методичка по стилистике

Стилистика английского языка

Учебное пособие для студентов и аспирантов

Stylistics of the English Language

Рекомендовано к печати

Ученым советом

факультета международных отношений УрГУ



Краткое пособие по стилистике английского языка предназначено для слушателей курсов «Переводчик в сфере профессиональной коммуникации», но также может оказаться полезным и для студентов и аспирантов, обучающихся по другим направлениям.

© Факультет международных отношений Уральского государственного университета, 2005

© Уральский государственный университет, 2005

‘The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.’


The object of stylistics

Stylistics of language and speech. Branches of stylistics. Stylistic function notion.

Some scholars claim that stylistics is a comparatively new branch of linguistics, which has only a few decades of intense linguistic interest behind it. The term stylistics really came into existence not too long ago.

The problem that makes the definition of stylistics a curious one deals both with the object and material of studies. Another problem has to do with a whole set of special linguistic means that create what we call ‘style’. Style may be belles–letters or scientific or neutral or low colloquial or archaic or pompous, or a combination of those. Style may also be typical of a certain writer – Shakespearean style, Dickensian style, etc. There is the style of the press, the style of official documents, the style of social etiquette and even an individual style of a speaker or writer – his idiolect.

Some linguists consider that the word “style” and the subject of linguistic stylistics are confined to the study of the effects of the message, its impact on the reader. Stylistics in this case is regarded as a language science which deals with the results of the act of communication.

Stylistics deals with styles. Different scholars have defined style differently at different times. Out of this variety we shall quote the most representative ones.

In 1971 Prof. I.R. Galperin offered his definition of style ‘as a system of interrelated language means which serves a definite aim in communication.’

According to Prof. Y.M. Skrebnev, whose book on stylistics was published in 1994, ‘style is what differentiates a group of homogeneous texts (an individual text) from all groups (other texts) … Style can be roughly defined as the peculiarity, the set of specific features of a text type or of a specific text.’

All these definitions point out the systematic and functionally determined character of the notion of style.

The authors of handbooks on German, English and Russian stylistics published in our country over the recent decades propose more or less analogous system of styles based on a broad subdivision of all styles into two classes: literary and colloquial and their varieties. These generally include from three to five functional styles.

Some functional styles will be further specially discussed in a separate lecture. At this stage I shall limit to only three popular viewpoints in English language style classifications.

Prof. Galperin suggests 5 styles for the English language.

1) belles–lettres style: poetry, emotive prose, and drama;

2) publicist style: oratory and speeches, essay, articles;

3) newspaper style; brief news items, headlines, advertisements, editorial;

4) scientific prose style;

5) official documents style.

Prof. Arnold distinguishes 4 styles:

1) poetic style;

2) scientific style;

3) newspaper style;

4) colloquial style.

Prof. Skrebnev suggests a most unconventional viewpoint on the number of styles. He maintains that the number of sublanguages and styles is infinite (if we include individual styles, styles mentioned in linguistic literature such as telegraphic, oratorical, reference book, Shakespearean, short story, or the style of literature on electronics, computer language, etc.).

Of course, the problem of style definition is not the only one stylistic research deals with.

Stylistics is that branch of linguistics, which studies the principles, and effect of choice and usage of different language elements in rendering thought and emotion under different conditions of communication. Therefore, it is concerned with such issues as

1) aesthetic function of language (inherent in poetry and prose);

2) expressive means in language (with the purpose of effecting the reader: poetry, fiction, oratory, rarely in technical texts);

3) synonymous ways of rendering one and the same idea;

4) emotional colouring in language (with the aim to make a text a highly lyrical or satirical piece of description);

5) a system of special devices called stylistic devices;

6) splitting of the literary language into separate systems called style (also with sub–standard speech as slang, barbarisms, vulgarisms, taboo, etc.);

7) interrelation between language and thought (this is the subject of decoding stylistics);

8) individual manner of an author in making use of the language (a unique combination of language units, expressive means and stylistic devices peculiar to a given writer, which makes the writer’s works or even utterances easily recognizable).

Let’s look at the object of stylistic study in its totality.

One of the fundamental concepts of linguistics is the dichotomy of ‘language and speech’, introduced by F. de Saussure. So, language is a mentally organized system of linguistic units. When we use these units we mix them in acts of speech. As distinct from language speech is not a purely mental phenomenon, not a system but a process of combining these linguistic elements into linear linguistic units that are called syntagmatic. The word ‘syntagmatic’ is a purely linguistic term meaning a coherent sequence of words (written, uttered or just remembered). Stylistics is a branch of linguistics that deals with texts, not with the system of signs or process of speech production as such. But within these texts elements stylistically relevant are studied both syntagmatically and paradigmatically (loosely classifying all stylistic means paradigmatically into tropes and syntagmatically into figures of speech).

