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Stylistic. Lecture 3. Stylistic relevance of morphology

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Lingual synonyms on the morphological level are scarce and only few of them form stylistic oppositions with marked / unmarked members, i.e. general forms of past and present and those with the emphatic verb do; synonymous forms of Imperative Come! – Do come!; synonymous parallelism of usual forms of Imperative and their marked correlates with the subject expressed Don’t you forget!; etc.

Scarce morphological expressive means are compensated by numerous shifts in the usual distribution of morphemes and word-forms. The violation of the traditional grammatical valence results in emotional colouring, expressiveness and in new functional and stylistic connotations. These shifts are of 2 main types:

1) the violation of usual combinability of morphemes in the word (plural of uncountable nouns, continuous forms of verbs of sense perception; 2) transposition of the form (sometimes termed as grammatical metaphor, metaphoric transfer, i.e. the violation of the contextual distribution of a form, its acquiring an uncharacteristic meaning in an unusual context (the use of the past form in the meaning of the present).

Transposition of word from one lexico-grammatical class to the other: personification or transposition of inanimate objects into the class of animate ones (second class transferred to the first one); zoomorphemes (zoonymic metaphors) – names of animals, fantastic creatures or birds applied to human beings produce emotionally coloured and often insulting meaning (first class transferred to the second one or other classes; e.g. expressive description of the woman by means of words from the second (animal) class - duck, angel, fairy; nature class – star, jewel, rose; object class – honey, pearl; abstract nouns – love, beauty.

Transposition of words from one part of speech to the other, in particular substantivized adjectives.

The Genitive case is considered to be a contextual indicator of personification. When used with names of countries and cities, it imparts some expressiveness to the utterance: London’s people, my country’ law. The laconic and emphatic character of this form makes it preferable in newspaper headlines, and, in particular, with nouns defining human activities of primary importance; e.g. the mind’s general development, Duty’s call, love’s spirit, my life’s aim etc. The violation of the typical valence acquires stylistic relevance in the case of “group Genitive” (the suffix –s determines the whole word combination). Implying possession in the strict sense of the term, Genitive case covers a great variety of meanings: subjective (my sister’s arrival), objective (the criminal’s arrest) qualitative (a child’s behaviour) etc. This sometimes results in ambiguity that is clarified only in the context. Sometimes, ambiguity results from the author’s intention to puzzle the reader; e.g. The Murder of My Aunt. In Ukrainian and English the category of gender is neutralized in the official communication (chairman – chairperson; лікарка Ірина Петренко – лікар Ірина Петренко). English gender is logically motivated; the Ukrainian one is grammatically motivated; symbolic /poetic English gender.



The category of number acquires stylistic relevance when the singular is used to denote the totality of objects or beings imparting generalized abstract colouring to them. Plurality of abstract or collective nouns creates the effect of magnitude (especially in the pictorial language) or pejorative effect. Expressive connotation is particularly strong in the metaphoric plurality of nouns denoting unique objects (a dozen sons) or proper nouns (the departed Forsytes). The plural ending may be adjusted to the whole phrase in English. (One I-am-sorry-for-you is worth twenty I-told-you-so’s). In Ukrainian plurality can express the respect to a social status, profession (Син пішов в агрономи); honorific plurality.

The category of comparison of English and Ukrainian adjectives is often expressive in itself; in particular, elative, the indefinitely high degree of a sign (a most valuable idea, the sweetest baby, the newest fashion). The category of comparison is grammatically relevant only for qualitative and quantitative adjectives; if it is applied to the other adjectives, it is expressive (deader than the dead). Use of suffixes of comparison with adjectives that form their degrees analytically and the change of object reference in some epithets (white rush of the swan, his hungry ribs and shoulders), occasional use of the suffix –ish also create expressive effect. In Ukrainian stylistic effect of adjectives is emphasized by means of prefixes (пре), suffixes (енн), compounds (рясношумний, червоногарячий, добрий-добрий), short forms (дрібен, зелен) and solemn forms (зеленая, пречистая).

