Last Updated 08 Apr 2020

Stylistic Means

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All stylistic means of the English languages can be divided into expressive means (EM) and stylistic devices (SD). “The expressive means of a language are those phonetic, morphological, word building, lexical, preseological or syntactical forms which exist in language as-a-system for the purpose of logical and various dictionaries. Among lexical EM we must mention words with emotive meanings, interjections, polysemantic words, vulgar words, slang etc. The fact that polysemantic words retain their primary and secondary meanings is of great importance for stylistics.

It is quite easy to understand the meaning of the following phrases; He grasped the main idea; a burning question; pity melted her heart. The italicized words are used in their secondary transferred dictionary meanings. But the primary and secondary meanings are realized simultaneously. The expressiveness of these words becomes obvious when compared with neutral equivalents; He understood the main idea; an important question; pity softened her heart. According to Prof I. R. Galperin`s definition Stylistic Devise is a conscious and intentional intensification of some type structural or semantic property of a language unit promoted to a generalized status and thus becoming a generative model. SD must always have some function in the text, besides they bring some additional information. The conception that words possess several meanings gives rise to such SDS as metaphor, metonymy, irony, epithet and others. Thus, a metaphor is a conscious and intentional intensification of typical semantic properties of a word: “Oh, Rain”-said Mor.

He enveloped her in a great embrace. (I. Murdoch). The dictionary meaning of the verb “envelope” is “to wrap up, coer on all sides”. The contextual meaning is “to embrace” The typical features of proverbs and sayings serve as the foundation for an SD which is called epigram, i. e. brevity, rhythm and other properties of proverbs constitute a generative mo0del into which new content is poured A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. (J. Keats) Sweet is pleasure after pain (J. Dryden) What the eye does not see, the stomach doesn’t get upset (J. K. Jerome). These phrases are not proverbs; they are the creations of individual writers and poets. When such phrases are used in the text they accumulate great emotive force and function. They acquire a generalized status and thus easily become an SD while proverbs remain EM of the language. The some may be said about syntax. The typical structural features of oral speech (violation of word order, omission of some parts of the sentence, repetition of certain words etc) may be intensified and promoted to a generalized status.

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Such SDs as inversion, parallel constructions, chiasmus is the result of these stylistic transformations. It is important to know that the stylistic use of EM must not necessarily lead to the formation of an SD. For example, repetition is widely used in folk song and poetry and in oral speech to make our speech emotional and expressive, but we can’t say that in such cases we use a SD. When the weather is wet We must not fret,- When the weather is cold We must not scold When the weather is warm We must not storm.

Thus we may draw the conclusion that EM are the facts of the language, while SDs are the property of the speech. They are the creation of individuals (writers and poets) and are based on the peculiarities of existing EM of the language. This is in short the difference between EM and SD. While speaking about SD we must always remember: the force of one and the same SD may be different. In some cases the emotive charge may be very strong, in others it may be weak. It depends on the use of a SD in one and the same function.

Due to the overuse of the SD it may become hackneyed, trite and looses its freshness and brightness; 1. The best pens of the world A sweet smile 2. with his mousing walk Speaking about SDs we must mention the cases when two or more EM or SD meet at one point, it one utterance. Such clusters of SDs are called convergence. “Together each SD adds its expressivity to that of the others. In general, the effects of these SDs converge into one especially striking emphasis” (M. Riffaterre) For example: When everyone had recovered George said; “She put in her thumb and pulled out a plum”.

Then away we were into our merciless hacking-hecking laughter again. (S. M. Maugham). In English examples we find the convergence of several SDs: decomposition of a proverb (to put one’s thumb into smth), a bring case of an onomatopoeia in the function of an epithet (Hacking-hecking), inversion (adverbial modifier stand before the subject). “ … and heaved and heaved still unrestingly heaved the black sea as if its vast tides were a conscience. Here the convergence comprises repetition, inversion and simile”. [1]

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Stylistic Means. (2017, May 13). Retrieved from

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