This figure of contrast stands close to oxymoron. The major differ' ence between them is structural: oxymoron is realized through a single

word-combination, while antithesis is a confrontation of at least two separate phrases semantically opposite. Compare:

"wise foolishness" is an oxymoron;

"... the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness" is an antithesis. Assigned features. Syntactic structures expressing the meaning of antithesis are quite various: a simple extended sentence, a composite sentence, a paragraph or even chain of paragraphs. The main lexical means of antithesis formation is antonyms (words opposite in meaning): danger - security, Hfe _ death, empty -occupied, to hurry - to go slow. However, the use of antonyms is not strictly obligatory. Antithesis may also be formed through situational confrontation of two notions expressed by non-antonymous words. For example:

Isabel's salary was high; Isabel's work was light. More examples:

It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness.

1 had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled

out a decrepit wreck.

Gilbert wears fine clothes while I go in rags.

While I am weak from hunger. Denis suffers from overeating.

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This figure of inequality consists in arranging the utterance so that each subsequent component of it increases significance, importance oremotional tension of narration:

There was the boom, then instantly the shriek and burst.

I am sorry. I am so very sorry, I am so extremely sorry.

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Classification. Gradation which increases emotional tension of the ut- ] terance may be called emotional.Emotional gradation is created by synonymic words with emotive meanings:

nice - lovely - beautiful - fair - magnificent; surprised - astonished

- astounded - struck - petrified - killed (figuratively).

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, . Gradation revealing the quantity of objects may be called quantitative:

There were hundreds of houses, thousands of stairs, innumerably


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It consists in arranging the utterance so that each subsequent component of it decreases significance, importance or emotional tension of


If John's eyes fill with tears, you may have no doubt: he has been

eating raw onions.

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, . Climax and anticlimax may be combined, like in the anecdote:

Yes, I came face to face with a lion once. To make things worse, I was alone and weaponless. First, I tried to hypnotize him looking straight into his eyeballs. But it was useless. He kept on crawling towards me. Then I thought of plunging my arm down his throat, grabbing him by the tail from the inside and turning him inside out, but it seemed too dangerous. And he kept on creeping towards me, growling in anticipation. I had to think fast. Meanwhile, the situation got more and

more monotonous with every coming second. And you know how I escaped the situation. When I became bored enough with the lion's muzzle, I just left him and went to the other cages.


A zeugmatic construction consists of at least three constituents. Thebasic word of it stands in the same grammatical but different semanticrelations to a couple of adjacent words. The basic word combined with the first adjacent word forms a phraseological word-combination. The same basic word combined with the second adjacent word forms a free word-combination.For example:

Freddy got out of bed and low spirits. Communicative function. Zeugma is used to create a humoristic effect which is achieved by means of contradiction between the similarity of the two syntactic structures and their semantic heterogeneity. More examples:

Mary dropped a tear and her handkerchief.

George possessed two false teeth and a kind heart.

Dora plunged into privileged intimacy and into the middle of the room.

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The principle of semantic incompatibility of language units realized in zeugma is also realized in pun. In fact, pun is a variantof zeugma, or vice versa. The difference is structural: pun is more independent, it does not need a basic component like zeugma. Pun is just a play on words.


1.Play on words may be based upon polysemy and homonymy:

a) Visitor, to a little boy:

- Is your mother engaged?

- Engaged ? She is already married;

b) A young lady, weeping softly into her mother's lap:

- My husband just can't bear children!

- He needn't bear children, my dear. You shouldn't expect too much of your husband.


2.Play on words may be based upon similarity of pronunciation:John said to Pete at dinner: "Carry on". But Pete never ate carrion. , ^ - , , .


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