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English Stylistics Class 2013. Pun — Zeugma — Irony — Malapropism — The Violation of phraseological units


PUN - play on words, either on different senses of the same word or on the similar sense or sound of different words. Also known as paronomasia.

Bookworm                      Pool table




"Why is it so wet in England? Because many kings and queens have reigned there."

"Why can a man never starve in the Great Desert? Because he can eat the sand which is there."

"At a pizza shop: 7 days without pizza makes one weak."


ZEUGMA - this is a stylistic device that plays upon two different meanings of the word — the direct and the figurative meanings, thus creating a pun. The effect comes from the use of a word in the same formal (grammatical) relations, but in different semantic relations.



"She dropped a tear and her pocket handkerchief."

"She possessed two false teeth and a sympathetic heart."

"He has taken her picture and another cup of tea."


IRONY - is an implied discrepancy between what is said and what is meant. The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning; a statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea.


Three kinds of irony:

1. verbal irony is when an author says one thing and means something else.

2. dramatic irony is when an audience perceives something that a character in the literature does not know.

3. irony of situation is a discrepency between the expected result and actual results.


"A fine thing indeed!" he muttered to himself.


"Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink."


MALAPROPISM - absurd or humorous misuse of a word, especially by confusion with one of similar sound.


Mrs. Malaprop's Malapropisms.

Here are some of the original malapropisms from the lady herself: Mrs. Malaprop in Richard Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775).

"...promise to forget this fellow - to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory."


"O, he will dissolve my mystery!"


"He is the very pine-apple of politeness!"


"His physiognomy so grammatical!"


ANTI-PROVERB - is the transformation of a standard proverb for humorous effect.


A rolling stone gathers momentum. ("A rolling stone gathers no moss".)

All that glitters is not dull. ("All that glitters is not gold".)

Don't put the cart before the aardvark. ("Don't put the cart before the horse".)

See a pin and pick it up, and all day long you'll have a pin. ("See a pin and pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck".)

A penny saved is a penny taxed. ("A penny saved is a penny earned".)

It's not fun and games until/unless someone loses an eye. ("It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.")





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