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GENERAL NOTES ON STYLE AND STYLISTICS

Stylistics, sometimes called linguo-stylistics, is a branch of general linguistics. It has now been more or less definitely outlined. It deals mainly with two interdependent tasks: a) the investigation of the inventory of special language media which by their ontological features secure the desirable effect of the utterance and b) certain types of texts (discourse) which due to the choice and arrangement of language means are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication. The two objectives of stylistics are clearly discernible as two separate fields of investigation. The inventory of special language media can be analysed and their ontological features revealed if presented in a system in which the co-relation between the media becomes evident.

The types of texts can be analysed if their linguistic components are presented in their interaction, thus revealing the unbreakable unity and transparency of constructions of a given type. The types of texts that are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication are called functional styles of language (FS); the special media of language which secure the desirable effect of the utterance are called stylistic devices (SD) and expressive means (EM).

The first field of investigation, i.e. SDs and EMs, necessarily touches upon such general language problems as the aesthetic function of language, synonymous ways of rendering one and the same idea, emotional colouring in language, the interrelation between language and thought, the individual manner of an author in making use of language and a number of other issues.

The second field, i.e. functional styles, cannot avoid discussion of such most general linguistic issues as oral and written varieties of language, the notion of the literary (standard) language, the constituents of texts larger than the sentence, the generative aspect of literary texts, and some others.

In dealing with the objectives of stylistics, certain pronouncements of adjacent disciplines such as theory of information, literature, psychology, logic and to some extent statistics must be touched upon. This is indispensable; for nowadays no science is entirely isolated from other domains of human knowledge; and linguistics, particularly its branch stylistics, cannot avoid references, to the above mentioned disciplines because it is confronted with certain overlapping issues.

The branching off of stylistics in language science was indirectly the result of a long-established tendency of grammarians to confine their investigations to sentences, clauses and word-combinations which are "well-formed", to use a dubious term, neglecting anything that did not fall under the recognized and received standards. This tendency became particularly strong in what is called descriptive linguistics. The generative grammars, which appeared as a reaction against descriptive linguistics, have confirmed that the task of any grammar is to limit {he scope of investigation of language data to sentences which are considered well-formed. Everything that fails to meet this requirement should be excluded from linguistics.



But language studies cannot avoid subjecting to observation any language data whatever, so where grammar refuses to tread stylistics steps in. Stylistics has acquired its own status with its own inventory of tools (SDs and EMs), with its own object of investigation and with its own methods of research.

The stylistics of a highly developed language like English or Russian has brought into the science of language a separate body of media, thus widening the range of observation of phenomena in language. The significance of this branch of linguistics can hardly be over-estimated. A number of events in the development of stylistics must be mentioned here as landmarks. The first is the discussion of the problem of style and stylistics in " " in 1954, in which many important general and particular problems were broadly analysed and some obscure aspects elucidated. Secondly, a conference on Style in Language was held at Indiana University in the spring of 1958, followed by the publication of the proceedings of this conference (1960) under the editorship of Thomas Sebeok. Like the discussion in " " this conference revealed the existence of quite divergent points of view held by different students of language and literature. Thirdly, a conference on style and stylistics was held in the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages in March 1969. At this conference lines were drawn along which studies in linguo-stylistics might be maintained. An interesting symposium was also held in Italy, the proceedings of which were published under the editorship of professor S. Chatman in 1971.

A great number of monographs, textbooks, articles, and dissertation papers are now at the disposal of a scholar in stylistics. The stream of information grows larger every month. Two American journals appear regularly, which may keep the student informed as to trends in the theory of stylistics. They are Style issued at the Arkansas University (U.S.A.) and Language and Style published in Southern Illinois University (U.S.A.) (See also the bibliography on p. 324).

It is in view of the ever-growing significance of the exploration of language potentialities that so much attention is paid in linguo-stylistics to the analysis of expressive means (EMs) and stylistic devices (SDs), to their nature and functions, to their classification and to possible interpretations of additional meanings they may carry in a message as well as their aesthetic value.

In order to ascertain the borders of stylistics it is necessary to go at some length into the question of what is style.

