Main Trends in Style Study. Functional Stylistics and Functional Styles. Forms and Types of the Language. Stylistics of Artistic Speech. Individual Style Study. Decoding Stylistics. Practical Stylistics. Levels of Linguistic Analysis. Foregrounding. Aims of Stylistic Analysis.
The term “stylistics” originated from the Greek “stylos”, which means, “a pen”.-In the course of time it developed several meanings, each one applied to a specific study of language elements and their use in speech.
It is no news that any propositional content — any “idea” — can be verbalized in several different ways. So, “May I offer you a chair?”, “Take a seat, please”, “Sit down” — have the same proposition (subject matter) but differ in the manner of expression, which, in its turn, depends upon the situational conditions of the communication act.
70 per cent of our lifetime is spent in various forms of communication activities — oral (speaking, listening) or written (reading, writing), so it is self-evident how important it is for a philologist to know the mechanics of relations between the non-verbal, extralinguistic, cognitive essence of the communicative act and its verbal, linguistic presentation. It is no surprise, then, that many linguists follow their famous French colleague Charles Bally, claiming that Stylistics is primarily the study of synonymic language resources.
Representatives of the not less well-known Prague school — V. Mathesius, T. Vachek, J. Havranek and others focused their attention on the priority of the situational appropriateness in the choice of language varieties for their adequate functioning. Thus, functional stylistics, which became and remains an international, very important trend in style study, deals with sets, “paradigms” of language units of all levels of language hierarchy serving to accommodate the needs of certain typified communicative situations. These paradigms are known as functional styles of the language. Proceeding from the famous definition of the style of a language offered by V. V. Vinogradov more than half a century ago, we shall follow the understanding of a functional style formulated by I. R. Galperin as “a system of coordinated, interrelated and interconditioned language means intended to fulfil a specific function of communication and aiming at a definite effect.”
All scholars agree that a well developed language, such as English, is streamed into several functional styles. Their classifications, though, coincide only partially: most style theoreticians do not argue about the number of functional styles being five, but disagree about their nomenclature. This manual offers one of the rather widely accepted classifications which singles out the following functional styles:
1. official style, represented in all kinds of official documents and papers;
2. scientific style, found in articles, brochures, monographs and other scientific and academic publications;
3. publicist style, covering such genres as essay, feature article, most writings of “new journalism”, public speeches, etc.;
4. newspaper style, observed in the majority of information materials printed in newspapers;
5. belles-lettres style, embracing numerous and versatile genres of imaginative writing.
It is only the first three that are invariably recognized in all stylistic treatises. As to the newspaper style, it is often regarded as part of the publicist domain and is not always treated individually. But the biggest controversy is flaming around the belles-lettres style. The unlimited possibilities of creative writing, which covers the whole of the universe and makes use of all language resources, led some scholars to the conviction that because of the liability of its contours, it can be hardly qualified as a functional style. Still others claim that, regardless of its versatility, the belles-lettres style, in each of its concrete representations, fulfils the aesthetic function, which fact singles this style out of others and gives grounds to recognize its systematic uniqueness, i.e. charges it with the status if an autonomous functional style. To compare different views on the number of functional styles and their classification see corresponding chapters in stylistic monographs, reference- and textbooks.
Each of the enumerated styles is exercized in two forms — written and oral: an article and a lecture are examples of the two forms of the scientific style; news broadcast on the radio and TV or newspaper information materials — of the newspaper style; an essay and a public speech — of the publicist style, etc.
The number of functional styles and the principles of their differentiation change with time and reflect the state of the functioning language at a given period. So, only recently, most style classifications had also included the so-called poetic style which dealt with verbal forms specific for poetry. But poetry, within the last decades, lost its isolated linguistic position; it makes use of all the vocabulary and grammar offered by the language at large and there is hardly sense in singling out a special poetic style for the contemporary linguistic situation, though its relevance for the language of the seventeenth, eighteenth and even the biggest part of the nineteenth centuries cannot be argued.
Something similar can be said about the oratoric style, which in ancient Greece was instrumental in the creation of “Rhetoric”, where Aristotle, its author, elaborated the basics of style study, still relevant today. The oratoric skill, though, has lost its position in social and political life. Nowadays speeches are mostly written first, and so contain all the characteristic features of publicist writing, which made it unnecessary to specify oratoric style within the contemporary functional stratification of the language.
All the above-mentioned styles are singled out within the literary type of the language. Their functioning is characterized by the intentional approach of the speaker towards the choice of language means suitable for a particular communicative situation and the official, formal, preplanned nature of the latter.
The colloquial type of the language, on the contrary, is characterized by the unofficiality, spontaneity, informality of the communicative situation. Sometimes the colloquial type of speech is labelled “the colloquial style” and entered into the classification of functional styles of the language, regardless of the situational and linguistic differences between the literary and colloquial communication, and despite the fact that a style of speech manifests a conscious, mindful effort in choosing and preferring certain means of expression for the given communicative circumstances, while colloquial speech is shaped by the immediacy, spontaneity, unpremeditativeness of the communicative situation. Alongside this consideration there exists a strong tendency to treat colloquial speech as an individual language system with its independent set of language units and rules of their connection.
