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It’s lumber, man – all lumber! Throw it overbroad. It makes the boat so heavy to pull, you nearly faint at the oars. It makes it so cumbersome and dangerous to manage, you never know a moment’s freedom from anxiety and care, never again a moment’s rest for dreamy laziness – no time to watch the windy shadows skimming lightly o’er the shallows, or the glittering sunbeams flitting in and out among the ripples, or the great trees by the margin looking down at their own image, or the woods all green and golden, or the lilies white and yellow, or the sombre waving rushes, or the sedges, or the orchids, or the blue forget-me-nots.

Throw the lumber over, man! Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home, simple pleasures, one or two friends worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.

You will find the boat easier to pull then, and it will not be so liable to upset, and it will not matter so much if it does upset; good, plain merchandise will stand water.

You will have time to think as well as to work. Time to drink in life’s sunshine – time to listen to the AEolian music that the wind of God draws from the human heart – strings around us – time to—

I beg your pardon, really. I quite forgot.

(J. K. Jerome)

  • Around noon the last shivering wedding guest arrived at the farmhouse; then for all the miles around nothing moved on the gale-haunted moors – neither carriage, wagon, nor human figure. The road wound emptily over the low hills. The gray day turned still colder, and invisible clouds of air began to stir slowly in great icy swaths, as if signaling some convulsive change beyond the sky. From across the downs came the boom of surf against the island cliffs. Within an hour the sea wind rose to a steady moan, and then within the next hour rose still more to become a screaming ocean of air.

Ribbons of shouted laughter and music – wild waltzes and reels – streamed thinly from the house, but all the wedding sounds were engulfed, drowned and then lost in the steady roar of the gale. Finally, at three o’clock, spits of snow became a steady swirl of white that obscured the landscape more thoroughly than any fog that had ever rolled in from the sea.

(M. Wilson)

Reference materials:

Galperin I. R. “Stylistics

Arnold I. V. “Стилистика современного английского языка”

Skrebnev Y. M. “Стилистика английского языка”

Collins V. H. “The Choice of Words”

Lebedeva L.B. 10 Lectures in Style.


Tropes and lexical stylistic devices.

  1. Epithet.

  2. Hyperbole. Meiosis. Litotes.

  3. Irony.

  4. Symbol.

  5. Euphemism.

  • Task 1.

What distinguishes epithet from regular descriptive elements? Enumerate types of epithets (semantic and structural). Speak about their connection with other lexical stylistic devices. Account for the stylistic effect of the following epithets.

  • “Do you think you can bring yourself to take your stinking feet off my bed?” Х asked.

Clay left his feet where they were for a few don’t-tell-me-where-to-put-my-feet seconds, then swung them around to the floor and sat up. “I’m going downstairs anyway.”

(J.D. Salinger.)

  • The Matron of Honour turned to him – or, rather, on him. “We didn’t do it for that ”, she said. She gave Mrs. Silsburn a you-know-how-men-are look.

(J.D. Salinger.)

  • Она старше меня и привлекательна на эдакий лак-для-волос-накладные-плечи-пережившая-два-развода манер.

(Д. Коупленд/ пер. Ярцев В. С.)

  • …мы оба сидели на кушетках в гостиной, когда стремительно (без стука) ворвалась Клэр, ее норково-темная-под-бобрик-стрижка топорщилась.

(Дуглас Коупленд/ пер. Ярцев В. С.)

  • Вот твоя собственная личная частная суверенная неприкосновенная комфортабельная выгородка. Метр дробь полтора. Со стороны же другой – ты весь всегда для всех во всем на виду.

(Гаррос - Евдокимов)

  • Task 2.

Suggest the object the quality of which was used in the following transferred epithets.

  • He was a thin wiry man with a tobacco-stained smile.

(T. Howard)

  • The only place left was the deck strewn with nervous cigarette butts and sprawled legs.

(J. Jones)

  • Leaving indignant suburbs behind them they finally emerged into Oxford Street.

(A. Christie)

  • He sat with Daisy in his arms for a long silent time.

(Sc. Fitzgerald)

  • He drank his orange-juice in long cold gulps.

(I. Shaw)

  • с ними так хорошо поплавать в бассейне, посплетничать или выпить охлажденные напитки с ромом цвета заката в Голливуде, Калифорния. (Д. Коупленд/ пер. Ярцев В. С.)

  • Task 3.

Hyperbole in Prose. Hyperbole is used for emphasis or humorous effect. With hyperbole, an author makes a point by overstating it.

Hyperbole is common in tall tales. Here is an example:

  • At three weeks, Paul Bunyan got his family into a bit of trouble kicking around his little tootsies and knocking down something like four miles of standing timber.

