1. What is a litotes?
2. What is there in common between litotes and understatement?
3. Describe most frequently used structures of litotes.
Periphrasis is a very peculiar stylistic device which basically consists of using a roundabout form of expression instead of a simpler one, i.e. of using a more or less complicated syntactical structure instead of a word. Depending on the mechanism of this substitution, periphrases are classified into figurative (Metonymic and metaphoric), and logical. The first group is made, in fact, of phrase-metonymies and phrase-metaphors, as you may well see from the following example: "The hospital was crowded with the surgically interesting products of the fighting in Africa" ??(I.Sh.) where the extended metonymy stands for "the wounded".
Logical periphrases are phrases synonymic with the words which were substituted by periphrases: "Mr. Du Pont was dressed in the conventional disguise with which Brooks Brothers cover the shame of American millionaires." (M.St.) "The conventional disguise" stands here for "the suit" and "the shame of American millionaires" - for "the paunch (the belly)". Because the direct nomination of the not too elegant feature of appearance was substituted by a roundabout description this periphrasis may be also considered euphemistic, as it offers a more polite qualification instead of a coarser one.
The main function of periphrases is to convey a purely individual perception of the described object. To achieve it the generally accepted nomination of the object is replaced by the description of one of its features or qualities, which seems to the author most important for the characteristic of the object, and which thus becomes foregrounded.
The often repeated periphrases become trite and serve as universally accepted periphrastic synonyms: "the gentle / soft / weak sex" (women); "My better half (my spouse);" minions of Law "(police), etc.
Exercise V. Analyse the given periphrases from the viewpoint of their semantic type, structure, function and originality:
1. Gargantuan soldier named Dahoud picked Ploy by the head and scrutinized this convulsion of dungarees and despair whose feet thrashed a yard above the deck. (Th.P.)
2. His face was red, the back of his neck overflowed his collar and there had recently been published a second edition of his chin. (P.G.W.)
3. His huge leather chairs were kind to the femurs. (R.W.)
4. "But Pickwick, gentlemen, Pickwick, this ruthless destroyer of. This domestic oasis in the desert of Goswell street!" (D.)
5. He would make some money and then he would come back and marry his dream from Blackwood. (Dr.)
6. The villages were full of women who did nothing but fight against dirt and hunger and repair the effects of friction on clothes. (A.B.)
7. The habit of saluting the dawn with a bend of the elbow was a hangover from college fraternity days. (Jn.B.)
8. I took my obedient feet away from him. (W.G.)
9. I got away on my hot adolescent feet as quickly as I could. (W.G.)
10. I am thinking an unmentionable thing about your mother. (I.Sh.)
11. Jean nodded without turning and slid between two vermilion-coloured buses so that two drivers simultaneously used the same qualitative word. (G.)
12. During the previous winter I had become rather seriously ill with one of those carefully named difficulties which are the whispers of approaching age. (J. St.)
13. A child had appeared among the palms, about a hundred yards along the beach. He was a boy of perhaps six years, sturdy and fair, his clothes torn, his face covered with a sticky mess of fruit. His trousers had been lowered for an obvious purpose and had only been pulled back half-way. (W.G.)
14. When I saw him again, there were silver dollars weighting down his eyes. (T.C.)
15. She was still fat after childbirth; the destroyer of her figure sat at the head of the table. (A.B.)
16. I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration known as the Great War. (Sc.F.)
17. "Did you see anything in Mr. Pickwick's manner and conduct towards the opposite sex to induce you to believe all this?" (D.)
18. Bill went with him and they returned with a tray of glasses, siphons and other necessaries of life. (Ch.)
19. It was the American, whom later we were to learn to know and love as the Gin Bottle King, because of a great feast of arms performed at an early hour in the morning with a container of Mr. Gordon's celebrated product as his sole weapon. (H.)
20. Jane set her bathing-suited self to washing the lunch dishes. (Jn.B.)
21. Naturally, I jumped out of the tub, and before I had thought twice, ran out into the living room in my birthday suit. (Â. Ì.)
22. For a single instant, Birch was helpless, his blood curdling in his veins at the imminence of the danger, and his legs refusing their natural and necessary office. (T.C.)
23. The apes gathered around him and he wilted under the scrutiny of the eyes of his little cousins ??twice removed. (An.C.)
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