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Prof. Skrebnev's classification of expressive means and stylistic devices.

To Y. M. Skrebnev belongs one of the latest classifications of expressive means and stylistic devices. It is given in his book «Fundamentals of English Stylistics» published in 1994. His approach presents a combination of Leech's system of paradigmatic and syntagmatic subdivision and Galperin's level – oriented approach to classification. Y. M. Skrebnev created a new consistent method of the hierarchical arrangement of the material.

Prf. Skrebnev subdivides Stylistics into Paradigmatic Stylistics(or stylistics of units) and Syntagmatic Stylistics (or stylistics of sequences). Prf. Skrebnev еxamines the 5 levels of the language (phonetics, morphology, lexicology, syntax and semasiology (or semantics)) and regards all stylistically relevant phenomena to both paradigmatic and syntagmatic Stylistics.

According to Skrebnev the relationship between five levels and two aspects of stylistic analysis is bilateral – Paradigmatic Stylistics (Stylistics of units) is subdivided into 5 branches:

1.Paradigmatic phonetics describes phonographical stylistic features of a written text. Graphical means reproduce the phonetic peculiarities of speech, intentional non-standard spelling are called «graphons» (a term suggested by V. A. Kucharenko).

E. g.: I know these Eye-talians! (to show despise, contempt).

Other graphic means are:

a. italics;

b. capitalization: I AM sorry,

c. repetition of letters: Appeeee Noooooyeeeerr!;

d. onomatopoeia: cock-a-doodle-doo.

2. Paradigmatic morphology studies the stylistic potentials of grammar forms, which Leech would describe as deviant. Skrebnev chooses a number of grammatical categories for stylistic purposes.

– the use of a presnt tense of a verb on the background of a past tense narration (historical present);

– gender;

– countries are classified as «she»;

– death, fear, war, anger – «he»;

– spring, peace, kindness – «she»;

– ship, boat, carriage, coach, car – «she»;

– the use of animate nouns as inanimate ones (depersonification): «it» instead of «him, her».

3. Paradigmatic lexicology subdivides English vocabulary into, neutral, positive (elevated) and negative (degraded) layers. Let's consider the following stratification suggested by Skrebnev:

Positive (elevated) poetic, official, professional
Negative (degraded) colloquial neologisms jargon slang nonce-words vulgar words

4. Paradigmatic syntax has to do with the sentence paradigm. The following syntactical means are included to it:

a) completeness of sentence structure:

– ellipsis;

– aposiopesis;

– one-member nominative sentences;

– redundancy: repetition of sentence parts, syntactic tautology (prolepsis), polysyndeton.

b) word order inversion of sentence members;

c) communicative types of sentences include the following division:

quasi-affirmative sentences: Isn't that too bad? = That's too bad.

– quasi-interrogative sentences: Will you open the door? = Open the door, please.

– quasi-negative sentences: Did I say a word about the money? = I didn't really say a word about the money.

– quasi-imperative sentences: Here! Quick! = Come here! Be , ... quick!

d) type of syntactic connection includes:

– detachment;

– parenthetic element;

– asyndetic subordination and coordination;

5. Paradigmatic semasiology deals with tropes.

These expressive means possess the ability to rename. So, tropes are called figures of replacement, which arc subdivided into 2 groups:

I. Figures of quantify.Renaming is based on overestimating, intensifying the properties or underestimating the size, value, importance, etc. of the object or phenomenon:

– hyperbole;

– meosis (litotes): It's no unusual for me to get up early.

II. Figures of qualitycomprise 3 types of renaming:

1) transfer based on a real connection between the object of nomination and the object whose name isn't given:

– metonymy (synecdoche, periphrasis);

E.g.: I'm all ears; Hands wanted.

– periphrasis (euphemism, anti-euphemism);

E.g.: Ladies and the worser halves. I never call a spade a spade, I call it a bloody shovel.

2) transfer based on affinity (similiarity):

metaphor according to Skrebnev – is an expressive renaming on the basis of similarity of two objects. It is not a purely lexical stylistic device, because has no formal limitations. It can involve a word, a part of sentence or a whole sentence.

Varieties of a metaphor:

– simple;

– sustained (extended);

– catachresis (or mixed metaphor);

– allusion – reference to a famous character or event, commonly known;

– personification – attributing human properties to lifeless objects;

– antonomasia – a variety of allusion;

E.g.: Brutus (traitor), Don Juan (lady's man)

– allegoryexpresses abstract ideas through concrete pictures. E.g.: the scale of justice;

3) transfer by contrast: two objects are opposed and this implies irony.