So, how the notion of stylistics of language and stylistics of speech are separated?

The stylistics of language analyses permanent or inherent stylistic properties of language elements while the stylistics of speech studies stylistic properties, which appear in a context, and they are called adherent.

Thus, the unexpected use of any of bookish or archaic words (these are their inherent properties) such as соблаговолить or comprehend in a modern context will be an adherent stylistic property.

So, stylistics of language describes and classifies the inherent stylistic colouring of language units. Stylistics of speech studies the composition of the utterance – the arrangement, selection and distribution of different words, and their adherent qualities.

Branches of stylistics

Literary and linguistic stylistics, comparative stylistics, decoding stylistics and functional stylistics.

I. According to the type of stylistic research we can distinguish literary stylistics and lingua–stylistics. Both have common objects of research. Both study the common ground of:

1) the literary language from the point of view of its variability;

2) the idiolect of a writer;

3) poetic speech that has its own specific laws.

But they differ in points of analysis. Lingua–stylistics studies

functional styles and

the linguistic nature of the expressive means of the language, their systematic character and their functions.

The subjects of Literary Stylistics are:

composition of a work of art

various literary genres

writer’s outlook.

II. Comparative stylistics deals with the contrastive study of more than one language. It analyses the stylistic resources not inherent in a separate language but at the crossroads of two languages, or two literatures and is linked to the theory of translation.

III. Decoding stylistics

A comparatively new branch of stylistics is the decoding stylistics, which can be traced back to the works of L.V. Shcherba, B.A. Larin, M. Riffaterre, R. Jackobson and other scholars of the Prague linguistic circle. A serious contribution into this branch of stylistic study was also made by Prof. I.V.Arnold.

Each act of speech has the performer, or sender of speech and the recipient. The former does the act of encoding and the latter the act of decoding the information.

If we analyze the text from the author’s (encoding) point of view we should consider the epoch, the historical situation, and personal, political, social and aesthetic views of the author.

But if we try to treat the same text from the reader’s angle of view, we shall have to disregard this background knowledge and get the maximum information from the text itself (its vocabulary, composition, sentence arrangement, etc.). The first approach manifests the prevalence of the literary analysis. The second is based almost exclusively on the linguistic analysis. Decoding stylistics is an attempt to harmoniously combine the two methods of stylistic research and enable the scholar to interpret a work of art with a minimum loss of its purport and message.

IV. Functional stylistics

Functional stylistics is a branch of lingua–stylistics that investigates functional styles, that is special sublanguages or varieties of the national language such as scientific, colloquial, business, publicist and so on.

However many types of stylistics may exist or spring into existence they will all consider the same source material for stylistic analysis – sounds, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and texts. That’s why any kind of stylistic research will be based on the level–forming branches that include:

Stylistic lexicology

Stylistic Lexicology studies the semantic structure of the word and the interrelation (or interplay) of the connotative and denotative meanings of the word, as well as the interrelation of the stylistic connotations of the word and the context.

Stylistic phonetics (or phonostylistics) is engaged in the study of style–forming phonetic features of the text. It describes the prosodic features of prose and poetry and variants of pronunciation in different types of speech (colloquial or oratory or recital).

Stylistic grammar

Stylistic morphology is interested in the stylistic potentials of specific grammatical forms and categories, such as the number of the noun, or the peculiar use of tense forms of the verb, etc.

Stylistic syntax is one of the oldest branches of stylistic studies that grew out of classical rhetoric. The material in question lends itself readily to analysis and description. Stylistic syntax has to do with the expressive order of words, types of syntactic links (asyndeton – the omission of conjunctions, polysyndeton – the use of a number of conjunctions in close succession), figures of speech (antithesis – opposition or contrast of ideas, notions, qualities in the parts of one sentence or in different sentences; chiasmus – inversion of the second of two parallel phrases or clauses, etc.).

Stylistic differentiation of the English vocabulary.

According to Prof. I.R. Galperin the English vocabulary is divided into neutral, literary and colloquial strata.

I. Literary stratum of words

1. Archaisms : anon – at once, haply– perhaps, befall – happen. Historical words (knight, spear, lance). Poetic words (woe – sorrow, hapless – unlucky, staunch – firm, harken – hear). Morphological or partial archaisms (speaketh, cometh, wrought, brethren).

The main stylistic function of archaisms is to recreate the atmosphere of antiquity. Not seldom archaisms are intentionally used by the writer to cause humorous effect.

2. Barbarisms and foreign words.

They are used mainly to supply the narrated events with the proper local colouring and to convey the idea of the foreign origin or cultural and educational status of the personage.

3. Terms.

Their main stylistic function is to create the true–to–life atmosphere of the narration but also may be used with a parodying function.

