Particular ways of combining parts of the utterance


Иностранные языки, филология и лингвистика

Particular ways of combining parts of the utterance Asyndeton Asyndeton that is connection between parts of a sentence or between sentences without any formal sign becomes a stylistic device if there is a deliberate omission of the connective where it is generally expected to be according to the norms of the literary language. Polysyndeton 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 as in: The heaviest...



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Основы теории изучаемого языка                                                                        Стилистика английского языка

                                                              Лекция 10

                                                                                                                                Syntactical Expressive Means and Stylistic Devices

Lecture 10

II. Particular ways of combining parts of the utterance


Asyndeton, that is, connection between parts of a sentence or between sentences without any formal sign, becomes a stylistic device if there is a deliberate omission of the connective where it is generally expected to be according to the norms of the literary language. Here is an example:

"Soames turned away; he had an utter disinclination for talk like one standing before an open grave, watching a coffin slowly lowered." (Galsworthy)

The deliberate omission of the subordinate conjunction because or for makes the sentence 'he had an utter...' almost entirely independent. It might be perceived as a characteristic feature of Soames in general, but for the comparison beginning with like, which shows that Soames's mood was temporary.


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, as in:

"The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect." (Dickens)

The repetition of conjunctions and other means of connection makes an utterance more rhythmical; so much so that prose may even seem like verse. The conjunctions and other connectives, being generally unstressed elements, when placed before each meaningful member, will cause the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables — the essential requirement of rhythm in verse. Hence, one of the functions of polysyndeton is a rhythmical one.

In addition to this, polysyndeton has a disintegrating function. It generally 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 shows things united; polysyndeton shows them isolated.

III.Particular use of colloquial constructions

Emotional syntactical, structures typical of the spoken variety of language are sometimes very effectively used by men-of-letters to depict the emotional state of mind of tha characters; they.may even be used, in particular-cases, in the narrative of the author. But even when used in the dialogue of novels and stories these emotional constructions, being deprived of their accompaniment—intonation—assume a greater significance and become stylistically marked. Here the emotional structures stand out more conspicuously, because they are thrown into prominence not by the intonation pattern but by the syntactical pattern.


Ellipsis is a typical phenomenon in conversation, arising out of the situation. We mentioned this .peculiar feature of the spoken language when we characterized its essential qualities and properties.

But this typical feature of the spoken language assumes a new quality when used in the written language. It becomes a stylistic device

inasmuch as it supplies suprasegmental information. An elliptical sentence in direct intercourse is not a stylistic device. It is simply a norm of the spoken language.

Ellipsis imitates the common features of colloquial language, where the situation predetermines not the omission of certain members of the sentence, but their absence.

E.g.: "Nothing so difficult as the beginning." (Byron)

Break-in-the-Narrative (Appsiopesis)

Aposiopesis is a device which dictionaries define as "A stopping short for rhetorical effect." This is true. But this definition is too general to' disclose the stylistic functions of the device.

In the spoken variety of the language, a break in the narrative is usually caused by unwillingness to proceed; or by the supposition that what remains to be said can be understood by the implication embodied in what has been said; or by uncertajnty as to what should be said.

In the written variety, a break in the narrative is always a stylistic device used for some stylistic effect. It is difficult, however, to draw a hard and fast distinction between break-in-the-narrative as a typical feature of lively colloquial language and as a specific stylistic device. The only criterion which may serve as a guide is that in conversation the implication can be conveyed by an adequate gesture. In writing it is the context, which suggests the adequate intonation, that is the only key to decoding the aposiopesis.

In the following example the implication of the aposiopesis is a warning

"If you continue your intemperate way of living, in six months' time ..."

In the sentence:

"You just come home or I'll ..."

the implication is a threat. The second example shows that without a context the implication can only be vague. But when one knows that the words were said by an angry father to his son over the telephone the implication becomes apparent.

Aposiopesis is a stylistic syntactical device to convey to the reader a very strong upsurge of emotions. The idea of this stylistic device is that the speaker cannot proceed, his feelings depriving him of the ability to express himself in terms of language.


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