Irony is a device based on the opposition of meaning to the sense (dictionary and contextual). A semantic shift between the notion named and the notion meant is observed. Skrebnev distinguishes two kinds of ironic utterances: obviously explicit ironical utterance, like in O. Wilde's tale «The Devoted Friend». In the tale praise stands for blame to achieve ironic effect you should mix the registers of speech: high-flown style on socially low topics or vice versa.


Syntagmatic Stylistics (Stylistics of sequences) is subdivided into 5 branches:

1. syntagmatic phonetics;

2. syntagmatic morphology;

3. syntagmatic lexicology;

4. syntagmatic syntax;

5. syntagmatic semasiology.

Syntagmatic semasiology deals with the stylistic functions of linguistic units used in syntagmatic chains, in linear combinations and in connection with other units.

1. Syntagmatic phonetics deals with the interaction of speech sounds and intonation, sentence stress, tempo, i. e. with prosodic features of speech. So. syntagmatic phonetics studies alliteration – recurrence of the initial consonant in 2 or more words in close succession in proverbs and sayings. E.g.: Now or never; last but not least. «Pride and Prejudice» (Jane Austin).

Today alliterationis one of the favourite devices of commercials and advertising language.

E.g.: New whipped cream: No mixing or measuring. No beating or bothering.

Assonanceis the recurrence of stressed vowels.

Paronomasiais using words similar in sound but different in meaning with euphonic effect.

Rhythm and metre.The pattern of interchange of strong and week segments is called rhythm. Combinations of stressed and unstressed syllables is the metre (iambus, dactyl, trochee, etc.)

Rhymedistinguishes verse from prose; it consists in the acoustic coincidence of stressed syllable at the end of verse lines.

2. Syntagmatic morphology deals with grammar forms in a paragraph or text that help to create a certain stylistic effect. Skrebnev describes the effect achieved by the use of morphological synonyms of the genetive – the possessive case, prepositional «of – phrase» and an attributive noun (Shakespeare's plays, the plays of Shakespeare, Shakespeare plays as «elegant variation» of style).

3. Syntagmatic lexicology– studies the «word-and-context» juxtaposition that presents a number of stylistic problems connected with co-occurrence of various stylistic colouring.

Each literary text is unique in its choice and combination of words. Instances of intentional and unintentional mixtures of words and varieties of lexical recurrence must be considered individually.

4. Syntagmatic syntax deals with the use of sentences in a text. Skrebnev distinguishes purely syntactical repetition to which he refers:

· parallelism – structural repetition of sentences, and lexico-syntactical devices such as:

· anaphora – identity of beginnings, initial elements;

· epiphora – identical elements at the end of sentences, paragraphs, chapters, stanzas (opposite of the anaphor);

· framing – repetition of some element at the beginning and at the end of sentence, paragraph or stanza;

· anadiplosis – repetition of the final element of a sentence, paragraph or stanza in the initial part of the next sentence, paragraph, stanza;

· chiasmus – two parallel syntactical constructions contain a reversed order of their members: I love my Love and my Love loves me!

5. Syntagmatic semasiology deals with semantic relationships expressed at the length of a whole text. Syntagmatic semasiology studies types of names used for linear arrangement of meanings. (Compare: paradigmatic semasiology studies the stylistic effect of renaming).

Y.M.Skrebnev calls repetitions of meanings represented by sense units in a text figures of co-occurrence. He singles out:

a) figures of identity;

b) figures of inequality;

c) figures of contrast;

1. Figures of identity comprise:

simile is an explicit statement of similarity of 2 objects: My heart is like a singing bird;

synonymous replacement is an employment of synonyms to avoid monotony: I was trembly and shak from head to foot.

2. Figures of inequality comprise:

clarifying synonyms represent synonymous repetition used to characterize different aspects of the same referent;

climax is a gradation of emphatic elements growing in strength;

anticlimax is a back gradation, the appearance of a weak or contrastive element that makes the statement humorous.

E. g. The woman who could face the very devil himself – goes all to pieces in front of a flash of lightning (Twain).

zeugma is a combination of incompatible words based on the economy of syntactical units; She dropped a tear and her pocket handkerchief. (Dickens)

pun is a play on words based on polysemy or homonymy.

E. g.: What steps would you take if an empty tank were coming towards you? – Long ones.

Disguised tautology presents semantic difference in formally coincidental parts of a sentence; repetition here carries a different information in each of the 2 parts,

E.g.: For East is East, and West is West… (Kipling)

3. Figures of contrast:

oxymoron is a stylistic device in which contradictory ideas are combined;

antithesisis anti-statement, opposition of ideas, notions, qualities in the parts of one sentence or in different sentences.

E. g.: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Classifications of expressive means and stylistic devices discussed in this lecture show varied approaches to the same material. They reflect the scholars' attempts to overcome an inventorial description of stylistic devices. The linguistic research of the XXth century allows to explore and explain the linguistic nature of the stylistic function.



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