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Stylistic Devices

Stylistic Devices

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Published by: TezaMd on Feb 24, 2010
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Alliteration
is a phonetic stylistic device which aims at imparting a melodic effect to theutterance. The essence of this device lies in the repetition of similar sounds, in particulaconsonant sounds, in close succession, particularly at the beginning of successive words: "The possessive instinct never stands still. Through florescence and feud, frosts and fires it follows thelaws of progression." (Galsworthy) Alliteration, like most phonetic expressive means, does not bear any lexical or other meaning unless we agree that a sound meaning exists as such. But evenso we may not be able to specify clearly the character of this meaning, and the term will merelysuggest that a certain amount of information is contained in the repetition of sounds, as is thecase with the repetition of lexical units. However, certain sounds, if repeated, may produce aneffect that can be specified. Therefore alliteration is generally regarded as a musicalaccompaniment of the author's idea, supporting it with some vague emotional atmosphere whicheach reader interprets for himself. Thus the repetition of the sound Id] in the lines quoted fromPoe's poem "The Raven" prompts the feeling of anxiety, fear, horror, anguish or all thesefeelings simultaneously. Alliteration in the English language is deeply rooted in the traditions of English folklore. The laws of phonetic arrangement in Anglo-Saxon poetry differed greatly fromthose of present-day English poetry. In Old English poetry alliteration was one of the basic principles of verse and considered, along with rhythm, to be its main characteristic. Each stressedmeaningful word in a line had to begin with the same sound or combination of sounds. Thetraditions of folklore are exceptionally stable and alliteration as a structural device of OldEnglish poems and songs has shown remarkable continuity. It is frequently used as a well-testedmeans not only in verse but in emotive prose, in newspaper headlines, in the titles of books, in proverbs-and sayings, as, for example, in the following: Tit for tat; blind as a bat, betwixt and between; It is neck or nothing; to rob Peter to pay Paul;
Read some more additional information on Stylistic DevicesHere
Antithesis
In order to characterize a thing or phenomenon from a specific point of view, itmay be necessary not to find points of resemblance or associa-tion between it and some other thing or phenomenon, but to find points of sharp contrast, that is, to set one against the other, for example: "A saint abroad, and a devil at home." (Bunyan) "Better to reign in hell than serve inheaven." (Milton) A line of demarcation must be drawn between logical opposition and stylisticopposition. Any opposition will be based on the contrasting features of two objects. Thesecontrasting features are represented in pairs of words which we call antonyms, provided that allthe properties of the two objects in question may be set one against another, as 'saint' —'devil','reign'—'serve', 'hell'—'heaven'. Many word-combinations are built up by means of contrasting pairs, as up and down, inside and out, from top to bottom and the like. Stylistic opposition,which is given a special name, the term antithesis, is of a different linguistic nature: it is based onrelative opposition which arises out of the context through the expansion of the literarycontrasting pairs, as in: "Youth is lovely, age is lonely, Youth is fiery, age is frosty;"(Longfellow) Here the objectively contrasted pair is 'youth' and 'age'. 'Lovely'and lonely' cannot be regarded as objectively opposite concepts, but being drawn into the scheme contrasting 'youth'and 'age', they display certain features which may be counted as antonymical. This is strength-ened also by the next line where not only 'youth' and 'age' but also 'fiery' and 'frosty' are objectiveantonyms. It is not only the semantic aspect which explains the linguistic nature of antithesis, thestructural pattern also plays animportant role. Antithesis is generally moulded in parallelconstruction. The antagonistic features of the two objects or phenomena are more easily perceived when they stand out in similar structures. Antithesis has the following basic functions:rhythm-forming (because of the parallel arrangement on which it is founded); copulative;dissevering; comparative. These functions often go together and inter-mingle in their own
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 peculiar manner. But as a rule antithesis displays one of the functions more clearly than theothers. This particular function will then be the leading one in the given utterance.
Read some more additional information on Stylistic DevicesHere
Archaic Words.
The word-stock of a language is in an increasing state of change. Wordschange their meaning and sometimes drop out of the language altogether. New words spring, upand replace the old ones. Some words stay in the language a very long time and do not lose their faculty of gaining new meanings and becoming richer and richer polysemantically. Other wordslive but a short time and are like bubbles on the surface of water — they disappear leaving notrace of their existence. In registering these processes the role of dictionaries can hardly be over-estimated. Dictionaries serve to retain this or that word in a language either as a relic of ancienttimes, where it lived and circulated, or as a still living unit of the system, though it may have lostsome of its meanings. They may also preserve certain nonce-creations which were never intended for general use. , In every period in the development of a literary language one can findwords which will show more or less apparent changes in their meaning or usage, from fullvigour, through a moribund state, to death, i. e. complete disappearance of the unit from thelanguage. We shall distinguish three stages in the aging process of words: The beginning of theaging process when the word becomes rarely used. Such words are called obsolescent, i.e. theyare in the stage of gradually passing out of general use. To this category first of all belongmorphological forms belonging to the earlier stages in the development of the language. In theEnglish language these are the pronouns thou and its forms thee, thy and thine, the correspondingverbal ending -est and the verb-forms art, wilt (thou makest, thou wilt), the ending -(e)th insteadof -(e)s (he maketh) and the pronoun ye. To the category of obsolescent words belong manyFrench borrowings which have been kept in the literary language as a means of preserving thespirit of earlier periods, e. g.'a pallet (=a straw mattress); a palfrey (=a small horse); garniture(^furniture); to pmplume (==to adorn with feathers or plumes).The second group of archaicwords are those that have already gone completely out of use but are still recognized by theEnglish-speaking community: e. g. methinks (=it seems to me); nay (==no). These words arecalled obsolete.The third group, which may be called archaic proper, are words which are nolonger recognizable in modern English, words that were in use in Old English and which haveeither dropped out of the language entirely or have changed in their appearance so much thatthey have become unrecognizable, e. g. troth (=faith); a losel (==a worthless, lazy fellow).It will be noted that on the diagram (p. 71) the small circles denoting archaic and poetic words overlapand both extend beyond the large circle "special literary vocabulary". This indicates that some of the words in these layers do not belong to the present-day English vocabulary.The border lines between the groups are not distinct.- In fact they interpenetrate. It is specially diffioult todistinguish between obsolete and obsolescent words. But the difference is important when wecome to deal with the stylistic aspect of an utterance in which the given word serves a certainstylistic purpose. Obsolete and obsolescent words have separate functions, as we shall point oirtlater.There is still another class of words which is erroneously classed as archaic, viz. historicalwords. By-gone periods in the life of any society are marked by historical events, and byinstitutions, customs, material objects, etc. which are no longer in use, for example: -Thane,yeoman, .goblet, baldric, mace. Words of this typeriever disappear from the language. They arehistorical terms and remain as terms referring to definite stages in the development of societyand cannot therefore be dispensed with,, though the things and phenomena to which they refer have long passed into oblivion. This, the main function ofarchaisms,,finds different interpretationin- different novels .by different writers. Some writers overdo things inthisrespect, theresult being that thereader finds all kinds of obstacles in his way. Others under-estimate the necessityof introducing obsolete or obsolescent elements into their narration and thus failtoconvey what iscalled "local colour".
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