(A Folk Tale)

Hyperbole is often used in descriptions. It emphasizes some qualities of a person or thing by exaggerating them, as in this selection

  • The skin on her face was as thin and drawn as tight as the skin of onion and her eyes were gray and sharp like the points of two picks

(F. O’Connor)

Hyperbole can also be used to describe a person’s emotions. In the following selection, a boy is pulling a man up from a deep hole. See how hyperbole is used to describe the boy’s thoughts as he struggles.

  • It was not a mere man he was holding, but a giant; or a block of granite. The pull was unendurable. The pain unendurable.

(J. R. Ullman)

Hyperbole in Poetry. Hyperbole is common in humorous poetry. Hyperbole can make a point in a light-hearted way. It can be used to poke fun at someone or something. For example, read this description of a dull town.

  • It's a slow burg—I spent a couple of weeks there one day.

(C. Sandburg)

This poem uses hyperbole in a description of a young boy.

  • Why does a boy who’s fast as a jet

Take all day—and sometimes two—

To get to school?

(J. Ciardi)

Hyperbole can emphasize a truth by exaggerating it.

  • Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world.

(R. W. Emerson)

а) Clarify the nature of hyperbole and meiosis. Give examples of trite ones. What would you call the following examples – exaggeration or restraint ?

To live at a stone’s throw; just a moment; не успеешь и глазом моргнуть, слезинка весом в центнер,зарабатываю копейки; с гулькин нос; кот наплакал; Quick as thought, we each seized an oar…(J. K. Jerome); Would you go to the ends of earth for me and back? (Sh. Norton); There was a pause of about half a lifetime…(Sh. Norton)

b) Try to guess the exaggerated variants of the same ideas:

You are extremely thin!

They are very rich.

I am very much tired.

He often acts recklessly.

This book is rather heavy.

c) Elucidate the difference between meiosis and litotes. Provide examples.

  • War is not healthy for children and other living things.

  • One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day.

d) State the nature of the exaggerated phenomenon (size, quantity, emotion, etc)

  • There did not seem to be brains enough in the entire nursery, so to speak, to bait a fishhook with.

(M. Twain)

  • People moved slowly then. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.

(H. Lee)

  • He attempted shyly to hide his face as well as he could in the depth of his bowl of coffee.

(K. Chopin)

  • he’ll go to sleep, my God he should, eight martinis before dinner and enough wine to wash an elephant.

(T. Capote)

  • You know how it is: you’re 21 or 22 and you make some decisions: then whissh; you’re seventy: you’ve been a lawyer for fifty years, and that white-haired lady at your side has eaten over fifty thousand meals with you.

(Th. Wilder)

  • Task 4.


Irony is a broad term referring to the recognition of a reality different from its masking appearance. There are several types of irony and all have a certain discrepancy or incongruity.

Verbal irony is a figure of speech in which the actual intent is expressed in words that have the opposite meaning. In some circles, the ability to recognize irony is considered one of the surest tests of intelligence and sophistication. Irony's presence is marked by a sort of grim humour, a detachment and cool expression on the part of the writer when emotions are actually heated. Irony may be confused with sarcasm (a caustic and bitter expression of disapproval under the guise of praise) but it differs in that irony usually presupposes incongruity while sarcasm doesn’t. Sarcasm is calling a spade a spade, but with a certain implication. In general, irony is most often achieved by either hyperbole or understatement.

The second type of irony is dramatic irony. In the drama, irony refers specifically to the knowledge held by the audience but hidden from the relevant characters. Tragic irony is a form of dramatic irony in which characters use words that mean one thing to them but have a foreboding meaning to those who understand the situation better. It can be found in tragedies such as Oedipus the King, in which Oedipus searches for the person responsible for the plague that ravishes his city and ironically ends up hunting himself.

Situational irony exists when there is an incongruity between what is expected to happen and what actually happens due to forces beyond human comprehension or control. The suicide of the seemingly successful main character in Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem "Richard Cory" is an example of situational irony.

We can also speak of irony as a contextual device and as a general tone of narration, when whole works of literature are permeated with this attitude.

Here are the possible types of incongruity:


a) between words and thoughts

e.g.: 'I think he is a nice friend for Roger to have. A thoroughly normal, clean-minded English boy.' 'Oh, thoroughly.' ('Bloody fool, bloody fool.') 'To see the way they eat is a fair treat.'

'Yes, they seem to have enjoyed their food.'('My God, I wish it could have choked them')

(W.S. Maugham)

b) between words and behaviour

e.g.: Gwendolen: But we will not be the first to speak.

Cecily. Certainly not.

Gwendolen: Mr. Worthing, I have something very particular to ask you....


c) a device of incompatibility between words belonging to different semantic fields used together (~ слова, различающиеся по линии "значительность-ничтожность")

e.g.: Algernon: And speaking of the science of Life, have you got the cucumber sandwiches for Lady Bracknell?


d) between words contrasted to each other

e.g.: I remember her bringing me up to a truculent and red-faced old gentleman covered all over with orders and ribbons, and hissing into my ear, in a tragic whisper which must have been perfectly audible to everyone in the room, the most astounding details...

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