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The Institute of International Relations of Moldova
Faculty of Foreign Languages
The use of Cliches, Proverbs and Sayings as Lexical Stylistic Devices
Accomplished Dorina Moisa, gr 2LM2 by:
Content Introduction……..13 .1 The use of Cliches as Lexical Stylistic Devices…3 The use of Proverbs and Sayings as Lexical Stylistic Devices…7 Conclusion…12 Bibliography….
Amosova even thinks that there is no more reason to consider them as part of phraseology than. As to the argument that in many proverbs the meaning of component parts does not show any specific changes when compared to the meaning of the same words in free combinations. The place of proverbs. for instance. irony). 3. and they are introduced into speech ready-made. Others like J. This standpoint is hardly acceptable especially if we do not agree with the narrow limits of phraseology offered by this author. Both set 1 . because they are independent units of communication. Intensification of a feature (simile. d) logical and nominative (autonomasia). it must be pointed out that in this respect they do not differ from very many set expressions. epigram. N. That is why some scholars following V. because their lexical components are also constant. periphrasis).Introduction Lexical stylistic devices are classified in three groups: 1. 2. proverbs. c) logical and emotive (epithet. Casares and N. Peculiar use of set expressions (cliches. b) primary and derivative (zeugma and pun).V. The interaction of different types of lexical meaning. sayings and clichés with respect to set expressions is a controversial issue. oxymoron).N. metonymy. hyperbole. Another reason why proverbs must be taken into consideration together with set expressions is that they often form the basis of set expressions. riddles and children’s counts. Proverbs have much in common with set expressions. quotations). a) dictionary and contextual (metaphor. Amosova think that unless they regularly form parts of other sentences it is erroneous to include them into the system of language. Vinogradov think proverbs must be studied together with phraseological units. we shall have to exclude all interjections such as Hang it (all)! because they are also syntactically independent. their meaning is traditional and mostly figurative. especially those which are emotionally neutral. If we follow that line of reasoning.N.
and even so there remains much to be studied in the future.expressions and proverbs are sometimes split and changed for humorous purposes. 2 . Each approach and each classification have their advantages and their drawbacks. as in the following quotation where the proverb In giving this review of English set expressions we have paid special attention to the fact that the subject is a highly complex one and that it has been treated by different scholars in very different ways. The choice one makes depends on the particular problem one has in view.
''. habitual.. has lost originality. 'trite* convey to the mind? First of all they indicate that the phrase is in common use. Examples of real cliches are 'rosy dreams of youth'. On the contrary: something common.The Cliche A cliche is generally defined as an expression that has become hackneyed and trite. that is. whereas it has lost the aesthetic generating power it once had. The article is revealing on one main point. ingenuity. But the fact is that most of the widely recognized word-combinations which have been adopted by the language are unjustly classified as clichés . What. As Random House Dictionary has it.. devoid of novelty is the only admissible expression in some types of communications. indeed."This definition lacks one point that should be emphasized." His opponent naturally rejects the substitute on the grounds that 'Jack of all trades' may. have long ceased to be vivid or original.. but his substitute never was. Is this a demerit? Not at all. There is always a contradiction between what is aimed at and what is actually attained. The aversion for cliches has gone so far that most of the lexical units based on simile are branded as clichés . a she says. 'the patter of little feet'. "Determine to 3 . do the words 'stereotyped'. a cliche strives after originality.. In the article just mentioned one of the debaters objects to the phrase 'Jack-of-all-trades' and suggests that it should be "one who can turn his hand to any (or to many kinds of) work. In an interesting article entitled "Great Cliché Debate" published in the New York Times Magazine we can read the pros and cons concerning clichés . Definitions taken from various dictionaries show that cliche is a derogatory term and it is therefore necessary to avoid anything that may be called by that name. It illustrates the fact that an uncertain or vague term will lead to various and even conflicting interpretations of the idea embodied in the term. 'hackneyed'. and impact by long over-use. And it is fourteen words instead of four. "a cliche .
