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Climax (Gradation) and Anticlimax

Climax is stylistic device consists in arranging the utterance so that each subsequent component of it increases significance, importance or emotional tension of narration. In order to create antithesis (paradox or oxymoron) we use antonyms or their contextual equivalents. In climax we deal with string of synonyms or at least semantically related words. The special organization of the utterance (or text) increases its stylistic effect and impact on the addressee.

 

E.g.: I am sorry, I am so sorry, I am so extremely sorry.

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The stylistic device of climax may be of two opposite types. The first one is the utterance or string of utterances in which each next word combination (clause, sentence) is logically or emotionally more important, stronger or explicit, as in the following example:

 

I am firm, thou art obstinate, he is pig-headed (B.Charlstone).

 

The second type of structures participating in the formation of climax is characterized by the reversed, descending order of its components, as in the following example:

 

No tree, no shrub, no blade of grass that was not owned (J. Galsworthy).

 

The relative (contextual) synonyms are arranged not in the ascending but in the descending order: according to the importance or emotional colouring, quality or quantity expressed by them.

Climax suddenly interrupted by an unexpected turn of the thought that defeats expectations of the reader (listener) and ends in a complete semantic reversal of the idea is called anticlimax. This sudden break in the semantic order, logical or emotional significance of the components is often indicated by emphatic punctuation, as, for example a dash in writing and intonation, pause in oral speech:

 

He was inconsolable for an afternoon (J. Galsworthy).

In moments of utter crisis my nerves act in the most extraordinary way. When utter disaster seems imminent, my whole being is simultaneously brazed to avoid it. I size up the situation in a flash, set my teeth, contract my muscles, take a firm grip of myself, and without a tremor always do the wrong thing (B. Charlestone).

Women have a wonderful instinct about things. They can discover everything except the obvious (O. Wild).

Anticlimax is closely connected with paradox. A lot of witty sayings and proverbs, jokes and anecdotes are based on both paradox and anticlimax.

 

 

Zeugma and Pun

Zeugma and pun are stylistic devices which consist in play on words and operate on the linguistic mechanism of polysemy: the realization of different meanings of one and the same word, or the principle of semantic incompatibility of language units used in the utterance. The effect of these stylistic devices is humorous. Both of them are highly characteristic for English prose and poetry.

Zeugma and pun are very alike from semantic point of view. But they differ structurally.

A zeugmatic construction consists of at least three constituents. The basic word (as a rule a polysemantic verb) of it stands in the same grammatical but different semantic relation to a couple of adjacent words. In a lot of cases polysemantic verbs, that have practically unlimited lexical valency and can be combined with nouns of most varying semantic groups, are deliberately connected with two or more homogeneous members which cannot be combined semantically:

 

E.g.: He took his hat and his leave (Ch. Dickens).

The humoristic effect occurs as a result of contradiction between the similarity of the two syntactic structures and their semantic heterogeneity.

Pun is a variant of zeugma. But pun is more independent structurally. It does not need a basic component like in zeugma. It is just play on words based either upon polysemy or homonymy.

 

E.g.: Visitor to a little boy:

- Is your mother engaged?

- Engaged? She is already married!

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Punning may be the result of the intended violation of listeners expectations, phonetic or grammatical rules:

 

There comes a period in every mans life, but she is just a semicolon in his (B.Evans).

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The principle of play on words is the ground of other subtypes of above discussed stylistic devices. When the number of homogeneous members, semantically disconnected, but attached to the same verb, increases, we deal with semantically false chains. As a rule it is the last word of the chain that falls out of the semantic group, defeating our expectancy and producing humorous effect:

 

E.g.: A Governess wanted. Must possess knowledge of Romanian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, German, Music and Mining Engineering.

Little John was born with a silver spoon in his mouth which was rather curly and large (J. Galsworthy).

Sometimes the speaker (writer) interferes into the structure of a word attributing homonymous meaning to individual morphemes, as in the case of so-called pseudo-etymology:

 

E.g. professorship a ship full of professors, relying 0 telling the same story again, beheld to have somebody hold you, etc.

Zeugma, pun, semantically false chains are the most resortful ways to create short, witty and wise aphorisms which are not only humorous but help to look at things differently:

 

The books and lectures are better sorrow-drowners than drink and fornication, they leave no headache (A. Huxley).

Most are accepters, born and bred to harness, and take things as they come (L. Macneice).

Pity this busy monster manunkind not (E. Cummings).

I believed all men were brothers; she though all men were husbands. I gave the whole mess up (J. Barth).

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Conclusion

Tropes (figures of speech) are the complex system of stylistic devices which for the purpose of scientific analysis can be classified into two main groups: figures of substitution (lexical stylistic devices) and figures of combination (lexico-syntactic stylistic devices). The firs group consists of figures of quality (metaphor, metonymy, epithet, antonomasia, allegory, personification, irony) and figures of quality (hyperbole, meiosis, litotes). Tropes that belong to this group are created on the bases of substitution of one meaning of a word for another as well as interaction between its logical (dictionary) and contextually imposed meaning or any other semantic operation that lead to the change of word meaning.

The second group includes figures of identity (simile), of contrast (oxymoron, antithesis, paradox) and of inequality (climax, anticlimax, zeugma and pun). The stylistic function of lexico-syntactic stylistic devices is to add logical, emotive, expressive information not to a single word but to the whole utterance. The emphasis here depends both on the lexico-semantic aspect of the words that participate in the creation of tropes and on the specific arrangement of utterance components.

Tropes perform aesthetic and cognitive function. They are indispensable means of creating images within the structure of a literary text and foregrounding a certain notion by highlighting its specific characteristics. Tropes help to approach the understanding of a certain notion, object, phenomenon through the image of it. In other words tropes are the means of imagery world perception ( ). They are the powerful instruments by which the human thought is created and shaped.