4. Neologisms (stylistically coloured individual neologisms or occasional words, which have validity only for the given context).

Their major stylistic functions are the creation of the laconism or witty humour and satire.

II. Colloquial stratum of words.

1. Slang (plus phraseology).

Occurs mainly in dialogues and serves to create speech characteristics of personages.

2. Vulgarisms: hackneyed (cf. Russ. “чертовски “, or Engl. “devil”) and proper.

The function of hackneyed ones is to show mere emotions as through long usage they have lost their abusive character. The function of proper ones is to insult and humiliate the addressee of the remark, or to convey the speaker’s highly negative evaluation of the object in question.

3. Jargonisms: professional (professionalisms) and social.

Professionalisms circulate within communities joined by professional interests and are emotive synonyms to terms. Social ones can be found within groups characterized by social integrity, they are emotive synonyms to neutral words and conceal or disguise the meaning of the expressed concept.

4. Dialectal words.

They are used to indicate the origin of personages. Their number also indicates the educational and emotional level of the speaker.


Literary stratum of words

I. State the type and the functions of archaisms:

a) If manners maketh man, then manner and grooming maketh poodle. (Steinbeck)

b) Anthony… clapped him affectionately on the back. “You’re a real knight–errant, Jimmy,” he said. (Christie)

c) I was surprised to see Heathcliff there also. He stood by the fire, his back towards me, just finishing a stormy scene to poor Zillah, who ever and anon interrupted her labour to pluck up the corner of her apron, and heave an indignant groan… (E.Brontë)

d) “He of the iron garment,” said Daigety, entering, “is bounden unto you, MacEagh, and this noble lord shall be bounden also.” (W.Scott)

II. Give the English equivalents, state the origin and stylistic purpose of barbarisms and foreign words:

a) “Tyree, you got half of the profits!” Dr. Bruce shouted. “You’re my de facto partner.”

“What that de facto mean, Doc?..” “Papa, it means you a partner in fact and in law,” Fishbelly told him. (Wright)

b) And now the roof had fallen in on him. The first shock was over, the dust had settled and he could now see that his whole life was kaput. (J.Braine)

c) Then, of course, there ought to be one or two outsiders – just to give the thing a bona fide appearance. I and Eileen could see to that – young people, uncritical, and with no idea of politics. (Christie)

d) When Danny came home from the army he learned that he was an heir and owner of property. The viejo, that is the grandfather, had died leaving Danny the two small houses on the Tortilla Flat. (Steinbeck)

III. State the nature and role of terms:

a) …he rode up to the campus, arranged for a room in the graduate dormitory and went at once to the empty Physics building. (M.Wilson)

b) “…don’t you go to him for anything more serious than a pendectomy of the left ear or a strabismus of the cardiograph.” No one save Kennicott knew exactly what this meant, but they laughed… (S.Lewis)

c) At noon the hooter and everything died. First, the pulley driving the punch and shears and emery wheels stopped its lick and slap. Simultaneously the compressor providing the blast for a dozen smith–fires went dead. (S.Chaplin)

IV. Define the pattern of creation and the function of the following individual neologisms:

a) For a headful of reasons I refuse. (T.Capote)

b) “Mr. Hamilton, you haven’t any children, have you?”

“Well, no. And I’m sorry about that, I guess. I’m sorriest about that.” (Steinbeck)

c) A college education is all too often merely sheepskindeep. (Esar)

d) Oh, it was the killingest thing you ever saw. (K.Amis)

Colloquial stratum of words

I. State the function of slang:

a) Bejees, if you think you can play me for an easy mark, you’ve come to the wrong house. No one ever played Harry Hope for a sucker! (O’Neill)

b) ”George,” she said, “you’re a rotten liar… The part about the peace of Europe is all bosh.” (Christie)

c) “That guy just aint hep,” Mazzi said decisively. “He’s as unhep as a box, I can’t stand people who aint hep.” (Jones)

d) “When he told me his name was Herbert I nearly burst out laughing. Fancy calling anyone Herbert. A scream, I call it.” (Maugham)

II. Specify hackneyed vulgarisms and vulgarisms proper:

a) …a hyena crossed the open on his way around the hill. “That bastard crosses there every night,” the man said. (Hemingway)

b) “Look at the son of a bitch down there: pretending he’s one of the boys today.” (Jones)

c) “How are you, Cartwright? This is the very devil of a business, you know. The very devil of a business.” (Christie)

III. Differentiate professional and social jargonisms. Suggest a terminological equivalent where possible:

a) I’m here quite often – taking patients to hospitals for majors, and so on. (S.Lewis)

b) The arrangement was to keep in touch by runners and by walkie–talkie. (St.Heym)

c) “All the men say I’m a good noncom… for I’m fair and I take my job seriously.” ( N.Mailer)

d) But, after all, he knows I’m preggers. (T.Capote)

