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Syntactical SDs Based on Absence of Some Language Elements

A. Ellipsis (Greek for "omission", plural: ellipses ). An ellipsis is a rhetorical figure of speech, the omission of one of the main members of a sentence. The missing words are implied by the context.

In linguistics refers to any omitted part of speech that is understood; i.e. the omission is intentional. Analogously, in printing and writing, the term refers to the row of three dots (...) or asterisks (* * *) indicating such an intentional omission.

The following words tend to be omitted regularly: relative pronouns who, which, the verb to be, etc. e.g. There’s somebody wants to speak to you (Hemingway).

– Did you date her?

– This was a he. Called himself Rudi Wilson. Know him?

It is also used when the same word, for example «there is» or «I am» is left out of a sentence many times.

An ellipsis is sometimes used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). Ellipses are often used in this manner for internet chat, email, and forum posts.

The use of ellipses can either mislead or clarify, and the reader must rely on the good intentions of the writer who uses it. An example of this ambiguity is «She went to… school.» In this sentence, «…» might represent the word «elementary», or the word «no» which is rather misleading.

«Ellipsis» also refers to a rhetorical device in a story where the narrative skips over a scene, a form of anachronism where there is a chronological gap in the text.

B. Aposiopesis (Break-in-the-narrative) (from Classical Greek, «becoming silent») is the term, coined by Otto Jespersen, for the rhetorical device by which the speaker or writer deliberately stops short and leaves something unexpressed, but yet obvious, to be supplied by the imagination, giving the impression that he/she is unwilling or unable to continue.

It is a stopping short for the rhetorical effect (Galperin).

The aposiopesis is special form of rhetorical ellipsis, it is a norm of excited oral speech. As a SD it is used to indicate strong emotions paralyzing the character's speech or his deliberate stop in the utterance to conceal its meaning. Certain phrases, often repeated with the intonation of the nonfinished sentence, become trite aposiopeses. They indicate that the speaker's idea of the possible continuation of the utterance exists in a very general, non-detailed, vague form. (Cf. «Well, I never!» reads approximately «Well, I never expected it»; «I never thought of it»; «I never imagined it», etc.)

In oral speech it signifies unwillingness to proceed or uncertainty of what has been said.

In written speech it is always a deliberate SD used for some stylistic effect. It often portrays being overcome with passion (fear, anger, excitement) or modesty. The ellipsis or dash is used.

Aposiopesis always has some sort of implication: You just come home or I’ll…(threat).

C.Apokoinu construction,characteristic of irregular oral speech, presents a blend of two clauses into one, which is achieved at the expense of the omission of the connecting word and the double syntactical function acquired by tie unit occupying the linking position between both form clauses: thus, «I'm the first one saw her,» presents the blend of the complex sentence «I'm the first one who saw her.» Due to its contraction into the apokoinu construction syntactical functions of «the first one» – predicative of the first clause, and «who» – subject of the second one – are both attributed to «the first one» which becomes the syntactical centre of the newly coined sentence.

Some ore examples: «What has happened to that swell-looking babe in the fur coat used to come over?»; «There is one thing bothers me. There is no law forbids It».

The main stylistic function of apokoinu constructions is to emphasize the irregular, careless or uneducated character of the speech of personages.

D. Chiasmus is reversed parallelism in which the repeated syntactical construction is reversed, compared to preceding sentence or clause. It can be the word order that is reversed, or the sequence of the main and subordinate clauses, or the form and the meaning of the statement. It originated from the Greek latter «X – ksi” means «Crossing», e.g. A handsome man kisses misses,

An ugly man misses kisses

She said nothing, there was nothing to say.

I know the world, & the world knows me.

Synonymic repetition or the repetition of idea can be used to foreground the idea without actually repeating the words. It can be unnecessary or tautological repetition of idea:

E.g. I’ve got a house that is like a hotel.

I mean a big house with many servants.

Syntactical tautology is based on the use of a second subject that is called tautological subject. It is introduced in the form of a pronoun. The subject is repeated in the form of a noun at the end of the sentence after a comma. It helps to put a finishing touch to the sentence or throw a new light on it.

E.g. She was not a little pleasing, this woman, he decided

When introduced in the form of a noun or a proper name, the second subject is in the form of a pronoun immediately following it. This type of tautological subject is often use in poetry.

E.g. And this maiden she leaved with no other thought,

Than to love and be loved by me.

Helen Adair she loved me well

Against her father’s & mother’s will.

4. Syntactical stylistic devices based on particular ways of linking

A. Asyndeton

B. Polysyndeton

C. The Gap-Sentence Link

Syntactical stylistic devices based on particular ways of linking, are characterized by different types of connection between words clauses or sentences. There are three of them: asyndeton, polysyndeton and the gap-sentence link.

A. Asyndeton is the deliberate omission of conjunction for special effect from a series of related clauses. It is connection between parts of a sentence or between sentences without any formal sign, becomes a stylistic device if there is a deliberate dropping of the connective where it is generally expected to be according to the norms of the literary language (Galperin).

