The relation between stylistics and linguistics

Style as a Linguistic Variation. The relation between stylistics and linguistics. Stylistics and Other Linguistic Disciplines. Traditional grammar or linguistic theory. Various linguistic theories. The concept of style as recurrence of linguistic forms.

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Kazakh University of International Relations and World Languages

Subject: Stylistics

Theme: The relation between stylistics and linguistics

Done by: 401- group

Almaty 2014


General about Stylistics and Linguistics

Style as a Linguistic Variation

The relation between stylistics and linguistics

Stylistics and Other Linguistic Disciplines


Theme: The relation between stylistics and linguistics

Aim: To show the direct connection between stylistics and linguistics

Objectives: 1. To define 2 terms: stylistics and linguistics

2. To show the connection between stylistics and linguistics.

3. To show the connection through the examples.

4. Various point of view of scientists

5. To show the relation of stylistics with other linguistic disciplines

General about Stylistics and Linguistics

Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts in regard to their linguistic and tonal style. As a discipline, it links literary criticism to linguistics. Stylistics is the description and analysis of the variability of linguistic forms in actual language use. The concepts of `style' and `stylistic variation' in language rest on the general assumption that within the language system, the same content can be encoded in more than one linguistic form. It does not function as an autonomous domain on its own, but it can be applied to an understanding of literature and journalism as well as linguistics. Sources of study in stylistics may range from canonical works of writing to popular texts, and from advertising copy to news, non-fiction, and popular culture, as well as to political and religious discourse. Linguistics is the scientific study of language. There are broadly three aspects to the study, which include language form, language meaning, and language in context.

Stylistics is the study of style. Just as style can be viewed in several ways, so there are several different stylistic approaches. This variety in stylistics is due to the main influences of Linguistics and Literary Criticism. Stylistics in the twentieth century replaces and expands on the earlier discipline known as rhetoric. Following the publication of a two-volume treatise on French stylistics by Ch. Bally (1909), a pupil of the structuralist, F. de Saussure, interest in stylistics gradually spread across Europe via the work of L. Spitzer and others. It was in the 1960s that it really began to flourish in Britain and the United States. Traditional literary critics were suspicious of an objective approach to literary texts. In many respects, stylistics is close to literary criticism and practical criticism. By far the most common kind of material studied is literary, and attention is test-centered. The goal of most stylistic studies is not simply to describe the formal features of texts for their own sake, but to show their functional significance for the interpretation of the text; or to relate literary effects to linguistic causes where these are felt to be relevant. Intuitions and interpretative skills are just as important in stylistics and literary criticism; however, stylisticians want to avoid vague and

impressionistic judgments about the way formal features are manipulated. As a result, stylistics draws on the models and terminology provided by whichever aspects of linguistics are felt to be relevant. In the late 1960s generative grammar was influential; in the 1970s and 1980s discourse analysis and pragmatics. Stylistics also draws eclectically on trends in literary theory, or parallel developments in this field. So the 1970s saw a shift away from the reader and his or her responses to the text (e.g. affective stylistics, reception theory). Stylistics or general stylistics can be used as a cover term for the analysis of non-literary varieties of language, or registers (D. Crystal & D. Davy in Investigating English Style, 1969; M. M. Bakhtin in The Dialogic Imagination, 1981 and The Problem of the Text, 1986). Because of this broad scope stylistics comes close to work done in sociolinguistics. Indeed, there is now a subject sociostylistics which studies, for instance, the language of writers considered as social groups (e.g. the Elizabethan university wits); or fashions in language.

Style as a Linguistic Variation

N. E. Enkvist (ibid., pp. 16-17) describes linguistics as a branch of learning which builds models of texts and languages on the basis of theories of language. Consequently, he says, linguistic stylistics tries to set up inventories and descriptions of stylistic stimuli with the aid of linguistic concepts. By this definition linguists should be interested in all kinds of linguistic variation and style is only one of many types. The table below is based on the relevant passage from the above quoted Enkvistґs book on Linguistic Stylistics and presents the classification of linguistic variations according their correlation towards context, situation and others:

STYLE * correlates with context and situation

* is an individual variation within each register

TEMPORAL * correlates with a given period

REGIONAL * correlates with areas on a map

SOCIAL DIALECT * correlates with the social class of its users

* also called sociolect

IDIOLECT * indicates the language of one individual


* correlates with situations

* different subtypes of language that people use in

different social roles (e.g. doctor's register is different

from the teacher's, etc.)