Functional stylistics, dealing in fact with all the subdivisions of the language and all its possible usages, is the most all-embracing, “global”, trend in style study, and such specified stylistics as the scientific prose study, or newspaper style study, or the like, may be considered elaborations of certain fields of functional stylistics.
A special place here is occupied by the study of creative writing -the belles-lettres style, because in it, above all, we deal with stylistic use of language resources, i.e. with such a handling of language elements that enables them to carry not only the basic, logical, but also additional information of various types. So the stylistics of artistic speech, or belles-lettres style study, was shaped.
Functional stylistics at large and its specified directions proceed from the situationally stipulated language “paradigms” and concentrate primarily on the analysis of the latter. It is possible to say that the attention of functional stylistics is focused on the message in its correlation with the communicative situation.
The message is common ground for communicants in an act of communication, an indispensable element in the exchange of information between two participants of the communicative act — the addresser (the supplier of information, the speaker, the writer) and the addressee (the receiver of the information, the listener, the reader).
Problems, concerning the choice of the most appropriate language means and their organization into a message, from the viewpoint of the addresser, are the centre of attention of the individual style study, which puts particular emphasis on the study of an individual author’s style, looking for correlations between the creative concepts of the author and the language of his works.
In terms of information theory the author’s stylistics may be named the stylistics of the encoder: the language being viewed as the code to shape the information into the message, and the supplier of the information, respectively, as the encoder. The addressee in this case plays the part of the decoder of the information contained in the message; and the problems connected with adequate reception of the message without any informational losses or deformations, i.e., with adequate decoding, are the concern of decoding stylistics.
And, finally, the stylistics, proceeding from the norms of language usage at a given period and teaching these norms to language speakers, especially the ones, dealing with the language professionally (editors, publishers, writers, journalists, teachers, etc.) is called practical stylistics.
Thus, depending on the approach and the final aim there can be observed several trends in style study. Common to all of them is the necessity to learn what the language can offer to serve the innumerable communicative tasks and purposes of language users; how various elements of the language participate in storing and transferring information; which of them carries which type of information, etc.
The best way to find answers to most of these and similar questions is to investigate informational values and possibilities of language units, following the structural hierarchy of language levels, suggested by a well-known Belgian linguist E. Benvemste about four decades ago — at the IX International Congress of Linguists in 1962, and accepted by most scholars today if not in its entirety, then at least as the basis for further elaboration and development.
E. Benveniste’s scheme of analysis proceeds from the level of the phoneme — through the levels of the morpheme and the word to that of the sentence.
This book of practice is structured accordingly. The resources of each language level become evident in action, i.e. in speech, so the attention of the learners is drawn to the behaviour of each language element in functioning, to its aptitude to convey various kinds of information.
The ability of a verbal element to obtain extra significance, to say more in a definite context was called by Prague linguists foregrounding: indeed, when a word (affix, sentence), automatized by the long use in speech, through context developments, obtains some new, additional features, the act resembles a background phenomenon moving into the front line — foregrounding.
A contextually foregrounded element carries more information than when taken in isolation, so it is possible to say that in context it is loaded with basic information inherently belonging to it, plus the acquired, adherent, additional information. It is this latter that is mainly responsible for the well-known fact that a sentence always means more than the sum total of the meanings of its component-words, or a text means more than the sum of its sentences. So, stylistic analysis involves rather subtle procedures of finding the foregrounded element and indicating the chemistry of its contextual changes, brought about by the intentional, planned operations of the addresser, i.e. effected by the conscious stylistic use of the language.
For foreign language students stylistic analysis holds particular difficulties: linguistic intuition of a native speaker, which is very helpful in all philological activities, does not work in the case of foreign learners. Besides, difficulties may arise because of the inadequate language command and the ensuing gaps in grasping the basic, denotational information. Starting stylistic analysis, thus, one should bear in mind that the understanding of each separate component of the message is an indispensable condition of satisfactory work with the message as a whole, of getting down to the core and essence of its meaning.
Stylistic analysis not only broadens the theoretical horizons of a language learner but it also teaches the latter the skill of competent reading, on one hand, and proprieties of situational language usage, on the other.
ASSIGNMENTS FOR SELF-CONTROL
1. What are the main trends in style study?
2. What forms and types of speech do you know?
3. What is a functional style and what functional styles do you know?
4. What do you know of the studies in the domain of the style of artistic speech?
5. What do you know about individual style study? What authors most often attract the attention of style theoreticians?
6. What is foregrounding and how does it operate in the text?
7. What levels of linguistic analysis do you know and which of them are relevant for stylistic analysis?
8. What is decoding stylistics?
9. What is the main concern of practical stylistics?
10. What is the ultimate goal of stylistic analysis of a speech product?