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They distinguish between prosodic functions (what the prosody does) and prosodic forms (what the prosody is).

The functions of prosody are many and fascinating. Where speech-sounds such as vowels and consonants function mainly to provide an indication of the identity of words and the regional variety of the speaker, prosody can indicate syntax, turn-taking in conversational interactions, types of utterance such as questions and statements, and people's attitudes and feelings. They can also indicate word-identity (although only occasionally, in English).

The forms (or elements) of prosody are derived from the acoustic characteristics of speech. They include the pitch or frequency, the length or duration, and the loudness or intensity. All these forms are present in varying quantities in every spoken utterance. The varying quantities help determine the function to which listeners orient themselves in interpreting the utterance. The screens in the tutorials on prosodic forms are designed to attune your ear to these varying degrees of presence.


  1. Кузнец М. Д. и Скребнев Ю. М. Стилистика английского языка. Москва, 1988
  2. Galperin I. R. «Stylistics» - M.: Vyshaya Skola, 1981
  3. Арнольд И.В. Стилистика современного английского языка.- Л.,1981
  4. Y. M. Skrebnev “Fundamentals of English Stylistics” – M., 2003
  5. A.N. Morokhovsky O.P. Vorobyova, N.I. Likhosherst and Z.V. Timoshenko “Stylistics of the English Language” – Minsk, 1987
  6. Виноградов В.В. «О языке художественной литературы» - М., 1989
  7. Шуверова Т.Д. Стилистика английского языка: конспект лекций для студентов филологических специальностей Чебоксары: ЧГУ, 2002
  8. Кухаренко Практикум по стилистике английского языка М.1973
  9. Казарцева О.М. Культура речевого общения. Теория и практика обучения. М., 2001.
  10. Soshalskaya E.G., Prokhorova V.I. Stylistic Analysis. Moscow: High School, 1976
  11. V. A. Kukharenko Seminars in Style – Mосква, 1971
  12. Maltzev V.A. Essays on English Stylistic. - Minsk, 1984

Theme 8.



We should bear in mind that the border lines between lexical SDs and those belonging to other layers of language-as-a-system are very vague. For instance, epithets and metaphors can be more than one word long, and take idioms or whole sentences. It is not an easy matter to classify lexical SDs either. In our lectures we will consider that the majority of lexical stylistic devices are based on the principles of similarity of objects, their contrast or proximity:

1. SDs based on similarity of objects

2. SDs based on contrast

3. SDs based on proximity.


SDs based on similarity of objects

A. Simile

B. Metaphor

C. Metonymy

D. Antonomasia

E. Epithet

A. One of the most popular SD based on similarity is simile.

A simile is a figure of speech in which the subject is compared to another subject.

In simile two objects or concepts belonging to different classes are compared with the idea of establishing some common feature possessed by both. The things compared can be completely alien to each other and the resemblance in some quality very remote.

E.g. She was like a celebrated chewing-gum. The taste lingered. (Wodehouse)

Simile creates a striking image by its unexpectedness and novelty of perception. It may have formal elements of comparison – connective words and adverbial phrases, such as: like, as, as if, with the air of, with the grace of, with the caution of.

Simile is the simplest and the most effective way of creating an image. A whole picturesque scene can be reconstructed by the suggestion of similarity.

Here is Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘The Eagle’ (a fragment):

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls. Poems, (1851)

We should bear in mind that the simile can be easily confused with comparison. Comparison means weighing two objects belonging to one class of things with the purpose of establishing the degree of their sameness or difference.

E.g. The boy seems to be as clever as his mother. – Boy and mother belong to the same class of objects (human beings/family).

To use a simile is to characterize one object by bringing it into contact with another object belonging to an entirely different class of things.

E.g. Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare (Byron) – Maidens and moths belong to heterogeneous classes of objects. One concept is characterized (maidens), the other characterizes (moths). The object characterized is seen in quite a new and unexpected light, meaning that young women are easily lured.

"The snow was like a blanket". However, "The snow blanketed the earth" is also a simile and not a metaphor because the verb blanketed is a shortened form of the phrase covered like a blanket. A few other examples are "The deer ran like the wind", "In terms of beauty, she was every bit Cleopatra's match", and "the lullaby was like the hush of the winter."

Similes are composed of two parts: comparandum, the thing to be compared, and the comparatum, the thing to which the comparison is made. For example in the simile "The snow was like a blanket", "the snow" is the comparandum while "a blanket" is the comparatum.

The phrase "The snow was a blanket over the earth" is a metaphor. Metaphors differ from similes in that the two objects are not compared, but treated as identical, "We are but a moment's sunlight, fading in the grass." Note: Some would argue that a simile is actually a specific type of metaphor. See Joseph Kelly's The Seagull Reader (2005), pages 377-379.

B. Metaphor is also based on the similarity of two objects or concepts mostly unassociated, but there is no suggestion or comparison either expressed or implied. The name is transferred from one object to another with which it is completely identified. One concept ousts the other which remains in the background lending its qualities to the image created.

Metaphor (from French via Latin from Greek metaphora “transference”) is transference of some quality from one object to another. In a metaphor a word or phrase is transferred from one context to another creating a vivid association, e.g he fell through a trapdoor of depression (Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories).

I.R. Galperin states that ‘metaphor is the power of realizing two lexical meanings simultaneously’. Due to the power this SD is the most potent means of creating images.


