English Stylistics

Lesson 1

What are we going to study today?

? Chapter I Style and Stylistics ? Chapter II Procedures of stylistic analysis

Questions for study
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. What does general stylistics study? Why should we learn stylistics? What is the aim of stylistics? What are the three steps of stylistic analysis? What is a text? Explain the aspects of textual analysis. 6. What is context? Explain the three types of contextual factors according to Functional Stylistics.

Style and Stylistics
The word “stylistics” is made of two parts: “styl”, and “istics”, the former meaning “style”, and the latter “science of language”.

Definitions of style
1. a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character: ?the baroque style; The style of the house was too austere for their liking. 2. an elegant, fashionable, or luxurious mode of living: ?to live in style. 3. a mode of fashion, as in dress, especially good or approved fashion; elegance; smartness.

4. the mode of expressing thought in writing or speaking by selecting and arranging words, considered with respect to clearness, effectiveness, euphony, or the like, that is characteristic of a group, period, person, personality, etc. to write in the style of Faulkner; a familiar style; a colloquial style.

? Stylistics is the study of style. ? Stylistics is the study and description of the choices of linguistic expression that are characteristic of a group or an individual in specific communicative settings, especially in literary works (Stylistics of Fiction). ? Stylistics is a branch of linguistics concerned with the study of characteristic choices in use of language, as regards sound, form, syntax or vocabulary, made by different individuals or social groups in different situations of use.

Sample 1
? Take an egg, and make a perforation in the base and a corresponding one in the apex. And then,apply the lips to the aperture, and by forcibly inhaling the breath, the shell is entirely discharged of its contents. ? 取一卵,底部开一口并在顶部同样开一口 ,然后双唇对准开口处,通过用力吸气, 蛋壳之内容即被完全吸取。

? When I was a gal,they made a hole in each end and sucked. ? 我当丫头时,就在两头砸个洞,然后一吸 。
—text p.3

Sample 2
? One deep night, Queen Victoria went back to her bedroom after finishing her job. The door being closed, she knocked on it. ? “Who?” ? “The Queen.” ? The door still closed, she knocked again. ? “Who?” ? “Victoria.” ? The door remaining closed, she knocked a third time. ? “Who?” ? “Your wife.” ? The door opened up, and the queen went in.

Sample 3
? 再过几个小时,新年的钟声就要敲响了。 我们即将告别2015年,迎来2016年的第一 缕阳光。(习近平2016新年致辞) ? 再过几个钟头,新年的钟声就要咣当咣当 敲起来。我们马上要对2015年说BYE BYE 啦,2016年的第一个太阳公公也要晒到 脑瓜子上啦。

Sample 4
? 郎君、官?、老爷、相公、先生、爱?、男 ?、我们家那口?、当家的、娃他爸、老公 、死鬼 ? 老婆、夫?、拙荆、执帚、贱内、妻子、娘 子、婆姨、太太、媳妇、老伴、对象、孩( 娃)他娘、爱?、内子、那口子、屋里头的 、堂客

Sample 5
? ? ? ? 对“死”的不同说法: 薨、驾崩、圆寂、羽化 驾鹤西去、仙逝、归西、 逝世、过世、去世、走了、没了

? 死了、挂了、翘辫子、死翘翘、蹬腿,呜 呼、上西天,吹灯拔蜡、见阎王……

Sample 6
“来呀,把他老婆给我带上来!” “传他老婆到庭。” “传证人某某某到庭。”

Sample 7 (from our textbook)
? They think the conflict mainly exists between different races….
They think that the conflict mainly exists between different races….

? It’s unbelievable she is married 10 times….
? It is unbelievable that she is married 10 times….

Sample 8
? Modern stylistics get its development in the 19th and 20th centuries from rhetoric…. Modern stylistics had its development in the 19th and 20th centuries from rhetoric…. ? …no more than 30 articles concerning stylistics get published in China. …no more than 30 articles concerning stylistics were published in China.

