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The verb and its stylistic properties





The verb possesses more grammatical characteristics than any other Part of speech. All deviant usages of tense, voice and aspect forms have strong stylistic connotations and play an important role in creating a meta­phorical meaning.

As far as grammatical category of tense is concerned, the most vivid example of grammatical transposition is the so-called Historical(or Dramatic) Present(Praesens Historicum). It implies the use of present­ee forms in order to express actions which took place in the past. Thus, more vivid picture of events is created. The aim of historical present is to join different time systems — that of the characters, of the author and of the reader, all of whom may belong to different epochs. The outcome is an effect of empathy ensured by the correlation of different time and tense systems. In general it is typical of Germanic, Romance and Slavik languages to express an action of the past and the future by means of the present tense. This is explained by the indefiniteness of both notions of "present time" (logical) and "present tense" (grammatical). Writers (Ch. Dickens) often present past events as if they were in the present.

"Ungrammatical" present and past tense forms can sometimes be used deliberately to reveal the incompetence of the speaker, to demonstrate his illiteracy, his poor educational background, or — in case of children's speech — linguistic incompetence: I hears, I opens, He don't, He seed; I catched you (children playing hide-and-seek).

Violation of rules of subject-predicate agreement becomes a modem tendency in spoken variety of English, thus, such grammar structures as You is; There's lots of cars in the car park are regarded as contemporary spoken norm of the language.

Present tenses (Present Indefinite and Present Continuous) are also widely used to express planned actions in the future: She arrives tomorrow (official arrangement); He is meeting me at the station (personal arrangement).

Continuous forms do not always express continuity of the action. They are frequently employed to convey the emotional state of the speaker. For instance, the continuous form in the sentence "John is always going away for weekends" implies that John goes away very often, probably too often, which annoys the speaker or seems unreasonable to him, but it does not necessarily mean that John goes away every weekend. It is not a literal statement; it is a kind of exaggeration. Compare with: "John always goes away every weekend", where the present indefinite tense implies a literal statement.



Continuous forms employed in different contexts may express:

1) conviction, determination, persistence: Well, she is never coming here again, I tell you that straight (S. Maugham);

2) impatience, irritation: — I didn't mean to hurt you.— You did. You are doing nothing else (B. Shaw);

3) surprise, indignation, disapproval: Women kill me. They are always leaving their goddamn bags out in the middle of the aisle (Salinger).

Present Continuous is used instead of Present Indefinite with stative verbs (of physical and mental perception) to characterize the current emotional state or behavior. This use is highly emphatic: You are being too naughty; I must say you're disappointing me, my dear fellow (Berger).

Present Continuous in a tag-question may be combined with a special intonation pattern to express irony or discontent: You are not really suggesting that, are you?

Present Indefinite as well as imperative structure referring to future render determination: Edward let there be an end of this. I go home (Dickens).

Shall used with the 2nd or the 3rd person conveys intention and determination on the part of the speaker, e.g.: If there's a disputed decision, he said genially, they shall race again (Waugh); The prizes shall stand among the bank of flowers (Waugh).

Emphatic use of will with the 1st person pronoun I denotes strong determination: Adam, what have you been doing? I will be told (Waugh).

The auxiliary verb do/did in combination with a sense-verb (main-verb) is a frequent emphatic device in colloquial speech, e.g.: I do know him; He does look pale; Do let's go to the theatre.

The use of yes-no questions starting will/would/won't/wouldn't you instead of imperative is less straightforward, more tentative: Will/Would you please help me to translate this phrase? (Cf. Help me to translate (sounds too categorical)).

The use of modal verb could in the appellative function serves to address somebody indirectly and very politely (ironically): Some of the people present here could keep silence.

Passive voice as opposed to active voice contributes to extreme generalization and depersonalization, because an utterance is devoid of the doer of an action and the action itself loses direction: he is a long-time citizen and to be trusted (Michener).

Non-finite forms of the verbs used instead of finite forms communicate certain connotations to the utterance. Such sentences acquire a generalized universal character because the doer of the action is not explicit. As a result the reader and the character blend into one whole, which creates empathy.

Infinitive can be used to convey: a) incredulity (Expect Leo to propose to her! (Lawrence) (= It's hard to believe that he will propose to her); b) certainty, confidence (Death! To decide about death! (Galsworthy) (= He couldn't decide about death); c) necessity, obligation to do something Wo take step! How? (Galsworthy) (= He must take some steps).

Participle I may convey disapproval, discontent, reproach, e.g.: The whole thing is preposterous —preposterous! Slinging accusations like this! (Christie)

Archaic forms of the verbs are employed to create historical, realistic, true-to-life background; to impart solemn and elevated effect; to add local coloring (archaic forms are found in some dialects): dost, hast, knowest (2nd person singular present tense); didst (past); doth, hath, knowth (3rd person singular).

 





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