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The stylistic functions of the article

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default The stylistic functions of the article

Post by sahakyan on Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:07 pm

The problem of the article in English is one of the most complicated. There is no single opinion about the functions and the nature of he article. Thus, it was stated that there is the category of definite/indefinite in English. Commonly it is expressed by the articles. There is a connection between the noun and the article. This connection defines the meaning of the noun.
Articles play great stylistical role in the sentence. It is realized by two possible means: either by the violation of the combinativity of the morphemes in the word or by violation of the common usage of the forms of noun in the sentence.
Let us consider the first case.
As it is known, the proper names are used without the article in English. But there some cases when both definite and indefinite articles can be used with proper names.
The definite article can be used:
• with the surnames in plural,
e.g. The Hardys were rather late. (S. Maugham)
• with the proper names in singular to define the quality of the person,
e.g. He was too proud to creep back to the treacherous Clare (J. Cary); You are not the Andrew Manson I married (A. Cronin); Miss Lemon, the efficient Miss Lemon, had let him down(A. Christie).
• with the surnames to define the person mentioned is a celebrity,
e.g. «Know my partner?»
«Old Robinson»
«Yes, the Robinson»
«Don’t you know?»
«The notorious Robinson» (J. Conrad)

The indefinite article can also be used with the proper names:
• when the person discussed is unknown to the speaker,
e.g. He said: «You have not then had a Captain Curtis staying here?» (A. Christie) When the door of the pub had closed behind him the woman said: «I know a Tommy Flynn». (S. Barstow).
• when we use the surnames and mean the texts, pictures, pieces of music written by the person,
e.g. «Have you a Rosetti?» I asked. (The pictures of Rosetti are meant).
• when the estimation is implied,
e.g. I do not claim to be a Caruso. (I don’t think I sing as perfect as Caruso does).
• when the negative or positive attitude is implied,
e.g. I will never marry a Malone or a Sykes — and no one else will marry me. (Sh. Bronte).
If I were a sculptor[...] I should choose Mr. Neil Gibson as my model. His tall, gaunt, craggy figure had suggestion of hunger and rapacity. An Abraham Lincoln keyed to base uses instead of high ones would give some idea of the man. (A. Conan Doyle).
• with the surnames to imply the relation to the famous family. The estimation component plays a great role here. Usually it is meant that the person discussed has some typical features of the famous family,
e.g. Elisabeth was a Tudor.
• in the ironical context,
e.g. She was a Dodson. (J. Elliot) This surname sound unaristocraticaly, and usage with the indefinite article creates the typical for the satire disharmony.
The usage of the articles with the common names also has some stylistical functions.
The definite article is used with common names:
• while organizing the metaphors
e.g. I will o’ertake thee, Cleopatra,
And weep for my pardon. So it must be, for now
All length is torture! since the torch is out.
(W. Shakespeare)
The definite article used with the word «torch» defines the connection of the word with the context.
• In the attributive phrases with the several dependent homogeneous parts of the sentence , they are usually having only one article before the first homogeneous part. However, the second may also possess an article,
e.g. Under the low sky the grass shone with a brilliant, an almost artificial sheen. (C.P.Snow) The appearance of the second article stresses the importance of the word it is related to.
Sometimes the nouns that are commonly used with the definite article can be used with the indefinite one and as a result of it they get the meaning «one of the possible»,
e.g. A moon was up, had severed all connection with the chimney pots of distant houses (A. Sillitoe).
Either they can be used with zero article,
e.g. A gleam of sun had come, sharpening to his hurrying senses all the beauty of the afternoon. (J. Galsworthy)

The effect of the repeating the article can determine the growing of the narrative importance of the sentence,
e.g. It began to rain slowly and heavily and drenchingly... and her thoughts went down the lane toward the field, the hedge, the trees - oak, beech, elm. (Gr. Greene).
In this case the interchange of the words with and without article either slows the tempo of the narrative, or makes it faster.
Sometimes the rule of the usage the indefinite article with the objects first mentioned is violated. The things can be represented as already known to the listener or reader. Let us compare the extract from J. Galsworthy’s novel «The Man of Property» and E.Hemingway’s «In Another Country».
e.g. There lived a mistress who would have dwelt daintily on a desert island, a master whose daintiness was, as it were, an investment, cultivated by the owner for his advancement, in accordance with the laws of competition». (J. Galsworthy).
In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets looking in the windows. (E.Hemingway)
As we see, J. Galsworthy has the traditional manner of introducing the objects by the nouns with the indefinite article. E.Hemingway, on the contrary, uses definite articles. Due to this he reaches vividness, emotion tension of the narrative.
The usage of the articles depends also on the functional style of the text. Thus, in the advertisements published in the news- papers all the articles are omitted. It helps to create the telegram-like style,
e.g. Trained nurse with child 2 years seeks post London preferred.
The articles are also omitted in the titles of the news-paper’s articles,
e.g. Blaze Kills 15 at Party.
Thus, we can define the main points concerning the usage of the articles. The usage of the articles in English depends on:
• emotional message of the narrative (positive or negative);
• functional style of the narrative;
• metaphorical usage of the word.

Let us regard some more examples taken from the play of Beth Henley «Crimes of the heart».
• I could hardly be blamed for all the skeletons of the MaGraths.
The definite article is used here with the surname in plural in order to indicate the negative attitude of the speaker towards the family mentioned.
• Happy Birthday to Lenny, from the Buck Boyles!
Here the definite article is to indicate the brand of the cookies produced by Buck Boyles.
• But one of 'em, a Charlie Hill from Memphis, Tennessee, he calls her.
The indefinite article here indicates that the person discussed is unknown to the speaker.
• She is refusing to cooperate with her lawyer, the nice-looking young Lloyd .
The definite article here is used to define the quality of the person, thus, the estimation is implied.


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