Classification of expressive means and stylistic devices by Y. M. Skrebnev — КиберПедия 

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Classification of expressive means and stylistic devices by Y. M. Skrebnev

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One of the latest classifications of expressive means and stylistic devices is given in the book "Fundamentals of English Stylistics" by Y. M. Skrebnev published in 1994 (47). Skrebnev's approach

demonstrates a combination of principles observed in Leech's system of paradigmatic and syntagmatic subdivision and the level-oriented approach on which Galperin's classification is founded. At the same time it differs from both since Skrebnev managed to avoid mechanical superposition of one system onto another and created a new consistent method of the hierarchical arrangement of this material.

Skrebnev starts with a holistic view, constructing a kind of language pyramid.

He doesn't pigeonhole expressive means and stylistic devices into appropriate layers of language hke Leech and Galperin. Skrebnev first subdivides stylistics into paradigmatic stylistics (or stylistics of units) and syntagmatic stylistics (or stylistics of sequences). Then he explores the levels of the language and regards all stylistically relevant phenomena according to this level principle in both paradigmatic and syntagmatic stylistics.

He also uniquely singles out one more level. In addition to pho­netics, morphology, lexicology and syntax he adds semasiology (or semantics).

According to Skrebnev the relationship between these five levels and two aspects of stylistic analysis is bilateral. The same linguistic material of these levels provides stylistic features studied by paradigmatic and syntagmatic stylistics. The difference lies in its different arrangement.

Paradigmatic stylistics

(Stylistics of units)

<- 1. Phonetics <- 2. Morphology <- 3. Lexicology <- 4. Syntax <- 5. Semasiology

-> Syntagmatic -> stylistics

-> (Stylistics of -> sequences)


Paradigmatic stylistics

Looking closer into this system we'll be able to distinguish specific units and their stylistic potentials or functions. Thus paradigmatic stylistics (stylistics of units) is subdivided into five branches.

Paradigmatic phonetics actually describes phonographical stylistic features of a written text. Since we cannot hear written speech but in our "mind" writers often resort to graphic means to reproduce the phonetic peculiarities of individual speech or dialect. Such intentional non-standard spelhng is called "graphons" (a term borrowed from V. A. Kucharenko).

I know these Eye- talians! (Lawrence) - in this case the graphon is used to show despise or contempt of the speaker for Italians.

In Cockney speech whose phonetic peculiarities are all too well known you'll hear [ai] in place of [ei], [a:] instead of [au], they drop "h's" and so on. It frequently becomes a means of speech characterisation and often creates a humorous effect.

The author illustrates it with a story of a cockney family trying to impress a visitor with their "correct" English:

"Faiher, said one of the children at breakfast. - I want some more 'am please".-You mustn't say 'am, my child, the correct form is 'am, - retorted his father, passing the plate with sliced ham on it. "But I did say 'am, pleaded the boy". "No, you didn't: you said 'am instead-of 'am". The mother turned to the guest smiling: "Oh, don't mind them, sir, pray. They are both trying to say 'am and both think it is 'am they are saying" (47, p. 41).

Other graphic means to emphasise the "unheard" phonetic charecter-istics such as the pitch of voice, the stress, and other melodic features are italics, capitalisation, repetition of letters, onomatopoeia (sound imitation).

E.g. I AM sorry; "Аррееее Noooooyeeeeerr" (Happy New Year); cock-a-doodle-doo.

Paradigmatic morphology observes the stylistic potentials of grammar forms, which Leech would describe as deviant. Out of several va­rieties of morphological categorial forms the author chooses a less predictable or unpredictable one, which renders this form some stylistic connotation. The peculiar use of a number of grammatical categories for stylistic purposes may serve as an ample example of this type of expressive means.

The use of a present tense of a verb on the background of a past-tense narration got a special name historical present in linguistics.

E. g. What else do I remember? Let me see.

There comes out of the cloud our house... (Dickens)

Another category that helps create stylistic colouring is that of gender. The result of its deviant use is personification and depersonification. As Skrebnev points out although the morphological category of gender is practically non-existent in modern English special rules concern whole classes of nouns that are traditionally associated with feminine or masculine gender. Thus countries are generally classed as feminine (France sent her representative to the conference.) Abstract notions associated with strength and fierceness are personified as masculine while feminine is associated with beauty or gentleness (death, fear, war, anger - he, spring, peace, kindness - she). Names of vessels

and other vehicles (ship, boat, carriage, coach, car) are treated as feminine.

Another deviant use of this category according to Skrebnev is the use of animate nouns as inanimate ones that he terms "depersonification" illustrated by the following passage:

"Where did you find it?" asked Mord Em'ly of Miss Gilliken with a satirical accent.

"Who are you calling "it"?" demanded Mr. Barden aggressively. "P'raps you'll kindly call me 'im and not it". (Partridge)

Similar cases of deviation on the morphological level are given by the author for the categories of person, number, mood and some others.

Paradigmatic lexicology subdivides English vocabulary into stylistic layers. In most works on this problem (cf. books by Galperin, Arnold, Vinogradov) all words of the national language are usually described in terms of neutral, literary and colloquial with further subdivision into poetic, archaic, foreign, jargonisms, slang, etc.

Skrebnev uses different terms for practically the same purposes. His terminology includes correspondingly neutral, positive (elevated) and negative (degraded) layers.

Subdivision inside these categories is much the same with the exclusion of such groups as bookish and archaic words and special terms that Galperin, for example, includes into the special literary vocabulary (described as positive in Skrebnev's system) while Skrebnev claims that they may have both a positive and negative styUstic function depending on the purpose of the utterance and the context. The same consideration concerns the so-called barbarisms or foreign

words whose stylistic value (elevated or degraded) depends on the kind of text in which they are used. To illustrate his point Skrebnev gives two examples of barbarisms used by people of different social class and age. Used by an upper-class character from John Galsworthy the word chic has a tinge of elegance showing the character's knowledge of French. He maintains that Itahan words ciao and bambino current among Russian youngsters at one time were also considered stylistically 'higher' than their Russian equivalents. At the same time it's hard to say whether they should ah be classified as positive just because they are of foreign origin. Each instance of use should be considered individually.

Stylistic differentiation suggested by Skrebnev includes the following stratification





Bookish and archaic words occupy a peculiar place among the other positive words due to the fact that they can be found in any other group (poetic, official or professional).



colloquial; neologisms;

jargon; slang;

nonce-words; vulgar words.

Special mention is made of terms. The author maintains that the stylistic function of terms varies in different types of speech. In non-professional spheres, such as literary prose, newspaper texts, everyday speech special terms are associated with socially presti­gious occupations and therefore are marked as elevated. On the other hand the use of non-popular terms, unknown to the average speaker, shows a pretentious manner of speech, lack of taste or tact.

Paradigmatic syntax has to do with the sentence paradigm: complete­ness of sentence structure, communicative types of sentences, word order, and type of syntactical connection.

Paradigmatic syntactical means of expression arranged according to these four types include

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