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Classifications of tropes

Descriptive Tropes

Tropes Expressing Relations

A. Tropes based on comparison

1) simile

2) metaphor

3) personification

A. Relations of identity

1) synonyms

2) periphrasis & euphemism.

B. Tropes based on constant connections (contiguity)

1) metonymy

2) synecdoche

B. Relations of contrast

1) antithesis

2) oxymoron

3) irony

C. Mixed group

1) allegory

2) antonomasia

3) epithet

C. Relations of difference

1) climax (gradation)

2) bathos

3) hyperbole

4) litotes

Zeugma and pun - a marginal case between lexical and syntactic devices.

Descriptive tropes

DT include metaphoric, metonymic and mixed groups. All of them have one feature in common: they are built on the presence of some common features in the objects described and some other objects. Two objects or ideas may be associated by similarity or contiguity. Metaphoric group is based on the former, metonymic - on the latter, mixed group is based on both.

Metaphoric group

Metaphor - a transference of a name from 1 object to another on the basis of some common features when two unlike objects are compared by identification. M. is often called a hidden comparison, but no comparing word is used.

E.g. Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. (F. Bacon)

The metaphoric description has the aim to give a new prospective to the object, and it can be based on outer similarity, on inner, functional similarity or on purely emotive grounds.

There are 3 basic views on M:

  1. the substitution view – a M is a simple replacement of a literal statement,

  2. the comparison view – a M is an abbreviated simile,

  3. the interactive view – through the interaction of the meanings of the literal and metaphorical terms a new version of the concept associated with the literal term arises.

Nowadays the subject of M. is very popular in linguistics. American linguists Lakoff and Johnson in the book “Ms we live by” speak about conventional and cognitive Ms. They state that M is a basic characteristic of language and human cognition. M is much tied to cultural values.

E.g. In Western civilization Time is money, Passion is hunger / meals.

Simile - the juxtaposition of 2 objects, which belong to different classes of things, with some common property by which one of them is more vividly characterized.

Simile shows likeness in dissimilar objects. The 2 components of the S. may be joined by conjunctions like, as if, as though, as... as. The comparison may be expressed lexically by verbs to seem, to remind of to resemble. Sometimes the degree of comparison can be used. E.g. The ruby shall be redder than a red rose, and the sapphire shall be as blue as the great see. (O. Wilde)

Negative constructions can be also used, and a negative S. can be even more effective than a positive one:

E.g. Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

Thou art not so unkind

As man’s ingratitude. (W. Shakespeare)

S. is based on the comparison of the objects belonging to different classes and an element of imagination is involved, because only one property can be common to both of them and even this property may be not vivid. As a result, a new understanding of both the objects is achieved. Some linguists call S. a type of metaphor or metaphor a hidden S.

A is like В - Simile A is В - Metaphor.

Personification is also a form of metaphor. It is a trope which ascribes human or personal qualities to inanimate things so that they seem to possess life. E.g. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. (E.B. White "The Sea and the Wind That Blows") The effect of personification can be also achieved with the help of direct address - apostrophe (see above - "winter wind"), personal pronouns (she/he for it), capital letter.

  1. It makes the description more dynamic.

  2. It creates the general mood.

  3. It helps to make abstractions tangible.

  4. It creates the epic tone of the narration

Simile, metaphor, personification, and metaphorical epithets are called images (in the narrow meaning of this word).

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