IV. Observe the dialectal peculiarities of dialogue:

a) I wad na been surpris’d to spy

You on an auld wife’ flainen toy:

Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,

On’s wyliecoat (Burns)

b) “We’ll show Levenford what my clever lass can do. I’m looking ahead, and I can see it. When we’ve made ye the head scholar of Academy, then you’ll see what your father means to do wi’ you. But ye must stick in to your lessons, stick in hard.” (A.Cronin)

V. Comment on the structure and function of the standard colloquial words and expressions:

a) His expenses didn’t go down … washing cost a packet and you’d be surprised the amount of linen he needed. (Maugham)

b) “Can we have some money to go to the show this aft, Daddy?” (Hemingway)

c) I was the biggest draw in London. At the old Aquarium, that was. All the swells came to see me… I was the talk of the town. (Maugham)

d) “Officers’ dance last night, Sir,” this tech said…

“Congrats.” (J.Hersey)

VI. Compare the neutral and colloquial (standard or with a limited range of application) modes of expression:

a) There were … with a corner of the bar to themselves what I recognized at once to be a Regular Gang, a Bunch, a Set. (Priestley)

b) “Get on a little faster, put a little more steam on, Ma’am, pray.” (Dickens)

c) He tried these engineers, but no soap. No answer. (O’Hara)

d) “Big–Hearted Harry. You want to know what I think? I think you’re nuts. Pure plain crazy. Goofy as a loon. That’s what I think.” (Jones)

VII. Compare the literary and colloquial modes of expression:

a) “I say old boy, where do you hang out?” Mr.Pickwick responded that he was at present suspended at the George and Vulture. (Dickens)

b) I need the stimulation of good company. He terms this riff–raff. The plain fact is, I am misunderstood. (D.du Maurier)

c) “Here she is,” said Quilp… “there is the woman I ought to have married – there is the beautiful Sarah – there is the female who has all the charms of her sex and none of their weakness. Oh, Sally, Sally.” (Dickens)

VIII. Analyse the vocabulary of the following; indicate the type and function of stylistically coloured units:

a) “Nicholas, my dear, recollect yourself,” remonstrated Mrs.Nickleby.

“Dear Nicholas, pray,” urged the young lady.

“Hold your tongue, Sir,” said Ralph. (Dickens)

b)”You’ll probably see me at a loss for one to–night.”

“I bet. But you’ll stick to me, won’t you?”

“Like a bloody leech, man.” (K.Amis)

c) “What the hell made you take on a job like that?”

“A regrettable necessity for cash. I can assure you it doesn’t suit my temperament.”

Jimmy grinned.

“Never a hog for regular work, were you?” (Christie)

Stylistic devices ( Prof. Galperin’s classification)

The main constituting feature of a stylistic device (SD) is the binary opposition of two meanings of the employed unit, one of which is normatively fixed in the language and does not depend on the context, while the other one originates within certain context and is contextual.

1. Stilistic devices based on the binary opposition of lexical meanings regardless of the syntactical organization of the utterance – lexical stylistic devices.

2. Stilistic devices based on the binary opposition of syntactical meanings regardless of their semantics – syntactical stylistic devices.

3. Stilistic devices based on the binary opposition of lexical meanings accompanied by fixed syntactical organization of employed lexical units – lexico–syntactical stylistic devices.

4. Stilistic devices based on the opposition of meanings of phonological and/or graphical elements of the language – graphical and phonetical stylistic means.

When the opposition is clearly perceived and both indicated meanings are simultaneously realized within the same short context we speak of fresh, original, genuine stilistic devices.

When one of the meanings is suppressed by the other we speak of trite, or hackneyed stilistic devices.

When the second, contextual, meaning is completely blended with the first, initial one, we speak of the disappearance of stilistic devices and its replacement by polysemy or phraseology.

1. Lexical stilistic devices

A. Stilistic devices based on the interaction between the logical and nominal meanings of a word.

Antonomasia (the use of a proper name in place of a common one or vice versa to emphasise some feature or quality): Lady Teasle; Miss Sharp; Mr.Credulous.

B. Stilistic devices based on the interaction between two logical meanings of a word.

Metaphor (the application of a word or phrase to an object or concept it does not literally denote, in order to suggest similarity and association with another object or concept): …every hour in every day she could wound his pride. (Dickens)

Metonymy (the transfer of name of one object onto another to which it is related; or of which it is a part (synecdoche): I get my living by the sweat of my brow. (Dickens)

Irony (the expression of a meaning that is often the direct opposite of the intended meaning): Henry could get gloriously tipsy on tea and conversation. (A.Huxley)

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