The deliberate omission of conjunctions makes sentences almost entirely independent.

e.g. Bicket did not answer his throat felt too dry. (Galsworthy).

e.g. «The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated» – Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 1

In enumeration the omission of conjunction and before the last word changes the rhythm of the sentence and gives more independence to every word in line. Asyndeton is used as an expressive means when two parts of sentence are joined without any conjunction. It gives energetic effect to the statement; the conjunction is supplied by the reader who is active in interpreting the massage. Asyndeton is also emphatic and deliberate when a sentence contradicting the previous statement is added to it without any warning given by the conjunction but.

2. E.g. He was a full and a hypocrite (but) I never met a more agreeable companion.

3. You cannot tell if you are eating apple pie or German sausage or strawberry and cream. It all seems cheese. There is too much noise about cheese.

4. Students would have no need «to walk the hospitals» if they had me. I was a hospital in myself (because)

5. When the tea-table was carried away a new light creature with brown hair, clear lips, deep eyes, laybacks in the big chair looking at the fire. (and)

6. We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend oppose any enemy to assure the survival and successes of liberty.

The absence of conjunctions and a punctuation mark may be regarded as a deliberate introduction of the norms of the colloquial speech into the literary language. Such structures make the utterance sound like one syntactical unit to be pronounced in one breath group. This also determines the pattern of intonation.

B. Polysyndeton is a stylistic device of connecting sentences, or phrases, or syntagms, or words by using connectives (mostly conjunctions and prepositions) before each component part. In fact, it is the repetition of conjunctions or prepositions or particles to connect words, clauses or sentences, it adds the rhythm to the utterance, slows down the statement and makes every word stand out more emphatically due to longer pauses between the words or sentences.

E.g.: Yes, he was wise and good and tricky and smart.

e.g. Should you ask me, whence these stories?

Whence these legends and traditions,

With the odours of the forest,

With the dew, and damp of meadows,

With the curling smoke of wigwams,

With the rushing of great rivers,

With their frequent repetitions,…(H.Longfellow).

In the passage there is repetition both of a question word/conjunction whence and a preposition with. It makes the utterance more rhythmical. Even a prose piece may look like poetry with the help of this SD.

Polysyndeton combines homogeneous elements of thought into one whole resembling enumeration. But unlike enumeration polysyndeton disintegrates each member of the utterance. Enumeration shows things united, polysyndeton shows them isolated.

To serve your flesh, and nerve, and sinew (R.Kipling). The conjunction and expresses both sequence and disintegration.

«Weasels – and stoats – and foxes – and so on. They're all right in a way-.» – Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 1

«Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.» – Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 3

Hence the functions of polysyndeton are those of creating rhythm, of expressing sequence, of disintegration.

C. The Gap-Sentence Link. It is a peculiar type of connection of sentences that is not immediately apparent but requires a certain mental effort to grasp the interrelation between the parts of the utterance, i.e. to bridge a semantic gap.

E.g. She and that fellow ought to be the sufferers, and they were in Italy. (Galsworthy)

The second part of the sentence seems to be unmotivated, and the whole utterance seems to be logically incoherent. But it is only the first impression. After a careful supralinear semantic analysis it becomes clear that the exact logical variant of the utterance would be:

‘Those two who ought to suffer were enjoying themselves in Italy – a place for well-off people to go on holidays’.

So, GSL is a way of connecting two sentences seemingly unconnected and leaving it to the reader’s perspicacity to grasp the idea implied, but not worded. The SD is deeply rooted in the spoken language. The omissions are justified because the situation easily prompts what has not been said.

The GSL is generally indicated by and and but. There is no asyndetic GSL. It demands an obvious break in the semantic texture of the utterance. The author leaves the interpretation of the link between two sentences to the mind of the reader.

The GSL as a SD is based on the peculiarities of the spoken language and is therefore most frequently used in represented speech. It may be used to indicate a subjective evaluation of the facts or introduce an effect resulting from a cause which has already had verbal expression.

In all these functions GSL displays an unexpected coupling of ideas. GSL aims at stirring up the reader’s mind with the suppositions, associations and conditions under which the sentence uttered can really exist.

Another type of connection in a polysyndeton is the use of coordination instead of subordination with coordinative conjunction and standing for temporal, pause and effect and other relations known as subordination.

E.g.: The Mr. X set down steering at a little bookcase and at a window and at an empty blue bag and at a pen, and at a box of sweets.

Bella soaped his face and rubbed his face and soaped his hands and rubbed his hands and splashed him and rings him and toweled him until he was as red as a beet root.

And they put on their best and most colorful clothes: red shirts and green shirts and yellow shirts and pink shirts. (+ repetition)

And life would move slowly and excitingly. With laughter and much shouting and talking and much drinking and fighting. (+ detached construction).


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