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Figures of Speech: The Crowning Glory of the English Language, Explained from Common Use and from Poetry

Written by Amine

1. Introduction:

The language is well recognized in the literature for its various special features of grammar. Figures of speech in any language create a niche for the language and in this respect English occupies a special place in the world of literature due to the beautiful applications of figures of speech. Several languages ​​use figures of speech, but English is unique in its most modern use.

Figures of speech are mostly used by skilled writers, skilled speakers, talented poets and gifted dramatists. In this article, we will see how these talented genres use this technique to add luster and glory to the language.

But one thing to insist is that learning language lessons through practice 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 hone one’s innate talent and present one’s writings in a more scintillating way.

With these few words of introduction, let me analyze the figures of speech in the various writings one by one.

2. What is a figure of speech?

Every writer or poet puts his soul into his writings and such writings will be a pure representation of his soul. His readers must be on the same wavelength and realize the soul behind the creations. Mere words will not be enough for this work because words will 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 as those required to express the meaning, but something that transcends the meaning to convey the soul. English is very rich in this technique and there are several forms of speech. In this article we will see a few of them. This is by no means an exhaustive list and it is left to readers to read more prose and poetry to learn more and more figures of speech.

It will not be out of place to mention that classical Tamil is very rich in this technique and some examples from Tamil are also given.

3. Similes and metaphors:

The most basic figures of speech are simile and metaphor. Without these two there will be no writer or poet. A simile is a comparison of two things using words like “so or as” that have some aspect in common.

Poets always compare woman to the moon (cool and beautiful) and man to a lion (brave and beautiful) Sometimes women are compared to creepers and man to trees, especially a teak tree. In other words, a person is always strong like a teak wood, while a creeper hugs a tree for love. Another often used simile is: A man out of cruelty spoils a woman’s life, like a wreath being crushed by a wild animal.

There are no limits to the imagination of poets. They are not satisfied with the description of the lover as a moon, but she is a flawless moon. For the moon, only one day is like a full moon, but for you, my love, every day is a full moon (because your beauty never fades), writes the poet.

A metaphor differs from a simile in that it does not compare two things, but freezes them both into one.

“The lion roared to achieve freedom” – describes the freedom fighter

The following are some examples of similes and metaphors.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud…”

“Continuous as the stars that shine

And sparkle in the Milky Way”

-Both form the poem ‘Daffodils’ written by William Wordsworth.

If life is a road, travel it

If life is a game, play it

If life is a challenge, face it

If life is a struggle, win it.

“Himalayan faults”, a phrase used by Gandhi.

4. Hyperbole and Litotes:

Hyperbole is a unique quality of poets. In ordinary life, lying is a crime, but in poetry, lying is very keen to attract the attention and admiration of the readers. It’s also largely an exaggeration. Even if it is a lie, it describes the situation well and therein lies the greatness of the poet.

Some examples of Hyperbole:

The author wishes 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.

The moment a political leader gets recognition, wall posters praising him will be plastered all over the city

“Long live our constant leader,

Just show your little finger, we’ll bring the earth to your feet.”

You are our breath, you are our food, you are our life, etc.”

(If the leader is defeated in the next election, the posters will also disappear and new posters will appear praising the winner. After all, ‘Nothing succeeds like success’.

Another area that is getting more love and affection from the public is film. Fans will wish matinee idols on their birthdays like this:

“You are the Sun, you give it light. When you wake up, it rises, when you close your eyes, it gets dark.”

The earth spins because of you. A lion has learned to roar from your laughter, flowers bloom because of your smile” and so on and so forth.

Litotes are the exact opposite of that, meaning to degrade a thing by speaking in a negative way.

Eg: “Okay, the picture is not bad” means that the picture was satisfactorily good.

A man is not crazy means he was smart. 5 Euphemisms, Dysphemism and Oxymoron.

5. A euphemism is telling an unpleasant thing in a pleasant way.

“Ah! My leader is sleeping there!” meaning he is dead and buried there.

“I am going to Rest room” means I am going to the toilet and so on

Dysphemism is the opposite of euphemism.

Eg: Call a thrifty man as “elbow”.

Label a freedom fighter as a ‘terrorist’

The head of the company is labeled as “the man with the pig’s head”.

