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(O. Wilde)

e) between an aim and a way of its achieving

e.g.: The Duchess sighed. "I am searching for peace," she said," and if I don't go and dress, I shall have none this evening."

(O. Wilde)

a) Study the existing types of incongruity, analyse them and supply your own examples of various types.

b) Match the examples below with the types of incongruity. Suggest your explanation of what happens (or is meant) in reality:

  • When a Forsyte was engaged, married, or born, the Forsytes were present; when a Forsyte died – but no Forsyte had as yet died; they did not die; death being contrary to their principles, they took precautions of highly vitalized persons who resent encroachments on their property.

(J. Galsworthy)

  • …however, it was his ninth birthday, and he was keeping it in the coal-cellar with a select party of two other gentlemen, who, after participating with him in a sound thrashing, had been locked up therein for atrociously presuming to be hungry.

(Ch. Dickens)

  • «Now, Oliver, my dear, come to the gentleman. As Mr. Bumble said this, he put on a grim and threatening look, and added, in a low voice, “Mind what I told you, you, young rascal!”

(Ch. Dickens)

  • You know, proper family conversations about serious, interesting things. Politics, religion and whose turn it was to put out the rubbish.

(Sh. Norton)

c) Give your ideas concerning the difference between irony and sarcasm. Provide examples.

  • How did I hear? Oh, I had a nice friendly phone call from the lover you were spending the weekend with. Said how much he liked your underwear.

(Sh. Norton)

d) What makes irony as a contextual device differ from irony as a general tone of narration? Supply examples.

e) Why do authors appeal to irony? Why is it so effective in fiction? How would you formulate its functions? (surfaces inner discrepancies; helps the author to get his ideas across indirectly; sheds light on the author’s real attitude to his characters and the situations they are in etc.)

  • Task 5.

Euphemism. In "Elegy for Himself" by C. Tichborne, he writes "and now my glass is run". This is a euphemism which uses the image of an empty hourglass to say that his life is nearing its end and he is going to die

Speak of the origin of euphemisms. In what way is the notion of euphemism connected with the idea of taboo? What aspects should be mentioned in relation to it? (social; cultural; religious; psychological etc.)

In his book “Языковые табу и эвфемия” A.M. Katsev suggests the following classifications of euphemisms:

  • Conceptual aspect: supernatural forces; death, diseases and various kinds of disabilities; sins and crimes; poverty; physiological phenomena.

  • Structural and semantic aspects: generalization of a notion; metaphorical and metonymical renaming; negative prefixes; shortening, sound-based analogy; borrowings.

  • Euphemisms can also be subdivided into neutral and stylistically coloured. (N.N. Amosova)

Match the below-given euphemisms according to the classifications provided and supply the Russian variants: e.g. “nightman”= оператор очистных работ (ассенизатор)

  • By George; to join the majority; restricted growth); differently abled; to lose one’s lunch; to let your wind go free, to go to Denmark; a source; delivery vehicle; underprivileged (poor); sanitation engineer…

If you don’t want to call a spade a spade, you make use of a euphemism. Think of the possible milder ways to express the following:

to take drugs

to beat

to fire

used before by somebody; second-hand



old person

e) Try to enumerate and account for the main functions of euphemisms. What is the effect produced? (softening things; …)

  • Task 6.


  1. Study the information and supply your own examples to support the ideas expressed below.

Symbol is a universal category of art. Its nature is rather heterogeneous and therefore it is often mistaken with such notions as artistic image and metaphor. Still, these notions should not be confused. Symbol, unlike metaphor, allows variety of interpretations, each of them latent in its semantic. For example, rain in “Farewell to the Arms” by E.Hemingway can stand for frustration, death or its foretoken, depression, hopelessness. Symbol is very emotional; to interpret a symbol one should penetrate into the atmosphere of the text.

The formal difference between metaphor and symbol lies in the fact that we are able to follow the mechanism of metaphor creation and thus we can get which meanings are brought together to beget a third one.

Most scholars believe symbol to be a special type of artistic image. It is one of the essential components of the author’s individual code.

Any symbol possesses the following characteristic features:

  • Symbol is very much contextually dependant and can have more than one interpretation.

  • There is no “correct” interpretation of symbols. The interpretation of a symbol rests on the individual qualities of readers.

  • An idea or notion can become symbolic either through numerous repetitions in a text or when used in the strong position.

  • Symbol functions as a kind of bridge between reality and figurative meaning.

  • Symbol helps to elucidate the message of a literary work.

  • Any symbol gives rise to and at the same time results from associations.

b) Read the tale “The Fisherman and His Soul” by O. Wilde (or choose any other literary work) and speak of the symbolic nature of certain artistic elements. Give your own interpretation of their message and functions.

  • Task 7.

