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Figures of Quality 2 страница

No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet. (Byron)

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same... (Kipling)


Sometimes, however, the capital letter has nothing in common with personification, merely performing an emphasizing function:

" It [the wind] seems to chant, in its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and false Gods worshipped; in defiance of the tables of the Law..." (Dickens)

Antonomasia. Metaphorical antonomasia is, in a way, a variety of allusion. It is the use of the name of a historical, literary, mythological, or biblical personage applied to a person whose characteristic features resemble those of the well-known original. Thus, a traitor may be referred to as Brutus, a ladies' man deserves the name of Don Juan. The word hooligan going back to a proper name has lost its capital letter; the same happened to the word quizling (from the name of the notorious Norwegian collaborator in the years of the Second World War).

Note. In books on lexicology, the term antonomasia is used to denote two vari­eties of the use of proper names as common nouns. Along with metaphorical antono­masia, metonymic antonomasia is observed in cases when a personal name stands for something connected with the bearer of that name who once really existed. In sentences like He has sold his Vandykes (Hurst) or This is my real Goya (Galsworthy), or even / am fond of Dickens (= of Dickens' books) there is hardly anything of special stylistic significance; still less in common nouns mackintosh, sandwich, shrapnel (each originating from a proper name).

Allegory. The term is traditionally used in stylistics, and is therefore discussed here, although it pertains to linguistics no more than such terms as novel, poem, plot and the like do. Allegory is a term in literature, or even in art in general (painting, sculpture). It means expressing abstract ideas through concrete pictures. The term is mostly employed with reference to more or less complete texts, not to individual, particular metaphors within a lengthy text.

As for shorter allegorical texts, they are represented by proverbs. In a proverb, we find a precept in visual form; the logical content of the precept is invigorated by the emotive force of the image (as shown above, in " Metaphor", an image is a combination of two notions). Thus the proverb Make hay while the sun shines implies a piece of advice having nothing in common with haymaking or sunshine: " Make use of a favourable situation; do not miss an opportunity; do not waste time."

See also: All is not gold that glitters (= Appearances are deceptive); Beauty lies in lover's eyes (= Feeling excites imagination); compare the old Russian proverb: He по хорошу мил, а по милу хорош...; Every cloud has a silver lining (— A period of distress is sure to have an end); No rose without a thorn (= Everything has its drawbacks).

Note. One should not confuse proverbs with maxims, i.e. with non-metaphorical precepts: A friend in need is a friend indeed; Better late than never; You never know what you can do till you try. They are not allegorical; there is nothing figurative in them: they are understood literally, word for word.

Certain genres of literature are allegorical throughout: thus, fairy stories and, especially, fables always imply something different, some­thing more important for human problems than what they seem to denote literally. Allegory is found in philosophical or satirical novels. In his famous allegorical satire Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift, describing Lilliputians and Brobdignagians, depicts his own contemporary England with her vices, political intrigues, and religious strife.

In the section on metonymy (see above) it was mentioned that a symbol may stand for the object symbolized (crown = king). We recall it here, because allegory is based, though not often, on metonymic grounds: using names of symbols, the speaker (writer) expresses, in a figurative way, an idea quite different from the primary meanings of its constituents.

When, for instance, we hear the words It is time to beat your swords into ploughshares, we understand it as an appeal to stop hostilities in favour of peace.

See also:

" After two centuries of crusades the Crescent [= the Moslem religion] defeated the Cross [= Christianity] in all Southwestern Asia." (Daily Worker)

At the same time, we come to the conclusion that operating with symbolic (i.e. metonymic) denominations of objects, we make a metaphorical statement, for cessation of arms (end of the war) has no connection with swords and ploughshares: the cease-fire situation is similar to the time when warriors begin to reshape their weapons (swords) into peaceful agricultural implements.

Summing up, we can say that in all varieties of metaphor there is similarity of objects of speech. Metaphorical renaming presupposes a greater disparity of the two objects than in metonymy. The greatest disparity, however, is observed in the third qualitative trope — irony.

Irony. This well-known term going back to the Greek word eironeia ('mockery concealed') denotes a trope based on direct opposition of the meaning to the sense.