The stylistic function of pronouns also depends on the discrepancy between traditional and situational usage. Personal pronouns are the most important from the stylistic point of view. Pronouns acquire stylistic relevance with or without transposition. 1) without transposition, that is pronouns are used in their direct lexico-grammatical meaning that is emotionally coloured. The use of pronouns of the first and the second persons revealing contemplation and spiritual world of an individual, is characteristic of a lyric poetry. In prose the exaggerated repetition of the pronoun of the first person exposes self-satisfaction and egotism of the speaker. The repetition of the same pronoun in one sentence or the iterative use of pronouns instead of proper nouns stress the idea of intimacy or attract attention by its indeterminacy. Archaic pronouns are also used in modern poetry as a stylistic device. 2) with transposition., i.e. the shift of pronominal form expressing a shift in speaker’s attitude or tone. This recurrent feature is not specifically English. We as Pluralis Majestatis (in royal decrees) or Pluralis Modestie in scientific papers and Pluralis Autoris (editorial we) in articles; we conveying emotional intimacy between the speaker and the addressee. The use of one or you which the speaker addresses himself is evidence of certain restraint, one’s reluctance to reveal one’s feelings (one formally denote any person but refers to the speaker). The indefinite one may be transposed to the 1-st person singular to show one’s desire to decline responsibly, to keep away from sth. The use of personal you in the generalized function creates the effect of intimacy between the speaker and the listener; the author wants to involve the reader into the situation described. The pronoun he/she are transposed to the sphere of I with different stylistic functions: 1) the speaker contemplates about herself as if from aside; 2) the speaker is involved in the inner dialogue with herself; 3) the speaker over-emphasized her/his ego; 4) the speaker imitate ironically the speech of sb. Third person singular may be transposed to the second one, when the speaker addresses sb indirectly. The meaning of the pronouns this / that, is sometimes transposed from that of indication to the irritation, anger, mockery etc. Demonstrative pronouns are particularly emphatic when combined with possessive pronouns in the post-position (this friend of yours), especially with an adjective inserted (this lovely friend of yours). Possessive pronouns (mainly, your) turn out to be emphatic, when they refer to sth that does not belong to the addressee but seems to be emotionally close to him / her.

Adverbs belong to the main means of expressing intensity; adverbs indicating the highest degree of intensity are subdivided into 2 groups: stylistically neutral adverbs (exceedingly, greatly, highly, quite, too, utterly) and colloquial ones (awfully, dreadfully, fearfully, frightfully, terribly, tremendously) that have lost their primary qualitative meaning. Stylistic differentiation characterizes the correlation of adverbs with or without suffixes (deep- deeply; right- rightly). The former are peculiar to the literary colloquial speech, they impart expressiveness and vivacity to the literary prose and publicist writings. Some adverbs acquire the stylistic function of leit-motives of a work with their meanings reinterpreted.

Stylistic relevance of category definiteness / indefiniteness.

Stylistic relevance of verbs is primarily revealed in the transposition of forms of tense, aspect, voice and mood. In particular, Praesens Historicum (present historical or present dramatic; the term of O. Espersen) creates the emotional and expressive effect that the past or future event takes place here and now. This transposition is more frequent in Ukrainian, but even in English it’s creates a dramatic illusion of involving the listener into an episode of the past. The simple past is emotionally neutral while present historical accumulates the connotation “imaginative contact with the present even”. English continuous forms often acquire emotional saturation and emphasis depending on the context. They may acquire connotations of properties (qualitative present); repeated processes; an action anticipated or planned for future; strong determination on the part of the speaker; imperative modality; politeness; surprise, indignation (especially if repeated). Transposition of tense and aspect has not only emotional but also functional and stylistic expressiveness; in particular, numerous incorrect colloquial forms – I / he /we ain’t or I says in the reports on the past event; was for plurality; the omission of the auxiliary verb in the perfect aspect. Archaic grammatical forms often create the colouring of the remoteness or solemnity; or characterize dialectal varieties.

Passive constructions are often more expressive than active ones, because they promote more visual description; passive is opposed to active to avoid repetition or to creates the effect of antithesis.. Passive often indicates the implicit agent (it was generally thought) – that is why, passive is preferable in the scientific and publicist style.

The Imperative Mood covers the whole range of expressive shades. It forms vary depending on the social markers (age, social position, education. Introducing modifiers (please, kindly, pray, for God’s sake, will you?) in to the imperative context modifies the shades of the imperative meaning. The insertion of the personal pronoun you intensifies the sharp words. The Imperative Mood is used in the narrative, newspaper headlines, advertisement to imitate the immediate contact with the reader. The imperative Mod can be transposed to the indicative and subjunctive ones (Give us time, and we’ll do it! - If you give …). The colloquial expressivities of Subjunctive 1 and “emotional should”; would + infinitive indicating supposition or repeated action in the past; modal verbs.

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