Stylistic Devices

Topics: Linguistics, Rhetoric, Question Pages: 5 (1186 words) Published: December 23, 2012
The sentence, as a unit of a certain level, is a sequence of relatively independent lexical and phrasal units (words or word combinations), and what differentiates a sentence from a word is the fact that the sentence structure is changeable; it does have any constant length: it can be shortened or extended, complete or incomplete, simple, compound or complex. Besides, its constituents, length, word-order, as well as communicative type (assertion, negation, interrogation, exhortation) are variable.

So, to analyze the sentence stylistically on the syntactic level, we will admit that most common and currently used are two-member sentences containing subject and predicate and perhaps, some secondary elements, having normal word order and the function.

Syntactic expressive means and stylistic devices of the English language:
• based on reduction of the initial sentence model: ellipsis, aposiopesis, nominative sentences, asyndeton;
• based on extension of the initial sentence model: repetition, enumeration, tautology, polysyndeton, "it is (was) he, who...", the emphatic verb "to do", parenthetic sentences;
• based on change of word-order: inversion, detachment;
• based on interaction of syntactic structures in context: parallel constructions;
• based on transposition of meaning and connection of constituent parts: rhetoric questions, parceling.
ELLIPSIS. An elliptical sentence is such a syntactic structure in which there is no subject, or predicate, or both. The main parts of elliptical sentences are omitted by the speaker intentionally in cases when they are semantically redundant.

For example:
- Hullo! Who are you?
- The staff.
Communicative functions. Ellipsis saves the speaker from needless effort, spares his time, reduces redundancy of speech. Elliptical structures may also reveal such speakers' emotions as excitement, impatience, delight, etc. As a stylistic device, ellipsis is an effective means of protagonists' portrayal.

NOMINATIVE (NOMINAL) SENTENCES. A nominative sentence is a variant of one-member structures: it has neither subject nor predicate. It is called nominative or nominal because its basic (head) component is a noun or a noun-like element (gerund, numeral).

For example: Morning. April. Problems.
Communicative functions. A sequence of nominative sentences makes for dynamic description of events. Sets of nominative sentences are used to expressively depict the time of the action, the place of the action, the attendant circumstances of the action, the participants of the action.

APOSIOPESIS (BREAK-IN-THE-NARRATIVE). Like ellipsis, aposiopesis is also realized through incompleteness of sentence structure, though this incompleteness is of different structural and semantic nature: it appears when the speaker is unwilling to proceed and breaks off his narration abruptly: If you go on like this...

ASYNDETON. It is deliberate omission of structurally significant conjunctions and connectives.
For example: John couldn’t have done such a silly thing, he is enough clever for that. Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins. Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,...
Communicative functions. Asyndeton makes speech dynamic and expressive. Sometimes it implies the speaker's haste, nervousness and impatience.
REPETITION. Stylistic repetition of language units in speech (separate words, word-combinations or sentences) is one of the most frequent and potent stylistic devices.
For example: Never take the rifle again. Put it back! put it back! Put it back!
There are several structural types of repetition:
ANAPHORA. The repeated word or word-combination is at the beginning of each consecutive syntactic structure.
For example: Victory is what we need. Victory is what we expect.
EPIPHORA. The repeated unit is placed at the end of each consecutive syntactic structure.
For example: It is natural to be scared in a case like that. You are sure to be...
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