Metaphors (according to their degree of novelty)




genuine trite (dead)


The aspect of novelty characterizes genuine metaphors. They are absolutely unexpected, e.g. Dear Nature is the kindest Mother still (Byron). Genuine metaphors are mostly to be found in poetry and emotive prose.

Through frequent use they lose this quality and become trite metaphors, thus enriching the vocabulary with new metaphorical meanings of words. They are commonly used in speech, and their predictability is apparent, e.g. a ray of hope, floods of tears. Trite metaphors are generally used as expressive means in newspaper articles, in oratorical style and even in scientific language.

Metaphors (according to their structure)



simple sustained (prolonged)

The simple metaphor is limited to one central image.

Sustained metaphor has additional images supporting the central one or imbuing it with new life, e.g. Mr. Dombey’s cup of satisfaction was so full at the moment… (Dickens). Sometimes the central image is not given, and a sustained metaphor helps to create the required image in a reader’s mind, e.g. ‘In a cavern under is fettered the thunder, it struggles and howls at fits’ (Shelley).

Here the central image – that of a captive beast – is suggested by the contributory images – fettered, struggles and howls.

Personification is a kind of metaphor in which human qualities are ascribed to different (inanimate) objects. E.g. He was a small intense man like a kettle that has just come to the boil. His upturned nose was raised angrily, & little hot steam like bursts was coming from him. He sat down abruptly, his shoulders still rising & falling. But it was obvious that the steam pressure inside him had subsided, he had boiled himself dry in fact.

C. Metonymyis a SDbased on a different type of relation between the dictionary and contextual meanings, where a part of a notion substitutes the notion itself, e.g. the word crown may stand for king or queen.

Metonymy is sometimes used humorously to suggest that a detail of appearance is more important than a person himself, e.g. …then they came in. two of them, a man with long fair moustache and a silent dark man…Definitely, the moustache and I had nothing in common (Doris Lessing).

Here the moustache stands for the man himself. The function of the metonymy here is to indicate that the speaker knows nothing of the man in question.

The metonymy is a kind of association connecting the two concepts which these meanings represent. It is regarded to be a kind of the metaphor, though it has some differences:

1) a broader context is required for the metonymy to decipher the true meaning of the SD;

2) in the metaphor one meaning excludes the other (the sky lamp of the night – meaning the moon) – we perceive one object; metonymy does not exclude the other object (the moustache and the man himself ) – are both perceived by the mind.

The types of relation in a metonymy are based on:

-A concrete thing used instead of an abstract notion (where the thing becomes the symbol of notion), e.g. the roses are blooming in her heart.

- the container instead of a thing contained, e.g. the hall applauded.

- the relation of proximity, e.g. the round game table was boisterous and happy.

-the material instead of a thing made of it, e.g. the marble spoke.

-the instrument which the doer uses instead of an action or the doer, e.g. the sword is the worst argument that can be used.

D. Antonomasiais the substitution of any epithet or phrase with a proper name. It is the interplay between the logical and nominal meanings of a word; the reverse process is also sometimes called antonomasia. The word derives from the Greek word antonomazein meaning "to name differently".

Scrooge, Mr.Zero can be called talking names. They give information to the perceiver of a bearer of a name. Antonomasia can be linked to the epithet in essence if not in form. It categorizes the person and thus simultaneously indicates both the general and the particular.

A frequent instance of antonomasia in the Late Middle Ages and early Renaissance was the use of the term, "the Philosopher," to refer to Aristotle. A contemporary frequently encountered example is the phrase "I'm no Croesus", meaning "I'm not a very rich person".

More examples: "The Bard" for William Shakespeare; "Old Blue Eyes" for Frank Sinatra; "The Scottish play" for Macbeth; "a Cicero" for an orator.

Antonomasia can be metaphorical when based on similarity, e.g. Her mother is perfectly unbearable, never met such a Gorgon. I don’t really know what a Gorgon is like, but I’m quite sure that lady Brecknell is one. In any case, she is a monster without being a myth.

Antonomasia can be metonymical when based on some association between a name & a referent, the reverse process when the common noun is used as a proper name can be illustrated by the example: Mister Know all; “I wish to speak to you, John”, - said the family Curse. – “I’m greatly upset”.

E. The Epithet is a stylistic device based on the interplay of emotive and logical meaning in an attributive word, phrase or even a sentence used to characterize an object and pointing out to the reader and frequently imposing on him, some of the properties or features of the object with the aim of giving the author’s individual perception and evaluation.

The epithet is subtle and delicate in character. It can create an atmosphere of objective evaluation, whereas it actually conveys the subjective attitude of the writer, showing he is partial. It is marked by subjective and evaluative.

Blue skies – logical attribute

Wild wind -epithet

Epithets are used:

Singly: I’ve a ridiculous habit of flushing when I’m taken aback.

In pairs: He was repulsive & ridiculous. She was charming & unbearable.

In a chain: He ate greedily, noisily, awfully.

Structurally epithets are divided into simple, compound, & phrase epithets.

E.g. an angry sunset (simple); a devil of a dog (compound); He looked at me with “I-do-not-know-you” expression in his eyes (phrase epithet).

Another structural variety of an epithet is “reversed epithet”, in which two nouns are linked in an of-phrase & the emotional and evaluative quality is not in the attributive of-phrase, but in the noun characterized by it.

E.g. The memory of a voice.

There’s also transferred epithets logically describing feelings, mood, or the state of a human being, it is placed in the sentence before an animated object:

E.g. He shrugged a polite & amused shoulder and for the first time I noticed that the spectacles had a hostile gleam.

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