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UNIT XII. Экспрессивно-стилистические средства. Stylistic Devices (Figures of Speech).

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  6. Stylistically Colored Lexical Units.


STYLE is a writer’s distinctive or characteristic form of expression determined by choice and arrangement of words, sentence structure, tone, rhythm, and the use of figurative language. The latter consists of imaginative comparisons called figures of speech or stylistic devices. Figurative language is not intended to be translated in a literal sense.


conventional ~ (standing) descriptive: fair lady, true love, bitter tears… tautological: soft pillow, green wood Transferred ~ a descriptive term transferred from the word to which it is appropriate to another word, to which it doesn’t strictly belong: a sleepless night, a weary journey Metaphoric ~ laughing valleys, an angry sky phrase-epithet: shoot-them-down type, I’m-not-that-type-of-a-girl look, Mr What’s-his-name (-), a die-hard sceptic (-), a might-have-been (-).
inverted ~ an angel of a girl, a jewel of a film, a doll of a wife, a two-legged sky-rocket of a kid


SIMILE – a stated comparison or likeness expressed in figurative language and introduced by such words as: LIKE AS, SO, AS IF, AS THOUGH, RESEMBLE.

e.g. Old as I am, I can still fight.

… yellow lights shining like two tiger’s eyes in the night.

whistling like a tree full of birds

Think twice before you use battered similes. E.g. as two peas, memory like a sieve, cheap as dirt, large as life…

METAPHOR – a comparison between unlike things with the intent of giving added meaning to one of them. “Language is vitally metaphorical” (Shelly). Our supposedly fixed words always shift their meanings. Thought itself is metaphoric and proceeds by comparison. Are you aware of the extended use of “leg” in literal sense: e.g. horse’s legs; both literal and metaphoric: a wooden leg, a star-fish leg, his trousers’ leg, the second leg of the contest; and metaphoric: to pull one’s leg, to show a leg, to find one’s sea legs, on one’s last legs…

“The greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor” (Aristotle), to have an eye for resemblances. Many features of day-to-day life are constantly expressed metaphorically: “Love is madness”

e.g. I’m crazy about you!

She drives me insane.

Or “love is physical upheaval”:

His head-over-heels in love with her.

I’m walking on air when I’m with him.

She makes me feel ten feet tall.


An umbrella organization, smoke screen, to collect dust, to start from scratch.

Promises are a politician’s stock in trade.

The economy was a snail. (Bradbury)

He got married on the QT.

Life is not all beer and skittles.

That Bill is really a tiger! – Nothing more than a weak kitten!

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines! (Shakespeare)

HYPERBOLE – a deliberate exaggeration for the sake of making a deeper impression:

e.g. All days are nights to me till I see thee.

You speak an infinite deal of nothing.

You, poor inch of nature…

Your face is not worth of sunburning…

I’m dying to hear what happened.

ALLITERATION – the recurrence (repetition) of a sound at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the words in close succession:

e.g. rat race, chit chat, wishy-washy,

hard hit, a bristly beard, to doggedly defend, blooded and bowed population, a deep divide between, to come under searching scrutiny, Peter Piper…

PERSONIFICATION – a figure of speech in which a nonhuman or inanimate object or quality, or idea is given life-like characteristics or power.

e.g. A heart sings with joy.

The flowers breathe out their sweet perfume.

The rain pounded on the window.

The sun smiled on the town.

The computer spit out the answer.

The clock said 10 o’clock.

The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.

The chair growned under my weight.

In personification, common in poetry, a quality is represented as a person.

e.g. confusion spoke…

vice is a monster… }Shakespeare

this bloody Tyrant Time...

So do our minutes hasten to their end…

PARAPHRASE – a rewording of a line, passage or entire work, giving the meaning in shorter form, usually to simplify the original.

e.g. democratic landslide, fire ranger, sun belt, Dust Bowel, “the beast that bears me” (Shakespeare)

EUPHEMISM – (Greek: “speak favorably”) the substitution of mild or vague expressions for harsh or blunt ones (fair and pleasing for unpleasant or dirty words). You use them when you do not want someone to know the truth. Or you use them to soften the reality of negative statements:

e.g. “Rex is a mutt. – No, Rex is a mixed-breed dog”.

The stereotypes of politeness: Hebrew for Jew; colored for Negro; lady for any woman; engineer for a mechanic; blue, frank, hot for porno; to pass away, to be no more, to go to a better world, to breathe one’s last, to join the great majority for death; half-seas over, lively, elevated for drunk; you know where to go for swearing.

PUN – a play upon words; the use of a word so as to suggest two or more meanings or different associations to provide a humorous effect. Puns may comport a wealth of connotation that raises them to the upper regions of wit.

When translating you should either find an analog of word play in TL or describe it in the footnote «непереводимая игра слов»

e.g. What gear were you in at the moment of impact? – Guchi’s shorts and Reebock. ® На какой передаче вы были в момент столкновения? – На «Европе-плюс».

Further reading and exercises:

1. Т.А. Казакова. Р 4 рр. 237-292

2. A.L. Koralova pp. 115-120

3. Match the following euphemisms with their actual meanings and translate them:

full – figured crippled

in a family way underwear

exotic dancer pushy

five-finger discount stripper

lingerie stealing

verbal fabrication lie

morally different, ethically disoriented pregnant

aggressive cemetery

strategic movement to the rear old person

memorial garden drunk

intoxicated dump

senior citizen retreat

landfill fat

physically-challenged dishonest, evil

4. IRONY involves saying one thing and meaning the opposite thing. Ironic situations, when things work out to be completely different from what is expected, also occur. Irony often shows humor or sarcasm. Sarcasm is irony used to hurt the feelings of others. It is often difficult to determine how irony is used. The writer’s tone or speaker’s tone or manner of speaking helps you to decide.


Choose the response that better shows irony:

1. Ray failed English for the third time. He said:

a) “I should give up.”

b) “I’ve got to stop studying so hard.”

c) “What an idiot I am!”

2. Herbert never finishes a project on time. When he promised his boss he’d meet the next deadline, his boss said:

a) “I won’t hold my breath.”

b) “It will be the first time.”

c) “There’s no hurry!”

3. Your best friend borrows your car. She goes to a party and has too much to drink. On the way home, she totals your car when she hits a police car head-on. You say to her:

a) “The early bird catches the worm.”

b) “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

c) “How could you do this to me?”

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Читайте в этой же книге: Unit III. The Theory of REGULAR CORRESPONDENCES (TRC). | Unit IV. The Problem of Translatability. Levels of Equivalence. | Unit V. Units of Translation. Word As a Basic Language Unit. Lexical and Grammatical Meanings. Conversion. | III. Word combinations: collocations, idioms, locutions, phraseological units. | Three Types of Lexical Meanings. | Grammatical Transformations: Transpositions and Replacements (Partitioning), Additions and Omissions (Integrating). | II.Replacements. | To raise / to pose a question to skirt questions | Phraseological unit is a stable word group (set-phrase) characterized by a completely or partially transferred meaning. | UNIT XI. Functional Styles. |
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Here are some examples of formal English. Where would you expect to see or hear them?| UNIT XIII. Newspaper Style.

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