Expressive means (EM) and stylistic devices (SD)

In linguistics there are different terms to denote those particular means by which a writer obtains his effect. Expressive means, stylistic means, stylistic devices and other terms are all used indiscriminately. For our purposes it is necessary to make a distinction between expressive means and stylistic devices.

All stylistic means of a language can be divided into expressive means (EM), which are used in some specific way, and special devices called stylistic devices (SD).

The expressive means of a language are those phonetic means, morphological forms, means of word-building, and lexical, phraseological and syntactical forms, all of which function in the lan­guage for emotional or logical intensification of the utterance.

The most powerful expressive means of any language are phonetic. The human voice can indicate subtle nuances of meaning that no other means can attain. Pitch, melody, stress, pausation, drawling, drawling out certain syllables, whispering, a sing-song manner of speech and other ways of using the voice are more effective than any other means in intensifying the utterance emotionally or logically.

Among the morphological expressive means the use of the Present Indefinite instead of the Past Indefinite must be mentioned first. This has already been acknowledged as a special means and is named the Historical Present. In describing some past event the author uses the present tense, thus achieving a more vivid picturisation of what was going on.

The use of shall in the second and third person may also be regarded as an expressive means.

He shall do it (= I shall make him do it). He has to do it (=’ It is necessary for him to do it).

Diminutive suffixes may also have an expressive effect: girlie, Freddie, doggy, piggie.

Among word-building expressive means we find a great many forms which serve to make the utterance more expressive and fresh or to intensify it. The diminutive suffixes as -y(ie), -let, e. g. dear, dearie, stream, streamlet, add some emotional colouring to the words.

Certain affixes have gained such a power of expressiveness that they begin functioning as separate words, absorbing all of the generalizing meaning they usually attach to different roots, as for example: ‘isms and ologies’.

At the lexical level there are a great many words which due to their inner expressiveness, constitute a special layer. There are words with emotive meaning only, like interjections, words which have both referential and emotive meaning, like some of the qualitative adjectives; words which still retain a twofold meaning; denotative and connotative; or words belonging to special groups of literary English or of non-standard English (poetic, archaic, slang, vulgar, etc.) and some other groups. The expressive power of these words cannot be doubted, especially when they are compared with the neutral vocabulary, for example: house – neutral; dome (величественное здание, устар.), abode(жилище, обиталище)– bookish; cot (хижина, лачуга) – poetic; crib (хата, квартира)- jargonism;  hutch (каморка, хибарка), hovel (шалаш, хибара) – colloquial; den (берлога, логово, нора, укрытие)- positive; hole (притон, захолустье, дыра, убежище) – negative.

The same can be said of the set expressions of the language. Proverbs and sayings as well as catch-words form a considerable number of language units which serve to make speech more emphatic, mainly from the emotional point of view. Some of these proverbs and sayings are so well-known that their use in the process of communication passes almost unobserved; others are rare and therefore catch the attention of the reader or the listener.

In every-day speech you often hear such phrases as “Well, it will only add fuel to the fire”, and the like, which can easily be replaced by synonymous neutral expressions, like “It will only make the situa­tion worse.”

Finally at the syntactical level there are many constructions which, being set against synonymous ones, will reveal a certain degree of logical or emotional emphasis.

Let us compare the following pairs of structures:

“I have never seen such a film.” “Never have I seen such a film.”

“Mr. Smith came in first.” “It was Mr. Smith who came in first.”

«I know you». «I do know you».

The second structure in each pair contains emphatic elements. They cause intensification of the utterance: in the first case emotional in character, in the second, logical.

In the English language there are many syntactical patterns which serve to intensify emotional quality. Examples of these emotional constructions are:

He is a brute of a man, is John. That you should deceive me! If only I could help you! Isn’t she cute! Fool that he was!

Stylistics, however, observes not only the nature of an expressive means, but also its potential capacity of becoming a stylistic device.

A stylistic device (SD) is a literary model in which semantic and structural features are blended so that it represents a generalised pattern.

According to Professor I. R. Galperin a stylistic device (SD) is a conscious and intentional literary use of some of the facts of the language (including expressive means), it is a conscious and intentional intensification of some typical structural or semantic property of a language unit, promoted to a generalized status and thus becoming a generative model.

Not every stylistic use of a language fact will come under the term SD. For a language fact to become a SD there is one indispensable (обязательный) requirement, that it should be so much used in one and the same function that it has become generalized in its functions.

Classifications of expressive means (EM) and stylistic devices (SD)

The classification suggested by Prof. Galperin is simply organised and very detailed. His subdivision of expressive means and stylistic devices is based on the level-oriented approach:

1.  Phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices.

2.  Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices.

3.  Syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices.

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