Trope, also Tropus, is a conception of stylistic means in which what is said differs from what is said. The trope is thus a figure which does not directly name the meaning (eg, camel) with the actual word, but chooses an embellishing concept (for example, a desert ship) in order to decorate the language, make it appear more lively, or make it more vivid. Thus all the stylistic figures, which do not directly name what is meant, belong to the tropics. Among the most common tropes are allegory, euphemism, irony, metaphor, personification and synekdoche.
The terminology can be derived from the ancient Greek noun tropé (τροπή) and translated with the phrase. The tropics belong to the semantic figures, which distinguish them from other stylistic figures which arise due to the sounds (phonological figures, eg Assonance) or by a special position in the sentence (syntactic figures, eg parallelism). Let’s look at some examples:
Let’s have a glass of drink!
In the above example, the term glass is used as a substitute for the beverage that could be present in it. In fact, one goes to drink a liquid and not the glass. Consequently, what is said (vessel) deviates from what is meant (contents). This would be a stylistic figure, which is considered a trope.
In this case, this is a synekdoche. Synekdoche is a figure in which what is said is either a part of what is meant or the whole is said, although only a part of it is meant. The glass can be considered as part of all drinking vessels. Furthermore, a metonymy can be seen. In the case of metonymy, the intended word is replaced by another which is in a real relation to what is meant (a vessel for the content). Metonymy and Synekdoche belong to the tropics.
Peter balances several coffee cups. Suddenly they fall to the ground.
“Great!” Anne calls out, his boss.
The above example can be identified as irony. This is due to the fact that the boss says something to Peter, which means the exact opposite of it. As a result, what is said here also deviates from what is meant, whereby the irony belongs to the tropics. The same goes for the sarcasm, if ironically formulated, which can also mockingly say exactly what it means.
Note: At first glance, the metonymy (or synekdoche) in the first example has little in common with the irony in the second example. What unites them, however, and what is therefore a common feature is the fact that both figures express something, although something else is meant. This feature draws tropes, which is why all figures of this type are among them.
Limit-shifting straps and jumptrops
The presented types of the trope can be subdivided further into limit-shifting straps and jumptrops. These terms refer to the relationship between what is said and what is said.
Transversal shifting tropes are tropes, in which what is said is very close to the content. If someone says that he is holy, that he has a roof over his head in this day, it is a synekdoche. It is therefore a Synekdoche, because the roof is part of the house and is thus a part for the whole. The terms “roof” and “house” come from a similar range of contents, which is why the whole is a kind of the boundary shifting problem. This is typical for metonymy and synekdoche.
Jumptrops are tropes, in which what is said belongs to a completely different content area than what is meant. When a footballer thunders a ball into the gate, the verb thunder is a metaphor for very powerful shooting. The areas of Ballsport and Wetter are however far away from each other in terms of content – that’s why they talk about jumping trots. Typically, this is especially for metaphors.
Short overview: The most important part of the term at a glance
Trope is a group of rhetorical stylistic means. As a result, the Trope itself is not a stylistic figure, but a collection concept for different figures. Tropics are figures that say something different than they actually mean. What is meant and what is said thus differ from one another.
The effect achieved by this is, in most cases, a greater variety in the language, the embellishment of what has been said, whereby the language appears much more lively or becomes more tangible and tangible for the recipient (listener, reader).