Figures of Speech ~ Sixty Ways to Turn a Phrase by Arthur Quinn

By Arthur Quinn

Writing isn't like chemical engineering. The figures of speech shouldn't be discovered an identical means because the periodic desk of components. it is because figures of speech aren't approximately hypothetical buildings in issues, yet approximately actual possibilities inside of language and inside of ourselves. The ''figurings'' of speech display the it appears unlimited plasticity of language itself. we're inescapably faced with the intoxicating risk that we will make language do for us nearly whatever we need. Or at the very least a Shakespeare can. The figures of speech support to work out how he does it, and the way we'd. hence, within the chapters provided during this quantity, the quotations from Shakespeare, the Bible, and different assets are usually not offered to exemplify the definitions. really, the definitions are offered to guide to the quotations. And the quotations are there to teach us the right way to do with language what we've not performed ahead of. they're there for imitation.

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Shakespeare, for instance, often places an adjective next to a noun other than the one it most appropriately modifies. Sometimes the noun it does appropriately modify is nowhere to be found, and the adjective, usually a weak word, gains considerable power by being a stranger in a strange land. This practice, poetic as it can be, does not lack analogies in our ordinary speech. For instance, we might say that we have spent a restless night when we mean that we have spent the night restless. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.

112 34 Chapter III • FIGURES OF SPEECH Less common, but in some ways more interesting, are cases where whole clauses have been omitted which are not logically implied: anapodoton. " Gideon knows perfectly well he is being talked to, but he wants a sign that will assure him he is talking with God. This is obvious from the context. " So too it is obvious what the assumed concluding clause is for Caligula's "Would that the Roman people had a single neck"—obvious at least to anyone who knows anything about Caligula's character.

120 Rearrangements are metatheses. With liver burning hot. Frevent. 46 We can, of course, combine metaplasmic figures. If Shakespeare's name for his ignoble savage, Caliban, is really a play on cannibal, then perhaps we have a syncopic metathesis. But this pales before Spenser's contraction of "would not" into "nould"—a synaloephaic metathesis, metaplasmically speaking, of course. Our system for classification will begin to degenerate into esoteric silliness the moment we forget the reason we have developed it in the first place.

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