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Syntactic stylistic devices

Figures of combination

SIMILE –this figure of identity consists in expressive comparison of two objects which have something in common.

e.g. John behaves like his father.

Robin looked at Sibil as a mouse might look at a cat.

OXYMORON –this figure of contrast is a combination of words which are semantically incompatible.

e.g. That was a horribly beautiful lady.

I’d never say, that it is possible to feel a loving hate.

ANTITHESIS –this figure of contrast stands close to oxymoron. The major difference between them is structural: oxymoron is realized through a single word-combination, while antithesis is a confrontation of at least two separate phrases semantically opposite.

Compare: “wise foolishness” – oxymoron

“… the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness” – antithesis.

e.g. It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness.

Gilbert wears fine clothes, while I go in rags.

CLIMAX (GRADATION) –this figure of inequality consists in arranging the utterance so that each subsequent component of it increases significance, importance or emotional tension of narration.

e.g. I am sorry, I am so very sorry, I am so extremely sorry.

There was the boom, then instantly the shriek and burst.

ANTICLIMAX-counterpart of climax, where emotional or logical importance is accumulated only to be unexpectedly broken and brought to a sudden break, e.g. This was appalling – and soon forgotten.

ZEUGMA –a zeugmatic construction of at least three constituents. The basic word of it stands in the same grammatical but different semantic relations to a couple of adjacent words. The basic word combined with the first adjacent word forms a phraseological word-combination. The same basic word combined with the second adjacent word forms a free word-combination.

e.g. Freddy got out of bed and low spirits.

Marry dropped a tear and her handkerchief.

PUN- a stylistic device in which one word is deliberately used in two meanings.

e.g. There is one brand of tobacco allowed here – “ Three nons”. None today, none tomorrow, and none the day after.( nun- «черниця» , none- «жоден»)

ELLIPSIS –an elliptical sentence is such a syntactic structure in which there is no subject, or predicative, or both.

e.g. – Where do you go?

_ To the disco.

_Hullo! Who are you?

_The staff

_Where are the others?

_At the front.

APOSIOPESIS (BREAK-IN-THE-NARRATIVE) –like ellipsis, aposiopesis is also realized through incompleteness of sentence structure, though this incompleteness is of different structural and semantic nature.

e.g. If you go on like this ….

So, you just go, and what about ….

ASYNDETON –it is deliberate omission of structurally significant conjunctions and connectives.

e.g. John couldn’t have done such a silly thing, he is enough clever for that. Father, mother, brother, cousins.

We had heard planes coining, seen them pass overhead, watched them go far to the left, heard them bombing.

REPETITION – stylistic repetition of language units in speech (separate words, word-combinations or sentences) is one of the most frequent and potent stylistic devices.

e.g. I am weary, weary, weary of the whole thing!

Victory is what we need, victory is what we expect.

ENUMERATION –it is a syntactic device of naming object so that there appears a chain of homogeneous parts of the sentence.

e.g. There were cows, hens, goats, peacocks and sheep in the village.

The principal production of these towns appears to be soldiers, sailors, Jews,chalk,shrimps,officers and dock-yard men.

POLYSINDETON –it is stylistically motivated redundant repetition of conjunctions or prepositions.

e.g. The dog barked and pulled Jack, and growled and raged.

He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength.

PARALLEL CONSTRUCTIONS –parallelism is a stylistic device of producing two or more syntactic structures according to the same syntactic pattern.

e.g. Marry cooked dinner, John watched TV, Peter played tennis.


The cock is crowing,

The stream is flowing.

INVERSIONit is a stylistic phenomenon of intentional changing word-order of the initial sentence model.

e.g. In come Jack. Little chances Benny had.

ANADIPLOSIS(catch repetition) - repetition of the same element or unit at the end of the preceding and at the beginning of the following utterance,

e.g. With Bewick on my knee I felt happy:happy at last in my way.

ANAPHORA- repetition of the first word or group of words at the beginning of several successive sentences or clauses,

e.g. And everywhere there were people. People going into gates and people coming out of gates. Peoplestaggering and falling. Peoplefighting and cursing.

APOKOINU CONSTRUCTION- blend of two clauses through a word which has two syntactical functions, one in each of the two blended clauses,

e.g. There was a doorled into the kitchen.

BREAK- a sudden interruption in speech caused by some strong emotion or reluctance to continue or finish the sentence for some other reason,

e.g. "My God! If the police come -find me here!

CHAIN REPETITION- combination of several catch repetitions,

e.g. A smile would come into Mr. Pickwick's face: a smile be extended into laugh,the laughinto roar,the roarbecame general.

CHIASMUS- reversed parallelisism,

e.g. The public wants a thing, therefore it is supplied with it; or the public is supplied with a thing, therefore it wants it.

DETACHMENT- isolation of some parts of the sentence to make it more prominent,

e.g. A sound of singing came down the water to him, trailing, distant,high and sweet.

EPIPHORA- repetition of the final word or groups of words in several succeeding sentences or clauses,

e.g. Through the brain slowly shifted the things they had done together.Walking together.Dancing together.

RHETORICAL QUESTION- presentation of an affirmative or negative statement in the form of a question,

e.g. Is there not blood enough upon your penal codes that must be pored forth?

RING REPETITION- repetition of the same unit at the beginning and at the end of some utterance,

e.g. I ama good girl, I am...

SYNTACTIC TAUTOLOGY- repetition of some member of the sentence, usually the subject expressed by a noun or a pronoun,

e.g. "Miss Tillie Webster, sheslept forty-days and nights without waking up."



Art for heart’s sake

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