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Expressive means of a language.

Expressive means of a language are linguistic forms and properties that have the potential to make the utterance emphatic or expressive. Expressive means can be found on all the levels – phonetic, graphical, morphological, lexical or syntactical.

Phonetic phenomena such as vocal pitch, pauses, logical stress, drawling or staccato pronunciation are all expressive.

Morphological forms like diminutive suffixes produce expressive effect: girlie, piggy, doggy, etc. Author’s nonce words (авторские слова): He glastnosted his love affair with this movie star.

Lexical expressive means are represented by intensifiers – awfully, terribly, absolutely, etc. or words that retain their logical meaning while being used emphatically: a very special evening (event/gift/friend).

Grammatical forms and syntactical patterns to which expressiveness is attributed such as: I do know you! I'm really angry with that dog of yours\ If only I could help you!

Stylistic devices are literary model in which semantic and structural features are blended so that a stylistic device represents a generalized pattern.

Some expressive means have been involved into stylistic devices combines some general semantic meaning with a certain linguistic form resulting in stylistic effect. It is like an algorithm employed for an expressive purpose. The interaction or clash of the dictionary and contextual meanings of words brings about such stylistic devices as metaphor, metonymy, or irony.


The expressive means of a language are those phonetic, morphological, word-building, lexical, phraseological and syntactical forms which exist in language-as-a-system for the purpose of logical or/and emotional intensification of the utterance.

Eg. He shall do it! = I shall make him do it.

The most powerful EM of any language are phonetic.

Pitch, melody, stress, pausation, intensifying certain syllables, whispering, a sing-song manner, and other ways of using the voice are much more effective than other means in intensifying an utterance emotionally or logically.

Morphological EMs of the English language is a rather impoverished set of media to which the quality of expressiveness is attributed.

These are:

- the Historical Present;

- the use of shall in the second and third person;

- the use of some demonstrative pronouns with the emphatic meaning as those, them (eg. Those candid eyes of his);

- cases of nominalization, esp. when conversion of verbal stems is alien to the meaning of the verbs.

Among the word-building means we find a great many forms which serve to make the utterance more expressive by intensifying some of their semantic/grammatical properties:

- the diminutive suffixes -y, -ie,-let: sonny, auntie, streamlet;

- neologisms and nonce-words formed with non-productive suffixes, e.g. with Greek roots: cleanorama;

- some affixes which have gained expressiveness that they begin functioning as separate words, absorbing all the generalizing meaning they attach to different roots: «isms and ologies».

At the lexical level there are a great many words which due to their expressiveness constitute a special layer:

- with emotive meaning only (interjections);

- which have referential and emotive meaning (epithets);

- which still retain a twofold meaning (denotative and connotative) – love, sympathy, hate;

- belonging to the layers of slang and vulgar words;

- poetic or archaic words.

All kinds of phraseological units generally possess the property of expressiveness. They serve to make speech emphatic, esp. from the emotional point of view:

- set phrases;

- catch words;

- sayings;

- proverbs.

At the syntactical level there are many constructions which reveal a certain degree of logical or emotional emphasis.

EMs have a greater degree of predictability than SDs. EMs follow the natural course of thought, intensifying it by means commonly used in language. EMs are concrete facts of the language. They are studied in the respective language manuals.

Stylistics takes into consideration the modification of meanings which EMs undergo when they are used in different functional styles. EMs noticeably colour the whole of the utterance.


Stylistic devices.

The stylistic device is a conscious and an intentional intensification of some typical structural and/or semantic property of a language unit (neutral or expressive) promoted to a generalized status and thus becoming a generative model. A SD is an abstract pattern, a mould into which any pattern can be poured.

All SDs have developed within the framework of the literary form of the language. SDs carry a greater amount of information and require a certain effort to decode their meaning and purport. They must be regarded as a special code which has to be well known to the reader in order to be deciphered easily.

Most SDs display an application of two meanings: the ordinary one (established in the language-as-a-system) and a special meaning which is superimposed on the unit by the text (a meaning which appears in the language-in-action).

Eg. The night has swallowed him up. The word «swallow» has two meanings: a) referential and b) contextual (to make vanish, to make disappear). The meaning B takes precedence over A.

Sometimes the twofold application of a lexical unit is accomplished by two words (generally synonyms) one of which is perceived against the background.

SDs function in texts as marked units. They always carry some kind of additional information, either emotive or logical, but any substitution may cause damage to the semantic and aesthetic aspect of the utterance.

SDs are abundantly used in poetry, sparingly in emotive prose.

It is necessary to distinguish between a stylistic use of a language unit, which acquires a stylistic meaning, and a stylistic device, which is the realization of an already well-known abstract scheme designed to achieve a particular artistic effect.

The birth of SDs is a natural process in the development of language media.


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