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As shown above, we distinguish between three types of transfer of names:

a) transfer by contiguity;

b) transfer by similarity;

c) transfer by contrast.


a) Transfer by contiguity is based upon a real connection between the
two objects: that which is named and that the name of which is taken.
Saying, for instance, I was followed by a pair of heavy boots, we do not
mean animate boots following the speaker, but something qualitatively
different, though connected with the boots — a man wearing those boots.

b) Transfer by similarity is based on likeness (common features) of the
two, there being no actual connection between them. In the sentence The
reception was cold
we resort to this type of transfer. There is no connection
between people's attitude and temperature, there is only resemblance here:
a cold reception affects our mood in much the same way as cold weather
affects our bodies.

c) Transfer by contrast is the use of words, phrases, sentences and
complete texts with implied meanings that are directly opposite to those
which are primary, traditional, collectively accepted. This trope is not
infrequently used when we pretend to praise somebody or something
instead of directly expressing the opposite opinion: A fine friend you are.';
That's a pretty kettle of fish!

The reader is now familiar with the terms: renaming by contiguity is metonymy, transfer by similarity is metaphor; transfer by contrast is irony. The tropes are further treated individually.

Metonymy. This is applying the name of an object to another object that is in some way connected with the first.

Whenever we say something like The kettle is boiling or The gallery applauded, we do not actually mean the vessel or the theatre balcony, but what is connected with them: the water, or the spectators. The thought is thus concretized and its expression shortened (cf.: the water in the kettle, the spectators in the gallery).

Metonymy is widely used as an expressive device visualizing the ideas discussed, but the above examples have no expressive force. Like many others (/ am fond of Dickens; I collect old china and the like) they are instances of " etymological" metonymy (of the kind that belongs to our everyday stock of words and expressions). Such cases of metonymy are dealt with in lexicology. They are part of language; we cannot say they are used to impart any special force to linguistic expression.

But other varieties of metonymy, namely, those concerning human emotions, have expressive force even though they may not be new cre­ations, but rather stereotyped, traditional ones. When Alfred Tennyson says She is coming, my life, my fate, he does not make a discovery, yet the poet's feelings are vividly characterized. A century later, the Russian poet Mikhail Isakovsky wrote something similar to Tennyson's lines: "... за рекой в поселке моя любовь, моя судьба живет."

Expressive metonymy is used by another writer in his description of how the fish desperately takes the death, instead of saying that it snaps at the fish-hook.

Types of metonymy-forming interrelations of two objects are mani­fold. E.g., they may be:

Names of tools instead of names of actions —

" Give every man thine ear and few thy voice." (Shakespeare) Consequence instead of cause — the above example with the fish-hook. Characteristic feature of the object —

" Blue suit grinned, might even have winked. But big nose in the grey suit still stared." (Priestley)

Symbol instead of object symbolized — crown for king or queen. This enumeration could be continued indefinitely. A few further il­lustrations:

The first of the two examples to follow, taken from the same book, is traditional and transparent, the second is not so obvious and more difficult to classify:

" We smiled at each other, but we didn't speak because there were ears all around us." (Chase)

'" Save your breath, ' I said. 'I know exactly what you have been thinking.'" (Chase)

Here, saving one's breath implies abstaining from speech. The following example demonstrates a still more elaborate and remote implication:

"... he didn't realize it, but he was about a sentence away from needing plastic surgery." (Clifford)


The implication is: if he had gone on talking, if he had uttered another sentence, he would have been beaten up, and his face disfigured so as to need plastic surgery.

A similar 'consequence' metonymy, characterizing the potential of Joe's aggressive fists is used in the following microdialogue: " Did he say where he was going? "

" No. He paid his rent and beat it. You don't ask Joe questions unless you want a new set of teeth." (Clifford)

Sometimes the metonymic essence of a sentence is discernible only because of the context. Thus the sentence The walk to the hotel seemed endless (Chandler) does not make any special sense if one does not know that the character was mortally afraid of those who were taking him to the hotel.

Two examples of metonymic epithets. She lives at an expensive address (Christie) implies the fact that the address is in a fashionable part of the city where the rent is very high. E. McBain in his Eighty Million Eyes uses the phrase armchair detection in which the epithet discloses the methods used by the detective, who sits in his armchair and ponders over the possible versions.

