Chapter 3 Surface-structure Deviation
Phonological deviation Graphological deviation Lexical deviation Syntactic deviation
1. Phonological Deviation
Phonological irregularities 1.1 Omission 1) Aphesis – the omission of an initial part (unstressed vowel) of a word. [` fisis]
’mid amid; ’lone alone
2) Syncope – the omission of a medial part of a word. [`si k pi]
3) Apocope – the omission of a final part of a word. [ `p k pi]
a’ all; wi’ with; o’ of
They are conventional licenses of verse composition. They change the pronunciations of the original words so that the poet may better and more easily arrange sound patterns to achieve their intended communicative effects.
NOTE: Poetic license is a writer’s privilege to depart from some expected standard. This license, though it originally covered all deviations (e.g. rhyme, inversion in word order) from standards expected in prose, came to be applied to deviations that are faults.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi’ the sun I will love thee still, my dear, While the sands o’ life shall run. (Robert Burns, A Red, Red Rose)
1.2 Mispronunciation and Sub-standard Pronunciation Intentional mispronunciation and substandard pronunciation Purpose: vividly describe a character. True to life
Dickens, Oliver Twist: depiction of Mr. Bumble What kind of person is Mr. Bumble? Why does he use long and technical words beyond his command? What does the word bumble mean in the English language?
(speak in a confused way so that no one can understand you; a pompous low-rank official)
T. Dreiser, Sister Carrie The old Irish woman was depicted as speaking in a sub-standard fashion. What is the function of the deviant phonological features? What does her accent tell us about the old woman?
C. MacInners, Absolute Strangers London Cockney accent Almost unintelligible Roughness of a gang member and his lack of education.
1.3 Special Pronunciation Purpose: convenience of rhyming
The trumpet of a prophecy! O, Wind, If winter comes, can spring be far behind? (P. B. Shelley, Ode to the West Wind)
1.4 Change of Stress Purposes: exigencies (demands) of metre; archaic affection; obedience to some obscure principles of euphony. `baluster bal`uster
2. Graphological Deviation
Graphology: the encoding of meaning in visual symbols. 字型，语相 Graphological deviation: the shape of the text, the type of print, grammatrics, punctuation, indentation, etc.
2.1 Shape of Text Design of the shape of a text in an unconventional way: suggestive of a certain literary theme. R. Draper, Target Practice The poem is shaped like a bull’s eye or target with a series of concentric circles. Each circle from the outside to the inside represents a progression in the degree of seriousness of injury. Uniqueness and originality
2.2 Type of Print
italics, bold print, capitalization, de-capitalization, etc. E. E. Cummings, Me up at does What is unusual in the capitalization and de-capitalization of the poem? Me up at does a poisoned mouse out of the floor who still alive quietly Stare does Stare quietly a poisoned mouse out of the floor still who alive up at Me is asking what is asking what have i done that have i done that You wouldn’t have You wouldn’t have
According to the convention of verse composition, the first letter of each line should be capitalized. Cummings breaches the convention by only capitalizing the first letter of the opening line and that of the closing line so that the two words Me and You stand out and become stylistically prominent. Me and You are also in strong contrast with i. Thus they have acquired great significance in the poem.
What do Me and You refer to? What does i refer to? Purpose: The poet may intend to have the reader see that the addresser (Me and You) considered himself to be superior to the mouse. However, the addresser does not seem to be so calm and sober as the poisoned mouse, for the mouse speaks much more grammatically than he does. This then shows satirically the fact that those who appear to be important and powerful and are in a position to manipulate others' destinies may in fact be very weak inwardly. In other words, when they do evil against their own conscience, they cannot help revealing their uneasy feelings.
Since i is the self-address of the mouse, the decapitalization may demonstrate that the mouse wishes to show its humbleness. The capitalization of You on the other hand manifests that the mouse pays much respect to the addresser (the human being-Me), at least outwardly.
2.3 Grammetrics Grammetrics: the ways in which grammatical units are fitted into metrical units such as lines and stanzas.
This Is Just to Say I have eaten the plums that were in the ice-box and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold
The title of the poem does not stand on its own, as is usually the case. It is the main clause of the first sentence which runs over the first two stanzas of the poem. This may show that the poet intends the poem to be read as a whole and places emphasis on the unity of the discourse. However, the more important effect created is the arousal of the reader’s expectation and interest. This is because when the reader reads the title, he gets a sense of incompleteness and, therefore would like to read on to find out ‘what’ is said.
When we take a close look at the whole poem, we may find that every line of the poem, in fact, creates a pulling-forward effect, though there may be differences in the degrees of strength. In line one, although the verb eat can either take an object or not, the absence of punctuation at the end of the line makes us expect one. Thus we are driven forward to the second line where our expectation is satisfied. But a new expectation is aroused at the same time by the presence of the definite article the in the line. Because plums was not mentioned previously in the poem, we have only to understand that the article is used in a cataphoric sense which indicates that the specific reference is contained in the following context.
