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Шпаргалка по лексикологии

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The intensification of some features of the concept in question is realized in a device called simile. S. must not be confused with ordinary comparison. They represent two diverse processes. C. means weighing two objects belonging to one class of things with the purpose of establishing the degree of their sameness or difference. To use S. is to characterize one object by bringing it into contact with another object belonging to an entirely different class of things. C. takes into consideration all the properties of the two objects, stressing the one that is compared. S. excludes all the properties of the two objects except one which is made common to them.

E. g. ‘The boy seems to be as clever as his mother

It is ordinary comparison. ‘Boy’ and ‘Mother’ belong to the same class of objects – human beings – and only one quality is being stressed to find the resemblance.

Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare,’

It is simile. ‘Maidens’ and ‘moths’ belong to different classes of objects and Byron has found the concept ‘moth’ to indicate one of the secondary features of the concept ‘maiden’, i. e., to be easily lured. Concept ‘Maidens’ is characterized and the concept ‘moths’ characterizing.

Similes have formal elements in their structure: connective words such as like, as, such as, as if, seem.

Similes may suggest analogies in the character of actions performed. In this case the two members of the structural design of this simile will resemble each other trough the actions they perform. Thus:

“The Liberals have plunged for entry without considering its effects, while Labour leaders like cautious bathers have put a timorous toe into the water and promptly withdrawn it.”

The simile in this passage from newspaper’s article is based on the simultaneous realization of the two meanings of the word ‘plunged’. The primary meaning ‘to through oneself into the water’ – prompted the figurative periphrasis ‘have put a timorous toe into the water and promptly withdrawn it’ standing for ‘have abstained from taking action’.

In the English language, there is a long list of hackneyed similes pointing out the analogy between the various qualities, states or actions of human being and animals: busy as a bee, blind as a bat, to work like a hors, to fly like a bird, thirsty as a camel. These combinations have become cliches.


Oxymoron is a combination of two words (mostly an adjective and a noun or an adverb with an adjective) in which the meanings of the two clash, being opposite in sense,

E.g.: low skyscraper; sweet sorrow; pleasantly ugly face

The essence of oxymoron consists in the capacity of the primary meaning of the adjective or adverb to resist for some time the overwhelming power of semantic change which words undegro in combination. The forcible combination of non-combinative words seems to develop what may be called a kind of centrifugal force which keeps them apart, in contrast to ordinary word combinations where centripetal force is in action.

In oxymoron the logical meaning holds fast because there is no true word combination, only the juxtaposition of two non-combinative words. But we may notice a peculiar change in the meaning of the qualifying word. It assumes a new life in oxymoron, definitely indicative of assessing tendency in the writer’s mind.

E. g. (O. Henry) “I despise its very vastness and power. It has the poorest millionaires, the littlest great men, the haughtiest beggars, the plainest beauties, the lowest skyscrapers, the dolefulest pleasures of any town I eve seen.”

Even the superlative degree of the adjectives fails to extinguish the primary meaning of the adjectives: poor, little, haughty, etc. But by some inner law of word combinations they also show the attitude of the speaker, reinforced, of course, by the preceding sentence: “I despise its very vastness and power.”

Oxymoron as a rule has one structural model: adjective + noun. It is in this structural model that the resistance of the two component parts to fusion into one unit manifests itself most strongly. In the adverb + adjective model the change of meaning in the first element, the adverb, is more rapid, resistance to the unifying process not being so strong

Not every combination of words which we called non-combinative should be regarded as oxymoron, because new meaning developed in new combinations do not necessarily give rise to opposition.


Irony is stylistic device based on the simultaneous realization of two logical meanings – dictionary and contextual, but the two meanings stand in opposition to each other.

E.g. “It must be delightful to find oneself in a foreign country

without a penny in one’s pocket.”

The word “delightful” acquires a meaning quite the opposite to its primary dictionary meaning, that is “unpleasant”.

Irony must not be confused with humor, although they have very much in common. Humor always causes laughter. What is funny must come as sudden clash of the positive an the negative. In this respect irony can be likened to humor. But the function of irony is not confined to producing a humorous effect. In a sentence like “How clever of you” where, due to the intonation pattern, the word “clever” conveys a sense opposite to its literal signification, the irony does not cause a ludicrous effect. It rather expresses a feeling of irritation, displeasure, pity or regret

Richard Altick says, “The effect of irony lies in the striking disparity between what is said and what is meant.” This “striking disparity” is achieved trough the intentional interplay of the two meanings, which are in opposition to each other.

We must also take into consideration that irony is generally used to convey a negative meaning. Therefore only positive concepts may be used in their logical dictionary meanings.


Metonymy is based on different types of relation between the dictionary and contextual meanings, a relation based not on affinity, but on some kind of association connecting the two concepts which these meanings represent.

Thus the word “crown” may stand for “king or queen”, “cup or glass” for the “drink it contains” These examples of metonymy are traditional. In fact they are derivative logical meanings and therefore fixed in dictionaries, there is usually a label “fig”. This shows that new meaning not entirely replaced the primary one, but, as it were, co-exists with it.

Contextual metonymy is used in speech. It is genuine metonymy and reveals a quite unexpected substitution of one word, or even concept for another, on the ground of some strong impression produced by a chance feature of the thing.

E.g. “Then they came in. Two of them, a man with long fair moustaches

and a silent dark man… Definitely, the moustache and I had nothing in common.”