The word style is derived from the Latin word 'stilus' which meant a short stick sharp at one end and flat at the other used by the Romans for writing on wax tablets. Now the word 'style' is used in so many senses that it has become a breeding ground for ambiguity. The word is applied to the teaching of how to write a composition (see below); it is also used to reveal the correspondence between thought and expression; it frequently denotes an individual manner of making use of language; it sometimes refers to more general, abstract notions thus inevitably becoming vague and obscure, as, for example, "Style is the man himself" (Buffon), "Style is depth" (Darbyshire); "Style is deviations" (Enkvist); "Style is choice", and the like.

All these ideas directly or indirectly bear on issues in stylistics. Some of them become very useful by revealing the springs which make our utterances emphatic, effective and goal-directed. It will therefore not come amiss to quote certain interesting observations regarding style made by different writers from different angles. Some of these observations are dressed up as epigrams or sententious maxims like the ones quoted above. Here are some more of them.

"Style is a quality of language which communicates precisely emotions or thoughts, or a system of emotions or thoughts, peculiar to the author." (J. Middleton Murry)

"... a true idiosyncrasy of style is the result of an author's success In compelling language to conform to his mode of experience." (J. Middleton Murry)

"Style is a contextually restricted linguistic variation." (Enkvist) "Style is a selection of non-distinctive features of language." (L. Bloom-field)

"Style is simply synonymous with form or expression and hence a superfluous term." (Benedetto Croce)

"Style is essentially a citational process, a body of formulae, a memory (almost in the cybernetic sense of the word), a cultural and not an expressive inheritance." (Roland Barthes)

Some linguists consider that the word 'style' and the subject of linguistic stylistics is confined to the study of the effects of the message, I.e. its impact on the reader. Thus Michael Riffaterre writes that "Stylistics will be a linguistics of the effects of the message, of the output of the act of communication, of its attention-compelling function". This point of view has clearly been reached under the influence of recent developments in the general theory of information. Language, being one of the means of communication or, to be exact, the most important means of communication, is regarded in the above quotation from a pragmatic point of view. Stylistics in that case is regarded as a language science which deals with the results of the act of communication.

To a very considerable degree this is true. Stylistics must take into consideration the "output of the act of communication". But stylistics must also investigate the ontological, i.e. natural, inherent, and functional peculiarities of the means of communication which may ensure the effect sought.

Archibald A. Hill states that "A current definition of style and stylistics is that structures, sequences, and patterns which extend, or may extend, beyond the boundaries of individual sentences define style, and that the study of them is stylistics."1

The truth of this approach to style and stylistics lies in the fact that the author concentrates on such phenomena in language as present a system, in other words, on facts which are not confined to individual use.

The most frequent definition of style is one expressed by Seymour Chatman: "Style is a product of individual choices and patterns of choices (emphasis added) among linguistic possibilities."

This definition indirectly deals with the idiosyncrasies peculiar to a given writer. Somehow it fails to embrace such phenomena in text structure where the 'individual' is reduced to the minimum or even done away with entirely (giving preference to non-individualistic forms in using language means). However, this definition is acceptable when applied to the ways men-of-letters use language when they seek to make it conform to their immediate aims and purport. A somewhat broader view of style is expressed by Werner Winter who maintains that "A style may be said to be characterized by a pattern of recurrent selections from the inventory of optional features of a language. Various types of selection can be found: complete exclusion of an optional element, obligatory inclusion of a feature optional elsewhere, varying degrees of inclusion of a specific variant without complete elimination of competing features."

The idea of taking various types of selection as criteria for distinguishing styles seems to be a sound one. It places the whole problem on a solid foundation of objective criteria, namely, the interdependence of optional and obligatory features.

There is no point in quoting other definitions of style. They are too many and too heterogeneous to fall under one more or less satisfactory unified notion. Undoubtedly all these diversities in the understanding of the word 'style' stem from its ambiguity. But still all these various definitions leave an impression that by and large they all have something in common. All of them point to some integral significance, namely, that style is a set of characteristics by which we distinguish one author from another or members of one subclass from members of other subclasses, all of which are members of the same general class. What are these sets of characteristics typical of a writer or of a subclass of the literary language will be seen in the analysis of the language means of a given writer and of the subclasses of the general literary standard.

