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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Rhetorical Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0211  Tuesday, 30 January 2001

From:           Werner Broennimann <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Jan 2001 11:29:39 +0000
Subject:        Rhetorical Question

John Robinson writes: "The original question was of a specific
application of a concrete noun "tower" say combined with the
prepositional phrase "of strength" with strength being an abstract
quality. This is a question of structure, not intent or context as with

If I understand him correctly, John is trying to discuss examples like
"words of woe" or "kingdom of glory" primarily as figures, not so much
as tropes, and would like to find an appropriate label from classical
rhetoric for the phenomenon.  One reason for the difficulty of this
quest may reside in the analytical nature of Greek and Latin grammar and
the synthetic one of English: there is no "of" in Greek or Latin
genitives.  "Words of woe" could only be a composite: "woe words", which
does sound a bit like from the Odyssey, or "woeful words", and "kingdom
of glory" would be "glory's kingdom".  In the classical languages the
examples given would therefore not fit into one specific figural
structure.  But for a discussion of the figure in English I can only
repeat that Christine Brooke-Rose's substantial chapter on the genitive
link in "The Grammar of Metaphor" is the best place to start.


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