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  Home / Oberstufe  / Englisch LK / Schreibtechniken 

Lernhilfe Stilmittel / Stylistic Devices
Inhalt: Stilmittel von Metaphor bis Allusion und ihre Funktion.
Lehrplan: Schreibtechniken
Kursart: 4-stündig


Stylistic Devices / Stilmittel / Rhetorische Mittel
Autor und weiteres Material: Jochen Lueders


Simile [`sImIlI] (Vergleich):
an explicit comparison between two things which are basically quite different using words such as like or as.
She walks like an angel. / I wandered lonely as a cloud. (Wordsworth)

Metaphor [`metEfE] (Metapher):
a comparison between two things which are basically quite different without using like or as. While a simile only says that one thing is like another, a metaphor says that one thing is another. (adj. metaphorical)
All the worlds a stage / And all the men and women merely players ... (Shakespeare)

Personification [----`--] (Verkrperung):
a kind of metaphor in which animals, plants, inanimate (leblos) objects or abstract ideas are represented as if they were human beings and possessed human qualities.
Justice is blind. Necessity is the mother of invention (Not macht erfinderisch).

Synecdoche (lat. pars pro toto):
a kind of metaphor in which a part of something is used to signify the whole.
Lend me your ears (= give me your attention)

Symbol (Symbol):
something concrete (like a person, object, image, word or event) that stands for something abstract or invisible.
The Cross is the symbol of Christianity. The dove (Taube) symbolizes peace/is symbolic of peace.


Alliteration (Alliteration):
the repetition of the same consonant sound in neighbouring words, usually at the beginning of words.

eter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Assonance [`sEnEns] (Assonanz):
the repetition of internal vowel sounds in neighbouring words that do not end the same.
sweet dreams / fertile - birth

Consonance [`---] (Konsonanz):
the repetition of consonant sounds at the end of neighbouring words which have different vowel sounds.
strength - earth birth / home - sa

Metre [`mi:tE] (Metrum):
a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables within a line of a poem.

Iambic [aI`mbIk]  metre (Jambus):
an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one ( '):

The way a crow (Krhe) / Shook down on me / The dust of snow / From a hemlock tree (Frost)

Trochaic [trEU`keIIk] metre (Trochus):
a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one (' ):

ger, Tiger, burning bright / In the forest of the night. (William Blake)

Anapestic [nE`pestIk] metre (Anapst):
two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable
( '): Oh he flies through the air / With the greatest of ease.

Dactylic [dk`tIlIk] metre (Daktylus):
a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones ('  ):

for a handful of silver he left us / Just for a riband (Band) to stick in his coat.

Onomatopoeia [nEUmtE`pi:E] (Lautmalerei):
the use of words which imitate the sound they refer to. (adj. onomatopoeic
the stuttering (stottern) rifles rapid rattle / The cuckoo whizzed past the buzzing bees.

Rhyme (Reim):
the use of words which end with the same sounds, usually at the end of lines.
Tiger! Tiger! burning bright / In the forests of the night.

Internal rhyme:
rhyme within a line.
letters of joy from girl and boy

Impure rhyme:
inaccurate (ungenau) repetition of sounds.
hill - full; man - mean; sky - fine; seem - weak

rhyme that does not depend on sound but on spelling.
flow - how, beat - great, over - discover.

In older poems one has to consider that words were (maybe) pronounced differently from today.


Parallelism [`prElelIzm] (Parallelismus):
the deliberate (absichtlich) repetition of similar or identical words, phrases or constructions in neighbouring lines, sentences or paragraphs.

Anaphora [E`nfErE] (Anapher):
a form of parallelism where a word or several words are repeated at the beginning of successive (aufeinander folgend) lines, sentences or paragraphs.

In every cry of every man / In every infants cry of fear / In every voice, in every ban. (Blake London)

Inversion (Inversion):
a change of the ususal word order (subject-verb-object).

A lady with a dulcimer (Hackbrett) / In a vision once I saw.

Chiasmus [kaI`zmEs] (Chiasmus, Kreuzstellung):
a reversal in the order of words so that the second half of a sentence balances the first half in inverted (umgekehrt) word order.
Loves fire heats water, water cools not love. (Shakespeare)

Climax [`klaImks] (Steigerung, Hhepunkt, Klimax):
a figure of speech in which a series of words or expressions rises step by step, beginning with the least important and ending with the most important (= climactic order). The term may also be used to refer only to the last item in the series.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed (schlucken), and some few to be chewed (kauen) and digested (verdauen).

Anticlimax (Antiklimax):
the sudden fall from an idea of importance or dignity (Wrde) to something unimportant or ridiculous in comparison, especially at the end of a series.
The bomb completely destroyed the cathedral, several dozen houses and my dustbin.

