English Grammar

Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices

There are three big subdivisions in this class of devices and they all deal with the semantic natureof a word or phrase.

I. Interaction of different types of a word’s meanings: dictionary, contextual, derivative, nominal, and emotive.

A interplay of dictionary and contextual meanings

B interaction of primary and derivative meanings

C opposition of logical and emotive meanings

D interaction of logical and nominal meanings

II. Interaction between two lexical meanings simultaneous­ly materialized in the context

III. Stable word combinations in their interaction with the context

I. In the first subdivision the principle of classification is the interac­tion of different types of a word’s meanings: dictionary, contextual, derivative, nominal, and emotive.The stylistic effect of the lexical means is achieved through the binary opposition of dictionary and contextual or logical and emotive or primary and derivative meanings of a word.

A. The first group includes means based on the interplay of dictionary and contextual meanings:

1. Metaphor

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.

The metaphor is a well-known semantic way of building new meanings and new words. The metaphor is one of the most powerful means of creating images. This is its main function.

Some linguists regard metaphors as hidden or implied similes. But metaphors differ from similes both structurally and semantically. Structurally there is no formal element to indicate comparison, e.g.:

Example 1.

The old woman (1) is sly (2) like (3) a fox (4). (simile)

The old woman (1) is a fox (2). (metaphor)

The old fox (1) deceived us. (metaphor).

(The missing elements can be supplied).

Semantically simile is more definite. It clearly points the ground of comparison while metaphor suggests some features.

Example 2: Life’s got a lot of dangerous comers: (Life = street; here we deal with implied comparison).

Metaphor can suggest:

– a visual image (sea of troubles, the light was dying from her face);

– sound images (nature’s voices; the whispering of the river);

– temperature sensations (a flame seemed to burn the heart);

– visual sensation may merge with auditory sensations and the quality perceived by eyes is transferred upon perception through ears (a warm colour, a sharp colour; cold light, soft words).

Metaphors can be called deviations from conventional collocation or word combination., e.g.:

Example 3: The last colours of sunset were dripping over the edge of the flat world. (Drip denotes liquids while the sun isn’t liquid, so the sun in combination with dripping produces a deviation from conventional collocation.)

Metaphors can be simple and extended (prolonged, sustained). Simple metaphors may be presented by a word or a group of words.

Metaphor can be expressed by all the meaningful parts of speech – nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc.

a) the adjective – Example 4: “The human tide is rolling westward.» (Dickens, «Dombey and Son»);

b) the verb – Example 5: «In the slanting beams that streamed through the open window, the dust danced and was golden». (O. Wilde, «The Picture of Dorian Gray»)

с) the adverb – Example 6: «The leaves fell sorrowfully».

Metaphors can be classified according to their degree of unexpectedness.

Thus metaphors which are absolutely unexpected, i.e. are quite unpredictable, are called genuine (or poetic, stylistic). They are regarded as belonging to language-in­action, i.e. speech metaphors. The examples given above may serve as illustrations of genuine metaphors.

Metaphors which are commonly used in speech and are sometimes even fixed in dictionaries as expressive means of language are trite or dead metaphors.

Their predictability is apparent. Trite or dead metaphors belong to the language-as-a-system, i.e. language proper. They are time-worn and well rubbed into the language.

Example 7: a ray of hope; floods of tears, a storm of indignation; a flight of fancy; a shadow of smile and the like.

Genuine metaphors are mostly to be found in poetry and emotive prose.

Trite metaphors are generally used as expressive means in newspaper articles, in oratorical style and even in scientific language.

2. Metonymy

Metonymy is also based upon analogy. There is an objective relationship between the object named and the object implied, a relation based on association connecting the 2 concepts which these meanings represent.

Thus crown may stand for “king or queen”, cup or glass for “the drink it contains; hand is used for a worker; grave stands for «death», the press for «the personnel connected with it» or for «printing and publishing establishment», or for «the newspaper and periodical literature which is printed by the printing press». The bench stands for «magistrates and justices», etc.

Metonymy used in language-in-action or speech; i.e. contextual metonymy, is genuine metonymy. It reveals a quite unexpected substitution of one word’ for another on the ground of some strong impression produced by a chance feature of a thing.

The most common types of relation of metonymy are based upon are as follows:

1) an abstract noun stands for a concrete one. Example 7: Labour demonstrated in the streets (=workers)

2) The container stands for the thing contained. Example 8: The hall applauded. The kettle boiled.

3) The relation of proximity (близость). Example 9: The round game table was boisterous and happy.

4) The material stands for the thing made of it. Example 10: The marble spoke.

5) The instrument stands for its bearer. Example 11: Friends, Romans and countrymen, lend me your ears!

6) The result stands for the cause. Example 12: The fish desperately takes the death. (takes the hook).

7) The cause stands for the result. Example 13: He lives by his pen only (writing).

8) The characteristic feature stands for its bearer. Example 14: She took a long mournful look at Granma’s blackness and at Fenella’s black coat.

9) The symbol stands for the thing signified. Example 15: England sucked the blood of other countries, destroyed the brains and hearts of Irishmen, and Hindus, and Boers (economics, intellectual richness, arts are meant here).

10) The name of the creator stands for his creation, instrument or invention. Example 16: We came into possession of a whole Shakespeare.

11) The name of a place stands for an object. Example 17: I collect old China.

12) The list is in no way complete. There are many other types of relation metonymy is based upon.

Synecdoche is a specific kind of metonymic relationship – a qualitative one where a part stands for a whole, the singular stands for the plural, e.g.: a Red Hat; Example 18: I want to live with the wolf and the owl (I want to live in the wood).

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