The relation between stylistics and linguistics

The teaching of Stylistics depends on a technical terminology with which students can describe the stylistic choices. Much of this technical terminology is in practice taken from traditional grammar or from some linguistic theory. In addition, students will need to be able to construct diagrams of texts (such as tree structures for sentences, or some equivalent for syllable structure, or word structure or discourse structure), and again various linguistic theories provide methods for doing this.

One of the puzzles for Stylistics - and acutely a problem in teaching Stylistics - is the extent to which Stylistics depends on any particular linguistic theory, and particularly on any particular syntactic theory or theory of grammar. Ways of representing linguistic form were in the 60s and 70s drawn from the new (and mutually incompatible) theories of Systemic Grammar, Transformational Grammar, and Generative Semantics. Syntactic theory has for the past few decades been much too difficult to simply introduce in Stylistics teaching, and furthermore produces representations which are very distinct from the surface forms seen in texts; and Stylistics classes can rarely rely on students having a good understanding of Linguistics. This forces a certain decoupling of syntactic theory and Stylistics teaching It is this decoupling which enables Stylistics to be successful as a discipline even though it may be out of step with (formal) linguistic theory, and successful as a subject to teach to students even though they may have little understanding of linguistic theory. (On the other hand, it means that Stylistics is not necessarily a good introduction to linguistic theory, as is sometimes suggested.)

In suggesting that Stylistics and Linguistics may be disconnected theoretically, even though they both clearly relate to language, I assume along chomskyan lines that 'language' is not a theoretically unified domain. Linguistic theory is concerned with rules which build representations, and conditions which hold of those rules and representations; it is not - at least in most of its theoretical manifestations - an account of actual utterances or written sentences. While we can understand the construction of an utterance or a written sentence as the result of making a set of choices (which words to choose, in what order, phase, tense, aspect; how to relate subclauses, etc), those choices do not necessarily correspond to elements of linguistic form. Thus for example 'passive' is a way of understanding a surface choice, but it need not be theorized linguistically as a rule or set of rules of linguistic form (instead, 'passive' is the post-linguistic way of describing the a set of similar structures which emerge from a combination of underlying processes which may have no specific relation to one another within the system).

In Fabb (2002) I argued that in literary texts we are dealing with two quite different kinds of form, which I called 'generated form' (basically linguistic form and possibly some aspects of metrical form) and 'communicated form' (genre, narrative form, and probably every other kind of literary form); this distinction can be restated using the terms in this current article as the distinction between 'form' and 'style'. Generated form (now just called form) holds of the text by virtue of constituting it: being a noun, or a preposition phrase, or a specific phoneme are necessary formal aspects of the text which enable it to exist. On the other hand communicated form (now just called style) holds of a text by virtue of being the content of an assumption about the text which is licensed by the text. Form is the stuff from which a text is made, while style is what a text tells us about itself. (Goodman 1978 similarly focuses on the extent to which style is 'exemplified' by a text: the text is both denoted by a term such as 'parallelism' but in turn denotes that term - the text means parallelism, in much the way that a tailor's swatch of cloth means the colour or material which comprises it.) Style is thus a kind of meaning, holding of a text only as the content of a thought about the text. For example, parallelism holds within a text to the extent that a reader is justified in formulating the thought 'parallelism holds within this text', with the justifications drawn from various stereotyped deductions ('if the first and second lines have the same sequence of word classes, then there is parallelism in the text', etc). Or a text is in a specific genre to the extent that we are justified by the text in formulating that assumption about it. Linguistic form offers one of a number of different and potentially competing sources of evidence from which the presence of a style is inferred, and this is the relation - in this theoretical approach, much weakened - between form and style. Style can thus be indeterminate, ambiguous, metaphorical, ironic, strongly implied, weakly implied, and so on - having all the characteristics of a meaning, because style is a meaning. If this is true, it has a consequence which helps us resolve some of the problems for the teaching of Stylistics.The key problem in Stylistics is to work out the causal relation between style and effect, where 'effect' includes various cognitive effects such as meanings, emotions, beliefs, etc. My proposal is that style is itself an effect; hence rather than mediating between two quite different kinds of thing (style vs. effect) we are really looking at the relation between effects, with the distinction between style and effect no longer clearly defined. This means that the theory of how style causes effect is now a theory of how thoughts are connected, which comes under the theory of Pragmatics. This suggests a route out of the problem of Stylistics which has been chosen by a number of authors: to assume that Stylistics basically falls under the theory of Pragmatics, and to start from here in the teaching of Stylistics.

