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Figures of contrast

Figures of identity

Figures of identity include such semantic figures of co-occurrence as:

• simile;

• synonymous replacement.

Simile is an imaginative explicit comparison of two unlike objects be­longing to two different classes but possessing some feature in common, e.g.: Darkness fell like a stone; She sings like a nightingale.

Simile should not be confused with ordinary logical comparison: The boy is as clever as his mother; She sings like a professional soloist.

The formal elements of a simile are:

1. a pair of objects (The one which is compared is called the tenor, the one with which it is compared is called the vehicle);

2. a connective:

• conjunctions: like, as, than, as if, as though, such as;

• affixes (suffixes): -wise, -like (ape-like fury);

• notional words (verbs and verbal phrases): to seem, to resemble, to remind of, to be similar to, to bear a resemblance to, to have a look of. Such type of simile is a disguised simile (V.A. Kucharenko's term): She seemed nothing more than a doll.

As any stylistic device simile is subdivided into original and trite. There is a great number oftrite, or hackneyed, similes in the English language which have become cliches, e.g.: as strong as a horse, as steady as time, as savage as tigers, as brittle as glass, as free as air, as uncertain as the weather, to smoke like a chimney, to fit like a glove, to hate like poison.

Synonymous replacement (synonymous repetition). Synonyms are used in actual texts for the following purposes:

- to avoid monotonous repetition of the same word (a boy, a child, a kid). Such interchange of denominations of the same thing in speech (and especially in writing) is called by the English linguists "elegant variation", e.g.: He brought home numberless prizes. He told his mother countless stories. Sometimes the words maybe regarded as situational synonyms (neighbour; student, brother, Richard, he are not synonyms, but in the context can refer to one and the same individual);

- to make the description more exhaustive, to provide additional shades of the meaning (Dear Paul, it's very weak and silly of me, I know, to be so trembly and shaky from head to foot (Dickens)).

Figures of contrast

To the group of figures of contrast belong the following semantic figures of co-occurence:

• oxymoron;

• antithesis.

Oxymoron is a combination of two words in which their meanings clash, being opposite in sense. The function of oxymoron is to show the complexity of a situation where two apparently opposite things are true simultaneously. Thus, oxymoron can be considered as a paradox reduced to two words: a gorgeous mess, sweet sorrow, low skyscraper, perfect idiot.

The typical structures of oxymoron are: 1) adjective + noun (sad joy, wise fool, criminal law, cheerful pessimist, eloquent silence, tender cruelty, despairing hope, freezing fire); 2) adverb + adjective (= two-step epithet) (horribly beautiful, strangely familiar, scandalously nice, sublimely bad, in­ertly strong); 3) verb + adverb (to cry silently, to shout mutely).

There are numerous examples of trite / hackneyed oxymoron: never again, live recording, plastic glasses, unemployment benefits, ill health, fresh frozen, night light, Rockwool

Antithesis is an active confrontation of ideas, notions, qualities in the parts of one sentence or in different sentences used to demonstrate the contradic­tory nature of the referent, e.g.: A saint abroad and a devil at home;

According to V.A. Kucharenko, there are 3 types of antithesis:

1) morphological (expressed by morphemes), e.g.: overworked and underpaid; It's no secret that teachers are underpaid, overworked, and undervalued;

2) lexical proper (expressed by antonyms as well as by contextual antonyms), e.g.: That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind (said by American astronaut Neil Armstrong upon the first moon landing in 1969); She enjoyed the quiet and peace of the place after the noise and hurry of metropolis (D. Edwards); Success has made a failure of our home (name of the song); Hot air & cold truths; History: truth about lies (magazine headlines);

3) developed (created by completed statements or pictures, semantically opposite to one another, e.g.: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness (exposition to "The Tale of Two Cities" by Ch. Dickens).


Date: 2016-03-03; view: 4183

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American Literature in the Age of Reason | II. Linguistic Situation
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