Sample 9
? The famous ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, et al, all contributed a lot to this branch of learning. ? The famous ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, et al, all contributed much to this branch of learning.

Different styles should be used on different occasions, and the key to the effective use of language is “appropriateness,”
and the key to effective communication is the ability to use language appropriately.

? In other words, ? we need to develop “a sense of style.”

As EFL learners, we often fail to use English appropriately, either by using big words over daily matters in conversation so you talk like a book, or by using slang words in formal writings like official reports, legal documents, degree thesis, etc. As junior students of English, we learn the “basic facts” about English, but at a senior stage of English learning, we must learn and STUDY more “advanced facts” about language, such as speakers’ attitude in the choice and order of words, in the manipulation of sounds, in the use of sentence types, etc.




Good morning. Good afternoon.

Good Bye.



(Bye-) bye. See you. So long.

More sophisticated stylistic issue:
? Policeman: What’s your name, boy? ? Black psychiatrist: Dr Poussaint. I’m a physician. ? Policeman: What’s your first name, boy? ? Black psychiatrist: Alvin.

As EFL learners, we often fail to notice those stylistic subtleties which contribute significantly to meaning. Stylistics—the study of style—may help us develop a consistent method of language analysis and solve problems of interpretation by bringing into focus the stylistically significant features that we might otherwise overlook.

The aim of stylistics
Halliday: to show why and how the text means what it does, and to show why the text is valued as it is. To put it more plainly and specifically, stylistic analysis can improve our understanding of the ways in which impressions, effects, meanings are communicated by language, and different lexical items, graphological forms, deviations in syntax, rhetorical devices are employed in different literary works.

In other words, stylistics, a systematic and scientific study of style, can help us cultivate a sense of appropriateness, and use proper words in proper places as to make our language appropriate.

It can help us understand the “norm” and the “deviation” of different varieties of language so that we can use them more skillfully;
It can help us sharpen our understanding and appreciation of literary works; It can help us do translation work more successfully so as to achieve fidelity, fluency and elegance; It can make us better equipped in literary appreciation and criticism. --text p.5

The definition of style in this book is a general, linguistic-oriented one:
Manners indicating prominent linguistic features, devices or patterns, most (or least) frequently occur in a particular text of a particular variety of language (7).

For the different definitions of style and stylistics, ref. to pp. 5-7. See dictionary definitions on P. 7-8, which can be summarized as the following: Stylistics is a branch of linguistics which studies style in a scientific and systematic way concerning the manners/linguistic features of different varieties of language at different levels.

Ideas of Style
? Style as deviance ? Style as choice ? Style as foregrounding

Style as deviance
? The distinctiveness of a literary text resides in its departure from the characteristics of what is communicatively normal. Jan Mucarovsky, a leading linguist and literary critic, speaks of style as “foregrounding ”, stating that “the violation of the norm of standard, its systematic violation is what makes possible the poetic utilization of language; without this possibility there would be no poetry”. Normal uses of language “automatize” language to such an extent that its speakers no longer see its expressive or aesthetic power; poetry must “deautomatize” or “foreground” language by breaking the rules of everyday language.

Example : “a grief ago”
A grief ago, She who was who I hold, the fats and the flower, Or, water-lammed, from the scythe-sided thorn, …… --Dylan Thomas
The author here seems to be measuring time in terms of emotion. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suggest that the speaker of the poem may have experienced grief repeatedly so that he can measure time in terms of it.

More examples by D. Thomas
? Do not go gentle into that good night, ? Old age should burn and rave at close of day; …… ? Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, ? And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way ? --Dylan Thomas

Style as choice
? By style as choice is meant that style “results from a tendency of a speaker or writer to consistently choose certain structures over others available in the language. ? Hemingway, for instance, chooses to write about men of action—bull fighters, deep-sea fishermen, soldiers, big-game hunters, which is as much a stylistic fact as his habit of writing in short, simple sentences, preferring the ‘dramatic’ to the ‘interior monologue’ point of view in narration, etc.”

