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Figures of Speech: Crowning Glory of English Language, Explained From Common Usage and From Poetry
A language is well known in literature thanks to its various special features of grammar. Figures of speech in any language create a niche for the language and in this respect the English language occupies a special place in the world of literature thanks to beautiful applications of figures of speech. Several languages use figures of speech but English is unique because of its most modern use.
Figures of speech are mainly used by effective writers, skilled orators, talented poets and talented playwrights. In this article we will see how these talented genres use this technique to add luster and glory to the language.
But it is one thing to insist that learning language lessons through exercises is of limited use and only an innate quality can give this talent. However, by reading various articles and listening to lectures, one can improve, rather polish one’s innate talents and present their writings more brilliantly.
With these few introductory words, let me analyze figures of speech in different writings one by one.
2. What is a figure of speech?
Every writer or poet will put his soul into his writings and such writings, thus being a pure representation of his soul. His readers should be on the same wavelength and understand the soul behind the works. Words alone will not be enough to do this work because words only represent the body and it needs a deeper technique to convey and understand the soul. Figures of speech will do the job; The words may not be the same that are required to convey the meaning but something beyond the meaning to convey the soul. English is very rich in this technique and there are several forms of figures of speech. In this article we will see very little of them. This is by no means an exhaustive list and readers are left to read more prose and poetry to learn more and more figures of speech.
It would not be out of place to mention that the classical Tamil language is very rich in this technique and some examples from the Tamil language are also given.
3. Similes and metaphors:
The most basic figures of speech are image and metaphor. There would be no writer or poet without using these two. A simile is a comparison of two things using words like ‘so or like’, which have a common aspect.
Poets always compare a woman to the moon (cool and beautiful) and a man to a lion (brave and handsome) sometimes women are compared to vermin and a man to trees especially a teak tree. In other words man is always as strong as a teak tree, while the creep hugs the tree out of love. Another simile often used is, a man out of cruelty in his head spoils the life of a woman like a stranger is pressed by a wild animal.
The imagination of poets knows no bounds. They are not satisfied with describing the lover as a moon, but she is a flawless moon. For a moon there is only one day as a full moon, but for you my dear every day is a full moon day (for your beauty never fades) so writes a poet.
Metaphor differs from simile in the sense that it is not a comparison between two things but a freezing of both into one.
“The lion roared that he would achieve freedom” – describes a freedom fighter
Below are some examples of similes and metaphors.
“I wandered as lonely as a cloud…”
“Continuous as the shining stars
and sparkle for the milk”
-Both create the poem ‘Daffodils’ written by William Wordsworth.
If life is a journey, take it,
If life is a game, play it,
If life is a challenge, face it,
If life is a battle, win it.
“A Himalayan blunders”, a phrase used by Gandhi.
4. Hyperbole and exaggeration:
Hyperbole is the unique quality of poets. In ordinary life, lying is a crime, but in poetry, lying very much wants to attract the attention and admiration of the readers. This is also largely an exaggeration. Although it is false, it will describe the situation well and therein lies the greatness of the poet.
Some examples of hyperboles:
The author wants to add some humor to this article and the following paragraph describing the use of hyperbole will serve the purpose.
In India, especially in Tamilnadu, people use hyperbole to please their bosses etc very freely. The following examples will explain this.
As soon as a political leader is recognized, wall posters will be pasted all over the city praising him
“Long live our permanent leader,
Just show your little finger, we will bring the earth to your feet”
You are our breath, you are our food, you are our life, etc.
(In the next election, if the leader is defeated, the posters will also disappear, and fresh posters will appear praising the winner. After all, ‘nothing succeeds like success’.
Another field that receives more love and affection from the public is cinema. The fans will bless the Matina idols on their birthdays as follows:
“You are the sun, you give it light. When you wake up, it rises, when you close your eyes, it turns into darkness”
The earth spins because of you. The lion learned to roar from your laughter, the flowers bloom because of your smile” and so on.
Litot is the exact opposite of it, that is, to humiliate something by speaking negatively.
For example: “Okay, the picture is not bad” means that the picture was satisfactorily good.
The man is not stupid means the man was smart. 5 Slander, dyspism and oxymoron.
5. Slander is to say something unpleasant in a pleasant way.
“Oh! My leader is sleeping there!” I mean he died and is buried there.
“I’m going to the rest room” means I’m going to the bathroom and so on
Dysphemism is the opposite of opism.