Note. The terms meaning and sense are not at all identical. The former is the traditionally accepted content of the linguistic unit; the latter ('sense') is not the 'dictionary value' of the unit, but its actual value, its actual function in the message. In other words, 'meaning' is potential, whereas 'sense' is what the recipient really derives from the context.

The semantic essence of irony consists in replacing a denomination by its opposite. Irony is a transfer, a renaming based upon the direct contrast

of two notions: the notion named and the notion meant. Here, then, is where we observe the greatest qualitative shift, if compared with metonymy (transfer by contiguity) and metaphor (transfer by similarity).

There are at least two kinds of irony. The first represents utterances the ironical sense of which is evident to any native speaker — utterances that can have only an ironical message; no one would ever take them at their face value. The peculiar word-order and stereotyped words make up set phrases implying just the opposite of what they seem to manifest. This kind of irony is called by some authors antiphrasis.

A few examples: That's a pretty kettle of fish (cf.: Хорошенькое дель­це! Веселенькая история]). A fine friend you arel (cf.: Хорош друг, нече­го сказать!; Ничего себе, удружил!).

The reader will agree that in both English and Russian the utterances adduced can only be used in an unfavourable (never in a favourable) sense.

To the second variety we can refer the overwhelming majority of utterances which can be understood either literally, or ironically, espe­cially when we deal with written texts. Thus we cannot say if the speaker is serious or ironical when he says: But of course we know, he's a rich man, a millionaire. In oral speech, irony is often (though not always) made prominent by emphatic intonation. In writing, the most typical signs are inverted commas or italics. More often, however, it is the general situation which makes the reader guess the real viewpoint of the writer.

On the whole, irony is used with the aim of critical evaluation of the thing spoken about. The general scheme of this variety is: " praise stands for blame". Very seldom do we observe the opposite type: coarse, rude, accusing words used approvingly (" blame stands for praise"); the corresponding term is astheism: Clever bastard!; Tough son-of-a-bitch! Cf.: Вот гад дает!; Как он, собака, это ловко! 9

In most cases irony is discernible owing to the evident absurdity of the direct, primary sense of the message. So, in what follows we understand at once that Charles Dickens means exactly the opposite of what he states when he pretends to praise the inhuman conditions of life in a workhouse, exclaiming:

" What a noble illustration of the tender laws of this favoured country! — they let the paupers go to sleep! "

In Man and Superman by Bernard Shaw, a group of hypocritical moralists are about to condemn the behaviour of a defenseless young woman. Here is the dialogue:

TANNER: Where is she? ANNE: She is upstairs.

TANNER: What! Under Ramsden's sacred roof! Go and do your miserable duty, Ramsden. Hunt her out into the street. Cleanse your threshold from her contamination. Vindicate the purity of your English home. I'll go for a cab.




Without knowing the real attitude of the speaker towards current standards of morality we could have taken Tanner's words for what they convey literally. It is only due to some further remarks of the same character that we understand what he actually means: "... instead of admiring her courage and rejoicing in her instinct... here you are... all pulling long faces."

Sometimes irony is not pointed out at all: its presence in the text is deduced only by reasoning. The reader cannot possibly believe that the author can be praising the object of speech in earnest. Sometimes the whole of the narrative is ironical, as is the case with William Thackeray's Vanity Fair. Observe, for instance, the description of the matrimonial schemes of the main character. The little plotter appears a praiseworthy person:

" If Miss Rebecca Sharp had determined in her heart upon making the conquest of this big beau, I don't think, ladies, we have any right to blame her; for though the task of husband-hunting is generally and with becoming modesty entrusted by young persons to their mammas, recollect that Miss Sharp had no kind parent to arrange those delicate matters for her, and that if she did not get a husband for herself there was no one else in the wide world who could take the trouble off her hands. What causes young people to 'come out' but the noble ambition of matrimony? " Irony as a general manner of narration is also characteristic of The Devoted Friend by Oscar Wilde.

Analysing the use of the term irony in stylistics, we conclude that irony is generally understood and treated as a very broad (and even vague) notion. It has been said above (p. 119) that, as a trope, it necessarily implies opposition of the sense to the meaning, a renaming by contrast. Thus good used ironically implies its antonym bad. But quite often the writer's aim is mockery with regard to what is described. There is no direct opposition of ideas, no contrasting notions: there is merely a humorous assessment of the person (thing, event, etc.). What the writer implies is that his statement does not really suit the occasion. To a great extent it is the register that is unsuitable (the musical term register is used by linguists in the West to oppose high and low forms of speech — compare with the ancient three styles: high, medium and low).

