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Stylistics




1. Main Trends in Style Study.

2. Functional Stylistics and Functional Styles.

3. Forms and Types of the Language.

4. Stylistics of Artistic Speech.

5. Individual Style Study.

6. Decoding Stylistics.

7. Practical Stylistics.

8. Levels of Linguistic Analysis.

9. Foregrounding.

10. Aims of Stylistic Analysis.

The term stylistics originated from the Greek “stylos”, which means “a pen”. In the course of time it developed several meanings. Each of them is applied to a specific study of language elements and to their use in speech.

Any “idea” can be verbalized in several different ways:

“May I offer you a chair?”

“Take a seat, please.”

“Sit down.”

They differ in meaning of expression. The manner of expression, in its turn, depends upon the situational conditions of the communication act. Seventy % of our lifetime is spent in various forms of communication activity. They are oral (speaking and listening) and written (reading and writing).

It is important for a philologist to know the mechanics of relations between the non-verbal, extra linguistic denotational essence of the communicative act and its verbal, linguistic presentation. The French linguist Charles Bally claims that stylistics is primarily the study of synonymic language resources. Many linguists follow him. V.Mathesius, T.Vachek, J.Havranek and some other scientists are representatives of the well-known Prague school. They focused their attention on the priority of the situational appropriateness. They say that the choice of language varieties depends on the situation in which it functions adequately.

Thus, functional stylistics is an international and very important trend in style study. It deals with sets, “paradigms” of language units of all levels of language hierarchy. Paradigms serve to accommodate the needs of certain typified communicative situations. Those paradigms are known as functional styles of the language.

Academicians V.V.Vinogradov and I.R.Gulperin formulated the definition of the style of a language. I.R.Gulperinsays, that it is “a system of coordinated, interrelated and interconditioned language means intended to fulfill a specific function of communication and aiming at a definite effect”.

All scholars agree that a well-developed language, such as English, Ukrainian, Russian, is streamed into several functional styles. Though their classifications coincide only partially. Most style theoreticians consider the number of functional styles to be five. But they disagree about their nomenclature.

One of the widely accepted classifications singles out the following functional styles:

official - it is represented in all kinds of official documents and papers;



scientific - it is found in articles, brochures, monographs and other scientific academic publications;

publicist - it covers such genres as essays, feature articles public speeches etc.;

newspaper - it is observed in the majority of materials printed in newspapers;

belles-lettres - it embraces numerous and different genres of creative writing.

Only the first three are recognized in all stylistic treaties. The newspaper style is often regarded as part of the publicist style. The biggest controversy is flaming around the belles-lettres style.

Creative writing has unlimited possibilities, so some scholars consider that the belles-lettres style can hardly be qualified as a functional style. They say that creative writing makes use of all language resources. Others claim that the belles-lettres style fulfils the aesthetic function in each of its concrete representation. And so this fact singles this style out of others and it charges the belles-lettres style with the status of an autonomous functional style.

Each of the styles is exercised in two forms - written and oral. The two forms of the scientific style are an article and a lecture. News broadcast on the radio and TV and newspaper informational material are the examples of the newspaper style. An essay and a public speech - of the publicist style, etc.

The number of functional styles and the principles of their differentiation change with time. They reflect the state of the functioning language at a given period. Only recently most style classifications had included the so-called poetic style. It dealt with verbal forms specific for poetry. But now we do not distinguish an isolated linguistic position of poetry. Now it makes use of all the vocabulary and grammar at large. So there is hardly sense in singling out a special poetic style for the contemporary linguistic situation. Though its relevance for the language of the 17th, 18th, and even the 19th centuries cannot be argued.

Something similar can be said about oratoric style. In ancient Greece it was instrumental in creation of “Rhetoric”. Aristotel, its author, elaborated the basics of style study. The oratoric skill has lost its position in social and political life. Nowadays speeches are mostly written first, so they contain all the characteristic features of publicist writing.

