The Parataxe is a stylistic device. The Parataxe describes a juxtaposition of independent sentences, that is, principal sentences. These can be linked by commas, semicolons, dashes, or conjunctions (see sentence series) or separated by a period. It is important that this sequence is not interrupted by secondary sentences, ie subordinate sentences. In addition, the ranking of words and groups of words can also be considered as paratactic. A paratactic text can be short, strong or absolute. The counterpart is the hypotaxis.
The word Parataxe derives from the Greek (Greek παράταξις parátaxis) and means something like the order, the secondary order, the coordination or the other side, which is a very good idea of the actual character of the parataxes. Namely, when we consider the theorems which form a parataxy as juxtaposed and equivalent parts, which appear together.
The counterpart to the Parataxe is the hypotaxy, which already reveals the antithesis in the actual word-sense, for the hypothesis hypo means in Greek, and states that numerous additions subordinate themselves to the main theorem, and are increasingly interlaced.
Parataxes are mainly found in popular poetry, since these often do without subjunctive conjunctions and represent facts without explanation. This means that we rarely find words such as, for example, those that would typically initiate a subordinate clause and would equally explain the main sentence. The consequence is a paratactic sentence structure.
Furthermore, we find numerous examples of the use of parataxes in the prosastile of expressionism, since here individual words are often solved from the “chaos of language” and simply named, whereby they acquire a enumerating character and are thus recognized as parataxes can.
Note: However, the Parataxe can not be moved into a certain genre or literaturepoche, and we find in many texts a paratactic sentence structure. Even if authors such as Franz Kafka, Theodor Fontane, or texts of Expressionism increasingly use the Parataxes as a stylistic figure, Thomas Mann is rather “well-known” for the hypothetical sentence structure.
Essential to the Parataxe
The parataxis can be recognized by an accumulation of main sentences (but also words and groups of words), the counterpart being the hypotaxes.
These main sentences are separated by conjunctions like and, or, but or by punctuation marks such as comma, dash, semicolon or a point
Thus, texts are often given an enumeration character and have an absolute effect, since statements are accepted and are less questioned by the text itself (for example, theological writings such as the Bible or the Koran).
Examples of parataxes
Finally, let us take a look at three extracts to illustrate the use of the Parataxes by means of some examples. The first is an excerpt from “The Agate Balls” by Kasimir Edschmid, and you can find additional explanations under the examples.
1. Parataxe example
Toward evening the horse was lame. Baptiste descended, massaged the leg. The Marquis rose. He rode twice in the circle, then chased back in his own tracks. Toward evening they came to the hill, later through the village. The sun went down. To the left lay the summer castle. They rode directly to it. The bright arches of the fountains gently rose over the walls. From the one-storey front the many windows were lowered to the ground. The gravel paths, laid out for the tenderness of women’s thighs, lay dreamily in the glow of the southern evening. The Marquis ordered Baptiste to advance. He rode in the stirrups, the wall was high.
The excerpt reveals the classical use of the Parataxes and, above all, the coloring, this becomes clear. In this case, main sets appear orange and minor sets blue.
The ratio in this example is, however, 15 to 3 (5: 1), which means that in 18 sets only 3 minor sentences and a full set of 15 main sets are available. The paratactic sentence structure is consequently ubiquitous and determines Edschmid’s text.
2. Parataxe example
But religious or theological writings are often characterized by a paratactic sentence structure, which is illustrated by the example of the Bible (Genesis).
In the beginning God created heaven and earth. And the earth was desolate, and empty, and darkness was upon the deep; and the Spirit of God hovered on the water. And God said, Let there be light. And there was light.
Here, the relationship between main and minor theorems is even more obvious, since the famous entry into the Old Testament can be done without any side-effects.
The reader is therefore presented with a reality that is not to be questioned