The term irony, then, is often enough applied not to the logical or notional, but merely to stylistic opposition (incongruity): using high-flown, elevated linguistic units with reference to insignificant, socially low topics.

This is how O. Henry depicts the wretched state of affairs of a homeless tramp:

" Soapy's mind became cognizant of the fact that the time had come for him to resolve himself into a singular Committee of Ways and Means to provide against the coming rigour...

The hibernatorial ambitions of Soapy were not of the highest. In them there were no considerations of Mediterranean cruises, of soporific Southern skies or drifting in the Vesuvian Bay. Three months on the Island was what his soul craved." (O. Henry. The Cop and the Anthem)


1 Bain A. English Composition and Rhetoric. — London, 1888.

2 This principle is applied in Lebendiges Englisch. Stilistisch-syntaktische Mittel der

Ausdrucksverstdrkung by H. Spitzbardt (Halle, 1962), a comprehensive monograph abounding in problems treated on the whole quite convincingly.

3On details concerning stylistic devices in phraseology see: Skrebnev Y.M. Zum Problem der semantisch-stilistischen Analyse der englischen Phraseologie // Zeitschrift ftir Anglistik und Amerikanistik. — Berlin, 1961. No 3. S. 272-277.

4 See, for instance, the treatment of the problem in «Краткая литературная энциклопе-

дия». — M., 1967. С. 394.

5 See the above-mentioned paper on phraseology (note 3).

6 The present author used the well-known Phraseological Dictionary by A.V. Koonin (M.,

1955), which lists and explains about 25, 000 set expressions. It is worth mentioning here that proverbs (i.e. two-member sentences, not phrases proper) were left out, otherwise the percentage would have been much higher, since every proverb is a metaphor.

7 The illustration is a borrowing from: Vendryes G. Le langage. Introduction linguistique

a l'histoire. — Рапз, 1935.

8 Galperin I.R. Stylistics, — M., 1971. P. 186.

9 See: Гриценко Е.С. Мелиоративная лексика в английской разговорной речи: Авто-

реф. дисс... канд. филол. наук. — Львов, 1986.




■ I-, v ■, «„'.,. •..", '■




The subject matter of this branch is the stylistic value of syntagmatic chains (linear combinations). The stylistics of sequences (or syntagmatic stylistics) treats of the functions of co-occurrence of identical, different, or contrastive (opposite) linguistic units. By 'units' are meant discrete constituents at any level. But then, what exactly should be understood by 'co-occurrence'? What is felt as co-occurring, and what cases of co­occurrence produce no particular stylistic effect? The answer depends on what level or plane we are talking about.

Thus, the interaction of utterances (sentences) may be felt over a considerable distance. The novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser begins with the sentence " Duskof a summer night." The same sentence recurs at the end of the second volume of the novel: it is the opening statement of the epilogue. An attentive reader will inevitably recall the beginning of the book as soon as he comes to its conclusion.

In opposition to recurring utterances, phonetic units (sounds and sound combinations) are felt as co-occurring only within more or less short sequences: alliteration (see below) is noticeable in words adjacent or close to one another; rhyme is perceived if acoustically similar elements are separated by a few lines of verse, no more: if the distance is too great, our memory does not retain the impression of the first element, and the effect of phonetic similarity does not occur. It must not be lost sight of that the average reader (listener) pays much more attention to the sense of speech acts than their phonetic aspect.

As in the first part, here, too, the treatment of stylistic problems is arranged according to the structural levels (from the phonemic upwards). Semasiology concludes the discussion.


This part of stylistics deals with prosody and interaction of speech sounds in sequences.

The term 'prosody', which is often explained as rules of versification, i.e. the basic formal theory of poetry, is understood much more broadly in modern linguistics: the term today denotes general suprasegmental characteristics of speech (tonality, length, force, tempo, and, especially, the alternation of stressed and unstressed elements — rhythm).