Here we have a feature of a man which catches the eye, in this case his facial appearance: the moustache stands for himself. The function of the metonymy here is to indicate that the speaker knows nothing of the man, moreover there is a definite implication that this is the first time the speaker has seen him.

Metonymy and metaphor differs in the way they are deciphered. In this process of disclosing the meaning in a metaphor, one image excludes the other, that is the metaphor “lamp” in the “The sky lamp of the night” when deciphered, means the moon, and though there is a definite interplay of meanings, we perceive only one object, the moon. This is not the case with metonymy. Metonymy, while presenting one object to our mind does not exclude the other. In the example given above the moustache and the man himself are both perceived by the mind.

Mane attempts have been made to pinpoint the types of relation which metonymy is based on. Among them the following are most common:

  1. A concrete thing used instead of an abstract notion. In this case the thing becomes a symbol of the notion. E.g. “The camp, the pulpit and the law For rich men’s sons are free.”

  2. The container instead of the thing contained: E. g. “The hall applauded.”

  3. The relation of proximity: E. g. “The round game table was boisterous and happy.”

  4. The material instead of the thing made of it: E. g. “The marble spoke.”

  5. The instrument which the doer uses in performing the action instead of the action or the doer himself: E. g. “as the sword is the worst argument that can be used, so should it be the last.”


Chiasmus belongs to the group of stylistic devices based on the repetition of syntactical pattern, but it has a cross order of words and phrases. The structure of two successive sentences or parts of a sentence may be described as reversed parallel construction, the word order of one the sentences being inverted as compared to that of the other:

E. g. “Down dropped the breeze,

The sails dropped down.”

The device is effective in that it helps to lay stress on the second part of the utterance, which is opposite in structure

Chiasmus can appear only when there are two successive sentences or coordinate parts of a sentence

Syntactical chiasmus is somtimes used to break the monotony of parallel constructions. But whatever the purpose of chiasmus, it will always bring in some new shade of meaning or additional emphasis on some portion of the second part.


Polysyndeton is the stylistic device of connecting sentences or phrases or syntagms or words by using connectives (mostly conjunctions and prepositions) before each component part.

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,…”

The repetition of conjunctions and other means of connection makes an utterance more rhythmical; so much so that prose may even seem like verse. So one of the functions of polysyndeton is a rhythmical one. In addition to this , polysyndeton has a disintegrating function. It generaly combines homogeneous elements of thought into one whole resembling enumeration. But unlike enumeration, which integrates both homogeneous and heterogeneous elements into one whole, polysyndeton causes each member of a string of facts to stand out conspicuously. That is why we say that polysyndeton has a disintegrating function. Enumeration snows the things united: polysyndeton snows them isolated.

Polysyndeton has also the function of axpressing sequence:

E. g. “Then Mr. Boffin… sat staring at a little bookcase of Law Practic and Law Reports, And at a window, and at an empty blue bag…..”

Stylistic inversion

Stylistic inversion aims at attaching logical stress or additional emotional colouring to the surface meaning of the utterance. Therefore a specific intonation pattern is the inevitable satellite of inversion

Stylistic inversion in Modern English is the practical realization of what is potential in the language itself.

The following patterns of stylistic inversion are most frequently met in both English prose and poetry:

  1. The object is placed at the beginning of the sentence: “Talent Mr. Micawber has; capital Mr. Micawber has not.”

  2. The attribute is placed after the word it modifies. This model is often used when there is more than one attribute: “With fingers weary and worn…”

  3. The predicative is placed before the subject: “A good generuos prayer it was”

The predicative stands before the link verb and both are placed before the subject: “Rude am I in my speech…”

  1. The adverbial modifier is placed at the beginning of the sentence: “My dearest daughter, at your feet I fall.”

  2. Both modifier and predicate stand before the subject: “Down dropped the breeze…”


The interplay between logical and nominal meanings of a word is called antonomasia. As in other stylistic devices based on the interaction of lexical meanings, the two kinds of meanings must be realized in the word simultaneously.

E. g. “Society is now one polished horde,

Form’d of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.”

In this example of use antonomasia the nominal meaning is hardly perceived, the logical meaning of the words “bores” and “bored” being to strong. It is very important to note that this stylistic device is mainly realized in the written language, because sometimes capital letters are the only signals of the stylistic device. But there is another point that should be mentioned. Most proper names are built in some law of analogy. Many of them end in “-son” (as Johnson) or “-er” (as Fletcher). We easily recognize such words as Smith, White, Brown, Green, Fowler and others as proper names. But such names as: Miss Blue-Eyes or Scrooge or Mr. Zero may be called token names. They give information to the reader about the bearer of the name.

Antonomasia is intended to point out the leading, most characteristic feature or event, at the same time pinning the this leading trait as a proper name to the person or event concerned.

Antonomasia is much favoured device in the belles-lettres style.


Hyperbole is deliberate overstatement or exaggeration, the aim of which is to intensify one of the features of the object in question to such a degree as will show its utter absurdity.

E. g. “And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.”

Like many stylistic devices, hyperbole may lose its quality as a stylistic device through frequent repetition and become a unit of the language-as-a-system, reproduced in speech in its unaltered form. Here are some examples of language hyperbole: ‘a thousand pardons’; ‘scared to death’; ‘I’d give the world to see him’


The epithet is a stylistic device based on the interplay of emotive and logical meaning in an attributive word, phrase or even sentence, used to characterise an object and pointing out to the reader, and frequently imposing on him, some of the properties or features of

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