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Cups AND gold?

Posted by R. Berg on July 31, 2005

In Reply to: Re: What is the question? posted by Smokey Stover on July 31, 2005

: : : What is the nname of the literary device that would describe phrases such as "hoops of steel," "cup of gold," etc.?

: : If a hoop of steel is described as a hoop of steel, there's no litereary device at all. What is your question?

: Bob is right. Perhaps you need to know why "hoop of steel" when one can say "steel hoop," "cup of gold" instead of "gold cup." English, like most other languages, provides alternate ways of saying the same thing. In this case, "of steel" is a prepositional phrase (phrase starting with a preposition) used like an adjective, to modify "hoop." The alternative, "steel hoop," uses the adjective directly, in attributive position. Same meaning, both grammatically correct. No "device," no funny businses, just straightforward English. So why bother? The author likes the sound of the phrases with the adjectives trailing, especially "cup of gold." It sounds more archaic, perhaps suggestive of a fairy-tale milieu. He likes it for stylistic reasons. SS

Maybe the questioner is thinking of "cups and gold," a commonly cited example of hendiadys. See link below.