Synecdoche. The term denotes the simplest kind of metonymy: using the name of a part to denote the whole or vice versa. A typical example of traditional (stereotyped) synecdoche is the word hands used instead of the word worker(s) (Hands wanted) or sailors (All hands on deck!). See also expressions like a hundred head of cattle. Here, a part stands for the whole. The same in the use of the singular (the so-called generis singular) when the plural (the whole class) is meant — this is observed in cases like A student is expected to know... (or: The student...).

" Wherever the kettledrums were heard, the peasant (= all the peasants) threw his bag of rice on his shoulder, tied his small sav­ings in his girdle, and fled with his wife and children to the mountains or the jungles, and the milder neighbourhood of the hyena and the tiger (= of hyenas and tigers)." (Macaulay) The opposite type of synecdoche (" the whole for a part") occurs when the name of the genus is used in place of the name of the species, as in Stop torturing the poor animall (instead of... the poor dogl); or when the 'plural of disapprobation' is resorted to: Reading books when I am talking to you\ (actually, one cannot read more than one book at a time).

Periphrasis. This does not belong with the tropes, for it is not a transfer (renaming), yet this way of identifying the object of speech is related to metonymy. Periphrasis is a description of what could be named directly; it is naming the characteristic features of the object instead of naming the object itself. What helps to differentiate periphrasis from metonymy

is that the former cannot be expressed by one linguistic unit (one word): it always consists of more than one word. Thus, calling an exciting book a thriller, the speaker uses a trite (stereotyped) metonymy; calling it, however, two hundred pages of blood-curdling narrative, he uses periphrasis.

This device always demonstrates redundancy of lingual elements. Its stylistic effect varies from elevation to humour. Writers of past epochs employed periphrasis a great deal, seeing in it a more elegant and eu­phemistic manner of expression than in " calling a spade a spade" (let it be mentioned here in passing that anti-euphemists — those who are against hypocrisy — proclaim: " I never call a spade a spade, I call it a bloody shovel"). Cowper characterizes tea as the cups that cheer, but not inebriate. Dickens pompously calls lies told by one of his characters alterations and improvements on the truth. In the same novel (Oliver Twist) he abstains from quoting the exact words of another criminal character:

" What do you mean by this? " said Sikes, backing his inquiry with a very common imprecation concerning the most beautiful of human features."

He who knows English sufficiently and is familiar with the Puritan morality of the nineteenth century banning words that seem quite tolerable in our day, will easily guess Sikes' imprecation: Damn your eyes! Agatha Christie resorts sometimes to what might be called here " periphrasis proclaimed": she warns the reader that she is intentionally euphemistic:

" Major Burnaby was doing his accounts or — to use a more Dickens-like phrase — he was looking into his affairs."

" Pearson had apparently before now occasionally borrowed money — to use a euphemism — from his farm — I may say without their knowledge."

In twentieth century prose, periphrasis often carries a humoristic load. Besides the two examples adduced, here is a mention in another detective novel of a man shouting some choice Anglo-Saxon phrases at the policeman. The phrases were surely indecent.

The greatest American short-story writer of the beginning of this century, O. Henry, is famous for his paradoxical descriptions. One would hardly exaggerate saying that all his texts are applied stylistics; they abound in original stylistic devices, periphrasis not excluded:

" Delia was studying under Rosenstock — you know his repute as a disturber of the piano keys (= as a pianist)... Delia did things in six octaves so promisingly..." (= played the piano so well...). " Up Broadway he turned and halted at a glittering cafe, where


are gathered together nightly the choicest products of the grape, the silkworm, and the protoplasm" (= the best wine, dresses, people).

" And then, to the waiter he betrayed the fact that the minutest coin and himself were strangers" (= that he did not have a single coin; that he had no money at all).

Metaphor. This term (originally applied indiscriminately to any kind of transfer) denotes expressive renaming on the basis of similarity of two objects: the real object of speech and the one whose name is actually used. But there is only affinity, no real connection between the two.

