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 Ling 131: Language & Style

Topic 3 (session A) - Patterns, Deviations, Style and Meaning > Parallelism: non-literary examples > Task C

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Session Overview
Overview of foregrounding, deviation and parallelism
Deviation: non - literary examples
Deviation: literary examples
Parallelism: non-literary examples
Parallelism: literary examples
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Parallelism: non-literary examples

Task C - 'Opposite meaning'

Now let's have a look at the parallelism processing rule in relation to the effect of 'opposite meaning'. First we will look at a phrase from the marketing of cars. Then you can have a go at another advertising slogan.

The manufacturers of cars make a point of putting things like nice-looking radios and CD players in modern cars because they increase sales. In terms of enhancing the performance or safety of the car they are irrelevant, and compared with installing safety features and other important parts of a car they are not very expensive. But many people seem to be swayed to buy one car rather than another by these less important matters. In the trade, these sales gimmicks are often referred to as:

Tremendous trifles

This phrase is a very arresting and effective way of referring to the phenomena we have just been describing. Note how the first two consonants of each word alliterate (a kind of phonological parallelism, of course), tying the modifier and headword closely together conceptually. But the meaning relation between the two words is so opposed as to be paradoxical. So in this case the phonological parallelism underscores the semantic opposition, which of course is an example of linguistic deviation.

Now you have a go at the following advertising slogan for cream. After you have worked out what you think is happening, compare your account with ours:

Naughty but Nice

our answer

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