But the process of Being acknowledged as a unit of language is slow. should make use of units that are easily understood and which require little or no effort to convey the idea and to grasp it. and. if it has become familiar. language. D. like We are gathered here to-day to mourn ('the untimely death') of our beloved leader. or failing to meet the demand of the language community for stable wordcombinations to designate new notions... when you are listening to a speaker." L Then he gives examples. on the other hand. as a common tool for intercommunication. On the contrary. otherwise he would be constantly surprising you. But a great many expressions are universally understood to be so threadbare as to be useless except in the most casual discourse. he is pretty certainly using clichés . Altick in his "Preface to Critical Reading" condemns every word sequence in which what follows can easily be predicted from what precedes."2Debates of this kind proceed from a grossly mistaken notion that the term 'cliche' is used to denote all stable word-combinations. "When does an expression become a cliché ? There can be no definite answer.. you can accurately anticipate what he is going to say next. whereas it was coined. A good practical test is this: If. Words are 4 .' but which are used as if they were fresh and original and so have become irritating to people who are sensitive to the language they hear and read. vigorous and expressive. that means it has won general recognition and by iteration has been accepted as a unit of the language. because what is trite to one person may still be fresh to another. It is next to impossible to foretell what may be accepted as a unit of the language and what may be rejected and cast away as being unfit.combinations which have long lost their novelty and become trite... What is familiar should not be given a derogatory label.*to denote^ word.avoid cliches at all costs and you are almost certain to be led into gobbledygook. inappropriate. alien to the internal laws of the language. Hence the two conflicting ideas:la nguage should always be fresh. R.
'a diamond in the rough' and the like on the grounds that they have outlasted their freshness. He heard a dull ('thud') which was followed by an ominous ('silence'). D. He is confusing useful word-combinations circulating in speech as members of the word-stock of the language with what claims to be genuine... All wordcombinations that do not surprise are labelled as cliches. 'to let bygones be bygones'. 'to grow by leaps and bounds1. 'crushing defeat'. 'part and parcel'. 'buffer zone 'he laid it down equally clearly that. 'immediate issues'. R. 'to upset the apple-cart'. you are reading cliches. 'to maintain some equilibrium between reliable sources'. 'bumper-to-bumper traffic'.and noun-phrases as 'to live to aripe old age'.. A pall ('of smoke') hung thick over the neighbourhood. 'sky-rocketing costs' and the like". Altick thus denounces as cliches such verb." he goes on. original and vigorous."Similarly when you read. If we agree with such an understanding of the term."And then again come illustrations.. 'to withstand me test of time'. 'to have an ace up one's sleeve'. 'the whip and carrot policy1. we must admitthat the following stable and necessary wordcombinations used in newspa per language must be viewed as cliches: 'effective guarantees'. “the patter of rain'. like We watched the flames ('licking') at the side of the building.'. 'to be unable to see the wood for the trees'."Of 5 .. if you can read half of the words and know pretty certainly what the other are.' and so on.inadequate ('to express the grief that is in our hearts'). "if one word almost inevitably invites another. In his protest against hackneyed phrases..2This passage shows that the author has been led into the erroneous notion that everything that is predictable is a cliché . 'statement of policy9. Altick has gone so far as to declare that people have adopted phrases like 'clock-work precision'. And^ finally he rejects such word-combinations as*'the full flush of victory'. 'tight-lipped (or stony) silence'. as a way of evading their obligation to make their ownlanguage.