Enumeration (Aufzhlung):
the listing of words or phrases. It can stress a certain aspect e.g. by giving a number of similar or synonymous adjectives to describe something.
Today many workers find their labor mechanical, boring, imprisoning, stultifying (lhmend), repetitive, dreary and heartbreaking.


Allusion [E`lu:Gn] (Anspielung):
a brief reference to a person, place, thing, event or idea in history or literature. Allusions require common reading and cultural experiences shared by the writer and the reader. (v. to allude to sth., n. an allusion to sth.)
The old man and the computer (allusion to The Old man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway)

Ambiguity [mbI`gju:Eti] (Ambiguitt, Zwei-/Mehrdeutigkeit):
the deliberate use of a word or phrase that has two or more relevant meanings.
Ambiguity is the basis for a lot of wordplay. (adj. ambiguous

Enjambment (also: run-on line):
In poetry, when one line ends without a pause and continues into the next line for its meaning.

Euphemism [`ju:fEmIzm] (Euphemismus):
hiding the real nature of something unpleasant by using a mild or indirect term for it. (adj. euphemistic
He has passed away. instead of He has died.
the underprivileged instead of the poor

Hyperbole [haI`p:bElI] (Hyperbel) also: overstatement: deliberate (absichtlich) exaggeration. Its purpose is to emphasize something or to produce a humorous effect.
I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.

Understatement (Untertreibung): the opposite of hyperbole; the deliberate presentation of something as being much less important, valuable etc. than it really is.
These figures are a bit disappointing instead of are disastrous (katastrophal).
"He was quite upset instead of He went into a terrible rage.

Irony (Ironie): saying the opposite of what you actually mean. Do not use ironic in the vague sense of funny/humorous.

Sarcasm [`sA:kzm] (Sarkasmus) is a strong form of verbal irony used to hurt someone through mockery (Spott, Hohn) or disapproval (Ablehnung). (adj. sarcastic)
Teacher: You are absolutely the best class Ive ever had. Actual meaning: the worst class

Satire [`staIE] (Satire):
a kind of text which criticizes certain conditions, events or people by making them appear ridiculous. Satirical
[-`---] texts often make use of exaggeration, irony and sarcasm. (n. satirist, adj. satirical, v. to satirize satirisch darstellen)

Sarcasm [`sA:kzm] (Sarkasmus):
bitter and aggressive humour used to express mockery (Spott, Hohn) or disapproval (Ablehnung). (adj. sarcastic

Paradox [`prEdks] (Paradoxon):
a statement that seems to be self-contradictory (widersprchlich) or opposed to common sense. On closer examination it mostly reveals some truth. (adj. paradoxical
The child is father of the man. (Wordsworth)

It is awfully hard work doing nothing. (Oscar Wilde)

Oxymoron [ksI`mO:rn] (Oxymoron):
a condensed (komprimiert) form of paradox in which two  contradictory words
(mostly adjective and noun) are used together.
sweet sorrow / wise fool / bittersweet
O hateful love! O loving hate! (Romeo and Juliet)

Pun (Wortspiel):
a play on words that have the same (or a similar) sound but different meanings. There are a lot of puns in English because of its many homophones, i.e. words with the same sound as another. Homophones lose their ambiguity as soon as they are written

At the drunkards funeral, four of his friends carried the bier. (bier Totenbahre vs. beer Bier)
A word with the same form as another but with a different meaning is called homonym:
Is life worth living? It depends on the liver (liver = sb. who lives vs. liver Leber)

Rhetorical question (rhetorische Frage):
a question to which the answer is obvious and therefore not expected.
In reality rhetorical questions are a kind of statement.
Dont we all love peace and hate war?
Shouldnt we try to be friendlier towards each other?

Telling name:
a name that conveys certain character traits.
Darth Vader (dark + death, invader) / Lord Voldemort (flight of death) / Willy Loman (low man)

Stylistic Devices Functions

  arouse the readers interest / catch the r.s attention: titles

The Right to Be Beautiful, Die Unterwasserschreibmaschine

make the reader think: paradox (Dont overuse!)

Vorwrts in die Fnfziger Jahre

create vivid/graphic mental images: metaphors, personifications

first step on a slippery slope

emphasize certain aspects: repetition, parallelism, alliteration

they were worse fed, worse clothed, worse washed

amuse/entertain the reader: euphemism, similes, metaphors

whose impact on appearance is, um, unproven

criticize/satirize: hyperbole

a bit of lipstick can keep you out of jail

evoke (funny) associations

graduation present of breast enlargement

Autor und weiteres Material: Jochen Lueders



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