As they are disconnected, to find features in common, the speaker must search for associations in his own mind, that is not as is the case with metonymy, where both objects lie before our eyes. Hence, we may assume that the creation of a metaphor requires a greater intellectual effort on the part of the speaker: here, he does not use the name of what is open to his view, but the name of that which he has somewhere in the stock of his experience. Metaphor seems, therefore, to be a more essential shift (change of semantic planes) than is observed in metonymy; it presupposes a more conspicuous disparity between the traditionally practiced and the virtual use of the name of the thing (process, phenomenon, relation, etc.). Thus, in a hundred head of cattle (metonymy) the equation a head = an animal demonstrates what is evident without any previous experience. In the next example, however, — Head of Government (metaphor) — the equation is replaced by a proportion: 'the principal, leading, commanding member of Government performs similar functions with regard to the latter as does a head to its body'. The difference seems clear enough; the drawback of the second example is that it deals with the notion of head that has a metonymic tinge about it as long as we deal with humans or animals.

A more appropriate example is film-star. There is obviously no connection between a star and a renowned actress (actor). What unites the two notions is identity of some characteristic features: both are out­standing, conspicuous, seen by everyone, known to all, placed higher than others. If we went on to say both are luminous against the background of obscurity, we should be using another metaphor.

The expressions Head of Government, film-star, as well as many others (foot of a hill, bottle's neck, leg of a table, needle's eye, etc.) disclose the essence of metaphor, but are of little or no interest for stylistics, since they are everybody's goods, part of the common vocabulary, no more than 'etymological' metaphors: there are no other names for what is called nowadays needle's eye or leg of a piano. As for the last example, it reminds us of the prudish nineteenth-century ladies of Boston, who avoided using words referring to sinful human flesh and exciting frivolous thoughts:

instead of legs of the piano they said euphemistically limbs of the piano; their own legs were referred to as benders; body was replaced by waist.

Metaphor then (or metaphorical renaming) is not only an effective stylistic device (examples will be discussed later on), but also a common lingual means of occasional denomination. Whenever a speaker does not know the name of a thing he has not seen before, he generally resorts to a metaphor, using a word (expression) which denotes a similar thing, a thing familiar to him. Similarity on which metaphorical renaming is based may concern any property of the thing meant. It may be colour, form, character of motion, speed, dimensions, value, and so on, that show a resemblance. Sometimes a nonce denomination becomes generally accepted (see examples above) and comes to be traditional, hardly ever to be noticed by language users.

Stylistics deals preferably with 'living', expressive metaphors either trite (stereotyped, hackneyed), i.e. ready-made and only reproduced by the speaker, or newly-created, fresh, helping to visualize the picture. Trite metaphors, and still more fresh ones, affect our imagination. The general stylistic function of a living metaphor is not a mere nomination of the object in question, but rather its expressive characterization.

Trite (ready-made) metaphors are expressions, originally created in poetry, in the Bible, in imaginative prose, that have gained wide currency, and become known to everybody. Their expressive force has been partly obliterated, but not lost altogether: they would not be used otherwise.

Examples of trite metaphors are expressions like seeds (roots) of evil, a flight of (the) imagination, to burn with desire. Many of them are set phrases: to fish for compliments, to prick up one's ears, the apple of one's eye, and others. Special calculations undertaken by the present author5 have shown that over 30% of set phrases in English are metaphors.6

Trite metaphors are made use of in the following instances:

" I suppose, " said Suzanne doubtfully, " that we're not barking up the wrong tree [= here not accusing an innocent person]?... (Christie)

" Pat and I were chewing the rag about it (= were chatting about it) when the telephone bell on Pat's desk came alive (= rang)." (Chase)

" What's bitingher, I wonder? " (Chase) The implication is: what makes her uneasy.

" How about playing the game with the cards face up, " Bolan suggested. (Pendelton)

The implication is: how about speaking sincerely? Two fresh metaphors follow here, although one cannot be sure whether the expressions were created by the writer, and not borrowed by him from someone else.

" Only briefly did I pay heed to the warning bell (= the feeling of alarm) that rang sharply in my mind. You're fooling with Aitken's wife, I told myself... You could regret it the rest of your life." (Chase)

" If Aitken found out about us the New York job would go up in smoke" (= every chance of getting the New York job would be lost). (Chase)

Metaphor has no formal limitations: it can be a word, a phrase, any part of a sentence, or a sentence as a whole. Moreover, there are not only 'simple' metaphors, i.e. those in which only one statement is metaphorical as a whole, or contains a metaphorical element (word, phrase), but 'sustained' metaphors as well. The latter occur whenever one metaphorical statement, creating an image, is followed by another, containing a continuation, or logical development of the previous metaphor. Thus, in the following extract from The Last Leaf by O. Henry we can see a detailed account of the mischief done by cold to the poor of New York:

" In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores... Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman..."