More example in
“As though a rose should close and be a bud again” . –John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes ? In the second draft, he substituted “close” with “shut”: “As though a rose should shut and be a bud again.”

Style as foregrounding
? The term “foregrounding” is a concept of pictorial arts, referring to that part of the composition that appears to be closest to the view. This idea was applied to literature to refer to the unexpected departures from the accepted norm, which has been already discussed in “style as deviance”.

? A further view extends foregrounding to include both the deviant features and those linguistic phenomena which are not deviant, but nevertheless striking.

Example in parallelism: ? When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter, ? And when he cried the little children died in the streets. --W. H. Audden, Epitaph on a Tyrant ? I kissed thee ere I killed thee. --Shakespeare, Othello, V, iii #

? The above STRIKING examples are what Leech refers to as “the opposite circumstance, in which a writer temporarily renounces his permitted freedom of choice, introducing uniformity where there would normally be diversity.

The development of stylistics
? Refer to the text, pp.9-12

The scope of stylistic studies
1. General (broad sense) 2. Literary (narrow sense) Refer to the text, pp.13-14 3. Theoretical stylistics (not the main concern in this course)

2. Procedures of Stylistic Analysis
Three steps:
1.Linguistic description 2.Textual analysis 3.Contextual factors and analysis

Linguistic description
Refer to p. 15 of the text

? Linguistic description is an exploration and classification of linguistic features of a given text.

What is a linguistic feature?
? A linguistic feature is shown by its consistency and relative frequency (recurring or prevailing in the text—Hemingway, for example) p.15. ? Frequencies of certain linguistic features should be CALCULATED. We need to know the percentage of content words, the percentage of Latinate/Anglo-Saxon words, the ratio of dependent to independent clauses, and other linguistic data.

? Leech: Four linguistic and stylistic categories:
? Lexical Grammatical ? figures of speech ? cohesion and context

But generally, five categories (or levels) may be distinguished:
phonology(语音): the system of speech sounds in a language (phonemes, stress, rhythm, intonation) graphology(语相): the writing system of a language (spelling, punctuation marks, capitalization, type style, etc.): Tim failed his test. Tim failed his test?

lexis(词汇): vocabulary syntax/grammar(语法): syntactical structure semantics(语义) (see the textbook 16-19) Such analysis is a means to make students examine language features systematically, so that items of potential significance may not be overlooked.

Textual Analysis
? “Text” comes from the Latin “textere”, meaning “weave”. ? Text(文本)also refers to a sequential collection of sentences or utterances which form a unity by reason of their linguistic cohesion and semantic coherence, e.g. a scientific article, a recipe, a poem, a public lecture, a sermon, a story, etc. P.19

? However, it is possible for a text to consist of only one sentence or utterance, e.g. a notice or road sign (Exit; Stop), which is semantically complete in itself, and pragmatically tied to a specific situation. Thus, we may conclude that a text is any passage, spoken or written, of whatever length, that forms a unified whole. A text is then a semantic unit, a unit not only of form, but also of meaning. p.19

Cohesive devices
Text layout (general frame work of the text); Reference (personal, demonstrative, comparative, etc.); Substitution (nominal, verbal, clausal, etc.); Ellipsis (nominal, verbal, clausal, etc.); Logical connectors (additive, adversative); Collocation (words typically associated with one another); Inter-sentence relationship (cordination, homology, etc.) refer to p. 20

Let us construct a text from the following disconnected sentences: a. Two boys stood near a jeweller’s shop. b. Two boys saw a man break a window of a jeweller’s shop and steal all the watches. c. Two boys took a man with several watches in his hand for a thief. d. Two boys ran after a man with several watches in his hand.

? To connect the sentences into a text, we need to make several modifications so that the sentences become COHESIVE with one another: ? Two boys stood near a jeweller’s shop. They saw a man break the shop window and steal all the watches. They ran after him, because they took him for a thief.

