Adynaton

Adynaton is a rhetorical stylistic device, which can be found in texts of every literary genre. The Adynaton is a statement which refers to the impossibility of a state of affairs in order to show that something will not happen under any circumstances. The adynaton has a reinforcing effect and is related to the hyperbola.

Term
The term is derived from the Greek ἀδύνατος / ον (adynatos / on), which is impossible to translate. Thus the translation of the stylistic figure shows us what is at stake: an impossible fact [which is cited to indirectly express that something does not happen under any circumstances]. Let us look at an example to illustrate the stylistic figure.

I pay the money back when my cat speaks her first word.
In the example above, it is said that one owes its debts when one’s own cat has learned to speak. This circumstance is very unlikely, even impossible. As a result, the speaker says in the example that he will never pay back the money.

The Adynaton thus introduces an event as a surprise motif that stands in clear contrast to a natural law, the order of the world, or assured custom. Adynata have been used as a stylistic tool in antiquity, to assert that a certain event will never occur.

Rather, fast deer will be fed in the sky and the seas will leave the fish naked on the beach, rather the Parther will drink from the Saone or the Germans from the Tigris, after he has left his territory and passed through the other; than his countenance disappears from our hearts. (Vergil, Bucolica I 59-63)

This passage originates from the Latin poet Virgil and lays several Adynata together. We are presented with three possibilities that are unlikely or even impossible (flying deer, a sea that leaves the fish in the lurch and a spatial impossibility), but are much more likely than his face (face) is no longer in ours Heart.

Note: Adynaton is therefore always a comparison with the impossible, in order to reaffirm its own statement and to present it indirectly as correct or probable. Due to the enormous linguistic image, Adynata can have a reinforcing effect and are memorable for the recipient (reader, listener).

Effect and function of Adynata
In principle it is difficult to assign a uniform function or effect to a rhetorical style figure. Then we run the risk of not checking whether this is the case. Nevertheless we would like to give some hints.

Overview: Meaning, effect and function of adynatons
Adynata thinks of leading up to impossible examples (white ravens, flying fish, water flowing uphill, etc.), so as to assert that a certain event will never occur (infidelity among married couples, the return of a son who is killed for murder) his brother is fleeting, etc.). The examples used are frequently oxymoranes.
Thus the adynaton acts absolutely, amplifying and definite; it is never the representation of the word. The effect can therefore be strengthened because the linguistic image that is created leads the reader (the reader, the listener) in front of the viewer.
Thus, the stylistic figure is related to the periphrase. As a periphrase, the expression of an expression is designated, which is not named directly, but is described by virtue of its characteristics, activities or effects. Adynaton calls the impossible characteristics of things and thus never or never describes the words.
The stylistic means is not limited to literary works or rhetoric, but is primarily used in the language of conversation and the use of words to express the impossibility (examples: “When pigs can fly” or “When Easter and Christmas fall to one day “.)

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