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English Stylistics Class 2013. Litotes-break-in-the-narrative-polysyndeton


What is litotes?

Litotes is the use of a negated antonym to make an understatement or to emphatically affirm the positive.

Examples Of Litotes
They aren't the happiest couple around.
  • He's not the ugliest fellow around!
  • She's not the brightest girl in the class.
  • The food is not bad.
  • It is no ordinary city.
  • That sword was not useless to the warrior now.
  • He was not unfamiliar with the works of Dickens.
  • She is not as young as she was.
  • You are not wrong.
  • Einstein is not a bad mathematician.
  • Heat waves are not rare in the summer.
  • It won't be easy to find crocodiles in the dark.
  • He is not unlike his dad.
  • That's no small accomplishment.
  • He is not the kindest person I've met.
  • That is no ordinary boy.


What is Break-in-the-narrative?

In the written variety of the language break-in-the-narrative is used for some stylistic effect. Professor Arnold sees the difference between break-in-the-narrative and aposiopesis. Break-in-the-narrative is connected with the intention of the speaker not to finish the sentence and to imply something by doing so, for example:

  • You just come home, or I will...

With aposiopesis, emotions prevent the speaker from finishing the sentence:

  • My God! If the police come - and find me here

"Will you be my...I mean...will you..."


What is polysyndeton?

The repetition of conjunctions in close succession for rhetorical effect, as in the phrase

here and there and everywhere.

Polysyndeton is used to achieve a variety of effects in poetry and literature. The overuse of conjunctions in close succession helps achieve rhythm, mainly by introducing continuation and slowing it. This rhetoric figure of speech can convey solemnity or even exhibit a childlike spirit. Having a Greek etymology, which means 'bound together', a sentence employing a 'polysyndetic device' uses coordinating conjunctions like 'and', 'or', 'but', or 'nor' to link the words, phrases or clauses. It adds

Examples Of Polysyndeton
  • We have ships and men and money and stores.
  • He ran and jumped and laughed for joy.
  • We lived and laughed and loved and left.
  • They read and studied and wrote and drilled. I laughed and played and talked and flunked.
  • You wouldn't believe how many exams I've got. I've got semantics and pragmatics and sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics and syntax.

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