Operating at all linguistic levels (e.g. lexicology, syntax, text linguistics, and intonation), stylisticians analyze both the style of specific texts and stylistic variation across texts. These texts can be literary or nonliterary in nature. Generally speaking, style may be regarded as choice of linguistic means; as deviation from a norm; as recurrence of linguistic forms; and as comparison. Considering style as choice, there are a multitude of stylistic factors that lead the language user to prefer certain linguistic forms to others. These factors can be grouped into two categories: user-bound factors and factors referring to the situation where the language is being used. User-bound factors include, among others, the speaker's or writer's age; gender; idiosyncratic preferences; and regional and social background. Situation-bound stylistic factors depend on the given communication situation, such as medium (spoken vs. written); participation in discourse (monologue vs. dialogue); attitude (level of formality); and field of discourse (e.g. technical vs. nontechnical fields). With the caveat that such stylistic factors work simultaneously and influence each other, the effect of one, and only one, stylistic factor on language use provides a hypothetical one-dimensional variety. Drawing on this methodological abstraction, stylistic research has identified many correlations between specific stylistic factors and language use. For example, noun phrases tend to be more complex in written than in spoken language in many speech communities, and passive voice occurs much more frequently in technical fields of discourse than in nontechnical ones. Style, as deviation from a norm, is a concept that is used traditionally in literary stylistics, regarding literary language as more deviant than nonliterary language use. This not only pertains to formal structures such as metrics and rhyme in poems but to unusual linguistic preferences in general, which an author's poetic license allows. Dylan Thomas's poetry, for example, is characterized by word combinations that are semantically incompatible at first sight and, thus, clearly deviate from what is perceived as normal (e.g. a grief ago, once below a time). What actually constitutes the `norm' is not always explicit in literary stylistics, since this would presuppose the analysis of a large collection of nonliterary texts. However, in the case of authorship identification, statistical approaches were pursued at a relatively early stage. For example, by counting specific lexical features in the political letters written by an anonymous Junius in the 1770s and comparing them with a large collection of texts from the same period, and with samples taken from other possible contemporary authors, the Swedish linguist Ellegеrd could identify, in the 1960s, the most likelyauthor of those letters. The concept of style as recurrence of linguistic forms is closely related to a probabilistic and statistical understanding of style, which implicitly underlies the deviation-from-a-norm perspective. It had already been suggested in the 1960s that by focusing on actual language use, stylisticians cannot help describing only characteristic tendencies that are based on implicit norms and undefined statistical experience in, say, given situations and genres. In the last resort, stylistic features remain flexible and do not follow rigid rules, since style is not a matter of grammaticality, but rather of appropriateness. What is appropriate in a given context can be deduced from the frequency of linguistic devices in this specific context. As for the analysis of frequencies, corpus linguistic methods are becoming increasingly important. With the advent of personal computers, huge storage capacities, and relevant software, it is now possible to compile very large collections of texts (corpus (singular), corpora (plural)), which represent a sample of language use in general, and thus enable exhaustive searches for all kinds oflinguistic patterns within seconds. This methodology is based on the general approach of style as probability, by allowing for large-scale statistical analyses of text. For example, by using corpora, the notion of text type--defined by co-occurrences of specific linguistic features--has been introduced to complement the extra linguistic concept of `genre'. The linguisticallydefined text types contradict traditionally and non- empirically established genre distinctions to a considerable extent. In particular, many spoken and written genres resemble each other linguistically to a far greater extent in terms of text-types than previously assumed. Style as comparison puts into perspective a central aspect of the previous approaches. That is, stylistic analysis always requires an implicit or explicit comparison of linguistic features between specific texts, or between a collection of texts and a given norm. In principle, stylistically relevant features such as style markers may convey either a local stylistic effect (e.g. an isolated technical term in everyday communication) or, in the case of recurrence or co-occurrence, a global stylistic pattern (e.g. specialized vocabulary and passive voice in scientific texts). From the multitude of linguistic approaches to style, two linguistic schools of the twentieth century have exerted the most decisive influence on the development, terminology, and the state of the art of stylistics: the Prague School and British Contextualism. The central dictum of Prague School linguistics, going back to the Bauhaus School of architecture, is form follows function. Firmly established since the 1920s, some of this dictum's most important proponents are Lubomнr Dolezel, Bohuslav Havrбnek, Roman Jakobson, and Jan Mukarovskэ. These linguists have paid particular attention to situation-bound stylistic variation. A standard language is supposed to have a communicative and an esthetic function that result in two different `functional dialects': prosaic language and poetic language. More specific functional dialects may, of course, be identified; for example, the scientific dialect as a subclass of prosaic language, which is characterized by what is called the `intellectualization of language'--lexicon, syntax, and reference conform to the overall communicative function that requires exact and abstract statements. A very important notion is the distinction between `automatization' and `foregrounding' in language. Automatization refers to the common use of linguistic devices which does not attract particular attention by the language decoder, for example, the use of discourse markers (e.g. well,you know,sort of,kind of) in spontaneous