Another point the above quotations have in common is that all of I hem concentrate on the form of the expression almost to the detriment of the content. In other words, style is regarded as something that belongs exclusively to the plane of expression and not to the plane of content. This opinion predominantly deals with the correspondence between the intention of the writer whoever he may bea man of letters, the writer of a diplomatic document, an article in a newspaper, or a scientific treatiseand the effect achieved. The evaluation is also based on whether the choice of language means conforms with the most general pattern of the given type of texta novel, a poem, a letter, a document, .in article, an essay and so on.

It follows then that the term 'style', being ambiguous, needs a restricting adjective to denote what particular aspect of style we intend to deal with. It is suggested here that the term individual style should be applied to that sphere of linguistic and literary science which deals with the peculiarities of a writer's individual manner of using language means to achieve the effect he desires. Deliberate choice must be distinguished from a habitual idiosyncrasy in the use of language units; every individual has his own manner and habits of using them. The speech of an individual which is characterized by peculiarities typical of that particular individual is called an idiolect. The idiolect 1 should be distinguished from what we call individual style, inasmuch as the word 'style' presupposes a deliberate choice.

When Buffon coined his famous saying which, due to its epigrammatical form, became a by-word all over the world, he had in mind the idiolect, i.e. those qualities of speech which are inherent and which reveal a man's breeding, education, social standing, etc. All these factors are, however, undoubtedly interwoven with individual style. A man's breeding and education will always affect his turn of mind and therefore will naturally be revealed in his speech and writing. But a writer with a genuine individual style will as much as possible avoid those language peculiarities which point to his breeding and education in order to leave room for that deliberate choice of language means which will secure the effect sought.

It follows then that the individual style of a writer is marked by its uniqueness. It can be recognized by the specific and peculiar combination of language media and stylistic devices which in their interaction present a certain system. This system derives its origin from the creative spirit, and elusive though it may seem, it can nevertheless be ascertained. Naturally, the individual style of a writer will never be entirely independent of the literary norms and canons of the given period. When we read novels by Swift or Fielding we can easily detect features common to both writers. These features are conditioned by the general literary canons of the period and cannot therefore be neglected. But the adaptations of these canons will always be peculiar and therefore distinguishable. Alexander Blok said that the style of a writer is so closely connected with the content of his soul, that the experienced eye can see the soul through his style, and by studying the form penetrate to the depth of the content.1 The idea of this subtle remark can be interpreted in the following way:the style of a writer can be ascertained only by analysis of the form, i.e. language media. To analyse the form in order to discover the idiosyncrasies of a writer's style is not an easy, but a rewarding task. Approaches to components of individuality such as 1) composition of larger-than-the-sentence units (see p. 193), 2) rhythm and melody of utterances, 3) system of imagery, 4) preferences for definite stylistic devices and their co-relation with neutral language media, 5) interdependence of the language media employed by the author and the media characteristic of the personages, are indispensable.

The language of a writer is sometimes regarded as alien to linguo-stylistics. Here is what V. M. 2irmunsky writes: "The language of a writer can hardly be considered an object of linguo-stylistics. If analysed outside the problem of style (the style of the work, the writer, the literary trend or the literary era), the language falls into a mass of words, collocations and grammatical facts, which taken in isolation will serve as but unreliable evidence as to the life of the given language in the given period of its development."

However, observations of the ways language means are employed by different writers, provided no claim is made to defining the individual style as a whole, may greatly contribute to the investigation of the ontological nature of these means by throwing light on their potentialities and ways of functioning. The individuality of a writer's style is shown in a peculiar treatment of language means.

In this connection it is worth referring to Flaubert's notion on style. He considers style, as it were, non-personal, its merits being dependent on the power of thought and on the acuteness of the writer's perceptions. The same idea, only slightly modified, is expressed by J. Middleton Murry who said that "A true style must be unique, if we understand by the phrase 'a true style' a completely adequate expression in language of a writer's mode of feeling."

In discussing the problem of individual style let us make it clear from the outset that the problem itself is common ground for literature and linguistics. However, inasmuch as language is the only media to accommodate poetic messages, it is necessary to go at some length into the domain of individual style, it being the testing ground for language means.

The individual style of an author is frequently identified with the general, generic term 'style'. But as has already been pointed out, style is a much broader notion. The individual style of an author is only one of the applications of the general term 'style'. The analysis of an author's language seems to be the most important procedure in estimating his individual style. This is obvious not only because language is the only means available to convey the author's ideas to the reader in precisely the way he intends, but also because writers unwittingly contribute greatly to establishing the norms of the literary language of a given period. In order to compel the language to serve his purpose, the writer draws on its potential resources in a way different from what we see in ordinary speech.

