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About Zeugma

What is zeugma?

Zeugma is a stylistic device that can sometimes cause semantic confusion in sentences, while adding some colorful flavor. It is the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or appropriate to only one. For example, "Mr. Pickwick took his hat and his leave." (Charles Dickens)


We usually deal with zeugma when polysemantic verbs that can be combined with nouns of most varying semantic groups are deliberately used with two or more homogeneous members which are not connected semantically, e.g., “He took his hat and his leave”. 


Zeugma was often used in English prose of the earlier centuries by many distinguished writers and poets.


The amount of homogeneous or similar parts of speech are semantically disconnected but are attached to the same verb. In such a case we deal with semantically false chains. These semantically false chains may be considered as a variation of zeugma. Normally, it is the very last member of the chain that falls out of the semantic group producing an amusing or entertaining effect. Here is a typical example, “A Governess wanted. She must possess knowledge of Romanian, Italian, Spanish, German, Music and Mining Engineering.’’ It is very important to remember that we should use zeugma in an unambiguous way to avoid misunderstandings in communication. 


The term ‘’zeugma’’ originated from the Greek word ζεῦγμα, zeûgma, meaning "yoke". It is a figure of speech joining two or more parts of a sentence with a single common verb or/and noun.  Zeugma is created by using ellipsis (the omission of words) and parallelism (the balance of several words). The result is amazing: a number of similar phrases are joined by a common noun or a common verb.  


Here are a few beautiful examples of zeugma:


He held his breath and the door for me.


He lost his coat and his temper.


The addict kicked the habit and then the bucket.


She bought curtains for him and the window.


Eggs and oaths are soon broken. (English proverb)


Mr. Pickwick took his hat and his leave. (Charles Dickens)


They covered themselves with dust and glory. (Mark Twain)


He wore a black hat and an adorable smile.


He brought her a story and a beer.


He held a high rank and an old notepad.




Zeugma embellishes a sentence or even the whole paragraph, intensifies its magnificence and thus adds more stylistic color to the whole text.




Transferred Epithet

Newspaper Genres

Functional Styles

Research Topics

Two Basic Fields of Stylistics


Intertextuality

The term ‘intertextuality’ has been used by many different authors in different meanings. The word itself came from Latin into English with its original meaning ‘intertexto’ (intermingle during the weaving process). It was first used in the field of semiotics by the Bulgarian philosopher, novelist and literary critic Julia Kristeva in 1966. She looked upon a literary text as the product of an author and its relationship to other texts as well as the various language structures. In her opinion, texts are made up of other texts (products of other texts), i.e. each text is constructed of quotations, allusions, calques, imitation, pastiche, parody, etc. 
[Source: http://kristeva.fr/]

The famous French linguist Roland Barthes in his ‘Death of Author’ claimed that intertextuality allows the text to come into being and any text is a new tissue of past citations. Bits of code, formulae, rhythmic models, fragments of social languages, etc., pass into the text and are redistributed within it, for there is always language before and around the text. According to Barthes, intertextuality is the condition of existence of any text. 

[Source: http://www.egs.edu/library/roland-barthes/biography/]


Examples of Intertextuality

A classic example of intertextuality would be the retelling of Hamlet in a modern, fashionable and updated manner. 

Intertextuality is frequently used in newspaper style and it is often based on the stylistic device allusion, e.g. the newspaper headline The Blame in Spain (GW, Feb 22-28, 2001) was used as reference to the song 'The Rain in Spain' from the musical 'My Fair Lady ' (at that time there were some problems of communication between Spain and UK). 

[Source: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/edacs/departments/cels/research/resources/]


More about Intertextuality

Intertextuality is the shaping of texts' meanings by other texts.  It has been studied from many academic perspectives (Worton & Still, 1990). Increased understanding and learning can result from intertextual processes (Bloome, 1992; Bloome & Egan-Robertson, 1993; Cairney, 1990b, 1992; Cairney & Langbien, 1989; Harris & Trezise, 1997; Hartman, 1990; Oyler & Barry, 1996; Short, 1992a/b). To learn more about intertextuality, click HERE…


Pragmatic Stylistics

Antonomasia

Transferred Epithet

Newspaper Genres

Functional Styles

Research Topics

Gothic Novel


Gothic novel is a novel in which supernatural horrors pervade the action. 


The setting

sinister humans, mysterious castle with secret passages

Gothic elements

ghosts, portents, devils, haunted apparitions, skeletons, omens, ancient prophecy, obscure or hard to understand events, sentimentalism, supernatural events, imprisoned characters and terror fight

Gothic novel examples

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
William Beckford, Vathek
Anne Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho




Is stylistics a branch of linguistics or a branch of literature?

We should not confuse stylistics with literary criticism. 

Stylistics (or linguistic stylistics) is a branch of linguistics. It investigates various styles such as scientific style, fiction style, newspaper style, business style, internet style, etc. 


Literary criticism is related to the evaluation of literary texts, i.e. the analysis of works that are related to fiction.




Research Topics

Newspaper Genres


Functional Styles


Example of Allusion


Allusion:

I thought the software would be useful, but it was a Trojan Horse.


Antonomasia

Transferred Epithet


Gothic Novel

Transferred Epithet

A transferred epithet is an adjective modifying a noun which it does not normally modify, but which makes figurative sense:
  • Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold / A sheep hook.
  • In an age of pressurized happiness, we sometimes grow insensitive to subtle joys.
The transferred epithet can be used to introduce emphatically an idea that an author plans to develop.  

English newspaper genres


The following newspaper genres (or types of text) can be differentiated:

  • Brief news items
  • Press reports
  • Articles purely informational in character
  • Advertisements
  • Announcements
  • Feature articles (features, feature stories, human interest stories)
  • Editorials
  • Leading articles (leaders)
  • Sports news

Functional Styles

Research Topics


Two Basic Fields of Stylistics

About Irony


Irony is a 'hidden smile'.

In irony subjectivity lies in the evaluation of the phenomenon. The essence of irony consists in the foregrounding not of the logical but of the evaluative meaning. 


Irony thus is a stylistic device in which the contextual evaluative meaning of a word is directly opposite to its dictionary meaning. The context is arranged in such a way that the qualifying word in irony reverses the direction of the evaluation and a positive meaning is understood as a negative one and (much-much rare) vice versa, e.g. “She turned with the sweet smile of an alligator”. The word ”sweet” reverse their positive meaning into the negative one due to the context. Irony does not exist outside the context. 


There are two types of irony: verbal and sustained


Newspaper Genres

Functional Styles

Research topics

Two Basic Fields of Stylistics