D. Irony

A. Zeugma is the use of a word in the same grammatical but different semantic relations to two adjacent words in the context, literal and transferred.

It is the realization of two meanings with the help of a verb which is made to refer to different subjects or objects, e.g. Dora, plunging at once into privileged intimacy and into the middle of the room (B.Shaw). The derivative meaning realizes itself in the first case in the given example.

This SD is particularly favoured in English emotive prose and poetry. Zeugma is a strong and effective device to maintain the purity of the primary meaning when the two meanings clash. By making the two meanings conspicuous in this particular way, each of them stands out clearly, e.g. Now I give you a warning, - shouted the Queen, - Ether you or your head must be off. Take your choice.

B. The Pun (Play on words)A Pun (from the Latin punctus, past participle of pungere, to prick.) is also a SD based on contrast as well as on the interaction of two well-known meanings of a word or phrase. It consists of a deliberate confusion of similar words or phrases for rhetorical effect, whether humorous or serious. A pun can rely on the assumed equivalency of multiple similar words (homonymy), of different shades of meaning of one word (polysemy), or of a literal meaning with a metaphor.

The pun is more independent than zeugma - there is no reference to a verb. It only depends on the context. But the context may be of more expanded character, sometimes even as large as a whole work of emotive prose.

e.g. The importance of Being Earnest (O. Wilde). Meanings: seriously-minded and a male's name.

Most English jokes and riddles are based on pun, e.g. What is the difference between an engine driver and a teacher? - One minds the train and the other trains the mind./ between a soldier and a young girl? - One faces the powder and the other powders the face.

Walter Redfern (in Puns, Blackwell, London, 1984) succinctly said: To pun is to treat homonyms as synonyms.

Puns can be subdivided into several varieties:

Homographic puns exploit the difference in meanings of words which look alike, for example: Being in politics is just like playing golf: you are trapped in one bad lie after another. (Pun on the two meanings of lie - a deliberate untruth/the position in which something rests).

Heteronymicpuns which look alike but have different pronunciations, though this distinction is disused. For example: Q: What instrument do fish like to play? A: A bass guitar. (Pun on the identical spelling of /beɪs/ (low frequency), and /bæs/ (a kind of fish)).

Homophonic are puns that sound the same, but the spelling is different: I am the son, and the heir. (pun on son/sun and heir/air)

The compound pun is one in which multiple puns are collocated for additional and amplified effect,: Cornell linguist Charles Hockett told a story of a man who bought a cattle ranch for his sons and named it the "Focus Ranch" because it was where the sons raise meat (sun's rays meet).

Extended puns occur when multiple puns referring to one general idea are used throughout a longer utterance. An example of this is the following story about a fight, with extended puns about cookery:

A fight broke out in a kitchen. Egged on by the waiters, two cooks peppered each other with punches. One man, a greasy foie gras specialist, ducked the first blows, but his goose was cooked when the other cold-cocked him.

Current English puns can be looked at www.punoftheday.com.

C. Oxymoron is a Greek term derived from oxy (sharp) and moros (dull). Oxymoronis a combination of two words (mostly an adjective and a noun or an adverb) in which the meanings of the two clash, being opposite in sense.

There is no true word-combination, but only the juxtaposition of two non-combinative words.

e.g. sweet sorrow, horribly beautiful, a deafening silence.

In some cases the primary meaning of the qualifying word weakens or changes, and the stylistic effect of oxymoron is lost, e.g.: awfully nice, terribly sorry.

Oxymorons are a proper subset of the expressions called contradictions in terms. What distinguishes oxymora from other paradoxes and contradictions is that they are used intentionally, for rhetorical effect, and the contradiction is only apparent, as the combination of terms provides a novel expression of some concept, such as cruel to be kind.

The most common form of oxymoron involves an adjective-noun combination. For example, the following line from Tennyson's Idylls of the King contains two oxymora: And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.

D. Irony, from the Greek (dissimulator), is a stylistic device which is also based on the opposition of dictionary and contextual meanings.

In ironythere is a gap or incongruity between what a speaker or a writer says, and what is generally understood (either at the time, or in the later context of history). Irony may also arise from discordance between acts and results, especially if it is striking, and known to a later audience. A certain kind of irony may result from the act of pursuing a desired outcome, resulting in the opposite effect, but again, only if this is known to a third party.

Usually a word with positive connotation acquires a negative meaning in the context.

e.g. It must be delightful to find oneself in a foreign country without a penny in one's pocket.

The word delightful acquires a meaning quite the opposite to its primary meaning (i.e. unpleasant, not delightful). The word containing the irony is strongly marked by intonation. It has an emphatic stress and is generally supplied with a special melody design.

Though, sometimes, a word with negative connotation acquires a positive meaning, as, for instance, in A Hanging, the men who are in charge of the execution engage in laughter and lighthearted conversation after the event. There is irony in the situation and in their speech because we sense that they are actually very tense - almost unnerved - by the hanging; their laughter is the opposite of what their true emotional state actually is. Many situations and conditions lend themselves to ironic treatment.

Both lexical and a phraseological units can contain irony. It sometimes may express very subtle, nuances of meaning, as in a poem by Byron:

e.g. I like a parliamentary debate,

Particularly when 'tis not too late.

The word like gives a hint of irony. Parliamentary debates are usually long. The word debate itself suggests a lengthy discussion.

Richard Altick says, The effect of irony lies in the striking disparity between what is said and what is meant. This disparity is achieved through the intentional interplay between the two meanings in opposition to each other. Irony is generally used to convey a negative meaning. The contextual meaning always contains the negation of the positive concepts embodied in the dictionary meaning.

There are different kinds of irony. For example:

Tragic (or dramatic) irony occurs when a character onstage is ignorant, but the audience watching knows his or her eventual fate, as in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

Socratic irony takes place when someone (classically a teacher) pretends to be foolish or ignorant, but is not (and the teaching-audience, but not the student-victim, realizes the teacher's ploy).

Situational irony occurs when the results of a situation are far different from what was expected. This results in a feeling of surprise and unfairness due to the odd situation, e.g: a situation immortalized in O. Henry's story The Gift of the Magi, in which a young couple is too poor to buy each other Christmas gifts. The man finally pawns his heirloom pocket watch to buy his wife a set of combs for her long, prized, beautiful hair. She, meantime, cuts her hair to sell to a wigmaker for money to buy her husband a watch-chain. The irony is two-fold: the couple, having parted with their tangible valuables, is caused by the act to discover the richness of the intangible.

Comic irony is a sharp incongruity between our expectation of an outcome and what actually occurs. Layers of comic irony pervade (as an example) Jane Austen's novels. The first sentence of Pride and Prejudice famously opens with a nearly mathematical postulate. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." The scene that follows immediately betrays the proposal. No, a rich young man moving into the neighborhood did not come to seek a wife. In fact, it soon becomes clear that Austen means the opposite: women (or their mothers) are always in search of, and desperately on the lookout for, a rich single man to make a husband. The irony deepens as the story promotes his romance and ends in a double wedding.


E. Epithet | SDs based on proximity.

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