The number of prosodic variants (intonational treatment) of any se­quence (phrase, sentence, and so on) is theoretically unlimited. The

phonetician naturally confines his task to finding out the most general types of intonation — such as comparing 'statement' — 'question' — 'exclamation'. But the actual prosodic structure of any real utterance has individual features, which are stylistically significant.

As for interaction of speech sounds, of considerable importance is the recurrence of the same consonant ('alliteration') or the same vowel ('assonance').

Alliteration. This term denotes recurrence of an initial consonant in two or more words which either follow one another, or appear close enough to be noticeable. Alliteration is widely used in English — more often than in other languages (Russian, for one). We can see it in poetry and in prose, very often in titles of books, in slogans, and in set phrases.

Take the well-known book titles: Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Ch. Dickens), Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austin). Short story titles: The Pimienta Pancakes, The Clarion Call, The Last Leaf, Retrieved Reformation (O. Henry).

Set expressions: last but not least, now or never, bag and baggage, forgive and forget, house and home, good as gold, dead as a doornail, cool as a cucumber, still as a stone.

Alliteration is so favoured in English that sometimes it is used to the detriment of the sense. For the sake of alliteration, the famous Marxist motto Proletarier aller Lander, vereinigt euch! was translated as Workers of the world, unitel Moreover, the demand of the unemployed Work or wage si is absurd, if one does not know that the alliterating word wages stands here for the dole (charitable gift of money claimable by the unemployed).

Alliteration is an ancient device of English poetry, In the Old English period there were no rhymes as today. See the recurrence of the initial /, b and st in Beowulf:

The important role of alliteration in English is due (at least partially) to the fact that words in Old English were mostly stressed on the first syllable. Assonance. This term is employed to signify recurrence of stressed vowels. I. V. Arnold mentions also the term 'vocalic alliteration' (although the recurring vowels only seldom occupy the initial position in the word). In her book Stylistics of Modern English1 1.V. Arnold quotes three lines from The Raven by Edgar Allan Рое:

...Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if within the distant Aiden, I shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore -Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?


Assonance here consists in the recurrence of the diphthong [ei], which makes not only inner rhymes (ladenAidenmaiden), but also occurs in the non-rhyming words: angels and name.

Paronomasia. 'Paronyms' are words similar (though not identical) in sound, but different in meaning. Co-occurrence of paronyms is called 'paronomasia'. Phonetically, paronomasia produces stylistic effects analogous to those of alliteration and assonance. In addition, phonetic similarity and positional propinquity makes the listener (reader) search for semantic connection of the paronyms. This propensity of language users (both poet and reader) to establish imaginary sense correlations on the grounds of formal affinity is named by some linguists 'paronymic at­traction'2. In the above quoted book by Arnold two examples are anal­ysed. The words raven and never in Poe's renowned poem (And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting), and the semantically incompatible words poultry and politics — their combination in Michael Mont's inner monologue (John Galsworthy) shows what he thinks of the situation.

Rhythm and metre. The flow of speech presents an alternation of stressed and unstressed elements (syllables). The pattern of interchange of strong and weak segments is called rhythm.

If there is no regularity, no stable recurrence of stressed and un­stressed segments, the text we perceive is an example of prose. If, on the contrary, rises and falls (strengthenings and weakenings) recur peri­odically at equal intervals, the text is classed as poetry (even if it is poor and primitive).

There can be no other way of distinguishing between prose and poetry from the purely linguistic (formally phonetic) viewpoint, which alone is relevant to linguistics. Any discussions of aesthetic value, frequent use of tropes and figures, or generally 'elevated' vision of the world in poetry may be quite important by themselves, but they pertain to the hypersemantic plane of poetry: they are indispensable for a literary critic, but out of place in the treatment of phonetics of sequences. Besides, the semantic features mentioned are typical not only of vers libre (see below), but also of imaginative prose of high-flown type.

On the whole, the distinctive feature, the most important quality, of poetry is its regular rhythm — not the recurrence of rhyming words, as is presumed by many: rhymes are typical, but not indispensable (see below).

In a verse line, we observe recurrence of disyllabic or trisyllabic segments having identical prosodic structure. The pattern, the combina­tion of stressed and unstressed syllables, is repeated. The smallest re­current segment of the line, consisting of one stressed syllable and one or two unstressed ones is called the 'foot'.

