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Linguo-stylistics as a linguistic discipline

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default Linguo-stylistics as a linguistic discipline

Post by log on Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:26 pm

Lecture 1: Linguo-stylistics as a linguistic discipline
1. The object of the discipline. The main objectives of the course.
2. Expressive means and stylistic devices.
3. Varieties of language.
4. Types of Meaning.
1. The object of the discipline. The main objectives of the course.
Stylistics, sometimes called linguostylistics, is a branch of general linguistics. It deals mainly with two interdependent tasks: a) the investigation of the inventory of special language media which by their ontological features secure the desirable effect of the utterance and b) certain types of texts (discourse) which due to the choice and arrangement of language means are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication.
The types of texts that are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication are called Functional styles of language (FS); the special media of language which secure the desirable effect of the utterance are called stylistic devices (SD) and expressive means (EM).
The first field, i.e. functional styles discusses such most general linguistic issues as oral and written varieties of language, the notion of the literary (standard) language, the constituents of texts larger than the sentence, the generative aspect of literary texts, and some others. FSs should be distinguished from varieties of language. The main difference is that the written and oral varieties of language are merely forms of communication which depend on the situation in which the communication is maintained, i.e. on the presence or absence of an interlocutor, whereas FSs are patterns of the written variety of language calculated to secure the desired purport of the communication.
The second field of investigation, i.e. SDs and EMs touches upon such general language problems as the aesthetic function of language, synonymous ways of rendering one and the same idea, emotional colouring in language, the interrelation between language and thought, the individual manner of an author in making use of language and a number of other issues.
In dealing with the objectives of stylistics, certain pronouncements of adjacent disciplines such as theory of information, literature, psychology, logic and to some extent statistics must be touched upon. This is indispensable; for nowadays no science is entirely isolated from other domains of human knowledge; and linguistics, particularly its branch stylistics, cannot avoid references to the above mentioned disciplines because it is confronted with certain overlapping issues.
We have defined the object of linguostylistics as the study of the nature, functions and structure of SDs and EMs, on the one hand, and the study of the functional styles, on the other.
A functional style of language is a system of interrelated language means which serves a definite aim in communication. A functional style is thus to be regarded as the product of a certain concrete task set by the sender of the message. Functional styles appear mainly in the literary standard of a language.
The literary standard of the English language, like that of any other developed language, is not so homogeneous, as it may seem. In fact the standard English literary language in the course of its development has fallen into several subsystems each of which has acquired its own peculiarities which are typical of the given functional style.
2. In linguistics there are different terms to denote particular means by which utterances are foregrounded, i.e. made more conspicuous, more effective and therefore imparting some additional information. They are called expressive means, stylistic means, stylistic markers, stylistic devices, tropes, figures of speech and other names.
The expressive means of a language are those phonetic, morphological, word-building, lexical, phraseological and syntactical forms which exist in language-as-a-system for the purpose of logical and/or emotional intensification of the utterance. These intensifying forms have been singled out in grammars, courses in phonetics and dictionaries as having special functions in making the utterances emphatic. In most cases they have corresponding neutral synonymous forms. Compare, for example, the following pairs:
Isn't she cute! = She is very nice, isn't she?
The most powerful expressive means of any language are phonetic. The human voice can indicate subtle nuances of meaning that no other means can attain. Pitch, melody, stress, pausation, drawling out certain syllables, whispering, a sing-song manner and other ways of using the voice are much more effective than any other means in intensifying an utterance emotionally or logically. Among the word - building means we find the diminutive suffixes -y (-ie), -let, e.g. 'dearie', 'sonny', 'auntie', 'streamlet’, add some emotional colouring to the words. We may also refer to what are called neologisms and nonce-words formed with non-productive suffixes.
At the lexical level there are a great many words which due to their inner expressiveness constitute a special layer. There are words with emotive meaning only (interjections), words which have both referential and emotive meaning (epithets), words which still retain a twofold meaning: denotative and connotative (love, hate, sympathy), words belonging to the layers of slang and vulgar words, or to poetic or archaic layers. The expressive power of these words cannot be doubted, especially when they are compared with the neutral vocabulary.
All kinds of set phrases (phraseological units) generally possess the property of expressiveness. Set phrases, catch words, proverbs, sayings comprise a considerable number of language units which serve to make speech emphatic, mainly from the emotional point of view.
It must be noted here that due to the generally emotional character of colloquial language, all kinds of set expressions are natural in everyday speech. They are, as it were, part and parcel of this form of human intercourse. But when they appear in written texts their expressiveness comes to the fore. The set expression is more sparingly used in written texts. In everyday speech one can often hear such phrases as: "Well, it will only add fuel to the fire" and the like, which in fact is synonymous to the neutral: "It will only make the situation worse."