This sustained metaphor is a sample of personification (see the next section). Another example:

" This is a day of your golden opportunity, Sarge. Don't let it turn to brass." (Pendelton)

The admonition has at least two meanings. Turning gold (= golden opportunity) to brass is bad luck by itself. But the speaker also has in view the colloquial meaning of the word brass — 'insolence, impudence'; he (a police lieutenant) urges the sergeant (Sarge) to stop being insolent and to confess his crime.

A sustained metaphor (chain of metaphors) may consist of trite metaphors expressing or implying a certain logical development of ideas, and yet the objects mentioned in each of them pertain to different semantic spheres, due to which the links of the chain seem disconnected with one another. The general impression is incongruous, clumsy and comical. This phenomenon — incongruence of the parts of a sustained metaphor — is called catachresis (or mixed metaphors).

See an illustration in German:

" Der Zahn der Zeit, der schon manche Trane getrocknet, wird auch iiber diese Wunde Grass wachsen lassen." 7

In English:

" The Tooth of Time, which has already dried many a tear, will let the grass grow over this painful wound."

The expression tooth of time implies that time, like a greedy tooth, devours everything, makes everything disappear or be forgotten.

Another example, belonging to Agatha Christie (although she puts it into the mouth of Hercules Poirot, a Belgian by birth, who knows English very well):

" For somewhere, " said Poirot to himself, indulging in an abso­lute riot of mixed metaphors, " there is in the hay a needle, and among the sleeping dogs there is one on whom I shall put my foot, and by shooting the arrow into the air, one will come down and hit a glass-house! "

The incongruous metaphors in this monologue refer to well-known sayings, proverbs, and quotations: to look for a needle in a haystack; to let sleeping dogs lie; to put one's foot down; I shot an arrow into the air (Longfellow); People who live in glass-houses shouldn't throw stones.

Allusion. The example just discussed could also be regarded as a set of allusions. The term allusion denotes a special variety of metaphor. As the very meaning of the word shows, allusion is a brief reference to some literary or historical event commonly known. The speaker (writer) need not be explicit about what he means: he merely mentions some detail of what he thinks analogous in fiction or history to the topic discussed. Of course, the educational level of the listener (reader) is expected to be sufficient to grasp the real sense of the message. The author of the following lines, J.H. Chase, has no doubt his reader is acquainted with one of the most famous of Shakespeare's plays:

" If the International paid well, Aitken took good care he got his pound of flesh..." (Chase)

The meaning of the allusion is: "... would do anything to his victim to get what had been granted him by the contract." To understand it one would have to recall Shakespeare's Shylock, a usurer in The Merchant of Venice who lends Antonio three thousand ducats for three months on condition that on expiration of the term, if the money is not paid back, Shylock is entitled, as he says to Antonio, to " an equal pound of your (Antonio's) fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me".

" Allusions, " I.R. Galperin aptly remarks, " are based on the accu­mulated experience and knowledge of the writer who presupposes a similar experience and knowledge in the reader." 8


the detached segment and lays special stress on it. As a result of this, the word (phrase) appears to be opposed to the rest of the sentence — to what precedes it and follows it. Hence, the detached part is underlined as something specially important. From the viewpoint of communicative syntax, it acquires a 'rheme-like' status — it becomes 'semi-com­municative', not just nominative.

In writing and in print, detached parts are separated from the rest of the sentence by punctuation marks (mostly by commas or dashes). Unusual placement in the sentence (inversion — see above) is also a sure sign of detachment.

The general stylistic effect of detachment is strengthening, empha­sizing the word (or phrase) in question. Besides, detachment imparts additional syntactical meanings to the word or phrase. The second of the following two sentences comprises a detached phrase which can be qualified as an adverbial modifier of concession:

" I met John with his friend the other day." " How could John, with his heart of gold, leave his family? " Practically speaking, any secondary part maybe detached:

Attribute: " Very small and child-like, he never looked more than fourteen."

Appositive: " Brave boy, he saved my life and shall not regret it." (Twain)

Adverbial modifier:

" And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted nevermore! " (Рое)

Direct object: " Talent, Mr. Micawber has, capital, Mr. Micawber has not." (Dickens)

Prepositional object: " It was indeed, to Forsyte eyes, an odd house." (Galsworthy)

Subordination and coordination. Clauses and independent sentences are combined either by way of subordination or coordination. Besides, they may be combined asyndetically, in which case it is hard to say whether we observe asyndetic subordination or asyndetic coordination.

