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FIGURES OF QUALIFICATION



To this group we refer tropes and figures of speech based on comparison of features and qualities of two objects, belonging to different areas or classes, which are perceived as having a common feature. The basic tropes in this group are metaphor, metonymy, and irony.
Metaphorand metonymyare universal means of reinterpretation and transfer of a name from one denotate to another. The difference between them is that while in metaphor this transfer is realized on the basis of likeness (real or imaginary) of the two objects (e.g. He is a brick, a log, a bear), in case of metonymy it is realized on the basis of contiguity between the two objects (e.g. I like Beethoven).
The latest linguistic investigations prove that metaphorical and metonymical transfers differ not only semantically but syntactically and lexically as well.
Metonymy is more often found in the subject and object groups, while metaphor is commonly found in the predicate group (e.g. The hat is still here. She is a monkey.) When metaphor is used as a subject, it takes on an anaphoric pronoun, e.g. He is a bear. That bear broke the vase. Irony is also a transfer of meaning, but if metaphor is based on similarity and metonymy on contiguity, irony is based on opposition of the two meanings of a speech unit.
To the Metonymical Group we refer metonymy, synechdoche, periphrasis, and eu-phemism.
Metonymy as a secondary nomination unit is based on the real association of the object of nomination with the object whose name is transferred. The simplest kind of metonymy is lexical metonymy, when the name of an object (most often, a proper name) is transferred to another object (Lewis, Makintosh, volt, amper). Such metonymies have no stylistic value as they become common nouns. Stylistic metonymy suggests a new, unexpected association between the two objects. In metonymy, the associations between the object named and the object implied vary. They may bring together some features of a person and the person him/herself; an article of clothing and the person wearing it; an instrument and the action it performs; the two objects whose functions coincide, e.g. She was a sunny, happy sort of creature. Too fond of the bottle (A. Christie); He made his way through the perfume and conversation (I. Shaw).
Synecdoche is a variety of metonymy in which the transfer is based on the association between a part and the whole, the singular and the plural. This type of metonymical relationship may be considered a quantitative one, e.g. Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind (W. Shakespeare).
Metonymy and synecdoche as genuine EM are used to achieve concreteness of description. By mentioning only one seemingly insignificant feature or detail connected with the object, person, or phenomenon, the author draws the reader's attention to it and makes him/her visualize the object or the character he describes.
Periphrasis (Greek: peri – around; phraseo – speak) is a stylistic figure which substitutes a word designating an object for a word-combination which describes its most essential and characteristic features. Periphrasis both names and describes. Every periphrasis indicates a feature which the speaker or writer wants to stress and often conveys an individual perception of the object or phenomenon named, e.g. The hospital was crowded with the surgically interesting products {the wounded} of the fighting in Africa (I. Shaw).
As a result of frequent repetition, periphrasis can become well-established as a synonymous expression for the word generally used to designate the object. It is called traditional, dictionary or language periphrasis, e.g. gentlemen of the long robe (lawyers), the better (fair, gentle) sex, my better half (my spouse), the minions of the law (police).
Euphemism (Greek: eupheme – speaking well) is a variety of periphrasis which is used to replace an unpleasant word or expression by a conventionally more acceptable one.
Euphemisms may be divided into several groups according to the spheres of usage:
1) religious euphemisms: God may be replaced by Goodness, Lord, Jove, Heaven etc.; Devil - by the dence, the dickens, old Nick, old Harry;
2) euphemisms connected with death: to join the majority, to pass away, to go the way of all flesh, to go west, to breathe one's last, to expire, to depart etc;
3) political euphemisms, widely used in mass media: undernourishment for starvation, less fortunate elements for the poor, economic tunnel for the crisis etc.
Euphemisms as well as periphrases have no direct reference to the denotate, which is known to both the author and the reader. The euphemistic transfer of a name is often based on metaphor or metonymy. In fiction, euphemisms are used to give more positive characteristics to the denotate, e.g. Jean nodded without turning and slid between two vermilion-coloured buses so that two drivers simultaneously used the same qualitative word (J. Galsworthy).
In colloquial speech euphemisms are typical of more cultured and educated people.
Metaphor is a secondary nomination unit based on likeness, similarity or affinity (real or imaginary) of some features of two different objects. Metaphor is usually used in the predicate group, because it aims at individualization and characterization of the object.
Linguists distinguish four types of metaphor, the stylistic value of each type being different:
1) nominative metaphor, i.e. one name which is substituted for by another. In this case, nominators or identifying lexical units undergo metaphorization. The nominative metaphor gives a new name to a class of objects. Such metaphors are a mere technical device for extracting a new name, from the old word-stock, e.g. the apple of the eye, a leg of the table, an arm of the clock, the foot of the hill.
2) cognitive metaphor is created as a result of the shift in the combinability of
qualifying lexical units, when their meaning becomes more abstract. In this case, objects named are ascribed the features of quite different objects, sometimes even alien qualities, e.g. black night (water, heat, despair etc). It may be based on implied simile, e.g. Time flies (as a bird).
3) generalizing metaphor leads to polysemy as it destroys the borderline between different notions. In this case, predicative lexical units undergo metaphorization and transform into identifying lexical units. This metaphor is somewhat artificial and it indicates the feelings some artefacts can evoke in the customers rather than the qualities of some goods. Its stylistic effect is weak, e.g. восторгаться → шоколад "Bocmopг".
4) figurative or image-bearing metaphor presupposes that identifying lexical units are transferred into the predicate-slot and, as a predicate, refer to other objects or a class of objects. Here, metaphor is a means of individualization, evaluation, and discrimination of the shades of meaning. Such metaphor appeals to the reader's intuition, giving him/her a chance to interpret the text creatively. The stylistic effect of this metaphor is great, e.g. They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate (W.S. Gilbert).
According to its structure, metaphor may be:
a) simple or elementary, which is based on the actualization of one or several features common for two objects;
b) prolonged or sustained, which is not confined to one feature that forms the main, central image but also comprises other features linked with and developing this image in context, e.g. He was surprised that the fire which flashed from his eyes did not melt the glasses of the spectacles (A. Huxley). In this example, subsidiary images flashed and melted are connected with the main image expressed by the word fire.
According to the peculiarities of its semantics, metaphor may be trite (traditional, language) and genuine (speech). Stylistic functions of metaphor are twofold. By evoking images and suggesting analogies, it:
1) makes the author's thought more concrete, definite, and clear, and
2) reveals the author's emotional attitude towards what he/she describes.
The main function of figurative metaphor is not merely communicative but aesthetic. It appeals to imagination rather than gives information.
Antonomasia (Greek: antonomasia – renaming) is a peculiar variety of metaphor. There are two types of antonomasia:
1) the usage of a proper name for a common noun (Othello, Romeo, Hamlet);
2) the usage of common nouns or their parts as proper names (Mr.Snake, Mr.Backbite etc.), e.g. "Don't ask me,” said Mr. Owl Eyes washing his hands off the whole matter (F.Sc. Fitzgerald).
The main stylistic function of antonomasia is to characterize a person simultane-ously with naming him/her.
Personification (Latin: persona – person, facere – do) is also a variety of metaphor. It is based on ascribing some features and characteristics of a person to a thing, e.g.
Autumn comes
And trees are shedding their leaves
And Mother Nature blushes
Before disrobing