Finally, at the syntactical level there are many constructions which, when set against synonymous neutral ones, will reveal a certain degree of logical or emotional emphasis.
In order to be able to distinguish between expressive means and stylistic devices, it is necessary to bear in mind that expressive means are concrete facts of language. They are studied in the respective language manuals.
Stylistics studies the expressive means of language, but from a special angle. It takes into account the modifications of meanings which various expressive means undergo when they are used in different functional styles. Expressive means have a kind of radiating effect. They noticeably colour the whole of the utterance no matter whether they are logical or emotional.
Stylistic device is a conscious and intentional intensification of some typical structural and/or semantic property of a language unit (neutral or expressive) promoted to a generalized status and thus becoming a generative model. They are spontaneous things done every time for the definite situation. Having been born in the Language-in-action, they belong to the Language-as-a-system.
SDs function in texts as marked units. They always carry some kind of additional information, either emotive or logical.
Most SDs display an application of two meanings: the ordinary one, in other words, the meaning (lexical or structural) which has already been established in the language-as-a-system, and special meaning which is superimposed on the unit by the text, i.e. a meaning which appears in the language-in-action.
The contrast which the author of the passage quoted points to, can not always be clearly observed. In some SDs it can be grasped immediately in others it requires a keen eye and sufficient training to detect it.
EMs have a greater degree of predictability than stylistic devices. The latter may appear in an environment which may seem alien and therefore be only slightly or not at all predictable. Expressive means, on the contrary, follow the natural course of thought, intensifying it by means commonly used in language. It follows that SDs carry a greater amount of information and therefore require a certain effort to decode their meaning and purport. SDs must be regarded as a special code which has to be well known to the reader in order to be deciphered easily.
SDs are abundantly used in poetry and especially so in some trends of poetical tradition, consequently retarding mental absorption of the content.
Therefore it is necessary to distinguish between a stylistic use of a language unit, which acquires what we call a stylistic meaning, and a stylistic device, which is the realization of an already well-known abstract scheme designed to achieve a particular artistic effect. Thus many facts of English grammar are said to be used with stylistic meaning. But most of them have not yet been raised to the level of SDs because they remain unsystematized and so far perceived as nonce uses. They are still wandering in the vicinity of the realm of SDs without being admitted into it. This can indirectly be proved by the fact that they have no special name in the English language system of SDs.
Works of fiction and other texts are the examples of individual speech, given in direct observation. For describing and revealing the peculiarities of the text by comparison with other texts of the given language, it’s necessary to establish some terms for comparison. These terms are the system of the given language in general and its norm. Norm is not only neutral literary standard, but also FS and dialects. The system of the language and its norm are not given to us in direct observation and are revealed by the way of abstraction. We can describe the system of a language as an abstract model, the norm – as a static model and individual speech as an empirically observable material, which for stylistics is presented in a work of speech – text. It should be borne in mind that at the norm level a word gets a stylistic colouring and at the level of individual speech it gets and does some stylistic function.
3. Varieties of language.
The functioning of the literary language in various spheres of human activity and with different aims of communication has resulted in its differentiation. This differentiation is predetermined by two distinct factors, namely, the actual situation in which the language is being used and the aim of the communication.
The actual situation of the communication has evolved two varieties of language—the spoken and the written. The varying aims of the communication have caused the literary language to fall into a number of self-sufficient systems (functional styles of language).
Of the two varieties of language, diachronically the spoken is primary and the written is secondary. Each of these varieties has developed its own features and qualities which in many ways may be regarded as opposed to each other.
The situation in which the spoken variety of language is used and in which it develops, can be described concisely as the presence of an interlocutor. The written variety, on the contrary, presupposes the absence of an interlocutor. The spoken language is maintained in the form of a dialogue, the written in the form of a monologue. The spoken language has a considerable advantage over the written, in that the human voice comes into play. This is a powerful means of modulating the utterance, as are all kinds of gestures, which, together with the intonation, give additional information.
The written language has to seek means to compensate for what it lacks. Therefore the written utterance will inevitably be more diffuse, more explanatory. In other words, it has to produce an enlarged representation of the communication in order to be explicit enough.
The written variety of language has a careful organization and deliberate choice of words and constructions.
In the process of its functioning, the written language has acquired its own characteristic features emanating from the need to amplify the utterance.
* The use of the peculiarities of the spoken variety in the written language, or vice versa, the peculiarities of the written language in lively speech, will always produce a ludicrous effect.
In the belles-lettres style, for example, there may appear elements of colloquial language (a form of the spoken variety), but it will always be stylized to a greater or lesser degree by the writer. The spoken language by its very nature is spontaneous, momentary, fleeting. It vanishes after fulfilled its purpose, which is to communicate a thought. The idea remains, the language dissolves in it. The written language, on the contrary, lives, together with the idea it expresses.
