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Related to Emphasis: emphysema, emphasize, emphasise


A special importance or significance placed upon or imparted to an element or form by means of contrast or counterpoint; a sharpness or vividness of outline.



the marking, or singling out, of individual elements and shades of meaning of an utterance.

Emphasis can be achieved by various means. It is expressed primarily through emphatic stress, lengthening, and rising or falling intonation. For example, in the sentence la dúmaiu, chto on pridet (“I think that he will come”), the speaker’s certainty can be underscored by lowering the pitch on the word dumaiu (“think”); uncertainty can be conveyed by raising the pitch. Emphasis is often accompanied by a logical stress pattern, in which there is a rising pitch and a lengthening of the stressed vowel, as in Kto chital étu knigu? (“Who read this book?”).

Emphasis can also be expressed by a number of lexical-syntactic means: (1) The use of special emphatic auxiliary words—for example, la zhe vam govoril (“I did tell you”) and, in English, “I did see him.” This usage is sometimes referred to as the emphatic mood. (2) A departure from neutral word order (seeINVERSION). For example, compare la chital etu knigu (“I read this book”) with Knigu etu ai chital (“This book I read”). (3) The use of a special emphatic construction in which the rheme is stressed—for example, in French, C’est jean qui l’a fait (“John did it”). In Aramaic there is a special emphatic construction formed by a noun and a postpositive article, as opposed to the usual construction consisting of an article followed by a noun. (4) The use of anaphora and repetition—for example, khodil-khodil (“[he] walked and walked”) and den’-denskoi (“all day long”).

An emphatic effect in a formal, elevated style can be obtained through the use of the plural of mass nouns, as with sneg (“snow”) in Pod nim Kazbek, kak gran’ almaza,/Snegami vechnymi siial (“Under him Kazbek, like the facet of a diamond/Shines with eternal snows,” M. Iu. Lermontov).


Bally, C. Frantsuzskaia stilistika. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from French.)
Bloomfield, L. Iazyk. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from English.)


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