"(Aldington)Byron. just as they fail to understand certain neologisms. A linguistic scholar must be 6 . the language of the community. and therefore they are used rather loosely. people are to coin "their own language. 'growing awareness'." then Altick is right. both in their American and British variants. But as history has proved.. at every period in the development of a language. Many of the new-born word-combinations in modern English. However. Language has its strength and its weaknesses. to believe to be) and others and reject them or use them wrongly. have been made fun of because their meaning is still obscure. as deem (= to consider. the protest of too-zealous purists often fails to bar the way to all kinds of innovations into standard English.. 4o think unthinkable thoughts' and others were wittily criticized by a journalist who showed that ordinary rankand-file American people do not understand these new word-combinations. Illustrative in this respect is the protest made by Byron in his "Don Juan": and also:or:''. ""The march of Science (How delightful these cliches are!).course. But nobody would ever think such an idea either sound or reasonable.""Л strange coincidence to use a phrase By which-such44 things are settled nowadays.. if instead of making use of the existing means of communication.. e. could not help observing the triteness of the phrases he comments on. and revived words. being very sensitive to the aesthetic aspect of his native language.'free to confess'— (whence comes this phrase? Is't English? No—'tis only parliamentary). The set expressions of a language are 'part and parcel' of the vocabulary of the language and can not be dispensed with by merely labelling them clichés . as opt (= to make a choice). Recently in the New' York Times such cliches as 'speaking realization'. there appear strange combinations of words which arouse suspicion as to their meaning and connotation. 'rising expectations'. i. but at the same time he accepts them as ready-made units.
and well- known phrases never produce theimpression of being cliches Proverbs and Sayings Proverbs and sayings are facts of language. the proverb itself becomes a vessel into which new content is poured. The 7 . It is impossible to arrange proverbs and sayings in a form that would present a pattern even though they have some typical features by which it is 1 possible to determine whether or not we are dealing with one. These typical features are: rhythm. if they are real artists. but in the content-form of the utterance. In other words. the proverb presupposes a simultaneous application of two meanings: the face-value or primary meaning. use the stock of expressive phrases contained inthe language naturally and easily. There are special dictionaries of proverbs and sayings. In other words. to decide whether or not a phrase is a cliche or "the right word in the right place". As is known. taken at Bits face value. presents a pattern which can be successfully used for other liitterances .equipped with methods of stylistic analysis to ascertain the writer's aim. mainly characterized by its brevity. Ibid. a proverb or a saying is a peculiar mode of utterance which is The peculiarity of the use of a proverb lies in the fact that the actual wording becomes a pattern which needs no new wording to suggest extensions of meaning which are contextual. But the mostcharacteristic feature of a proverb or a saying lies not on its formal linguisti c expression. the situation in which the communication takes place and possibly the impact on the reader. the intricacies of language units may become a trap for him. They are collected in dictionaries. If he does not take into consideration all the properties of the given word or word-combination. but bridled by the face-value meaning. Men-of-letters.sometimes rhyme and/or alliteration. and an extended meaning drawn from the context. The utterance itself.
Abstract [formulas offer a wider range of possible applications to practical purposes than concrete words. These modifications. In other words. wealthy and wise. e. as in the [following:" to cut one's coat according to one's cloth. Many of them through frequency of repetition have become polished and wrought into verse-like shape. though they havethesame purpose. by-phrases and proverbs. one meaning (literal) is the form for another meaning (transferred) which contains the idea. will never break away from the invariants to such a degree that the correlation between the invariant model of a word-combination and its variantceases to be perceived 8 . Proverbs and sayings have certain purely linguistic features which must always be taken into account in order to distinguish them from ordinary sentences. The most noticeable thing about the functioning of sayings. will never lose their freshness and vigour. they are the natural ways in hich speech develops. Their literal meaning is suppressed by what may betermed their transferred meaning. •That is why we may regard the proverb as a pattern of thought. first served.wording of a proverb. Makes a man healthy. Proverbs and sayings. the filling up of the form. narrows the field of possible extensions of meaning. So it is I'm every other case at any other level of linguistic research. proverbs and catchphrases is that they may be handled not in their fixed form (the traditional model) but with modifications. Proverbs are brief statements showing in condensed [form the accumulated life experience of the community and serving as |conventional practical symbols for abstract ideas. out of mind. its primary meaning. "Brevity in proverbs manifests itself also in the omission of connectives.Almost every good writer will make use of language idio ms. however. As Gorki has it. i. "But the main feature distinguishing proverbs and sayings from ordinary utterances remains their semantic aspect." "Out of sight." "Early to bed and early to rise. as in: "First come. They are usually I didactic and image bearing. if used appropriately.
