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Prof. Dr. Fee-Alexandra Haase: "Style and Styles"


Rhetorical figures are in literature and linguistics all language figurations deviating from the normal linguistic usage. With the tropes the text deviates from the direct sense of the word. Elocutio is the range for the placement of things (res) according to words (verba). Categories, which can be considered for style qualities (virtutes dicendi) are language correctness (puritas), clarity (perspicuitas) of the language, their suitability (aptum) and shortness of the expression (brevitas). Rhetorical figures and tropes within them are standardized deviations from the natural speech. They have direct attention on the statement by the decoration and elegance of the speech (ornatus). Figures overlay the primary grammar as secondary structures. Since the 5th century B.C. rhetoric was didactical and scientifically treated by Gorgias of Leontinoi, Isokrates, Aristoteles, Theophrast, Hermagoras of Temnos and Cicero and belonged to the ancient general education. Boethius writes that the speech (sermo) or the style (stilus) is a kind of the genre letter (scribendi genus) (Versus Eut. 3.92-93) and that the speech (sermo) is an imitation of the genre letter (scribendi genus), which was invented in the letters and the diplomatic documents of the emperors and not only just the verba propria, but also figures and numbers were part of it, so that words can be selected in the most careful way and figures were to be selected very accurately:

Qui sermo, vel potius stilus, imitatus est scribendi genus, quod in epistulis et diplomis imperatorum inveniretur, ex quibus hausit non solum administrationis verba propria, sed etiam ipsius orationis figuras et numeros, ut et verba diligentissime eligerentur et figurae accuratissime collocarentur. (4)

Cicero writes in De oratore (liber 1. XXXII-XXXIV, 150) that the best and most exquisite style of speech the efficient one and a teacher is, but never injustice:

Stilus optimus et praestantissimus dicendi effector ac magister; neque iniuria.

Quintilian differentiates between three groups of figures for decoration: Isolated words (as replacement of "normal" words in the forms of tropes (tropoi) like metaphor; irony or hyperbola ("exaggeration") are figures of groups of words on syntactic level. Other changes are additions and conversions such as anaphor, ellipse, hyperbaton or hyperbasis (i.e. the separation of linguistic units syntactically closely belonging together). The task of the speaker is to select certain information arranged and dressed into responding forms. The listeners are to be manipulated by the kind of the representation. The three style levels of the speech (genera elocutionis) differentiate between simple, middle and high style level:

Genus grande

Genus medium

Genus tenue

Elocutio has four categories of changes of the simple grammar structure. The term "rhetorical operations of change" is a name for these four possibilities of the change. Adjectio stands for the addition of an element. Detractio is detraction or removing an element, permutation is shifting an element. Substitutio (substitution) is removing an element. In Quintilian"s Institutio oratoria this part of the rhetorical teachings is described. (5) Servius Grammaticus writes in his comment Vergilii carmina commentarii in Aeneida (liber I) on style: It is heroic (heroicum), when it contains divine and human persons; the high style manifests itself in a speech and large words. The style of the high level belongs to the heroic (heroicum). We know that there are three styles, the low, the middle and the high. The intention of Vergile consists of imitating Homer and praising Augustus because of his parents:

Est autem stilus grandiloquus, qui constat alto sermone magnisque sententiis. scimus enim tria esse genera dicendi, humile medium grandiloquum. intentio Vergilii haec est, Homerum imitari et Augustum laudare a parentibus; (6)

There are four major types of rhetorical figures: One definies rhetorical figures in literature and linguistics language figurations deviating from the normal linguistic usage. Rhetorical figures are in the broadest sense deviations from the straight, smooth and flat mode of expression. Rhetorical figures are deviations from the simple position and order of the words, deviations from the used expression, deviations from the rest position of the conception and reported way. The tropes are a sub-category of the figures and as expressions and formulations with a connotated new meaning for one word (word figures). Thought or sense figures concern contents and arrangement of more complex thought. Grammatical figures contain deviations from the syntactically correct linguistic usage or the usual word position. Sound figures finally play with the phonetic possibilities of the language in order to emphasize parts of one sentence period, e.g. verses or iterations. Erasmus of Rotterdam mentions in his Epistolae that the letter style (epistolicus stilus) must be simple. Examples are accurately, elegantly expressed and without any simple everyday-form, in Latin in decorated style held like the letters of Plinius Cecilius. Although this style is highly artificial, talented and cultivated composed and prepared, it appears at the same time direct and timeless with ease:

Esse enim epistolicus stilus simplex debet [] Exemplo sunt Plinii Cecilii epistolae, acutae, elegantes expressae, in quibus nihil nisi domesticum, quotidianum, sed omnia tamen latina, casta, ornataque leguntur. Cumque sit stilus ille multa arte atque ingenio cultuque subactus atque elaboratus, illaboratus tamen ac paene subitus atque extemporarius videtur. (7)

Zurück zum Text  4. Http://xoomer.virgilio.it/blasius2/rhetor/lat_xae.html.

Zurück zum Text  5. Adamik, T.: Quintillian"s theory of rhetoric and style. In: Acta antiqua academiae scientiarum Hungaricae. 1990 -1992, T. 33, Fasc. 1-4. Pp. 123-128.

Zurück zum Text  6. Http://www.udl.es/usuaris/s2430206/ciceroll.htm.

Zurück zum Text  7. Http://www.grexlat.com/biblio/brevissima/textus.html.

 

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