spoken conversations. Automatization thus correlates with the usual background pattern, or the norm, in language use--it encompasses those forms and structures that competent language users expect to be used in a given context of situation. Foregrounded linguistic devices, on the other hand, are usually not expected to be used in a specific context and are thus considered conspicuous--they catch the language decoder's attention (e.g. the use of old-fashioned and/or very formal words such as epicure, improvident, and whitherin spontaneous spoken conversations). Foregrounding thus captures deviations from the norm. It is obvious that what is considered as automatized and foregrounded language use depends on the communication situation at hand. In technical fields of discourse, for instance, specialized vocabulary items tend to be automatized (e.g. lambda marker in molecular biology), but in everyday communication become foregrounded devices. A different, although conceptually similar, tradition of linguistic stylistics was established by British linguists in the 1930s and came to be called British Contextualism. The most important proponents of British Contextualism include John Rupert Firth, M.A.K. Halliday, and John Sinclair. Their work is characterized by a clear focus, firstly, on the social context in which language is used and, secondly, on the in-depth observation of natural language use. From the point of view of British Contextualists, linguists need to describe authentic language use in context and should not confine themselves to invented and isolated sentences. Additionally, linguistics is not considered as an intuition-based study of abstract systems of form as, for example, in the merely formal description of autonomous syntactic rules (as in Chomsky's approach to language), but as the observation-based and empirical analysis of meaning encoded by form. This approach allows for insights into the immense variation within language. It is a fact that depending on the context of situation, all speakers use different `registers' (i.e. different styles of language, depending on the topic, the addressee, and the medium in a given context of use). Note that there is, of course, a clearcorrespondence between the concept of register and the Prague School's notion of functional dialect. Although largely abandoned by mainstream linguists in the 1960s and 1970s due to the prevailing Chomskyan school of thought, it had already been suggested by Firth in the 1950s that large collections of text were a prerequisite for an empirical approach to stylistic variation. Thus, it does not come as a tremendous surprise that, among others, Sinclair set out to develop computerized corpora that could be used as empirical databases. With corpus linguistics now a standard methodology, stylistic analyses have reached an unprecedented degree of explanatory adequacy and empirical accuracy. For example, stylistic features that are beyond most linguists' scope of intuition, such as the nonstandard use of question tags in English-speaking teenagers' talk, are now feasible in quantitative terms. More importantly, there is no longer a bias toward foregrounded phenomena that tend to catch the linguist's attention. A computer, in contrast, does not distinguish between conspicuous and common phenomena andprovides an exhaustive array of all kinds of patterns,depending solely on the search query. Thus, the fuzzyconcept of `norm' is about to be put on an empiricalfooting since the accessible corpus norm representsthe norm of a language as a whole.Stylistics is a linguistic branch that is immediatelyrelevant to foreign language teaching. This applies toboth linguistic and literary stylistics. Language learners must know which linguistic devices are preferredby native speakers in specific contexts. Without such alinguo- stylistic competence, communication errorsmay be made in interacting with native speakers, suchas using highly formal words in informal settings.Also, learners must have command of text-typologicalknowledge, which is important, for example, in writing essays. As for literary texts, language learnersshould acquire a firm understanding of those levels ofdescription where stylistic variation may occur ( analyzing Hemingway's syntactic simplicity and,moreover, its function).It should be noted that a specific style is sometimesascribed to a language in its entirety. Although theunderlying norms remain largely unspecified, generaltendencies of stylistic preference differ across languages. This is particularly important for translators,but also for language learners. It is, for instance, common for German students of English to transfer theGerman style of academic writing, which is characterized by heavy noun phrases, to their English essays.As with any other linguistic branch, stylistics isvery much a work in progress. This is because theobject of inquiry constantly grows, evolving new andspecialized fields of discourse (e.g. genetic engineering, computer sciences). Furthermore, new aspects of stylistic variation come into existence, such as e-mails,a now widely used genre that seems to blur the traditional distinction between spoken and written language. As for empirical approaches to style, newcorpora make it possible to address questions of stylenot possible before. Also, recent theoretical developments will no doubt widen the scope of stylistics.Drawing on British contextualists' distinction between language substance (that is, sound waves in the phonic medium and printed paper in the graphic medium)and language form (that is, anything that can be transferred from one medium into the other), it has beensuggested that stylistic analyses should clearly distinguish between medium-dependent and medium-independent stylistic variation. Intonation, for example, isbound to the phonic medium and shows stylistic variation that cannot be mapped onto punctuation in astraightforward and monocausal way. With regard tothe graphic substance, English orthography, albeithighly standardized, is also affected by stylistic variation, as deliberate misspellings in the language ofadvertising and popular culture (e.g. 2for to/two/too,lynx for links) reveal. On the other hand, words and syntax are linguistic devices that, in principle, are subject to transfer between media, although there are clearmedium-dependent preferences of lexical and syntactic choice that need to be investigated further.The objective and unbiased approach to stylisticvariation in authentic language use is a cornerstone ofmodern descriptive linguistics. Unlike traditional grammar, it clearly rejects the normative prescriptionof one specific style.