It often happens that the same semantic relations between two neighbouring utterances may be expressed in three different ways:

" When the clock struck twelve, he came" — subordination.

" The clock struck twelve, and he came" — coordination.

" The clock struck twelve, he came" — asyndetic connection.

The reader must know from his own experience that the use of complex sentences, especially with complicated phrasal conjunctions (or, to be more exact, set phrases used as 'conjunction equivalents' for a conjunction can never be a phrase: it is a word, one word, as any other part of speech),

such as in view of the fact that or with regard to the circumstances of which... is a sure sign of formal written types of speech. True, the use of complex sentences is by no means alien to everyday oral communication, only the conjunctions preferred are much simpler — when, where, if and the like.

But on the whole, in oral speech we mostly find either asyndeton, or frequent use of the 'universal' coordinative conjunction and. Its function becomes clear only due to the general semantic correlation of the clauses combined.

" You never can tell in these cases how they are going to turn out and it's best to be on the safe side." (Dreiser)

Here, the conjunction and evidently signalizes the relation of cause and consequence between the two clauses.

" Open that silly mouth of yours just once, and you'll find your­self in jail, right alongside the black boy! " (Gow and D'Usseau) This compound sentence is an equivalent of a complex sentence with a subordinate clause of condition (If you open...).

" It is funny that they [the mice] should be there, and not a crumb, since Mr. Timothy took to not coming down just before the war." (Galsworthy)

Here, the conjunction and introduces something like an adverbial clause of concession (although there is not a crumb here...).

What is naturally expressed by coordinating conjunctions in ordinary speech, may be rather artificially made into a complex sentence with a pedantic subordinate clause (in legal matters):

" I gave the key to Mr. Smith, who then passed it to Mrs. Brown." What the witness had really said before his testimony was put to paper, looked simpler and shorter:

" I gave the key to John, and he to Jane."

Parenthetic words, phrases and sentences. They either express modality of what is predicated or imply additional information, mostly evaluating what is said or supplying some kind of additional informa­tion. Parenthetic elements comprising additional information seem to be a kind of protest against the linear character of the text: the language user interrupts himself trying in vain to say two things at once.

Words, phrases and sentences of modal meaning may be divided into two classes: those expressing certainty and such as imply different degrees of probability.

Examples of the first class are logically superfluous: they do not add anything to what is meant without them, except showing the speaker's own doubt of what he says and his attempt to make himself believe what he says.6


Personification is another variety of metaphor. Personification is at­tributing human properties to lifeless objects — mostly to abstract notions, such as thoughts, actions, intentions, emotions, seasons of the year, etc.

The stylistic purposes of personification are varied. In classical po­etry of the seventeenth century, it was a tribute to mythological tradi­tion and to the laws of mediaeval rhetoric:

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, Stol'n on his wing my three and twentieth year! (Milton) In poetry and fiction of the two succeeding centuries the purpose of personification is to help to visualize the description, to impart dynamic force to it or to reproduce the particular mood of the viewer.

Let us recall The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens, where the cricket and the kettle compete in singing, or the description of little misfortunes in Dot Peerybingle doing about the house:

" Besides, the kettle was aggravating and obstinate. It wouldn't allow itself to be adjusted to the top bar; it wouldn't hear of ac­commodating itself to the knobs of the coal; it would lean forward with a drunken air, and dribble, a very idiot of a kettle." (Dickens) To what has been said, a few remarks might be added concerning certain formal signals of personification.

First of all, the use of the personal pronouns he and she with reference to lifeless things is often a more or less sure sign of this stylistic device (except in cases mentioned in the chapter on stylistic morphology — see above). Here is an example from Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome:

" Then Night, like some great loving mother, gently lays her hand on our fevered head, and turns our little tear-stained face up to hers, and smiles, and, though she does not speak, we know what she would say and lay our hot, flushed cheek against her bosom and the pain is gone."

Personification is often effected by direct address. The object ad­dressed is thus treated as if it could really perceive the author's appeal: О stretch thy reign, fair Peace! from shore to shore Till conquest cease, and slavery be no more. (Pope) Another formal device of personification is capitalization of the word which expresses a personified notion:

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