Chapter

Tropes

Jeanne Fahnestock

in Rhetorical Style

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199764129
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918928 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199764129.003.0006
Tropes

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While discussions of style in the rhetorical tradition lack the basic language categories (e.g., lexical field) that twentieth-century analysts have created, they did discriminate high-profile choices in their extensive catalogs of figure of speech. The manuals named tropes as figures involving substitutions of predictable words with terms that deliver nuanced meanings serving an argument. (Trope is now used in cultural studies in a much broader sense as a recurring cultural signifier; the sense used in this chapter is the narrower one of a category of word-level figures.) The characterization of individual tropes reveals rhetorical principles of word formation, reference, and meaning. This chapter discusses the four “master” tropes (synecdoche, metonymy, metaphor, irony) in addition to related less-known figures. A synecdoche replaces a term with a part of its referent or switches singulars and plurals. A metonymy substitutes according to other principles (e.g., source, cause, physical proximity), while the related trope antonomasia replaces a proper noun with an attribute. Metaphor, a substitution from a disjunct lexical field, epitomizes the argument from analogy; the dramatic, novel rhetorical metaphor is stressed here over the conceptual metaphor described by cognitive linguists. Established metaphors and metaphors extended to the point of allegory are also covered, as is the simile, though it is not strictly a trope. The final trope, irony, which requires cues of intention for construal, has a partner in the more easily decoded antiphrasis. In the same category of deliberate “misstatements” are hyperbole, litotes, amphiboly, paradox, and paralepsis (praeteritio), all word or phrase substitutions that serve evaluative purposes. The tropes covered in this chapter are illustrated with passages from arguments that demonstrate their persuasive effects.

Keywords: trope; synecdoche; metonymy; antonomasia; metaphor; analogy; simile; allegory; irony; antiphrasis; hyperbole; litotes; amphiboly; paradox; paralepsis/praeteritio; Grice's maxims

Chapter.  13846 words. 

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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