Stylistics and Other Linguistic Disciplines

stylistics linguistic grammar traditional

Stylistics often intersects with other areas of linguistics, namely historical linguistics, dialectology, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and many others. All of them are different branches of language study and should be regarded as different tools from the same set and not as rivals. To illustrate the situation, an example discussed by N. E. Enkvist (ibid., p. 19) can be presented here: The expression thou lovest taken from the language of W. Shakespeare illustrates how different fields of study use different classifications of the same language phenomenon. In our case, the expression thou lovest will be classified by historians as an older form of you love and by the students of contemporary styles as a feature of a Biblical or archaic style. Another example also points at different point of view in classification. The expression you ain't can be regarded as a characteristic of a social class and thus qualified as a class marker. It also correlates with a certain range of situations and so it can be a style marker. In a complex study of linguistic variation, both observations may be relevant.


1.Biber, Douglas. 1989. Variation across speech and writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Coupland, Nikolas (ed.) 1988.

2. Styles of discourse. London: Croom Helm. Enkvist, Nils Erik. 1973.

3. Linguistic stylistics. The Hague: Mouton. Esser, Jьrgen. 1993.

4. English linguistic stylistics. Tьbingen: Niemeyer. 2000.

5. Medium-transferability and presentation structure in speech and writing. Journal of Pragmatics 32. Garvin, Paul L. (ed.) 1964.

6. A Prague school reader on esthetics, literary structure and style. Washington: Georgetown University Press. Halliday, M.A.K. 1978.

7. Language as a social semiotic: the social interpretation of language and meaning. London:

8. Style in fiction: a linguistic introduction to English fictional prose. London: Longman. STYLISTICS Semino, Elena, and Jonathan Culpeper (eds.) 2002.

9. Article of Gabriela Missikova “Linguistic Stylistics”


11. Simpson, P. (1997) Language through literature: an introduction London: Routledge.

12. Widdowson, H. G. (1975) Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature London: Longman.


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