An oxymoron combines two opposite things to define one common feature.

Father to son: “You’re a wise fool. You have a clever way of inviting trouble.”

“I do voluntary work out of compulsion”

The king was a merciful dictator.

“That guy was dutifully bold”

The UN sends its “peacekeepers” to warring countries.

6. Personification:

Personification means imagining lifeless things as life.

“Oh, Death, why do you lay your cruel hands on all great men!

Oh death, you will not get death one day’ for others to survive – taken from a Tamil poem.

“Lo! His pride and vanity will speak.”

7. Apostrophe:

“Oh. Mahatma (Gandhi) Is that why you gave us freedom?”

This is a direct conversation with the dead, as if they were alive and standing before us.

Inanimate objects are sometimes assumed to have life and are addressed.

Oh India, is there anyone to save you from this disaster?”

“Ah, Indian cinema, do you have a future”?

8. Opposite:

Antithesis is the telling of two completely opposite things in one sentence to emphasize a certain point.

The best example of the opposite is ‘; Man designs, God disposes, which emphasizes that nothing is in our hands.

To err is human, but to forgive is divine.

Speech is silver, but silence is golden.

“Not that I love Caesar less, but I love Rome more.

9. Epigram:

Epigrams are almost proverbial sayings corresponding to the opposite, exciting surprises in the minds of listeners.

Fools rush where angels fear to tread.

The child is the father of the man.

Poetry is nothing but a glorified lie.

Marriage is legalized prostitution.

10: Irony:

Irony is an essential component of poetry and drama. The irony of the circumstances in them amplifies the pathos and reflects the talent of the writer or poet. It is a subject of which thousands of examples could be given from poetry, prose, plays and films. In fact, it takes a series of articles to cover this vast topic. However, let me highlight a few examples that highlight this figure of speech. (Examples given from own observation).

AND). We have seen in several movies, the child is separated from the father. Ironically, a father will help his child in several difficult situations without knowing that he is helping his own child.

ii) The lovers are divided by a cruel fate. When the lover meets his sweetheart after, say, five years, it is none other than his stepmother who married his father. The irony is added when he is shown as blind.

iii) A student quarrels with a lady. When he gets to his exam hall, he is shocked to find 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.

11. TOY:

PUN is a quotation of a word with different meanings: Some people are great experts in this way of speaking. A pun on a particular word requires a lot of wisdom.

A very famous example of this is “Mr. . . conceived three times and delivered nothing” commenting on a British MP who said “I’m going to get pregnant, I’m going to get pregnant, I’m going to get pregnant”, but he didn’t finish the statement.

On a cloudy day, the father comments “neither the sun shines nor my son shines” to comment on his son’s dismal performance.

We will “color” for you, signboard.

How long we live depends on the ‘liver’.

12. Metonymy:

It means a name change based on duties:

The Court (Judges) awarded the death penalty.

The tribune (three-member committee) handled the offer.

The crown (king) is pleased, etc.

The faculty (teachers) had a meeting

13. Climax and Climax:

A climax is the dramatic end of a sentence on a positive note and that on a negative note is an “anti-climax”.

He is smart, hard-working, sharp-witted, diligent, and in fact, “intelligence personified.”

He is my Friend, Philosopher and Guide, and in short, he is my God.

She is so beautiful. charming, beautiful and none other than Venus who came to earth.

These are some examples of Climax.

Examples of anti-climax are:

He is as rich a man as the God of wealth, he owns all the gold and money and never gives a single paisa to the poor.

He buys kilos of food, drink and fruit, but on doctor’s advice he can’t eat a single morsel (also an example of irony)

He is a great football player, represented the university team in dozens of matches and never scored a goal.

Water everywhere, not a drop to drink.

14. Conclusion:

These are some very simple examples of speech mostly reproduced from personal observations and some of the familiar examples. This is only the tip of the iceberg (not an exaggeration) This is a truly vast area of ​​any language that requires deep study. But most students tend to skip this chapter which normally appears at the end of grammar lessons and seems vague to learn. This article can help in creating an orientation to this aspect of learning. If readers are motivated to learn more about turns of phrase, then the purpose of this article has been fulfilled.

I wish the readers ALL THE BEST.

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