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Stylistic phonetics
1. Phonetics as a branch of linguistics investigates acoustic & articulatory properties of speech
sounds and informs us of various types of pronunciation of the same word or sentence.
Stylistic phonetics says which variant suits the given type of speech. Pays attention only to styleforming phonetic features of sublanguages: it describes variants of pronunciation occurring in
different types of speech. Special attention is paid to prosodic features of prose and poetry. The stylistic
approach to the utterance is not confined to its structure and sense; there is another thing to be taken
into account which plays an important role. This is the way a word, a phrase or a sentence sounds.
The sound taken separately will have little or no aesthetic value. It is in combination with other words
that a word may acquire a desired phonetic effect.
2. Classification of phonetic devices:
1) Phonetic means of speech characterization
*Phonetic variation (irreg.pronunc.)
reduction of vowels;
substitution of consonants;
complete mispronunciation.
*Prosodic means
2) Expressive phonetic means
-alliteration; onomatopoeia; assonance
- emphatic stress;
-euphony; cacophony; paronomasia;
- pauses;
- special intonation contours.
Phonetic variation:
reduction of vowels (don`t, isn`t, they`ll);
omission (tella, gimme);
substitution of consonants (Henry =’Enry (cockney); Mith = Miss (lisping -шепелявость);
complete mispronunciation (darling = dulin’; everything = eve’thin; somewhat = summut).
Prosodic means:
(stress, emphatic stress, pauses, special intonation contours, rhythm, rhyme) serve to transfer
emotions. Intonation and stress are very important means in oral speech where they are expressed
directly by the speaker. In written speech they are conveyed indirectly by graphical expressive means
and by a special syntactical arrangement of utterance (such as inversion, isolated members,
parallel constructions and other syntactical stylistic devices).
4. Graphon - is intentional violation (искажение) of the spelling of a word (or word combination) used to
reflect its authentic pronunciation.
5. Graphical means:
They are aimed at conveying in the written form those emotions, which in oral speech are expressed by:
emphatic use of punctuation; deliberate change of the spelling; various types of print; emphatic use of
punctuation. Include punctuation, different types of print (italics, bold type) and a specific arrangement
of printed material. Such marks of punctuation as a series of dots (...), a dash (-), exclamation and
question marks and some others may be used not only to show the logical arrangement of speech but
also to convey the information of the uttered speech and to express emphasis. Examples:
italics (she was simply beautiful)
bold type (Muriel, I don’t know!)
capitalization (He was SLAIN in North Africa)
letter multiplication (умножениебукв) (Allll aboarrrrd!)
dash (re-fuse).
6. Expressive phonetic means - (found in the author’s discourse). This part of stylistics deals with
prosody&interaction of speech sounds in sequence. Phonetic expressive means deal with the sound
instrumenting (звуковая инструментовка) of the utterance and are mainly found in poetry.
Phonetic expressive means and devices are used for several purposes:
• to produce a certain acoustic effect;
• to give emphasis to the utterance;
• to arouse emotions in the reader or the listener.
 Alliteration is the repetition of the initial consonants in two or more neighboring words.
Alliteration aims at imparting a melodic effect to the utterance and make the speech more
homonymous; establish the rhythm of a poem, alliteration is generally regarded as a musical
accompaniment of the author’s idea; it creates some vague emotional atmosphere, which each
reader interprets for himself. (см. стр 134)
9. Alliteration is often used in phraseological combinations: busy as a bee (занятый),cool as a
cucumber (хладнокровный), hungry as a hunter, spick and span (очень аккуратный), forget and
forgive. In the titles of books: “Pride and Prejudice” (J. Austen), “The Posthumous Papers of the
Pickwick Club” (Ch. Dickens), “The Last Leaf” (O’Henry), set expressions: last but not least, now or
 Assonance – recurrence of stressed vowels.
Repetition of similar vowel sounds usually in stressed
syllables. Aim –
of organization of speech (sound instrumenting). One’s upon a midnight
dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary ...
 Onomatopoeia – sound imitation. Aims at imitating sounds produced in nature (wind, sea,
thunder, etc), by things (machines or tools, etc), by people (sighing, laughter, patter of feet, etc)
and by animals.
Direсt onomatopoeia is contained in words that imitate natural sounds, as ding-dong, buzz, bang, cuckoo,
tintinabulation, mew, ping-pong, roar and the like.
These words have different degrees of imitative quality. Some of them immediately bring to mind whatever it is that
produces the sound.
Others require the exercise of a certain amount of imagination to decipher it.
Onomatopoeic words can be used in a transferred meaning, as for instance ding-dong, which represents the sound
of bells rung continuously, may mean 1) noisy, 2) strenuously contested. Examples are: a ding-dong struggle, a
ding-dong go at something.
