Expressive means and stylistic devices

Expressive means of language are those phonetic, morphological, word-building, lexical, phraseological and syntactical forms which exist in language-as-a-system for the purpose of logical and/or emotional intensification of the utterance. Expressive means are concrete facts of the language by which utterances are foregrounded, i.e. made more conspicuous, more effective. Expressive means are such language media which impart some additional information into the utterance and are traditionaly set against conventionally neutral.

To understand the nature of expressive means it is first of all necessary to elucidate the notion 'expressiveness'. The category of expressiveness may be understood as a kind of intensification of an utterance or of a part of it .


Expressiveness is achieved by lexical and syntactical means or by morphological devices (such as suffixes or prefixes); the emphasis is materialized by the repetition of a word or word combination.

Expressive means have a kind of radiant effect, they colour the whole utterance no matter whether they are emotional or logical.

What then is a stylistic device? According to I. R. Galperin stylistic device is a conscious and intentional intensification of some typical structural and/or semantic property of a language unit (neutral or expressive) promoted to a generalized status and thus becoming a generative model. It follows then that a stylistic device is an abstract pattern, a mould into which any content can be poured. But the cited above definition of stylistic devices is contested by other prominent style theoretician I. Arnold who stated that the intentionality cannot be regarded as a main differentiating feature of stylistic device because we have no reliable information whether a certain device has been used intentionally or unintentionally by the author of the text.

Language media that are characterized by the transference, transformation, enrichment of meaning resulting in imagery are united in stylistics under the term tropes.

The Greek word tropos meant a turn of speech, utterance, pattern, form and perfection and further on it was treated as a useful change of the word meaning into more perfect one. At the beginning the notion trope comprised all stylistic means but later on they were divided into tropes proper and figures of speech by Cicero. Beginning from Aristotle the classical rhetoric strived to elaborate the clear and complete classification of tropes and figures of speech but even nowadays this classification remains the most controversial stylistic issue.

Tropes are such figurative usage of word as metaphor, metonymy, hyperbole, litotes, irony, periphrasis, etc. Figures of speech are such syntactic structures as inversion, rhetoric question, parallel constructions, contrast, etc.


Methods of stylistic analysis

Within the domain of stylistics different general scientific and special methods of investigation are employed. To the most frequently applied special stylistic methods that aim at profound study of all stylistic phenomena belong:

Semantic-stylistic analysis. Semantico-stylistic analysis is aimed at the defining of stylistic functions of separate language units. With the help of semantico-stylistic analysis the specific correlation between the function of the language unit and its semantic properties is studied. The application of the semantico-stylistic analysis made it possible to identify and describe stylistic resources, of different languages, expressive means on all language levels and to characterize main functional styles.

Comparative method. Comparative method focuses on the study of language units that perform different stylistic function (e. g. homonyms or synonyms). The stylistic effect created by a certain language unit can be revealed only in comparison with other units which are more expressive or on the contrary neutral. This method is one of the most important in stylistics and constitutes the core of semantic stylistic analysis. With the help of this method the language units that are the most effective and appropriate in a certain type of communication are defined. Comparative method makes it possible to answer the question why and under what conditions this or that language unit has acquired a certain stylistic meaning and to comprehend its semantic appropriateness and aesthetic effectiveness in a certain context.

Method of stylistic experiment. In the process of stylistic experiment the existing in the text language elements are purposely substituted by new ones with the aim to approve their stylistic properties and to penetrate into the basic aesthetic and artistic idea of the authentic text.

Quantitative method. Quantitative method makes it possible to calculate the number of functions performed by a language unit, to register all language units with the identical stylistic properties or to obtain a reliable data about the frequency of the phenomenon under consideration.

Statistic method. The task of statistic method is to identify and describe language means that are characteristic for a given functional style and to work out a set of statistic parameters of the main functional styles and their subtypes. It helps to single out in the texts of the same functional style lexical, syntactic, phonetic, morphological features, to calculate the frequency of usage of different language media and categories, to analyze the interrelations and interdependences between them.




Stylistics is considered to be one of the most important branches of linguistics. Its significance in professional training of interpreters and students of applied linguistics is hard to overestimate. The theoretical aspect of contrastive stylistics is inevitably connected with the analysis of the literary texts. It helps to define and compare those textual elements that bear the greatest significance in expression of the artistic function in the original and translated texts. The course of stylistics provides the students with all necessary skills of comprehensive reading, favours the perfection of language practice, improves the ability of text interpreting and translating. The course of contrastive stylistics has for its object:

- to acquaint the students with the stylistic theory as a general system of scientific principles and practical methods which can be further applied in translation;

- to provide them with the knowledge about the peculiarities of stylistic systems of English and Ukrainian, the common tendencies of their development and their nationally specific features;

- to help the students develop the technique of stylistic analysis which is based on the deep penetration into the semantic and formal structure of the text of different functional styles;

- to improve their skills of text interpreting.


Lecture No 2. Contrastive analysis of phonetic and graphical expressive means and stylistic devices in English and Ukrainian

General notes

The stylistic approach to the utterance is not confined to its structure and sense. There is another thing to be taken into account which in a certain type of communication plays an important role. This is the way a word, a phrase or a sentence sounds. The sound of most words taken separately will have little or no aesthetic value. It is in combination with other words that a word may acquire a desired phonetic effect.

The theory of sound symbolism is based on the assumption that separate sounds due to their articulation and acoustic properties may awake certain ideas, perceptions, feelings, images, vague though they may be. According to the investigations conducted on the basis of the Russian language, native speakers tend to relate certain sounds with certain emotions, feelings, and perceptions and identify them as good, bad, quick, slow, beautiful, repelling, etc. E.g. sound is soft and tender as in the words , , - short and quick, - good, strong, active, bright, - bad, dark, passive, weak. Proceeding from the scale of sound evaluations given by the speakers the computer program analyzed an acoustic form of a set of words irrespective of their meaning. In the result of this experiment the definite semantic characteristics were ascribed to them.


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