The source of tropeic language is mythology, religeon and folklore of the nation.

 

 

Lecture No 6. Stylistic syntax

General considerations

The object of stylistic analysis on syntactic level is sentence. Within the domain of syntax stylistics deals with the following crucial problems: 1) the stylistic potential of syntactic units of different structural design, semantic characteristics and communicative types; 2) the syntactic synonymy, i.e. the peculiarities of rendering of one and the same logical content by syntactic units with different structure, functional characteristics, expressive colouring and connotations; 3) description of syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices.

Owing to its constructive nature, syntax is considered to have more perceptible stylistic power (when compared with morophological and lexical level) because it embraces the expressive potential of morphology and vocabulary. Syntax is the structural basis of any utterance and text: the process of nomination and metaphorization, logical and figurative, emotional, expressive and poetic colouring of the words, language imagery and symbolism, specific figures of speech, new coinages and at last the individual speakers creativity are actualized only on the level of syntax, and, having been melted into a completed unity, can fulfill its communicative purpose. Thus the importance of syntax for stylistic analysis is hard to overestimate. It is syntax that fixes the stylistic aspect of any text. Syntax, alongside with other stylistic elements (phonetic, morphological, lexical) that secure utterance meaning, provide it with additional connotations or expressiveness and contribute to the development of text imagery system, is an efficient mediator of aesthetic delight.

To desplay the stylistic value of syntactic constructions which by their form render the main idea of the text, reflect the type of authors personal perception and perform a characteralogical stylistic function, let us refer to the following example:

 

Sun in a blaze. Lost its shape. Tide pouring up from London as bright as bottled ale. Full of bubbles and every bubble flashing its own electric torch. Mist breaking into round fat shapes, china white on Dresden blue. Dutch angels by Rubens della Robbia. Big one on top curled up with her knees to her nose like the little marble woman Dobson did for Courtauld. A beauty. Made me jump to think of it. You could have turned it round in your hand. Smooth and neat as a cricket ball. A classic Event (J. Carry).

What is the extract about? It is about a bright sun over the Thames, tide and white clouds against the background of sparkling blue sky. But due to the special syntactic shape the text is loaded with additional expressive and emotional information. It makes the reader to look at the picture from the point of view of the artist and even to identify the artistic trend it is executed in. The general effect is created by short, elliptical or nominal sentences that resemble quick, energetic brushstrokes on a canvas. Writers peculiarities of world perception (encoded in the extract queer, full of unexpected images and reminiscences) rests upon the stylistic function of its syntactic organization.

The leading feature of stylistic function of syntax is that it works almost inconspicuously but at the same time the effect produced is strong and perceptible. Sentence length and structure are the primary and constant factors which influence the stylistic function of syntactic constructions and correlates with the semantic, compositional and expressive properties of a text. To support this statement let us refer to the following examples:

 

I slipped along behind the bar and out through the kitchen in back all the way out. I went clear around the outside of the square and went in through the gate and out onto the dock and got on board (E. Hemingway).

When the shooting started, he had clapped his helmet on his head so hard it banged his head as though he had been hit with a casserole and, in the last lung-aching, leg-dead, mouth-dry, bullet-spatting, bullet-cracking, bullet-singing run up the final slope of the hill after his horse was killed, the helmet had seem to weigh a great amount and to ring his bursting forehead with an iron bang. But he had kept it (E. Hemingway).

I am, he thought, a part of all that I have touched and that has touched me, which, having for me no existence save that I gave to it, became other than itself by being mixed with what I then was, and is now still otherwise, having fused with what I now am, which is itself a cummulation of what I have been becoming (Th. Wolfe).

In the first example the length and structure of the sentences contribute to the rendering the dynamic character of the event. Direction, manner, tempo of the action is expressed not only by the meaning of the verbs slipped, went, got but also by the accumulation of homogeneous adverbial modifiers in both sentences, their parallel distribution which intensifies the utterance and secures its rhythmical arrangement. Therefore the utterance that contains not a single lexical emotive or expressive element is loaded with emotional tension only due to its syntactic structure.

In the second example a short final sentence neigbours with a long initial one that exceeds it in length considerably. This linear arrangement of the utterance creates a specific rhythmical and intonation drop and influences the meaning of the whole extract. It actualizes the cause-and-effect relations that exist between the parts of the utterance: the short sentence mounts the catharsis, the outcome of the emotional, logical or situational strain, which exists in the long one.

The structural complexity of the third example serves as a reflection of complexity and intricacy of characters thoughts, his intention to grasp the most vitally important things, his need to come to the conclusion. Hence, long complex or compound sentences, being introduced into the structure of a text make the emotive prose sound heavy and ponderous. In such sentences the number of clauses, expletives and detached, absolute or participial constructions may be practically unlimited. English and Ukrainian literatures abound in examples of strings that contain 100, 300 or even more than 500 words. The occurrence of these giants is not at all accidental. The complex syntactic organization of a text always has a definite artistic function. It creates a special subjective modality, produces the effect of chaotic character of narration or perception, and in most cases is a literary attempt to represent the actual stream of consciousness (for example the works of J. Joyce, J.C. Oates, N. Mailer, W. Faulkner, . , . , etc).

And vice versa, lightness, clarity, transparency and memorability are the indispensable feature of the prose built up of simple (extended or unextended) sentences (with a slight dissemination of complex sentences). Balanced in length and structure, the components of such texts create the perceptible rhythm in emotive prose, which in most cases contributes to the development of its idea and embodied images:

 

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