In the following newspaper headline: DING-DONG ROW OPENS ON BILL, both meanings are implied.
Indirect onomatopoeia is a combination of sounds the aim of which is to make the sound of the utterance
an echo of its sense. It is sometimes called "echo-writing". An example is: 'And the silken, sad, uncertain
rustling of each purple curtain' (E. A. Poe), where the repetition of the sound [s] actually produces the
sound of the rustling of the curtain.
10. Indirect onomatopoeia, unlike alliteration, demands some mention of what makes the sound.
Indirect onomatopoeia is sometimes very effectively used by repeating words which themselves are not
onomatopoetic, as in Poe's poem "The Bells" where the words tinkle and bells are distributed in the
following manner:
"Silver bells... how they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle" and further
"To the tintinabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells."
Alongside obviously onomatopoetic words as tinkle, tintinnabulation and jingling the word bells is drawn
into the general music of the poem and begins to display onomatopoetic properties through the
repetition. The words “tintinnabulation”, tinkle, “jingling” are obviously onomatopoetic; the word “bells”
begins to display such properties through the repetition.
Here is another example:
"Mostly he moved in urgent, precise, clipped movements –
go, go, go – and talked the same way – staccato sentences."
The onomatopoetic effect is achieved by the repetition of the unonomatopoetic word 'go' the
pronunciation of which is prompted by the word 'clipped', suggesting short, quick, abrupt motions. One
seems even to hear the sound of his footsteps.
Stylistic morphology
Stylistic morphology investigates stylistic value of morphemes and word forms.
The main unit of the morphological level is a morpheme – the smallest meaningful unit which can
be singled out in a word. There are two types of morphemes: root morphemes and affix ones.
Morphology chiefly deals with forms, functions and meanings of affix morphemes.
Affix morphemes in English are subdivided into word-building and form-building morphemes.
In the latter case affixation may be:
1) synthetical (boys, lived, comes, going);
2) analytical (has invited, is invited, does not invite);
3) based on the alteration of the root vowel (write-wrote);
4) suppletive (go-went).
There are few language (or paradigmatic) synonyms among English morphemes and only some
of them form stylistic oppositions, e.g., he lives – he does live. Come! – Do come! Don’t forget –
Don’t you forget. This scarcity of morphological expressive means which is predetermined by the
analytical character of the English language is compensated by a great variety of stylistic devices.
Morphological stylistic devices as a deliberate shift in the fixed distribution of morphemes
can be created by means of:
a) the violation of the usual combinability of morphemes within a word, e.g. the plural of
uncountable nouns (sands, waters, times), or the Continuous forms of the verbs of sense
perception (to be seeing, to be knowing, to be feeling);
b) the violation of the contextual distribution of morphemes, which is called form transposition.
Stylistic morphology is interested in grammatical forms and grammatical meanings that are
peculiar to particular sublanguages, explicitly or implicitly comparing them with the neutral ones
common to all the sublanguages. The stylistic potential of the morphology of the English language
is one of the least investigated areas of research, especially the stylistic properties of the parts of
speech and such grammatical categories as gender, number, person.
According to Y.M. Skrebnev, there are two trends of stylistic significance in English
synonymy - paradigmatic equivalence or inter- changeability of different morphemes (dog-
s, cow-s – ox-en, phenomenon-a, etc.);
variability of use (or inter- changeability) of morphological categorical forms (i.e.
component parts of the category) or of members of the opposition that constitute the grammatical
category such as tense, person, number, etc. (He is coming next Monday; Well, are we feeling
better today?).
In both cases, there is a possibility of choice, of using one out of two or more varieties which coexist paradigmatically.
A very powerful stylistic means is morphological transposition (transfer of grammatical
meaning, the use of a word not in its primary function but for the purpose of creating a certain
stylistic effect). Transposition is the usage of certain forms of different parts of speech in nonconventional grammatical or lexical meanings. In most cases the stylistic function is observed as a
result of violation of traditional grammatical valencies, which helps the speakers express their
emotions and attitudes to the subject of discussion.
Transposition of pronouns
Demonstrative – this, these, that, those may be used to express various shades of
emotional meanings, attitudes, from admiration to contempt.
That beautiful sister of yours! These lawyers! Ох уж эта Настя!
