The epithet is
a stylistic device based on the interplay of emotive and logical meaning in
an attributive word, phrase or even sentence, used to characterise an object
and pointing out to the reader, and frequently imposing on him, some of the
properties or features of the object with aim of giving an individual
perception and evaluation of these features or properties. The epithet is
markedly subjective and evaluative. The logical attribute is purely objective,
non-evaluating. It is descriptive and indicates an inherent or prominent
feature of the thing or phenomenon in question.
Thus in green meadows, white snow, round table
and the like, the adjectives are more logical attributes than epithets. They
indicate those qualities of the objects which may be regarded as generally
recognized. But in wild wind, loud ocean, heart-burning smile, the
adjectives do not point to inherent qualities of the objects described. They
are subjective evaluative.
may be classified from different standpoints: semantic and structural.
Semantically – divided into associated with the noun following and unassociated
epithets are those which point out to a feature which is essential to the
objects they describe: the idea expressed in the epithet is to a certain
extent inherent in the concept of the object. For e. g. ‘dark forest’,
‘careful attention’ etc.
epithets are attributes used to characterize the object by adding a feature
not inherent in it. For e. g. ‘heart-burning smile’, ‘voiceless sands’. The
adjectives here impose a property on objects which is fitting only in the
epithets can be viewed from the angle of a) composition and b)
– may be divided into simple, compound and phrase epithets. Simple
epithets are ordinary adjectives (wild wind, loud ocean). Compound
epithets are built like compound adjectives (heat-burning sigh, sylph-like
figures). Phrase epithets: a phrase and even a whole sentence may
become an epithet if the main formal requirement of the epithets is
maintained i. e. its attributive use. But unlike simple and compound
epithets, which may have pre- and post-position, phrase epithets are always
placed before the nouns they refer to. (Freddie was standing on front of the
fireplace with a ‘well-that’s-the-story-what-are-we-going-to-do-about-it’ air
that made him a local point) Phrase epithets are generally followed by the expression,
air, attitude and others which describe behaviour or facial expression,
epithet is composed of two nouns linked in an of – phrase. The
subjective, evaluating, emotional element is embodied not in the noun
attribute but in the noun described (the shadow of a smile; a devil
of a sea rolls in that bay)
From the point
of view of the distribution of the epithets in the sentence, the first
model to be pointed out is the string of epithets (a plump,
rosy-checked, wholesome, apple-faced, young woman; a well-matched,
fairly-balanced, give-and-take couple). The string of epithets gives a
many-sided depiction of the object.
epithets are ordinary logical attributes generally describing the state
of a human being, but made to refer to an inanimate object (sleepless pillow,
It remains only to say that
the epithet is direct and straightforward way of showing the author’s
attitude towards the things described.
Litotes is a
stylistic device consisting of a peculiar use of negative constructions. The
negation plus noun or adjective serves to establish a positive feature in a
person or thing. This pisitive feature is however is somewhat diminished in
quality as compared with a synonymous expression making a straightforward
assertion of the positive feature.
E. g. 1. It’s not a bad thing – It’s a good thing
2. He is no coward – He is a brave man
In both cases
the negative construction is weaker than affirmative one. But we can not say
that the two negative constructions produce a lesser effect than the
corresponding affirmative ones. Moreover, it should be noted that the
negative construction here have a stronger impact on the reader than the
affirmative ones. So the negation in litotes should not be regarded as mere
denial of the quality mentioned.
stylistic effect of litotes depends mainly on intonation, on intonation only.
If compare two intonation patterns, one which suggests a mere denial (It
is not bad as contrary to It is bad) with the other which saggests
assertion of a positive quality of the object (It is no bad = it is good) the
different will become apparent.
A variant of litotes is a
construction with two negations, as in (not unlike, not unpromising). Here
accordingly to general logical and mathematical, principles, two negatives
make a positive(Soames, with his lips and his squared chin was not unlike a