The spoken language cannot be detached from the user of it, the speaker, who is unable to view it from the outside. The written language, on the contrary, can be detached from the writer, enabling him to look upon his utterance objectively and giving him the opportunity to correct and improve what has been put on paper. That is why it is said that the written language bears a greater volume of responsibility than its spoken counterpart.
The spoken variety differs from the written language (that is, in its written representation) phonetically, morphologically, lexically and syntactically. Thus, of morphological forms the spoken language commonly uses contracted forms, as 'he'd' (he would), 'she's' (she is).
These morphological and phonetic peculiarities are sometimes regarded as violations of grammar rules caused by a certain carelessness which accompanies the quick tempo of colloquial speech or an excited state of mind. Others are typical of territorial or social dialects. The following passage is illustrative in this respect:
"Mum, I've asked a young lady to come to tea tomorrow. Is that all right?"
"You done what?" asked Mrs. Sunbury, for a moment forgetting her grammar.
"You heard, mum." (Maugham)
Some of these improprieties are now recognized as being legitimate forms of colloquial English. Thus, Prof. H. Whitehall of Indiana University now admits that "Colloquial spoken English often uses them as the plural form of this and that, written English uses these and those. “Them men have arrived'."
The most striking difference between the spoken and written language is in the vocabulary used. There are words and phrases typically colloquial on the one hand and typically bookish, on the other.
The spoken language makes ample use of intensifying words: interjections and words with strong emotive meaning, as oaths, swear-words and alike.
Another feature of colloquial language is the insertion into the utterance of words without any meaning, called “fill-ups”, “time fillers” or empty words.
The syntactical peculiarities of the spoken language are the omission of parts of the utterance easily understood from the situation; the tendency to use the direct word-order in questions or omit the auxiliary verb, using the intonation to show the meaning; unfinished sentences; a string of sentences without any connections or linked with and mostly.
The syntactical peculiarities of the written language are the abundance of all kinds of conjunctions, adverbial phrases and other connections; use of complicated sentence-units.
The spoken variety of language is far more emotional due mainly to the advantages of the human voice.
4. Types of Meaning
Three types of meaning can be distinguished: logical, emotive and nominal.
Logical meaning is the precise naming of a feature of the idea, phenomenon or object, the name by which we recognize the whole of the concept. This meaning is also synonymously called referential meaning or direct meaning. Referential meanings are liable to change. As a result the referential meanings of one word may denote different concepts. It is therefore necessary to distinguish between primary and secondary referential, or logical, meaning.
Thus, the noun table has the primary logical meaning of ' a piece of furniture'. Its secondary logical meanings are: 'a course of meal, which are to some extent derived from the primary meaning-such meanings are therefore also called derivative meanings. Some dictionaries give a very extended list of primary and secondary logical meanings, and it is essential for stylistic purposes to distinguish them, as some stylistic devices are built on the interplay of primary and secondary logical meanings.
All the meanings fixed by authoritative English and American dictionaries comprise what is called the semantic structure of the word. The meanings that are to be found in speech or writing and which are accidental should not be regarded as components of the semantic structure of the word. They may be transitory, inasmuch as they depend on the context. They are contextual meanings.
When the two meanings clearly co-exist in the utterance, we say there is an interaction of dictionary and contextual meanings. When only one meaning is perceived by the reader, we are sure to find this meaning in dictionaries as a derivative one.
Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether there is a simultaneous materialization of two dictionary logical meanings or an interplay of a dictionary and a contextual meaning.
Emotive meaning also materializes a concept in the word, but, unlike logical meaning, emotive meaning has reference not directly to things or phenomena of objective reality, but to the feelings and emotions of the speaker towards these things or to his emotions as such. Therefore the emotive meaning bears reference to things, phenomena or ideas through a kind of evaluation of them. Тупой как стол – перенос его качеств – прямоугольный, твердолобый- на человека.
Many words acquire an emotive meaning only in a definite context. In that case we say that the word has contextual emotive meaning.
In the vocabulary of almost any European language there are words which are undoubtedly bearers of emotive meaning. These are interjections, oaths or swear-words, exclamatory words (variants of interjections) and a great number of qualitative or intensifying adjectives some of which have already been mentioned. The emotive meaning of some of these classes of words is so strong that it suppresses the co-existing logical meaning, as, for example, in stunning and smart.
Other classes of words with emotive meaning have entirely lost their logical meaning and function in the language as interjections. Such words as alas, oh, ah, pooh, darn, gosh and the like have practically no logical meaning at all; words like the devil, Christ, God, goodness gracious, etc., are frequently used only in their emotive meaning. The same can be said about the words bloody, damn and other expletives.
Anything recognizable as having a strong impact on our senses may be considered as having emotive meaning, either dictionary or contextual.
