Figures of Inequality

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Their semantic function is highlighting differences.

Specifying, or clarifying synonyms.

Synonym used for clarification mostly follow one another (in opposition t

replacers), although not necessarily immediately. Clarifiers may either

arise in the speaker's mind or they occupy the same syntactical positions in two or mor

parallel sentences.

Thus, roughly, in a 'synonymic repetition', as this phenomenon is ofte

called, the idea recurs, but it is not exactly the same idea: a subsequen

synonym complements its predecessor, both are complemented by th

third, and so on.

"Joe was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going,

foolish dear fellow." (Dickens)

Climax (or: Gradation). ideas in which what precedes is less

than what follows. Thus the second element surpasses the first and is, in

its turn, surpassed by the third, and so on.

To put it otherwise, the first

element is the weakest (though not necessarily weak!); the subsequent

dements gradually increase in strength, the last being the strongest.

"I am sorry, I am so very sorry, I am so extremely sorry."

( Chesterton )

Anti-climax (or: Bathos). 'back gradation'. it is the opposite

to climax, but this assumption is not quite correct. It would serve no

purpose whatever making the second element weaker than the first, the

third still weaker, and so on.

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some

few to be chewed and digested."

Pun. This term is synonymous with the current expression 'play upon

words'. "There comes a period in every man's

life, but she is just a semicolon in his." The witticism is clear to him

who recalls that period is not only 'lapse of time', but punctuation mark

as well. Thus a woman may be less than a period in a man's life: a mere


Zeugma. As with the pun, this device consists in combining unequal,

semantically heterogeneous, or even incompatible, words or phrases.

Zeugma is a kind of economy of syntactical units: one unit (word,

phrase) makes a combination with two or several others without being

repeated itself: uShe was married to Mr. Johnson, her twin sister, to Mr.

Ward; their half-sister, to Mr. Trench"

Tautology pretended and tautology disguised. repetition of th

same word or word combination: the theme and the rheme are lexical!

identical. 6 For East is East, and West is West...'


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