In line three, we get a clause that modifies or qualifies the noun phrase the plums. However, the clause is not finished, after the preposition in, we naturally expect, from the context, that some kind of locative will follow in the next line. In line four, our expectation is again fulfilled. Although we do not have particular syntactic expectation this time, the absence of punctuation at the end of the line (also the end of the stanza) may give us a sense of incompleteness. This pulls our attention forward to the next stanza without pausing.
In line five we know from the relative pronoun which that a new clause is introduced. We would naturally move on at once to the next line to find out what follows which and what this which refers to exactly. On finishing reading line six, we again get a strong sense of incompleteness. Although we cannot predict what exactly will follow, we suspect that it will very likely be a main verb in its ‘ing’ form.
In line seven, we have indeed got a verb in ‘ing’ form. Williams, however, does not stop us from anticipating. From the context, we feel that there should be a phrase to follow saving, suggesting the plums are either ‘for someone’ or ‘for some occasion’. Line eight satisfies our expectation. Nevertheless, the absence of a full stop at the end of the line may give us an impression that the sentence is not finished. We, therefore, cannot pause but move on to the last stanza. It is not until we see the capitalization of the first letter of the last stanza that we realize we have in fact started a new sentence.
When we read the last stanza, we may again feel that our attention is pulled forward. However, this pulling-forward effect is not so strong as that in the first two stanzas. We feel that there is somehow a slowing down of pace. The reason for this seems to be that we do not have specific syntactic expectation here any more. We read on simply because we know from the absence of punctuation that the poem is not finished, and we realize from the context that there may be more interesting things to be read.
Now let us sum up what we have said in relation to the grammetrics of the poem: 1. Every line of the poem creates a strong pullingforward effect. 2. The majority of the lines in the first two stanzas create a very strong pulling-forward effect because they arouse syntactic expectations from the reader. All the lines in the last stanza create a less strong pulling-forward effect because, through the absence of punctuation, they only suggest that the clause or the sentence is not finished. This forms a strong contrast in pace.
These two points can be seen from the following where “ ” indicates a strong pulling-forward effect, and “=>” indicates a very strong pulling-forward effect.
This Is Just to Say => I have eaten => the plums => that were in => the icebox and which => you were probably => saving => for breakfast => Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold
How do we explain what we have observed then?
The overall pulling-forward effect brings great immediacy to the sensuous experience being described in the poem. It is also intended to make the reader actively involve himself in reading the poem, and read it with great interest and pleasure.
NOTE：The immediacy of an event or situation is the quality that it has which makes it seem important or exciting because it is happening at the present time.（即时性，直接性）
The contrast in pace between the first two stanzas and the last stanza is of even greater significance. In the title and the first two stanzas, by constantly arousing syntactic expectations from the reader, Williams seems to try to get the reader involved immediately and actively in reading the poem and to give great immediacy to what is being described. In the last stanza, the slowing down of the pace allows the reader to share the taste of the plums in a leisurely manner with the speaker I, thus showing that he lays great emphasis on immediate sensuous experience.
3. Syntactic Deviation
Syntactic deviation refers to departures from normal (surface) grammar. These include a number of features such as unusual clause themes, unusual phrase structures.
3.1 Unusual Clause Theme Theme is the initial unit of a clause. It is what a clause is about. It serves as the point of departure of the message. THEME + RHEME Apart from the last stressed element of the clause structure which most naturally bears the information focus, the theme is the most important part of a clause from the point of view of its presentation of a message in sequence. The theme may be characterized as the communicative departure for the rest of the clause.
In English, the expected or “unmarked” theme of a main clause is:
1. Subject of an indicative clause : She got a new dress. 2. Auxiliary in a yes-no question: Did she get a new dress? 3. Wh-element in a wh-question: Which dress did she get? 4. Main verb in an imperative clause: Get a new dress for her.
Flexibility of theme The literary writer can place any of the rest of clause elements in the thematic position in order to achieve certain literary effect. The theme thus produced is unusual and is therefore called a 'marked' theme.
My opinion of the coal trade on that river is, that it may require talent, but it certainly requires capital. Talent Mr. Micawber has, capital Mr. Micawber has not. (Dickens, David Copperfield)
The function of the unusual clause theme here seems to be three-fold: a) it neatly knits the paragraph together and is thus a powerful device of textual cohesion. b) it serves to form a contrast in meaning between the two parallel clauses. c) it gives much emphasis to the two words shifted to the initial position.
Some adverbials which would immediately follow an intransitive verb, may be treated as "marked theme" when placed initially.
Behold her, single in the field, You solitary Highland Lass! Reaping and singing by herself; Stop here, or gently pass! Alone she cuts and binds the grain, And sings a melancholy strain; O listen! for the vale profound Is overflowing with the sound. (Wordsworth, The Solitary Reaper)
The adjunct alone in the fifth line of the stanza is seldom, if ever, placed initially. Putting it in the thematic position here makes it possible for the line to rhyme with the next one, and bestows a ‘musical’ quality to the poem. [bi`sto] However, what seems to be more important is that this fronting of the adjunct makes the element highly noticeable. As can be seen even from the title and the first stanza of the poem, one of the major themes of the poem is the solitude of the young Highland girl who reaps crops in the field. Thus, making the element alone prominent greatly reinforces the theme of the poem.
