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The adjective and its stylistic functions

The stylistic function of the adjective is achieved mostly:

1) through the deviant (non-standard, non-conventional) use of the de­grees of comparison (resulting in lexical and grammatical incongruity);

2) as result of the substantivization (discussed above, see 3.5.1).

The grammatical category of comparison is of great stylistic value in the English language.

The use of the superlative degree of comparison in elative shows the irrespectively large degree of some quality: a most valuable idea; the sweetest baby. The same idea can be expressed by other syntactical means: the sweetest baby = the sweetest of babies.

The negative evaluative connotation can be expressed by a large variety of structures: a foolish wife (one-word epithet) :: a foolish, foolish wife (lexical repetition) :: a most foolish wife (adverb) :: the most foolish of wives (superlative + of-structure) :: your fool of a wife (reversed epithet) :: your wife is foolishness itself (transposition of abstract noun into the noun naming individual) :: she is as foolish as can be (comparison) :: is she as foolish as all that (interrogative in form, not in meaning) :: she is that foolish (demonstrative pronoun transposed into the adverb).

The grammatical category of comparison (actually the only grammatical category of the English adjective today) is only typical of qualitative and quantitative adjectives, and is not found with relative (non-gradable) ones. So, when non-gradable adjectives denoting qualities normally incompatible with the idea of degrees of comparison (such as colours, physical states, materials) are used in a comparative or a superlative degree, they acquire an evaluative force and become charged with a strong expressive power: pinker, greener; You cannot be deader than the dead (E. Hemingway).

The use of comparative and superlative forms with other parts of speech conveys a humorous colouring, e.g.: He was the most married man I've ever met.

Violation of grammatical norms of forming degrees of comparison (e.g- the use of synthetical forms with longer adjectives instead of analytical ones) in a literary text serves to reveal the speaker's ruffled emotions (his overemotional state): "Curioserand curioser!" cried Alice (L. Carroll).

The norms of forming degrees of comparison are frequently violated in colloquial speech, which reveals the speaker's illiteracy, or in children s speech, which points to an inadequate level of linguistic competence: make small loud (= make the music quieter, turn down the volume); more cold, more thin (analytical forms with shorter adjectives — modern tendency); the bestest.

Such ungrammatical forms can start to function in the language with a completely opposite meaning, e.g. in Afro-American aestheisms: The worstest (= best) guy I've ever known (S. King, P. Straub); These are the baddest (- the best) shoes I've ever had.

Non-standard formation of degrees of comparison is often resorted to in advertisements (in the commercial functional style) in order to captivate the reader's attention: the orangemostest drink in the world.

In literary colloquial sublanguage the pairs of evaluative words (of neutral degree), such as good and strong, nice and warm, spick and span, perform the function of expressing the highest degree of some quality, e.g.: I was hoping you'd have everything nice and clean and tidy when I came in.

The highest degree of some quality can also be expressed by the combination of intensifiers way (way) + too used with the adjective: It's way too difficult; There's way way too much noise over here.

The traditional valency of the subject reference is often violated in colloquial speech in order to reflect the emotional state of the speaker. For example, the adjective "idiotic" (normally referring to a person lacking some mental abilities) in combination with the nouns denoting objects conveys irritation: idiotic bag, idiotic window, etc.

The traditional valency of the subject reference may be changed in a literary text as a result of synesthesia (perceiving one object through different senses (visual, aural, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, etc) simultaneously) which produces elevated effect: white rush (from Yeats "Leda and the Swan" — white refers not to the color of wings, but to the movement of a swan).

As a result of conversion other parts of speech can be transposed into the adjective to make the utterance more vivid and stylistically marked: We'd have an okay time I think.

Modal verb must in combination with a sense verb creates adjectives which describe something that you must do: this month's must-see film.

There is also a current fashion in newspaper style to use multiple, c°mpound nouns, phrases and whole sentences (the so-called phrase- epithets) attributively before another noun: a back-seat driver, an evening- ress affair, happily-ever-after glow, etc. This practice spreads into everyday


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