Figures of meaning

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is part of the Figures of Speech course. You may choose to follow it in a structured way, or read each item separately.

The heading of Figures of meaning is intended to cover various ways of making language more vivid or persuasive that have been traditionally labelled as figures of speech. They may not always seem to fit as examples of the same phenomenon as the figures of comparison that are the most widely known Figures (and those that formed the first part of the Course in Figures of Speech we have been looking at so far; but it is traditional to call both types figures of speech, and it is convenient for the purposes of this course to continue the tradition.

Some figures of meaning apply to a whole text, or a substantial part of it. These are not of great interest to most writers of modern academic English, although they are of use to some specialists in literature and language. If you are following the Course, you may omit them. If you are interested to know more about the older tradition, see large-scale Figures of meaning. Otherwise, there are a few large-scale ‘Figures of meaning’ which refer simply to the overall tone and intention of the piece of writing concerned. Of some possible use to the ordinary person in the twenty-first century is a knowledge of the figures of satire, sarcasm and irony.

Other figures of meaning work on a smaller scale, applying only to an individual word or phrase. (This is similar to the fact that metaphor and simile are small scale figures.)