(N. West)
Unlike metaphor, personification:
1) is used only in fiction while metaphor can be found practically in every style; 2) can appear only within context, no matter how short.
Allegory is another variety of metaphor. It differs from metaphor as it is mainly used in fiction and it differs from personification as it appears only in a text, no matter how short it may be (e.g. proverbs, fables or fairy tales).
Irony (Greek: eironeia – concealed mockery). The difference between metaphor and metonymy, on the one hand, and irony, on the other, can be defined as follows: in metaphor and metonymy, the transfer is based on affinity of the objects, in irony, it is based on their opposition. The relations of opposition here are not objective but subjective because irony always suggests evaluation. It is positive in form but negative in meaning.
In a narrow sense, irony is the use of a word having a positive meaning to express a negative one. In a wider sense, irony is an utterance which formally shows a positive or neutral attitude of the speaker to the object of conversation but in fact expresses a negative evaluation of it, e.g. She was a gentle woman, and this, of course, is a very fine thing to be; she was proud of it (in quite a gentlewomanly way), and was in the habit of saying that gentlefolk were gentlefolk, which, if you come to think of it, is a profound remark (W.S.Maugham).
In contrast with metaphor and metonymy, irony does not employ any particular syn-tactical structure or lexical units. In context, there are usually some formal markers of irony pointing out to the meaning implied.
In oral speech, a word used ironically is strongly marked by intonation and other paralinguistic means. In written speech, such markers are not easily found.
Language irony comprises words, word-combinations and utterances which, due to regular usage, have acquired connotative ironical meaning which does not depend on context, e.g. to orate, a speechmaker, too clever by half, mutual admiration society.
More often, however, words or word-combinations acquire ironical meaning due to particular syntagmatic relations between the meanings of different speech units in macrocontext (a fragment of a text) or megacontext (the whole text), e.g. An Ideal Husband, A Devoted Friend, The Quiet American. The ironical meaning appears, when lexical units expressing positive evaluation in a certain context acquire a negative meaning, e.g. This naturally led to some pleasant chat about... fevers, chills, lung diseases ... and bronchitis (J.K. Jerome).



 





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