Figures of Speech

Manfred Kienpointner
Table of contents

Figures of Speech (= FSP, also called “rhetorical figures” or “figures of rhetoric”; the term FSP will be used in its broadest sense, including both tropes and FSP in the narrow sense, that is, figures of diction and figures of thought) can be briefly defined as the output of discourse strategies for creating communicatively adequate texts (cf. below Section 3.1. for a more detailed definition). From antiquity onwards, they have been studied as one of the main branches of rhetoric. In ancient rhetoric, FSP were mainly characterized as a kind of ornament. Moreover, a detailed typology of FSP was developed. In recent times, various theories of style have been developed which present quite different definitions and characterizations of FSP. Several authors have tried to establish standards of classification and demarcation of FSP which are more satisfactory than those of ancient rhetoric. There also have been attempts to extend the concept of FSP to nonverbal domains (e.g. FSP in the visual arts: painting, cinema etc.). Not very surprisingly, metaphor has attracted far more interest than any other FSP: therefore, studies on metaphor will be mentioned more frequently than work on other FSP.

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