This peculiarity in the manner of using language means in poetry and emotive prose has given rise to the notion of Style as Deviance. Most illustrative of this tendency is George Saintsbury's statement made as far back as 1895: "It is in the breach or neglect of the rules that govern the structure of clauses, sentences, and paragraphs that the real secret of style consists..."2

The same idea is expressed by G. Vandryes, one of the prominent linguists of today, who states that "The belles-lettres style is always a reaction against the common language; to some extent it is a jargon, a literary jargon, which may have varieties."3

The idea has a long history. In the 1920s there arose a trend which was named formalism in literature and which has crucial relevance to present-day endeavours to analyse the role of form in embodying matter. Several literary critics representative of this school as well as a number of writers maintained the idea that language sometimes imposes intolerable constraints on freedom of thought. Hence all kinds of innovations were introduced into the language which sometimes not only disagree with the established norms of the language, but actually depart from them in principle. The result in many cases is that the language steps over the threshold of the reader's ability to perceive the message.

The essential property, indeed, merit of a truly genuine individual style is its conformity to the established norms of the language system in their idiosyncratic variations. This uniqueness of the individual style of an author is not easy to observe. It is due not only to the peculiar choice of words, sentence-structures and stylistic devices, but also to the incomparable manner these elements are combined.

It is hardly possible to under estimate the significance of a minute analysis of the language of a writer when approaching the general notion of his style. The language will inevitably reveal some of the author's idiosyncrasies in the use of language means. Moreover, the author's choice of language means reflects to a very considerable extent the idea of the work as a whole. Nowhere can the linguist observe the hidden potentialities of language means more clearly than through a scrupulous analysis of the ways writers use these means.

But for the linguist the importance of studying an author's individual style is not confined to penetration into the inner properties of language means and stylistic devices. The writers of a given period in the development of the literary language contribute greatly to establishing the system of norms of their period. It is worth a passing note that the investigations of language norms at a given period are to a great extent maintained on works of men-of-letters.

One of the essential properties of a truly individual style is its permanence. It has great powers of endurance. It is easily recognized and never loses its aesthetic value. The form into which the ideas are wrought assumes a greater significance and therefore arrests our attention. The language of a truly individual style becomes de-automatized. It may be said that the form, i.e. the language means themselves, generate meaning. This will be shown later when we come to analyse the nature and functions of stylistic devices.

The idea of individual style brings up the problem of the correspondence between thought and expression. Many great minds have made valuable observations on the interrelation between these concepts. There is a long list of books in which the problem is discussed from logical, psychological, philosophical, aesthetic, pragmatic and purely linguistic points of view. Here we shall only point out the most essential sides of the problem, viz. a) thought and language are inseparable; b) language is a means of materializing thought. It follows then that the stylicist cannot neglect this interrelation when analysing the individual style of an author. But it is one thing to take into account a certain phenomenon as a part of a general notion and another thing to substitute one notion for another. To define style as the result of thinking out into language would be on the same level as to state that all we say is style. The absurdity of this statement needs no comment.

The problem of the correspondence between matter and form (which are synonymous for thought and expression) finds its most effective wording in the following: "To finish and complete your thought!.. How long it takes, how rare it is, what an immense delight!.. As soon as a thought has reached its full perfection, the word springs into being, offers itself, and clothes the thought."1

Naturally such a poetical representation of the creative process should not be taken literally. There is a certain amount of emotional charge in it and this, as is generally the case, obscures to some extent the precision which a definition must have. However, it is well known that the search for an adequate expression often takes an enormous amount of time and mental effort. This idea is brilliantly expressed by V. Mayakovsky: " . . ."

The genuine character of the individual style of an author is not necessarily manifest from the tricky or elaborate expressions he uses.