Since a foot consists of only two or three syllables, it is clear that there cannot be many possible combinations of stressed and unstressed syllables. In fact, there are only five. A foot of two syllables has either the first or the second syllable stressed; a foot of three syllables has either the first, the second, or the third syllable stressed. Thus we have two disyllabic varieties of feet and three trisyllabic ones — five in all.

The structure of the foot determines the metre, i.e. the type of poetic rhythm of the line. Disyllabic metres are trochee and iambus; trisyllabic are dactyl, amphibrach and anapaest.

Disyllabic metres:

1. Trochee. The foot consists of two syllables; the first is stressed:
'u. Disyllabic words with the first syllable stressed demonstrate the

trochaic metre: duty, evening, honey, pretty (and many others, including the word trochee itself).

2. Iambus. Two syllables. The first is unstressed: u'. Examples of
iambic words: mistake, prepare, enjoy, behind, again, etc.

Trisyllabic metres:

3. Dactyl. The stress is upon the first syllable; the subsequent two are
unstressed: 'uu. Examples of dactylic words: wonderful, beautiful,
certainly, dignity,

4. Amphibrach. The stress falls on the second (medial) syllable of the
foot; the first and the last are unstressed: u'u. Examples: umbrella,
returning, continue, pretending,

5. Anapaest. The last (third) syllable is stressed: uu'. Examples:
understand, interfere, disagree, etc.

A verse line — say, trochaic or iambic — does not necessarily consist of trochaic or iambic words only. A foot can be made up of more than one word — his life (u; ), take it ('u). Moreover, certain words (or syllables) which are stressed in normal speech, should be considered unstressed, and vice versa. Scanning is often artificial as compared with usual reading. Let us again take a quotation from The Raven, by Edgar Allan Рое:

The reader must have understood that to scan means to emphasize all the syllables that are expected to be stressed according to the metrical pattern of the line.




The metrical characteristics of a verse line depends on the number of feet in it. A line may consist of one, two, three, or more feet, but their number rarely exceeds eight (see I.R. Galperin. Stylistics). There are special terms marking the length of the line. For illustration, we shall take trochaic lines:

The number of feet corresponds to the number of stresses. Hence the line ' u' u ' also presents a trochaic trimeter; only it becomes 'trimeter incomplete', or 'trimeter hypometric' (from the Greek hypo- = under). It is solely the metres with the final syllables unstressed that can be hypometric, incomplete. Iambus (u ') and anapaest (uu ') cannot be hypometric: loss of the final (stressed) syllable diminishes the number of feet. Compare:

In the last two examples, the superfluous unstressed syllables make the lines 'hypermetric' (compare 'hypometric' and 'hypermetric').

Dactylic and amphibrachic lines, like trochaic ones, can be hypometric:

Examples of metrical patterns: 1. Trochee:

Men of England, wherefore plough

For the lords who lay ye low?

Wherefore weave with toil and care

The rich robes your tyrants wear? (Shelley)

As can easily be seen, every line presents trochaic tetrameter, hy­pometric (not only plough, low, but also care, wear (which contain the diphthong [еэ]) are stressed monosyllabic words.

2. Iambus:


There went three kings into the east,

Three kings both great and high,

And they had sworn a solemn oath:

John Barleycorn should die. (Burns)

Here, the lines are of varying metric length: the first and the third demonstrate iambic tetrameter, the second and the fourth, iambic trimeter.

3. Dactyl:

Take her up tenderly,

Lift her with care,

Fashion'd so slenderly

Young and so fair. (Hood)

Every line presents dactylic dimeter. The difference between lines 1, 3 and lines 2, 4 is that the former are dimeter complete, while the latter are hypometric.

4. Amphibrach:

I sprang to the stirrup and Joris and he, I galloped, Dick galloped, we galloped all three. (Browning) Amphibrachic tetrameter hypometric in both lines.

5. Anapaest:

I am monarch of all I survey From the central all round to the sea. (Pope) Anapaestic trimeter complete in both lines.

Note. In some English poetry, the metre is irregular, not only the number of feet in a line, but also the quality may vary. This is called free verse: Arise, arise, arise!

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