The thematic fronting of an element is often associated with inversion which involves the reversal of subject and verb or subject and operator.
A. Here comes the bus. [A V S] B. Away went the car like a whirlwind. [A V S A] C. There are our friends. [A V S]
In literature, thematic fronting involving inversion often produces a much stronger rhetorical effect than that in previous examples.
Out of the bosom of the Air, Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare, Over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent, and soft, and slow Descends the snow. (Longfellow, Snowflakes)
The piling up of seven adverbials in the thematic position strongly emphasizes the manners and the process of snow falling. Together with the inversion of the subject and the verb, this thematic fronting produces a strong suspense. The thematic fronting reinforced by the parallel structures in the first four lines and the alliteration and the use of adjectives as adverbs in line five makes the text very interesting to read. One cannot help marveling at the poet's artistic skills.
Parting at Morning Round the cape of a sudden came the sea, And the sun looked over the mountain's rim, And straight was a path of gold for him, And the need of a world of men for me. (R. Browning)
In such a short poem, there are two unusual clause themes. In line one, the adjunct Round the cape is placed in the thematic position and is followed by another adjunct of a sudden. The unusual placement of the adjunct in the thematic position also involves the reversal of subject and verb of the clause. Such an ordering of clause elements vividly and accurately describes the sight someone in a boat might have as the boat moves out from a harbour.
In line three, the subject complement straight is placed in the thematic position and this also involves the inversion of the order of the subject and the verb of the clause. The unusual clause theme in this line makes the ellipsis in line four possible so that the two lines form a semantic contrast. It also places a good deal of emphasis on the word being placed in the thematic position, thus making the contrast even sharper.
3.2 Deviant Phrase Structure
In order to achieve certain communicative effects, literary writers may use phrases that are structurally deviant. Dylan Thomas’ famous phrase 'a grief ago': In this phrase the word grief as an uncountable noun is used in a position where we would normally employ a countable one. Cummings’ example: ‘he sang his didn't, he danced his did’: The structure of his didn't and his did is highly deviant. In non-literary discourse, possessive pronouns are never used to modify auxiliaries.
O What a noble mind is here o'er thrown! The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword, (Shakespeare, Hamlet)
This is Ophelia's lament over Hamlet's supposed madness. Here, the sense of derangement is heightened by the fact that the order of the genitive nouns does not correspond semantically with the order of the things possessed. More importantly, the phrases are structurally deviant in that each possessor is separated from its possessed, so that both logic and everyday expectations of speech seem to be mixed up in the disaster. Courtier: 侍臣，谄媚者
Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas, Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night)
Here the adjective gentle is used in a position where an adverbial phrase would be used. According to everyday usage, this is a lapse. As can be seen, the line is also the poem's title. It is repeated six times throughout the whole poem. It expresses one of the major themes of the poem, i.e. one should not accept death without resistance.
The deviant use of gentle here attracts much attention to the line itself, and makes the reader pause to think seriously about the meaning of the line. If we substitute gently for gentle, there would be nothing unusual and the meaning of the line would not register in the mind of the reader. Thus, the communicative effect of the line is greatly reduced.
4. Lexical Deviation
Lexical deviation in literature refers almost exclusively to neologisms or the coinage of new words. The new words that the literary writer invents are usually made up for use on only one particular occasion, and can therefore be called ‘nonce-formations’.
In coining new words, it may be said that the literary writer is not so much breaking rules of word-formation as extending the rules. For example, in English there is a rule of wordformation which allows the prefix ‘un’ to be attached to a noun (also to a verb or an adjective) to convey the meaning ‘not’ as in ‘unease’ and ‘unrest’. However, this rule can only be applied to a limited number of cases, so that when we come across unwish and unself in ‘Unwish through curving, wherewhen till unwish returns on itself’ (E. E. Cummings, A Complete Poem), we would be struck by such unusual use and take it as an extension of the expressive possibilities of language.
In the coinage of new words, the literary writer usually extends three major rules of word-formation: Affixation Compounding Conversion
4. 1 Affixation Affixation is the addition of a prefix or suffix to an item which already exists in the language.
And I Tiresias have foresuffered all. (T. S. Eliot) There was a balconyful of gentlemen. (Chesterton) We left the town refreshed and rehatted. (Fotherhill)
4. 2 Compounding
Compounding is the combination of two or more items to make a single compound one. While I, joy-jumping, empty-eyed sang on the day my father died. (Edwin Brook) Babes wake Open-eyed; (W. H. Davies) They were else-minded then, altogether, the men (G. M. Hopkins)
Conversion, which is often described as 'zero affixation', is the adaptation of an item to a new grammatical function without changing its form.
That hearts That spaniel'd me at heels, to whom I give Their wish, do discandy, melt their sweets On blossoming Caesar; and this pine is bark’d That overtopped them all. (Shakespeare)
"Don't be such a harsh parent, father! " "Don’ t father me ! " (H. G. Wells) I was explaining the Golden Bull to his Royal Highness, "I'll Golden Bull you, you rascal! " roared the Majesty of Prussia. (Macaulay)