Some forms of the language which pass unobserved even by an experienced reader due to their seeming insignificance in the general system of language may be turned into marked elements by the creative mind of the writer. Sometimes these 'insignificant' elements of the language scattered in the text are the bearers of the author's idiosyncratic bias. This is particularly true of the ways Hemingway, Faulkner and other modern writers have made use of language means, reflecting, as it were, the general tendency of trends in modern English and American literature. According to the observations of many a literary critic, the style of modern literary works is much more emotionally excited, 'dishevelled', incoherent than that of Dickens, Thackeray, Galsworthy. The language of some ultra-modern writers to some extent reflects the rapidly increasing tempo of the present industrial and technical revolution. Sensitive to the pulsation of social life in the country, they experiment with language means so as to mirror the vibration of extra-linguistic reality.

In every individual style we can find both the general and the particular. The greater the author is, the more genuine his style will be. If we succeed in isolating and examining the choices which the writer prefers, we can define what are the particulars that makeup his style and make it recognizable.

At the same time the linguist will be able to discern those potentialities of language means which hitherto were latent or, at the most, used only occasionally.

The individuality of a writer is shown not only in the choice of lexical, syntactical and stylistic means but also in their treatment. It is really remarkable how a talented writer can make us feel the way he M wants us to feel. This co-experience is built up so subtly that the reader remains unaware of the process. It is still stronger when the aesthetic function begins to manifest itself clearly and unequivocally through a gradual increase in intensity, in the foregrounding of certain features, repetitions of certain syntactical patterns and in the broken rhythm of the author's mode of narrating events, facts and situations.

What we here call individual style, therefore, is a unique combination of language units, expressive means and stylistic devices peculiar to a given writer, which makes that writer's works or even utterances easily recognizable. Hence, individual style may be likened to a proper name. It has nominal character. The analogy is, of course, conventional, but it helps to understand the uniqueness of the writer's idiosyncrasy. Individual style is based on a thorough knowledge of the contemporary language and also of earlier periods in its development.

Individual style allows certain justifiable deviations from the rigorous norms. This, needless to say, presupposes a perfect knowledge of the invariants of the norms.

Individual style requires to be studied in a course of stylistics in so far as it makes use of the potentialities of language means, whatever the character of these potentialities may be. But it goes without saying that each author's style should be analysed separately, which is naturally impossible in a book on general stylistics.

Selection, or deliberate choice of language, and the ways the chosen elements are treated are the main distinctive features of individual style. The treatment of the selected elements brings up the problem of the norm. The notion of the norm mainly refers to the literary language and always presupposes a recognized ox received standard. At the same time it likewise presupposes vacillations of the received standard.

In order to get a workable definition of the norm for the purposes set in this book and, particularly, in connection with the issue of individual style, it will be necessary to go a little bit deeper into the concept.

We shall begin with the following statement made by Academician L. V. Scherba:

"Very often when speaking of norms people forget about stylistic norms (emphasis added) which are no less, if not more, important than all others."

This pronouncement clearly indicates that there is no universally accepted norm of the standard literary language, that there are different norms and that there exist special kinds of norm which are called stylistic norms. Indeed, it has long been acknowledged that the norms of the spoken and the written varieties of language differ in more than one respect (see p. 35). Likewise it is perfectly apparent that the norms of emotive prose and those of official language are heterogeneous. Even within what is called the belles-lettres style of language (see p. 3334) we can observe different norms between, for instance, poetry and drama.

In this connection I. Vachek of the Prague School of Linguistics states that "ft is necessary to reject the possibility of the existence of an abstract, universal norm which subordinates written and oral norms in any of the natural languages."

The same view is expressed by M. A. K- Halliday who states:

"There is no single universally relevant norm, no one set of expectancies to which all instances may be referred."

This point of view is not, however, to be taken literally. The fact that there are different norms for various types and styles of language doss not exclude the possibility and even the necessity of arriving at some abstract notion of norm as an i n v a r i a n t, which should embrace all variants with their most typical properties. Each style of language will have its own invariant and variants (see pp. 3334), yet all styles will have their own invariant, that of the written variety of language. Both oral (colloquial) and written (literary) varieties can also be integrated into an invariant of the standard (received) language

The norm is regarded by some linguists as "a regulator which controls a set of variants, the borders of variations and also admissible and inadmissible variants." (E. A. Makayev)

Here are some other definitions.

