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Stylistic Devices

In: English and Literature

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Stylistic devices

Repetition and Variation

|stylistic device |definition |translation |example |effect |
|alliteration |recurrence of initial sound |Alliteration |“The fair breeze blew, |to convey auditory images |
| | | |the white foam flew.” | |
|accumulation |series of expressions (adjectives, cliches, |Anhäufung |“He came, saw, fought and won” |to make the language livelier |
| |examples, images) that contribute increasingly to | | | |
| |meaning | | | |
|anaphora |repetition of first word(s) of line/clause |Anapher |In every town, in every house in every man, in |to stress the main point |
| | | |every woman and in every child ..... |often used in speeches |
|leitmotif |a dominant recurrent theme (word, phrase, emotion, |Leitmotiv | |gives the text a structure and stresses the theme |
| |idea) associated with a certain idea, person or | | |by repeating it |
| |situation and accompanying its/his/her reappearance | | | |
| |throughout the text | | | |
|climax |the point of highest dramatic tension or a major |Höhepunkt | |climatic text structuring means arranging material|
| |turning point in the action of the text or the point| | |in order of importance, with the most important |
| |of greatest dramatic interest in a play | | |arguments coming last |

Contrast

|stylistic device |definition |translation |example |effect |
|euphemism |figure of speech intended to hide the real nature of|Euphemismus |“He passed away” for “he died” |it may be necessary to spare a person´s feelings |
| |s.th. unpleasant or taboo by using a mild or |(Beschönigung) |“... the underprivileged” for “... the poor” |but it often originates in prudery or a false |
| |indirect expression | | |sense of refinement |
|oxymoron |combination of two terms which are contradictory in |Oxymoron |“eloquent silence” |to express complex things or to unite contrasting |
| |meaning |(Scheinwider-spruch) | |things |
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
|paradox |seemingly self-contradictory or absurd statement |Paradoxon |“I see it feelingly” |it may be found to contain some truth on closer |
| |which in fact establishes a more complex level of | |“So fair and foul a day I have not seen” |examination |
| |meaning by way of association | |(Shakespeare, Macbeth) | |
|antithesis |a rhetorical figure which denotes the opposing of |Antithese |“God made the country and man made the towns” |produce an effective contrast |
| |ideas by means of grammatical parallel arrangements | | | |
| |of words, clauses or sentences | | | |
|anti-climax |a sudden transition from the idea of significance or| |“The love of God, justice and sports cars ......” |produce a humorous effect |
| |dignity to an idea trivial or ludicrous by | | | |
| |comparison | | | |
|rhetorical question |an assertion in the form of a question which |Rhetorische Frage |“Who does nor love this country?” (= of course |give the listener the false impression of taking |
| |strongly suggests a particular response | |everybody loves his country) |part in a debate |
| | | | |used to bring liveliness into a speech |

Imagery and Analogy

|stylistic device |definition |translation |example |effect |
|onomatopoeia |sound(s) imitative of thing(s) they refer to |Wortmalerei |“engines roar” |imagination |
|metaphor |a reduced or implied comparison between phenomena |Metapher |“... the sand of time...” |enriches the language (good style) |
| |not normally associated with each other | |“All the world´s a stage | |
| |Not a simile (with like) | |And all the men and woman merely players...” | |
| | | |(Shakespeare) | |
|symbol |denotes a concrete thing that stands for s.th. |Symbol |rose as a symbol of love | |
| |immaterial, invisible or abstract | |white as a symbol of innocence | |
|connotation |implies additional meaning(s) of a word or phrase |Konnotation |the word “hearth” which literally means “the floor|gives the reader an association |
|implication |along with or apart from what it explicitly names or|Andeutung |of a fireplace” suggests in addition “the | |
| |describes | |fireside, warmth, safety) | |
|metonymy |the object meant is not explicitly named but rather |Metonymie |“He could feel the steel going right through him” | |
|[-`- - -] |substituted by a closely associated feature, a |(Namensvertauschung, |steel instead of dagger or knife | |
| |characteristic part or a proper name |Umbenennung) |aristocracy instead of the aristocrats | |
|personification |figure of speech in which inanimate object, abstract|Personifikation |“Justice is blind” |gives things life or some similarity with human |
| |concepts or living things (plants, animals) are | |“Necessity is the mother of invention” |beings |
| |referred to as if they were human beings | |“The sun stepped out of the clouds and smiled | |
| | | |momentarily” | |
|pun |a humorous play of words which are either identical |Wortspiel |“Is life worth living? It depends on the liver!” |humorous |
| |or similar in sound but are very different in | |(1) liver as the organ (2) liver as one who lives |to make the reader laugh |
| |meaning | | | |
|simile |an explicit comparison (using as or like) between |Vergleich |... as dead as a mutton ... |the reader´s imagination must be stirred by a |
| |two distinctly different things which have at least | |... as fit as a fiddle ... |simile |
| |one feature in common | |... like a bull in a china shop ... | |
| | | |“I wandered lonely as a cloud...” (Wordsworth) | |
|example |serves to illustrate an abstract rule or acts as an |Beispiel | |often used in speeches |
| |exercise in the application of this rule | | |a special case is given to serve for a general |
| | | | |statement |