the meaning of which is deciphered two lines below: 'the Fortune'. Therefore the use of such a unitin a modified form will always arrest our attention. for instance... thus making the reader reappraise the hackneyed phrases.sometimes injecting new vigour into the components. and the careful sisters (Who. like flieso'er candyBuzz round the Fortune with their busy battery. The statesman..To be produced when brought up to the test. 'Tis pity that such meaning should pavehell"The stylistic effect produced by such uses of proverbs and sayings is the result of 9 . by the by. which form all mankind'strump card.... but severely wounded.by the reader. "The proverb Hell is paved with good intentions and the set expression to mean well are used by Byron in a peculiar way. The watchful mothers. In the following lines. "I leave Don Juan for the present. if he warr'dOr loved. by saying they meant well.. The predictability of a variant of a word-combination is lower in comparison with its invariant.. sometimes entirely disregarding the semantic unity of the combination. Each out-at-elbow peer or desperate dandy..(< . it was with what we call the best Intentions.. each word of the phrase safe and sound gets its full meaning. lawyer— wardOff each attack. that is. safe— Not sound.. causing a much closer e xamination of the wording of the utterance in order to get at the idea. To turn her head with waltzing and with flattery. hero... when people are in quest1 the archaic form of glittersOf their designs.. are more handy At making matches where "t'is gold that glisters" l' Than their he relatives). Thus.It has already been pointed out that Byron is fond of playing with stable wordcombinations. the proverb 'all is not gold that glitters' appears in Byron's "Don Juan" in the following form and environment where at first the meaning may seem obscure: "How all the needy honorable misters. harlot. poor fellow. 'a marriageable heiress'). "Out of the wellknown proverb Byron builds a periphrasis. when clever...
"milk's spilt. which disconcerted her. is an indispensable condition for the appearance of all stylistic devices." (Maugham) (from 'Every cloud has a silver lining'). as has already been emphasized. The modified form of the proverb is perceived against the background of the fixed form. which.."The waters will remain sufficiently troubled for somebody's fishing to be profitable"(Economist) (from 'It is good fishing in troubled waters').atwofold application of language means."We were dashed uncomfortable in the frying pan."You know which side the law's buttered. Sometimes this injection of new vigour into the proverb causes a slight semantic re-evaluation of its generally accepted meaning. Here are some instances from newspapers and magazines illustrating the stylistic use of proverbs.and whether the Ministry of Economic Warfare is being allowed enough financial rope to do its worst.Here is a 10 . it acquires a stylistic meaning." (Galsworthy) (from 'It is no use crying over spilt milk!'). When a proverb is used in its unaltered form it can be qualified as an expressive means (EM) of the language. when used in a modified variant it assumes the one of the features of an SD. but we should have been a damned sight worse off in the fire" (Maugham) (from 'Out of the fryingpan into the fire').A newspaper editorial once had the following headline: "Proof of the Pudding" (from 'The proof of the pudding is in the eating')." (from 'Give a thief rope enough and he'll hang himself). We shall take only a few of the numerous examples of the stylistic use of proverbs and sayings to illustrate the possible ways of decomposing the units in order simply to suggest the idea behind them: "Come!" he said. sayings and other word- combinations:". insistent and plain. though not becoming an SD.This device is used not only in the belles-lettres style."But to all that moving experience there had been a shadow (a dark lining to the silver cloud). thus enliveningthe latter." (Galsworthy) (from 'His bread is buttered on both sides')..
wealthy and wise')* Notice this recast by Lewis Carroll of a well-known saying:1"Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves.recast of a well-known proverb used by an advertizing agency: "Early to bed and early to rise No use—unless you advertize" (from 'Early to bed and early to rise* }Makes a man healthy." 11 .