Personal pronouns can express cold official relations, indulgence (снисхождение),
arrogance (высокомерие), and sympathy: We are exceedingly charming this evening! (“we” is
used instead of “you” to express condescending-approving (снисходительно -одобрительный)
attitude of the speaker to the young girl.
the plural of modesty
In scientific prose WE implies the author and his imaginary reader. The author's WE, or the plural
of modesty, is used with the purpose to identify oneself with the audience or society at large (in
order not to mention himself for the reason of modesty but associate himself with his recipients):
Now, we come to the conclusion that...
the plural of majesty
WE can be used with reference to a single person, the speaker (instead of the pronoun I). It is
called the plural of majesty and is used in royal speech: By the Grace of Our Lord, We, Charles the
In literary texts (in prose fiction) YOU is used to involve the reader into the action, to make
him participate in the events, to impart the emotions prevailing in the narration to the reader (You
Transposition of nouns
1. The use of singular noun instead of an appropriate plural form creates a generalized, elevated
effect bordering on symbolization:
The faint fresh flame of the young year flushes
From leaf to flower and from flower to fruit
And fruit and leaf are as gold and fire (Swineburn).
И слышно было до рассвета, как ликовал француз!
And on the wave a deeper blue, And on the leaf a browner hue.
2. The abstract noun (normally uncountable) used in the plural form (hyperbolic plural) makes
the narration more expressive and brings about aesthetic semantic growth, e.g.:
Still waters run deep. When sorrows come they come not single spies but in battalions.
Transposition of adjectives
Transposition of adjectives turns them into nouns to make the utterance more expressive and
tangible (осязаемый): “The Red and the Black”, Isolde the Slender.
The grammatical category of comparison (actually the only grammatical category of the English
adjective today) is of great stylistic value in the English language.
The grammatical category of comparison is only typical of quantitative adjectives, and is not found
with relative (non-gradable) ones. So, when non-gradable adjectives denoting qualities normally
incompatible with the idea of degrees of comparison (such as colours, physical states, materials)
are used in a comparative or a superlative degree, they acquire an evaluative force and become
charged with a strong expressive power: pinker, greener; You cannot be deader than the dead (E.
The use of comparative and superlative forms with other parts of speech conveys a humorous
colouring, e.g.: He was the most married man I've ever met.
Violation of grammatical norms of forming degrees of comparison (e.g- the use of synthetical
forms with longer adjectives instead of analytical ones) in a literary text serves to reveal the
speaker's ruffled emotions (his overemotional state): "Curioser and curioser!" cried Alice (L.
Verb transpositions
The verb possesses more grammatical characteristics than any other Part of speech. All deviant
usages of tense, voice and aspect forms have strong stylistic connotations and play an important
role in creating a metaphorical meaning.
1. As far as grammatical category of tense is concerned, the most vivid example of grammatical
transposition is the so-called Historical (or Dramatic) Present. It implies the use of present forms
in order to express actions which took place in the past. Thus, more vivid picture of events is
created. The aim of historical present is to join different time systems — that of the characters, of
the author and of the reader, all of whom may belong to different epochs. The outcome is an effect
of empathy ensured by the correlation of different time and tense systems. In general it is typical
of Germanic, Romance and Slavik languages to express an action of the past and the future by
means of the present tense. This is explained by the indefiniteness of both notions of "present
time" (logical) and "present tense" (grammatical). Writers (Ch. Dickens) often present past events
as if they were in the present. “Иду я вчера и вижу…”
2. The auxiliary verb do/does/did in combination with a main-verb is a frequent emphatic device
in colloquial speech, e.g.: I do know him; He does look pale; Do let's go to the theatre. Do stop
calling me Billy in public! You don’t say! (Да что вы говорите!)
3. The use of Present Continuous into the sphere of Indefinite creates a lot of connotations:
Continuous forms employed in different contexts may express:
1) conviction, determination, persistence: Well, she is never coming here again, I tell you that
straight (S. Maugham);
2) impatience, irritation: — I didn't mean to hurt you.— You did. You are doing nothing else (B.
3) surprise, indignation, disapproval: Women kill me. They are always leaving their goddamn bags
out in the middle of the aisle (Salinger).
Synonymy of morphemes:
It can be found in the sphere of affixes. Archaic morphemes are met in bookish, high spheres,
not in everyday colloquial sublanguage: тобою, рукою
He hath (has), brethren, thou, thy.
Archaic forms are employed to create historical, realistic, true-to-life background; to impart
solemn and elevated effect;
Variation of morphemes:
The usage of archaic, colloquial or low-colloquial forms to create certain stylistic
connotations. Grammatical archaisms make the utterance solemn and high-flown: taketh,
giveth, hath, couldst, thou, thee, etc.
The usage of contracted forms to create natural character of speech: is not (neutral) – isn’t
(colloquial), ain’t (low- colloquial).
Stylistically coloured morphemes are characteristic of certain type of speech. For example,
prefixes super-, supra-, hyper-, omni- create bookish connotations, suffixes –y/ie – colloquial
(deary, auntie, birdie, girlie).
Stylistic effect of emphasis can be created due to repetition of morphemes:
She unchained, unbolted and unlocked the door.
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