.
2) compound: e.g. apple - faced man;
3) sentence and phrase epithets: e.g. It is his do - it - yourself attitude.
4) reversed epithets - composed of 2 nouns linked by an ofphrase: e.g. "a shadow of a smile";
Semantically according to I. Galperin.
1) associated with the noun following it, pointing to a feature which is essential to the objects they describe: dark forest; careful attention.
2) unassociated with the noun, epithets that add a feature which is unexpected and which strikes the reader: smiling sun, voiceless sounds.
Oxymoron is a combination of two words in which the meaning is opposite in sense.
e. g. speaking silence, cold fire, living death.
Close to oxymoron is paradox - a statement that is absurd on the surface. e.g. War is peace. The worse - the better.
Trite oxymoron. e.g. Awfully beautiful.
If the primary meaning of qualifying word changes the stylistic effect of oxymoron is lost. In oxymoron the logical meaning holds fast because there is no true word combination.
4. Interaction of Logical and Nominative Meaning
Antonomasia. It is the result of interaction between logical and nominal meaning of a word.
1) When the proper name of a person, who is famous for some reasons, is put for a person having the same feature.
e.g. Her husband is an Othello.
2) A common noun is used instead of a proper name, e. g. I agree with you Mr. Logic, e.g. My Dear Simplicity.
5. Intensification of a Feature
Simile. The intensification of some feature of the concept is realized in a device called simile. Similes set one object against another regardless of the fact that they may be completely alien to each other. The simile gives rise to a new understanding of the object. The properties of an object maybe viewed from different angles, f. e. its state, its actions, manners Accordingly, similes may be based on adjective - attributes, adverb - modifiers, verb - predicates etc.
Similes have formal elements in their structure: connective words such as like, as, such as, as if, seem.
Periphrasis - is a round - about way of speaking used to name some object or phenomenon. Longer-phrase is used instead of a shorter one. Some periphrasis are traditional.
e. g. The fair sex.
My better half.
Periphrasis are divided into:
1. Logical - based on inherent properties of a thing.
e. g. Instrument of destruction, the object of administration.
2. Figurative - based on imagery: metaphor, metonymy
e. g. To tie a knot - to get married; in disgrace of fortune - bad luck.
Euphemism is used to avoid some unpleasant things, or taboo things.
e. g. To pass away - to die.
Hyperbole is deliberate overstatement or exaggeration, the aim of which is to intensify one of the features of the object in question to such a degree as to show its utter absurdity. Like many SDs, hyperbole may lose its quality as a SD through frequent repetition and become a unit of the language as a system, reproduced in speech in its unaltered from. Here there are some examples:
e. g. A thousand pardons, scared to death, immensely obliged.
Hyperbole is a device which sharpens the reader's ability to make a logical assessment of the utterance. This is achieved, as in case with other devices, by awakening the dichotomy of thought and feeling where thought takes the upper hand though not to the detriment of feeling.
6. Peculiar Use of Set Expressions
The Cliché
A cliché is generally defined as an expression that has become hackneyed and trite. It has lost its precise meaning by constant reiteration: in other words it has become stereotyped. Cliché is a kind of stable word combination which has become familiar and which has been accepted as a unit of a language
e. g. rosy dreams of youth, growing awareness.
Proverbs are short, well-known, supposedly wise sayings, usually in simple language.
e.g. Never say never. You can't get blood of a stone.
Proverbs are expressions of culture that are passed from generation to generation. They are words of wisdom of culture- lessons that people of that culture want their children to learn and to live by. They are served as some symbols, abstract ideas. Proverbs are usually dedicated and involve imagery. e.g. Out of sight, out of mind.
Epigram is a short clever amusing saying or poem. e.g. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Quotation is a phrase or sentence taken from a work of literature or other piece of writing and repeated in order to prove a point or support an idea. They are marked graphically: by inverted commas: dashes, italics.
Allusion is an indirect reference, by word or phrase, to a historical. literary, mythological fact or to a fact of everyday life made in the course of speaking or writing. The use of allusion presupposes knowledge of the fact, thing oк person alluded to on the part of the reader or listener.

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