All the above mentioned styles are specified within the literary type of the language. Their functioning is characterized by the intentional approach of the speaker. He chooses language means suitable for a particular communicative situation. The nature of such a situation is official, formal, preplanned.

The colloquial type of the language is characterized by the inofficiality, informality of the communicative situation. Sometimes the colloquial type of speech is called “the colloquial style”. In this case it is included into the classification of functional styles of the language. But there is a great difference between the literary and colloquial communication. The difference is as situational as linguistic. A style speech manifests a conscious, mindful effort in choosing and preferring certain means of expression. We choose them for the given communicative circumstances. Colloquial speech is shaped by the immediacy, it is not planned before. Alongside this consideration there is a strong tendency to treat colloquial speech as an individual language system. It includes its independent set of language units and rules of their connection.

Functional stylistics deals with all the subdivisions of the language, with all its possible usages. It is the most all-embracing “global” trend in style study. Specified stylistics, such as the scientific prose study, newspaper style study etc., may be considered elaborations of certain fields of functional stylistics.

A special place is occupied by the study of creative writing of the belles-lettres style. In it we deal with stylistic use of language resources. We study the way language elements carry not only the basic, logical information, but also additional information of various types. In this case we speak of the stylistics of artistic speech, or belles-lettres style study.

The attention of functional stylistics is focused on the message in its correlation with the communicative situation. The message is common ground for communicants in an act of communication. It is an indispensable element in the exchange of information between two participants of the communicative act - the addresser (the speaker, the writer) and the addressee (the listener, the reader). The center of attention of the individual style is the addresser’s viewpoint towards the choice of the most appropriate language means and their organization into message.



Individual style study puts emphasis on the study of an individual author’s style. It looks for correlation between the creative concepts of the author and the language of his work

The author’s stylistics may be named the stylistics of the encoder. The language is viewed as the code. It shapes the information into the message. The supplier of the information is the encoder. The addressee plays the part of the decoder of the information contained in the massage.

The problems connected with adequate decoding are the concern of decoding stylistics. (Adequate decoding is adequate reception of the message without any informational losses or deformations).

Practical stylistics is the stylistics which proceeds from the norms of language usage at a given period. It teaches these norms to language speakers, especially the ones who deal with the language professionally (editors, publishers, writers, journalists, and teachers).

Thus there can be observed several trends in style study. They depend on the approach and the final aim. Common to all of them are:

the necessity to learn what the language can offer in order to serve the innumerable communicative tasks and purposes of language users;

how various elements of the language participate in storing and transferring information;

which of these elements carries which type of information, etc.

To answer these questions it is necessary to investigate informational values and possibilities of language units. The best way to do it is to follow the structural hierarchy of language levels. This was suggested by a well-known Belgian linguist E.Benveniste in 1962. It is accepted by most scholars today as the basis for further elaboration and development. Benveniste’s scheme of analysis is: from the level of the phoneme - through the level of the morpheme - and the level of the word - to the level of the sentence.

The resources of each language level become evident in action, i.e. in speech. So the attention of the learners is drawn to the behavior of each language element in functioning, to its aptitude to convey various kinds of information.

A verbal element is able to obtain extra significance. It says more in a definite context. This ability was called by Prague linguists foregrounding. A word (affix, sentence) through context developments obtain some new, additional features. This act resembles a background phenomenon moving into the front line - foregrounding. A contextually foregrounded element carries more information than when taken in isolation. In context it is loaded with basic information belonging to it. And at the same time it is loaded with acquired, adherent, additional information. So a sentence means always more than the sum total of the meanings of its component words. A text means more than the sum of its sentences.

Stylistic analysis involves finding the foregrounded element. It deals with the chemistry of contextual changes of the elements. These changes are brought about by the intentional, planned operations of the addresser, i.e. by the conscious stylistic use of the language.

Particular difficulties of stylistic analysis for foreign language students:

linguistic intuition of a native speaker does not work in case of foreign learners;

inadequate language command;

the understanding of each separate component of the massage should be the main condition of satisfactory work with the massage as a whole, of getting down to the core and essence of its meaning.






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