And finally we come to nominal meaning indicates a particular object out of a class. In other words, these units of the language serve the purpose of singling out one definite and singular object out of a whole class of similar objects. These words are classified in grammars as proper nouns. Thus nominal meaning is a derivative logical meaning. To distinguish nominal meaning from logical meaning the former is designated by a capital letter. Such words as Smith, Longfellow, Everest, Black Sea, Thames, Byron are said to have nominal meaning. The logical meaning from which they originate may in the course of time be forgotten and therefore not easily traced back. Most proper names have nominal meanings which may be regarded as homonyms of common nouns with their logical or emotive meanings, as Hope, Browning, Taylor, Scotland, Black, Chandler, Chester (from the Latin word castra—'camp'). It must be remembered, however, that the nominal meaning will always be secondary to the logical meaning.
The process of development of meaning may go still further. A nominal meaning may assume a logical meaning due to certain external circumstances. The result is that a logical meaning takes its origin in a nominal meaning. Some feature of a person which has made him or her noticeable and which is recognized by the community is made the basis for the new logical meaning. Thus hooligan (a ruffian) is probably derived from the name of a rowdy family, cf. the Irish name Houligan, in a comic song popular about 1885.

The problem of meaning in general linguistics deals mainly with such aspects of the term as the interrelation between meaning and concept, meaning and sign, meaning and referent. The general tendency is to regard meaning as something stable at a given period of time.
In stylistics meaning is also viewed as a category which is able to acquire meanings imposed on the words by the context. That is why such meanings are called contextual meanings. This category also takes under observation meanings which have fallen out of use. In stylistics it is important to discriminate shades or nuances of meaning, to atomize the meaning, the component parts of which are now called the semes, i.e. the smallest units of which meaning of a word consists.
Lexical meaning refers the mind to some concrete concept, phenomenon or thing of objective reality, whether real or imaginary. Lexical meaning is thus a means by which a word-form is made to express a definite concept.
Grammatical meaning refers our mind to relations between words or to some forms of words or constructions bearing upon their structural functions in the language-as-a-system. Grammatical meaning can thus be adequately called "structural meaning".
There are no words which are deprived of grammatical meaning inasmuch as all words belong to some system and consequently have their place in the system, and also inasmuch as they always function in speech displaying their functional properties. It is the same with sentences. Every sentence has its own independent structural meaning. This structural meaning may in some cases be influenced or affected by the lexical meanings of the components or by intonation. In the sentence 'I shall never go to that place again', we have a number of words with lexical meanings (never, go, place, again) and words with only grammatical meaning (I, shall, that) and also the meaning of the whole, sentence, which is defined as a structure in statement form.
But each of the meanings, being closely interwoven and interdependent, can none the less be regarded as relatively autonomous and therefore be analysed separately.
Lexical meaning is a conventional category. Very frequently it does not reflect the properties of the thing or the phenomenon it refers to. However, some meanings are said to be motivated, i.e. they point to some quality or feature of the object. The conventional character of meaning can best be illustrated by the following example. In Russian the word 'бельё' is a general term denoting all kinds of articles made from flax: underwear, household articles, shirts and so on. The origin of the word is белый (white). In English this concept is denoted by the word 'linen', which is the name of the material (Latin linum - flax) from which the articles mentioned were made. In German the same concept is 'die Wäsche', i.e. something that can be washed, a process, not the material, not the colour. The concept from which all meanings branch off is known as the inner form of the word.
It is of paramount importance in stylistics to bear in mind that concepts of objective reality have different degrees of abstractness. This is adequately manifested in language. Adjectives are more abstract in meaning than nouns. Adverbs may be considered more abstract than adjectives inasmuch as they usually characterize an abstract notion, action or state. Conjunctions and prepositions have a still higher degree of abstractness because it is not objects as such that they indicate, but the correlation of the concepts involved. Nouns, as is known, are divided into two large classes, abstract and concrete. But this division does not correspond to the actual difference in the degree of abstractness. This will be explained later when we come to illustrate abstractness and concreteness.
The problem of abstractness, and especially the degree of abstractness, is of vital importance in stylistics in more than one respect. Stylistics deals not only with the aesthetic and emotional impact of the language. It also studies the means of producing impressions in our mind. Impression is the first and rudimentary stage of concept. But the concept through a reverse process may build another kind of impression. Impressions that are secondary to concepts, in other words, which have been born by concepts, are called imagery.
Imagery is mainly produced by the interplay of different meanings. Concrete objects are easily perceived by the senses. Abstract notions are perceived by the mind. When an abstract notion is by the force of the mind represented through a concrete object, an image is the result. Imagery may be built on the interrelation of two abstract notions or two concrete objects or an abstract and a concrete one.

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