There are two types of irony: verbal irony and sustained irony. In the stylistic devise of verbal irony it is always possible to indicate the exact word whose contextual meaning diametrically opposes its dictionary meaning. And we deal with sustained irony when it is not possible to indicate such exact word and the effect of irony is created by number of statements by the whole text. This type of irony is formed by the contradiction of the speaker's (writer's) considerations and the generally accepted moral and ethical codes.
Antonomasia is a lexical stylistic device in which a proper name is used instead of a common noun or vice versa. Logical meaning serves to denote concepts and thus to classify individual objects into groups (classes). The nominal meaning of a proper name is suppressed by its logical meaning and acquires the new - nominal - component. Nominal meaning has no classifying power for it applies to one single individual object with the aim not of classifying it constituting a definite group, but, on the contrary with the aim of singling it out of the group of similar objects, of individualizing one particular object. The word "Mary" does not indicate if the denoted object refers to the class of women, girls, boats, cats, etc. But in example: "He took little satisfaction in telling each Mary, something…" the attribute "each", used with the name, turns it into a common noun denoting any woman. Here we deal with a case of antonomasia of the first type.
Another type of antonomasia we meet when a common noun is still clearly perceived as a proper name. So, no speaker of English today has it in his mind that such popular English surnames as Mr.Smith or Mr.Brown used to mean occupation and the color. While such names as Mr.Snake or Mr.Backbite immediately raise associations with certain human qualities due to the denotational meaning of the words "snake" and "backbite".
Antonomasia is created mainly by nouns, more seldom by attributive combinations (as in "Dr.Fresh Air") or phrases (as in "Mr.What's-his-name').
Epithet is a lexical stylistic device that relies on the foregrounding of the emotive meaning. The emotive meaning of the word is foregrounded to suppress the denotational meaning of the latter. The characteristic attached to the object to qualify it is always chosen by the speaker himself. Epithet gives opportunities of qualifying every object from subjective viewpoint, which is indispensable in creative prose, publicist style and everyday speech.
Like metaphor, metonymy and simile epithets are also based on similarity between two objects, on nearness of the qualified objects and on their comparison.
Through long and repeated use epithets become fixed. Many fixed epithets are closely connected with folklore. First fixed epithets were found in Homer's poetry (e.g. "swift-footed Achilles").
Semantically, there should be differentiated two main groups. The biggest one is affective epithets. These epithets serve to convey the emotional evaluation of the object by the speaker. Most of qualifying words found in the dictionary can be and are used as affective epithets. The second group - figurative epithets. The group is formed of metaphors, metonymies and similes and expressed predominantly by adjectives (e.g. "the smiling sun", "the frowning cloud"), qualitative adverbs (e.g. "his triumphant look"), or rarely by nouns in exclamatory sentences (e.g. "You, ostrich!") and postpositive attributes (e.g. "Richard of the Lion Heart").
Two-step epithets are so called because the process of qualifying passes two stages: the qualification of the object and the qualification of the qualification itself, as in "an unnaturally mild day". Two-step epithets have a fixed structure of Adv+Adj model.
Phrase-epithets always produce an original impression (e.g. "shutters-coming-off-the-shops early morning"). Their originality proceeds from rare repetitions. Phrase-epithet is semantically self-sufficient word combination or even a whole sentence which loses some of its independence and self-sufficiency, becoming a member of another sentence.
Hyperbole and understatement
Hyperbole is a lexical stylistic device in which emphasis is achieved through deliberate exaggeration.
Hyperbole is one of the common expressive means of our everyday speech (e.g. "I have told it to you a thousand times"). Due to long and repeated use hyperboles have lost their originality.
Hyperbole can be expressed by all notional parts of speech.
It is important that both communicants should clearly perceive that the exaggeration serves not to denote actual quality or quantity but signals the emotional background of the utterance. If this reciprocal understanding is absent, hyperbole turns into a mere lie.
Hyperbole is aimed at exaggerating quantity or quality. When it is directed the opposite way, when the size, shape, dimensions, characteristic features of the object are not overrated, but intentionally underrated, we deal with understatement. English is well known for its preference for understatement in everyday speech. "I am rather annoyed" instead of "I'm infuriated', "The wind is rather strong" instead of "There's a gale blowing outside" are typical of British polite speech, but are less characteristic of American English.
Oxymoron is lexical stylistic device the syntactic and semantic structures of which come to clashes (e.g. "cold fire", "brawling love").
The most widely known structure of oxymoron is attributive. But there are also others, in which verbs are employed. Such verbal structures as "to shout mutely" or "to cry silently" are used to strengthen the idea.
Oxymoron may be considered as a specific type of epithet.
Originality and specificity of oxymoron becomes especially evident in non-attributive structures which also (not infrequently) are used to express semantic contradiction as in "the street was damaged by improvements", "silence was louder than thunder".
Oxymorons rarely become trite, for their components, linked forcibly, repulse each other and oppose repeated use. There are few colloquial oxymorons, all of them show a high degree of the speaker's emotional involvement in the situation, as in "awfully pretty".
1. Y.M.Skrebnev. Fundamentals of English Stylistics. M. V.Sh. 1994
2. I.R.Galperin. Stylistics. M. V.Sh. 1981
3. V.A.Kukharenko. A Book of Practice in Stylistics. M. V.Sh. 1986