For example: call a thrifty person a ‘stingy guy’.
Call a freedom fighter a ‘terrorist’
A solid boss is branded as a “pig-headed guy”.
An oxymoron combines two contradictory things to define one common feature.
Father to son: “You are a smart fool. You have a clever way of inviting problems.”
“I do voluntary work out of compulsion”
The king was a benevolent dictator.
“The guy was obediently bold”
The UN sends its ‘peacekeeping force’ to warring countries.
Personification is imagining inanimate things as living.
“Oh, death, why do you lay your cruel hands on all great men!
Oh death, will you not accept death one day”, so that others may live – taken from a Tamil poem.
“Here! His pride and vanity are going to speak”
“Oh. Mahatma (Gandhi) is it for this, you got us time off?”
It is a direct conversation with the dead as if they were alive and standing in front of us.
Sometimes inanimate objects are assumed to have life and are treated.
Oh, India, is there anyone to save you from this catastrophe?”
“Oh, Indian cinema, do you have a future”?
Antithesis is saying two completely contradictory things in one sentence to emphasize a certain point.
The best example of an antithesis is ‘; Man proposes marriage, God dies which emphasizes that nothing is in our hands.
To err is human but to forgive is divine.
Speech is money but silence is gold.
“Not that I loved Caesar less, but I love Rome more”
Epigrams are almost proverbial statements that correspond to an antithesis, an exciting surprise in the minds of the listeners.
Fools rush where angels fear to tread.
The boy is the man’s father.
Poetry is nothing but a glorified lie.
Marriage is legal prostitution.
Irony is an essential element of poetry and drama. Irony of the circumstances intensifies the pathos in them and the reflection of the talents of the writer or poet. This is a subject that can be given thousands of examples from poetry, prose, plays and films. In fact it requires a series of articles to cover this vast topic. However let me content myself with highlighting a few examples to emphasize this form of speech. (Examples are given from your own observations).
I). We have seen in several movies, the child is separated from the father. The irony is that the father will help his child in some difficult circumstances without knowing that he is helping his child.
b) The lovers are separated by cruel fate. When the lover meets his beloved after, say, five years, she is none other than his stepmother, having married his father. The irony is added when he or she is shown as blind.
c) Student Miriam quarrels with a lady. When he arrives at his exam hall, he is amazed to notice that she is none other than his new teacher.
Readers are asked to read more poetry and prose and identify this figure of speech and enjoy the richness of the language.
PUN is a quoting word that gives different meanings: some people are great experts in this way of speaking. It requires a lot of cleverness to play words on a particular word.
A very famous example of this is “Mr. . . got pregnant three times and got nothing” commenting on a British MP who said, “I’m getting pregnant, I’m getting pregnant, I’m getting pregnant” but did not complete the statement.
A father, on a cloudy day, comments, “The sun is not shining, and my son is not bright” to comment on his son’s dismal performance.
“We ‘paint’ for you,” a sign board.
How long we live, it depends on the ‘liver’.
This implies a change of name, due to obligations made:
The bench (judges) sentenced him to death.
The tribune (and the three members witness) determined the proposal.
The crown (the king) is satisfied, etc.
The faculty (teachers) had a meeting
13. Climax and anti-climax:
A climax is the dramatic end of a sentence with a positive tone, and one with a negative tone is an ‘anti-climax’.
He is smart, hardworking, intelligent, strict and in fact is “embodied intelligence”.
He is my friend, philosopher and guide and in short, he is my God.
She’s so pretty. Charming, stunning and none other than Venus that came to earth.
These are some examples of climax.
Examples of anti-climax are:
He is such a rich man as a God of wealth, possessing all the gold and silver, and never giving even a single penny to the poor.
He buys kilos of food, drinks and fruit but can’t eat even one piece according to the doctor’s advice (also an example of irony)
He is a great soccer player, represented the college team in dozens of games and never hit a goal.
Water everywhere, not a drop to drink.
These are some very simple examples of figures of speech derived mainly from personal observations and some from well-known examples. This is only the tip of the iceberg (not a hyperbole) this is indeed a huge area in any language that needs in-depth study. But the habit of most students is to skip this chapter which usually comes at the end of grammar lessons and seems to be obscure for learning. This article may help create an orientation to this aspect of learning. If readers are motivated to learn more about figures of speech, the purpose of this article is satisfied.
I wish the readers all the best in the world.
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