Nov 18, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: Rhetorical Devices

On Monday's post I explored some rhetorical devices James Joyce used in the Ulysses. I don't speak Greek, so I find a lot of these words very difficult to learn and remember. (Insert mandatory "it's all Greek to me" joke here. Interestingly, in Finland the expression goes "It's all Hebrew to me.") So, I thought I'd take a few of my favourites and find out where they come from. I kept the definitions from the first post; they are mostly from Ulysses Annotated.

Ellipsis, a deliberate omission of a word or words implied by context, comes from the Greek elleipein "to fall short, to leave out," from en "in" + leipein "to leave."

Metonymy, the substitution of an attribute of the thing for the thing itself, has its roots in Greek metonymia "a change of name," from meta "change" + onyma from onoma, "name."

Syllepsis: a word made to refer to two or more words in the same sentence while proper applying to only one, or applying to them in different senses (literal and figurative). From Greek synlepsis, syn "together"+ lepsis "to take."

Zeugma, the use of a single word to modify or govern two or more words, especially when applying them in different senses, comes from the Greek zeugnygnai "to yoke." Zeugma in Greek means "to join together."

Heavy stuff, but this makes the definition of the word much clearer to me.

Hey, maybe I should study Greek next?

Ulysses Annotated by Don Gifford and Robert J. Seidman

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