A figure of speech is a rhetorical device thatachieves a special effect by using words indistinctive ways. Figurative language is oftenassociated with literature and poetry. But thefact is we use figures of speech every day inour own writing and conversations.Using original figures of speech in our writingis a way to convey meanings in fresh,unexpected ways. Figures can help ourreaders understand and stay interested inwhat we have to say.
Alliteration- The repetition of the same consonant sounds or of different vowel sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables.o consonantal alliteration – “on scrolls of silver snowy sentences" (Hart Crane)o vocalic alliteration – Anna has amazing abilities appreciated by everyone. Assonance – the use of the same vowel sound with different consonants or the same consonant with different vowels in successive words or stressed syllableso Vowels - I saw old autumn in the musty morn (T. Hood)o Consonants – mystery and mastery
Consonance – Similarity between consonants, but not between vowels Has your soul sipped Of the sweetness of all sweets? Has it well supped But yet hungers and sweats? (W. Owen) Onomatopoeia – A word whose sound hints at its meaning, such as bang, hiss.
Anaphora – The deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs - We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. (Winston S. Churchill) Epiphora – Repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases, sentences, or verses - Little Lamb, who made thee?/ Dost thou know who made thee? (Blake, "The Lamb") Anadiplosis - Rhetorical repetition at the beginning of a phrase of the word or words with which the previous phrase ended - She walks with Beauty - Beauty that must die (Keats) Polyptoton – The repetition of a word in a differently inflected form - Theres nothing you can do that cant be done,/ Nothing you can sing that cant be sung. (The Beatles)
Archaism – An old word or phrase no longer in general spoken or written use. Archaisms are found in poetry, biblical translations, place names and so on. yon=that, hither=closer, oft=often, damsel=maidenVerb endings such as –est and –eth as in thou goest= you go and goeth=goes (third person singular present indicative). Epanalepsis – the repetition, after a more or less lengthy passage of subordinate or parenthetic text, of a word or clause that was used before – Live and let live
Ellipsis – Refers to a sentence in which a part of structure has been omitted, which can be understood by context. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and (may the Lord cut off) every boastful tongue. (Psalm 12:3) Parallelism – The principle of representing equal ideas in the same grammatical form. Repetition of syntactical units (phrases, clauses, sentences).Easy come, easy go. Out of sight, out of mind.Parallelism produces a sense of balance and order. Government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Syndeton – refers to the use of conjunctions to link parts of a syntactic constructions as in – They spoke quietly and rapidly.o Asyndeton – Unsual omission of conjunctions, especially in order to achieve drammatic form of expression as in – O, what a noble mind is here overthrown/ The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword (Hamlet)o Polysyndeton – Use of (unnecessarily) many conjunctions. When you are old and grey and full of sleep. (Yeats) Chiasmus - The inversion of words from the first half of a statement in the second half – Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.(J.Kennedy)
Semantic figures Simile – Comparison between two dissimilar things, usually connected by like and as - She walks in beauty like the night (L.Byron) Metaphor – A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally belonging to one object or idea is applied to another - The leaves of Life keep falling one by one. (Omar Khayyam) Metaphors are characterized as either1. Direct – She is the pain in his heart. The primary subject (tenor) is « She » and the secondary subject (vehicle) is « pain in his heart »2. Indirect – Comparison is implied but not stated directly as in - It was just the luck of the draw that we met yesterday. We are comparing an element of life to a card game, but the comparison is not stated directly Personification - A type of metaphor in which distinctive human characteristics are attributed to an animal, object or idea, as His car was happy to be washed or Fortune is blind Personification is commonly used in allegory.
Metonymy – A term used in semantics and stylistics, referring to a figure of speech in which the name of an attribute of an entity is used in place of the entity itself - To read Milton= Milton’s works or What action has Whitehall (= the British Government) taken? Synecdoche - A figure of speech in which a part is used to represent the whole (for example, ABC for alphabet) or the whole for a part ("England won the World Cup in 1966"). Antonomasia – 1. Use of a proper name in place of an ordinary word – a Croesus = any very rich person, Benedict Arnold=a traitor . 2. Use of a descriptive phrase in place of a proper name - The Swan of Avon = Shakespeare
Hyperbola – A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect – This book weighs a ton.o A type of hyperbole in which the exaggeration magnified so greatly that it refers to an impossibility is called an adynaton – Id give my right arm for a piece of pizza. Euphemism - The act of substituting a mild or indirect term for harsh or offensive one. neutralize for kill , departed for dead Antithesis – Parallel arrangement of contrasting ideas, phrases, or words so as to produce an effect of balance, such as My words fly up, my thoughts remain below (Hamlet)
Apostrophe – The addressing an absent person or a personified object. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting. Rhetorical question – A question asked for rhetorical effect rather than as a request for an answer – Was this the face that launched a thousand ships? And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? (C.Marlowe) Irony – The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning – He is an honorable man as Brutus.
ReferencesManfred Jahn, A Guide to the Theory of Poetry (IV paragraph-Minima Rhetorica)David Crystal, A dictonary of Linguistics and Phonetics (V edition)Edward Quinn, A dictionary of Literary and Thematic terms (IIedition)Robert I Bradshaw, Figures of Speechwww.angelfire.com/ct2/evenski/.../figuresofspeechhttp://www.serve.com/hecht/words/fosgrammar.about.com/od/rhetoricstyle/a/20figures