Try to colour either of the narratives with tropes and other lexical stylistic devices, creating a certain atmosphere:

  • James Fitt witnessed a horrific plane crash last night. The fire brigade fought the wreckage fire while ambulance men rescued surviving passengers. Ambulances took all the survivors to hospital. No one knows yet what caused the plane to crash. Newspaper and TV reporters have already interviewed many of the survivors. The Civil Aviation Authority has launched a full investigation. They say that someone may have put a bomb on board the aircraft. They hope that the aircraft’s “black box” will provide the vital information but they haven’t found it yet. They are continuing the search.

  • When I left university, I went traveling all over the world. I was so fascinated by New Zealand that I decided to spend a year there. In order to do so I had to find a job. However, I had enough money to get by for a few months, so I took the opportunity to travel around and see the country. The people I met were friendly, and the landscape was wonderful as well. I also enjoyed the traditions of Maori natives and took every opportunity to talk to them. My journey was great, but I had to return to find a job. Soon I found a job as a waiter. Everybody at work was cool and I really enjoyed my time there.

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. Oxymoron.

  2. Zeugma.

  3. Pun.

  4. Personification.

  5. Allegory.

  6. Allusion.

  7. Periphrasis.

  8. Antonomasia.

  • Task 1.


Oxymoron represents a conjoining of contradictory notions, which results in a new idea. Oxymorons have a lot to do with the idea of defeated expectancy. The first element makes it impossible for the second to appear in the same phrase. The two being placed together seem absurd. Still, oxymorons are not that rare and perform a number of functions both in every day speech - trite ones; and in fiction – genuine ones.

Study the given examples of oxymoron. Explain why the two elements put together seem misplaced. Speak of the effect produced and the functions relevant in a work of fiction.

  • Well-preserved ruins; weapons of peace; going nowhere; voluntary taxes; semiprofessional; silent alarm; suicide victim; fighting for peace; painless torture; eternal life; major minority; painless dentistry; my worst favourite; limited nuclear war; fresh frozen; non-stop flight; the only choice; enormously small; half dead; bad luck.

  • “overlooking such a trivial peccadillo as the habit of manslaughter”

  • “legal graft”

  • “In my life of business”, - said Jeff, “the hardest thing to do is to find an upright, trustworthy, honourable partner to graft with”.

(O. Henry.)

  • Her lips were…livid scarlet.

(W.S. Maugham)

  • Heaven must be the hell of a place. Nothing but repentant sinners up there, isn’t it?

(Sh. Delaney)

  • Task 2.

Create a few oxymorons of your own considering the first element:

  • A brief …

  • A kind …

  • A beautiful …

  • To give a …

  • To allow …

  • Task 3.


Zeugma occurs when a word (usually a verb) has the same grammatical relation to two or more other words, but a different meaning in each application.

Alexander Pope uses this figure in "The Rape of the Lock" (1714) when "black Omens" threaten the heroine with "dire disaster": perhaps she will err in some respect, "Or stain her honour, or her new brocade." "Stain" has a figurative sense when applied to "honour" (meaning the loss of chastity) and a literal sense when applied to "brocade" (a stain on her dress). Here the effect of the zeugma is comical because of the disparate importance of the two threatened disasters yoked together.

Zeugma is rather rare. It is also extremely hard for translation.

    1. Classify the following into zeugmas and semantically false chains.

b) Study the examples below, account for their stylistic effect and try to translate them.

  • whether she would break her heart, or break the looking glass; Mr. Bounderby couldn’t at all foresee.

(Ch. Dickens)

  • I lost phone and myself.

  • His disease consisted of spots, bed, honey in spoons, tangerine oranges and high temperature.

(J. Galsworthy)

  • "Шел дождь и три студента, первый — в пальто, второй — в университет, третий — в плохом настроении".

  • Dorothy, at my statement, had clapped her hands over mouth to hold laughter down and chewing gum”.

(J. Barth)

  • Only at the annual balls of the Firemen…was there such prodigality of chiffon scarves and tangoing and heart-burnings…

(S. Lewis)

  • Воздух пропитан холодной, влажной дымкой, пахнет дешевым шампунем для пола, дворнягами, сигаретами, картофельным пюре и неудачей.

(Д. Коупленд/ пер. Ярцев В. С.)

  • A Governess wanted. Must possess knowledge of Rumanian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, German, Music and Mining Engineering.

(S. Leacock)

  • Task 3.


Pun corresponds to the interaction of two well-known meanings of a word. Whereas zeugma is the realization of two meanings with the help of a verb which is made to refer to different objects, pun is more independent. There needn’t necessarily be a verb in the sentence to which the pun-word refers.

Indicate cases when a pun is created: a) through homonyms; b) through different meanings of a polysemantic word.

  • ‘I see nobody on the road', said Alice.

‘I only wish I had such eyes', the King remarked in a fretful tone. ‘To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!’

(L. Carroll)

  • She always glances up, and glances down, and doesn’t know where to look, but looks all the prettier.

(Ch. Dickens)

  • You have always told me it was Earnest. I have introduced you to every one as Earnest. You look as if your name was Earnest. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd you saying that your name isn’t Earnest.

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