Syntactic stylistic devices based on the change of word order



Inversion is a syntactic phenomenon of the deliberate changing of word order in the initial sentence model. Word order is a crucial syntactical problem in many languages. In English it has peculiarities which have been caused by the concrete and specific way the language has developed. The English language has developed a fixed word order which in the great majority of cases shows without fails what is the Subject of the sentence. This fixed word order is Subject Verb (Predicate) Object (SPO).

This predominance of fixed word order makes conspicuous any change in the structure of the sentence and inevitably calls forth a modification in the stylistic meanings.

There are two types of inversion: grammatical and stylistic. Grammatical inversion is aimed at the change of the communicative type of sentence and has no stylistic value.

Stylistic inversion is aimed at logical or emotional intensification of a certain sentence element. It attaches the additional emotional colouring to the surface meaning of the utterance. It is always semantically and stylistically motivated:


Talent Mr. Micawber has; capital Mr. Micawber has not (Ch. Dickens).

Rude am I in my speech... ( W.Shakespeare).


Of his own class he saw nothing (J. London).


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A specific arrangement of sentence members is observed in detachment. Detachment () is a stylistic device based on singling out structurally and semantically a secondary member of the sentence with the help of punctuation: dashes, commas or even a full stop. When placed in a certain syntactic position, a detached sentence component may seem formally independent of the words it refers to, though the word order may not be violated and semantic connections between the elements remain strong:


He had been nearly killed, ingloriously, in a jeep accident (I. Show).

I have to beg you for money. Daily (S. Lewis).

There was a world of anticipation in her voice and of confidence too, as she walked past me on to the terrace (D. du Maurier).

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Due to the detachment the adverbial modifiers ingloriously and daily and attributive construction of confidence in the English examples and the subject in the Ukrainian one have become foregrounded into the readers focus of attention.

Stylistic function of detachment is determined by the syntactic role of the isolated element, its place in the sentence, general linguistic and stylistic context of the utterance.

Detachment is aimed at foregrounding of the isolated sentence element which according to authors standpoint acquires greater emotional or logical importance. Detachment is used in descriptive and narrative discourses in order to make a written text akin to the spoken one, live and emotionally charged. Detachment is one of the most powerful means of rendering speakers emotions or mirroring characters emotional /psychological state. It is used in descriptions of nature, events, situations in order to impress the reader and to create the presence effect:

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Syntactic stylistic devices based on special types of formal and semantic correlation of syntactic constructions within a text

The analysis of types of sentence coonection within the text constitutes a special trend of syntactic stylistics. The arrangement of sentence members, the completeness of the sentence structure and the ways sentences are combined within the structure of a suprasyntactic unit impart additional emotional and expressive meanings to the text as a whole and to each separate sentence. Moreover, most of the syntactic stylistic devices are realized not in a single utterance but within the context of a group of successive utterances, a paragraph or even an extract consisting of two or more paragraphs. Logical and formal correlation between sentences are achieved by means of different lexical and syntactic media, such as repetition, the definite article, the demonstrative pronouns, the personal pronouns, the use of adverbial words and phrases, synonymic substitutions and a number of other means. These correlations can also be realized through certain structural patterns the repetition of similar syntactic structures, their parallel arrangement, as in the following example:


Her manner altered. Her expression changed. Her very appearance seemed different she seemed more alive (D. Cusack).

Producing of two or more syntactic structures according to the same syntactic pattern is known under the term parallelism. In parallelism either the whole sentence or its part can be built according to the similar structural pattern:


Married men have wives and dont seem to want them. Single fellows have no wives and do itch to obtain them.

The wind blew faster. It dragged now at his coat, it blew its space about him, it echoed silently a lonely spaciousness (W. Sansom).

Syntactic parallelism is widely spread in poetry and emotive prose. It creates special rhythmical contour of the text, reinforces the semantic ties between the utterances, increases the communicative, expressive and aesthetic value of the successive utterances. Syntactic parallelism unites semantically different utterances into a close semantic unity creating a many-sided description of the event.

Syntactic parallelism is one of the most favoured means of logical and emotional intensification of the idea embodied in an utterance. It makes speech persuasive, solemn and elevated and is a common feature of the publicistic and oratory style.



Chiasmus belongs to the group of stylistic devices based on the similarity of a syntactical pattern in two successive sentences or coordinate parts of a sentence, but it has a cross order of words and phrases. The structure of two successive sentences or parts of a sentence may be described as reversed parallel construction, the word order of one of the sentences being inverted as compared with that of the other, as in:

Gentlemen, a court is no better than each man of you sitting before me on the jury. A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is onlyy as sound as the men who make it up (H. Lee).

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Like parallel construction, chiasmus contributes to the rhythmical quality of the utterance. It is sometimes used to break the monotony of parallel constructions. But whatever the purpose of chiasmus, it will always bring in some new shade of meaning or additional emphasis on some portion of the second part. It always aims at the redistribution of the information of the utterance in such a way that the second part of chiasmus leads to the reinterpretation of the first part meaning:


In Malta the news reached us or, rather, we reached the news that the Boers have invaded Natal, and that England is at war (B. Show).



Parcelation () is a deliberate split of one single sentence into two (or more) parts, separated by a full stop or its equivalent. Parcelling is stylistic device based on the transposition of the meaning of grammatical means of connection between parts of a sentence. Both parts of the sentence remain semantically and logically connected. But being structurally independent, they acquire greater communicative value and impart expressiveness to the whole utterance:

They stood around him. Talking (D. White).

With that parhaps in mind, he broke away briefly, and ran into the planting shop. And returned with a rope, or coil of little cord (D. White).

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The stylistic function of parcelation is similar to the function of detachment: it reflects the atmosphere of unofficial communication and spontaneous character of speech, the speakers inner state of mind, it makes the information more concrete and detailed. But parceling and detachment should not be confused. In the case of parceling the word order is not changed, while in detachment the secondary sentence member is isolated and often placed at the end of the sentence, which influence the word order. For example, the sentence They would appear with soup. Thin and watery is detachment. The separated part Thin and watery is separated attribute placed after the noun soup it describes. The sentence He passed two or three places with telephones, and although he hesitated before each one, he did not go in. Because there was no one in the whole city he wanted to see that night (I. Show) is parcelation.



The neat stylistic device based on a peculiar type of connection of sentence parts or sentences in a text is attachment or gap-sentence link (). In the case of attachment this connection is not immediately apparent and it requires a certain mental effort to grasp the interrelation between the parts of the utterance, in other words, to bridge the semantic gap. Here is an example:


Prison is where she belongs. And my husband agrees one thousand per cent (T. Capote).

In this sentence the second part, which is hooked on to the first by the conjunction and, seems to be a kind of afterthought deliberately brought by the author into the foregrounded opening position.

Attachment creates a semantic gap wider or narrower as the case may be. Sometimes the gap is so wide that it requires a deep supralinear semantic analysis to get at the implied meaning. While maintaining the unity of the utterance syntactically the author leaves the interpretation of the link between the two sentences to the mind of the reader:


The Forsytes were resentful of something, not individually, but as a family, this resentment expressed itself in an added perfection of raiment, an exuberance of family cordiality, an exaggeration of family importance, andthe sniff (J. Galsworthy).

She and that fellow ought to be the sufferers, and they were in Italy (J. Galsworthy).

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