Other stylistic devices

|stylistic device |definition |translation |example |effect |
|hyperbole |a figure of speech using exaggeration |Hyperbel |`I loved Ophelia: forty thousand brothers could |not to persuade or to deceive, but to emphasize a |
| | |Übertreibung |not, with all their quantity of love make up my |feeling or to produce a humorous effect. It is not|
| | | |sum.´ (Shakespeare) |to be taken literally. |
|understatement |understatement is the reverse of exaggeration. It is|Untertreibung |“That´s rather nice” =great |to give special emphasis to a situation or idea |
|litotes |a statement below the truth |Litotes |It is pouring with rain and the streets are |humorous |
| |Litotes is a type of understatement which expresses | |flooded: “Bit wet today, isn´t it?” | |
| |an affirmative idea by negation of its opposites | |It was not a bad party at all = it was a excellent| |
| | | |party | |
|irony |figure of speech by which the writer says the |Ironie | |is often used to blame |
| |opposite of what he means | | |will draw attention to its actual meaning |
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
|tone |Denotes the accent or inflection of the voice as |Ton |The tone can be: |it reflects the mood of the author and his |
| |adapted to the emotion or passion expressed, also | |colloquial, ironical, serious, earnest, humorous |attitude towards his subject |
| |used for the style or manner of approach in speaking| |etc. | |
| |or writing in general | | | |
|ambiguity |In deceptive rhetoric it is the deliberate wording |Doppeldeutigkeit, | |to hide the truth or to leave the reader uncertain|
| |of a phrase or passage in such a way that it can be |Zweideutigkeit | |about the author´s real attitude |
| |taken in two ways | | | |
|flashback |a literary or theatrical technique that involves the|Rückblende | |to give a vivid picture of the (hero´s) past |
| |interruption of the chronological sequence of | | | |
| |events. At this point earlier scenes or events are | | | |
| |interjected. | | | |
|anticipation |the reverse of the flashback. The author interrupts |Vorwegnahme | |The author´s aim is to make developments |
| |the chronological sequence of events to present or | | |transparent, quite often with emotional overtones.|
| |allude to events which will happen in the relative | | | |
| |future. | | | |
|ellipsis |shortening of a sentence by the omission of one or |Ellipse (Auslassung) | |used to avoid repetition but also used for |
| |more words that may be easily understood from the | | |artistic effect |
| |context. | | | |
|allusion |allusion is an implied indication. It denotes an |Anspielung | |the reader is expected to think about the |
| |indirect reference to people or things outside the | | |situation himself and to have a certain knowledge.|
| |text without mentioning them in a straightforward | | | |
| |way. | | | |
|satire |Satire is a piece or form of writing based on the |Satire | |used to expose and discourage vice and to ridicule|
| |use of humour, irony or sarcasm | | |foolish ideas or habits. Satirical writing is |
| | | | |always didactic. |

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