Each approach and each classification have their advantages and their drawbacks. proverbs and sayings shows that a person is smart and knows the language and its history. heights of tragedy. but a terror all right (Rattigan).Both set expressions and proverbs are sometimes split and changed for humorous purposes. to spell the doom of civilisation. The use of clichés. Taking a familiar group of words: A living dog is better than a dead lion (from the Bible) and turning it around. I suppose. as in the following: Holy terror. she is — least not so holy.Sometimes the speaker notices the lack of logic in a set expression and checks himself.Conclusion A proverb is a short familiar epigrammatic saying expressing popular wisdom. consummate art. etc. consummate skill. as in the following quotation where the proverb All is not gold that glitters combines with an allusion to the set expression golden age. We can use them when we know sure that it expresses a concrete idea ant there are not doubts. lofty flight of imagination. to pave the way to a bright new world. The choice one makes depends on the particular problem one has in view. In giving this review of English set expressions we have paid special attention to the fact that the subject is a highly complex one and that it has been treated by different scholars in very different ways. and even so there remains much to be studied in the future. Here are some phrases occurring in passages of literary criticism and justly branded as clichés: to blaze a trail. to prove a boon to mankind. 12 . But we need to be careful because sometimes they express the opinion in a different way or if we use them to much then our speech will not be original. The so-called journalese has its own set of overworked phrases: to usher in a new age. a truth or a moral lesson in a concise and imaginative way.
Moscow: Nauka.Bibliography Permiakov. From proverb to Folk-tale: Notes on the general theory of cliche.English Stylistics. Stylistics (London and New York: Routledge) Widdowson. 13 . H. Moscow Richard Bradford. G.R. (1975) Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature London: Longman.Galperin. 1979. I. 1997. Grigorii. 1981.
as deem (= to consider. 'rising expectations'. otherwise he would be constantly surprising you. "When does an expression become a cliché ? There can be no definite answer. just as they fail to understand certain neologisms. 'growing awareness'. oxymoron). Proverbs are brief statements showing in condensed [form the accumulated life experience of the community and serving as |conventional practical symbols for abstract ideas. Peculiar use of set expressions (cliches." The use of clichés. irony). the proverb presupposes a simultaneous application of two meanings: the face-value or primary meaning. their meaning is traditional and mostly figurative. the protest of too-zealous purists often fails to bar the way to all kinds of innovations into standard English. as opt (= to make a choice). c) logical and emotive (epithet. and they are introduced into speech ready-made. and an extended meaning drawn from the context. because their lexical components are also constant. but bridled by the face-value meaning. They are usually I didactic and image bearing. because what is trite to one person may still be fresh to another. 4o think unthinkable thoughts' and others were wittily criticized by a journalist who showed that ordinary rank-andfile American people do not understand these new word-combinations." "Early to bed and early to rise. when you are listening to a speaker. A good practical test is this: If. metonymy. Many of the new-born word-combinations in modern English. to believe to be) and others and reject them or use them wrongly. hyperbole. The peculiarity of the use of a proverb lies in the fact that the actual wording becomes a pattern which needs no new wording to suggest extensions of meaning which are contextual. quotations). wealthy and wise. have been made fun of because their meaning is still obscure. Recently in the New' York Times such cliches as 'speaking realization'. The interaction of different types of lexical meaning. he is pretty certainly using clichés . you can accurately anticipate what he is going to say next. Proverbs have much in common with set expressions. But as history has proved. a) dictionary and contextual (metaphor. proverbs. 2. Intensification of a feature (simile. and revived words. and therefore they are used rather loosely. as in: "First come.Lexical stylistic devices are classified in three groups: 1. Definitions taken from various dictionaries show that cliche is a derogatory term and it is therefore necessary to avoid anything that may be called by that name. In other words. first served. "Brevity in proverbs manifests itself also in the omission of connectives. as in the [following:" to cut one's coat according to one's cloth. Makes a man healthy. proverbs and sayings shows that a person is smart and knows the language and its history. both in their American and British variants. But we need to be careful because sometimes they express the opinion in a different way or if we use them to much then our speech will not be original. 3. Many of them through frequency of repetition have become polished and wrought into verse-like shape. But the fact is that most of the widely recognized wordcombinations which have been adopted by the language are unjustly classified as clichés . We can use them when we know sure that it expresses a concrete idea ant there are not doubts. b) primary and derivative (zeugma and pun). epigram. d) logical and nominative (autonomasia). . periphrasis).
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