In the text you may notice the following modifications, which serve as grammatical cohesive devices: The use of the definite article on the second mention, e.g. a shop---the shop a man---the man

The substitution of pronouns for nouns, e.g. two boys---they The use of conjunction, e.g. They ran after him, because… The lexical cohesion in the text is realized by the collocation of the words that are in some way or other typically associated with one another, e.g. steal with thief; jeweller’s shop with watches.

? Let us examine another example, in which linguistic units are not overtly cohesive. ? ? A: See who that is. B: I’m in pyjamas. A: OK.

? Texts are therefore recognized as appropriately coherent in actual use. A full understanding of a text is often impossible without reference to the CONTEXT in which it occurs. Since a text necessarily implies a context, the analysis of the style of a text should not be isolated from the examination of the relevant contextual factors. The matching of a text with its context is termed the PLACING OF A TEXT or CONTEXTUALIZATION(语境化).

Contextual factors analysis
The discussion of “text” naturally leads to the discussion of “context”, because an understanding of the meaning of a linguistic unit or a text depends upon the knowledge of the context in which the unit or text occurs.

? Context, also referred to as CO-TEXT, refers to all elements of a communicative situation: the verbal and nonverbal context. Generally of two aspects: “linguistic context,” and “extralinguistic context” (context of situation), but according to Functional stylistics, contextual factors include the following three aspects:

? Field of discourse(语场): the institutional setting, private or public ? Tenor of discourse(语旨): the participants, their education, age, sex, social status, rolerelationship, degree of intimacy ? Mode of discourse(语式): medium of communication: speech or writing
--p. 20

? Linguists have emphasized the role of contexts of situation as determinants of style. There is an observable match (CORRELATION) between linguistic features and CONTEXTAL FACTORS.

? Example:
1. I’m sorry to trouble you, but could I ask you to close the door for me, please? 2. Would you mind closing the door (please)? 3. I could do without the draught from that door. 4. Shut the do?r, won’t you. 5. Shut the doòr, will you! 6. Door! 7. Were you born in a barn? 8. I know a little boy who never leaves the door open.

? These sentences differ from each other in linguistic form: 4-5 differ in the choice of a question tag and in intonation pattern; 2-3 and 6 in syntactic structure; 1, 3 and 7 in the choice of words or expressions.

Context of situation
1. Setting public private

Speaker’s possible choice
1-3 4-8

2. speaker-hearer relationship distant 1-4 intimate 5-8
3. speaker’s intention To request To hint To persuade To command To rebuke 1-2, 4 3 8 5-6 7

? To ask somebody to close the door, a speaker may choose one from the above examples in accordance with the context of situation. But with the change of contextual factors, the same linguistic form may communicate a different meaning. Take sentence 1 for example. It indicates courtesy if said to a stranger; but the polite form manifests irritation and displeasure if the speaker and the hearer are usually on familiar terms.

? Nevertheless, one thing may be noted, that is, the manipulation of language may sometimes influence the context.
? For example, Jenny comes to Alan’s house. She is conducting a survey for the Government.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Alan: Won’t you come in, Miss-er-. Jenny: Cartwright, Jenny Cartwright. Alan: I’m Alan Marlow. (Alan shows Jenny into the living room.) Alan: Oh won’t you make yourself comfortable, Jenny? (after some minutes of talk, which is omitted here) Jenny: Mr. Marlow… Alan: Call me Alan.

Principle of comparison
? The study of style is the study of distinctions: looking at what was said against what might have been said. The distinction of a style cannot be perceived without comparison. The selection of language features for an analysis is based on comparison: we define a regional style by making it against Standard English. We analyze an individual’s style by matching it against that of a group of people. We study literary language through comparisons with various relative norms of non-literary language.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. What does general stylistics study? Why should we learn stylistics? What is the aim of stylistics? What are the three steps of stylistic analysis? What is a text? Explain the aspects of textual analysis. 6. What is context? Explain the three types of contextual factors according to Functional Stylistics.


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