"The norm is an assemblage (a set) of stable (i.e. regularly used) means objectively existing in the language and systematically used." (Gavranek)

"A certain conventionally singled out assemblage of realizations of language means recognized by the language community as a model." (Gukhman & Semenyuk)

"The norm is a linguistic abstraction, an idea thought up by linguists and existing only in their minds." (A. E. Darbyshire)

"There is, of course, no such thing as the norm to be found in actual usages. It is a concept which must be expressed by means of a formula, and it is a concept about that which is left of uses of language when all stylistic qualities have been taken away from them." (A. E. Darbyshire)

The last of the definitions elaborates the idea of the norm as something stripped of its stylistic qualities. This is not accidental. Many linguists hold the view that anything which can be labelled stylistic is already a deviation from the established norm (see a number of the definitions of 'style' given on p. 11). They forget that regular deviations from the norm gradually establish themselves as variants of the norm; the more so because, as has been stated, 'deviations' of a genuinely stylistic character are not deviations' but typified and foregrounded natural phenomena of language usage, though sometimes carried to the extreme.

So, finally, we can arrive at the conclusion that the norm presupposes the oneness of the multifarious. There is a conscious attitude to what is well-formed against what is ill-formed. Well-formedness may be represented in a great number of concrete sentences allowing a considerable range of acceptability.

The norm, therefore, should be regarded as the invariant of the phonemic, morphological, lexical and syntactical patterns circulating in language-inaction at a given period of time. Variants of these patterns may sometimes diverge from the invariant but they never exceed the limits set by the invariant lest it should become unrecognizable or misleading. The development of any literary language shows that the variants will always centre around the axis of the invariant forms. The variants, as the term itself suggests, will never detach themselves from the invariant to such a degree as to claim entire independence. Yet, nevertheless, there is a tendency to estimate the value of individual style by the degree it violates the norms of the language.

As we have already cited, G. Saintsbury considers that the real secret of style reveals itself in the breach or neglect of the rules that govern the structure of clauses, sentences, and paragraphs (see p. 15). This conception is aptly illustrated theoretically in the Theory of Deviance mentioned above (p. 15) and practically in the works of certain modern poets like E. E. Cummings and others who try to break away entirely from the established and recognized invariants and variants of the given norm. They introduce various patterns which are almost undecodable and consequently require special devices for grasping the messages.

Quite a different point of view is expressed by E. Sapir, who states: "...the greatestor shall we say the most satisfyingliterary artists, the Shakespeares and Heines, are those who have known subconsciously how to fit or trim the deeper intuition to the provincial accents of their daily speech. In them there is no effect of strain. Their personal 'intuition' appears as a completed synthesis of the absolute art of intuition and the innate, specialized art of the linguistic medium."2

This idea is common to many stylicists who hold that real and genuine individuality of style will reveal itself not in the breach of the rules, in other words, not in deviating from the accepted norms, but in the peculiar treatment of them. However, it must be repeated that some deviations, if they are motivated, may occur here and there in the text. Moreover, let us repeat once more that through constant repetitions such deviations may become legitimate variants of the norm and establish themselves as members of the language system.

The problem of variants of the norm, or deviations from the norm of the literary language, has received widespread attention among linguists and is central to some of the major current controversies. It is the inadequacy of the concept 'norm' that causes the controversy. At every period in the development of a literary language there must be a tangible norm which first of all marks the difference between literary and non-literary language. Then there must be a clear-cut distinction between the invariant of the norm (as an abstraction) and its variants (in concrete texts). As will be seen later almost every functional style of language is marked by a specific use of language means, thus establishing its own norms which, however, are subordinated to the norm-invariant and which do not violate the general notion of the literary norm.

One of the most characteristic and essential properties of the norm is its flexibility. A too rigorous adherence to the norm brands the writer's language as pedantic, no matter whether it is a question of speech or writing. But on the other hand, neglect of the norm will always be regarded with suspicion as being an attempt to violate the established signals of the language code which safeguard and accelerate the process of communication. At the same time, a free handling of the norms may be regarded as a permissible application of the flexibility of the norm.

It must be acknowledged that to draw a line of demarcation between facts that illustrate the flexibility of the norm and those which show its violation is not so easy. The extremes are apparent, but border cases are blurred. Thus "footsteps on the sand of war" (E. E. Cummings) or "below a time" (see other examples on pp. 162163) are clearly violations of the accepted norms of word-building or word-combinations.

But "silent thunder", "the ors and ifs" and the like may from one point of view be regarded as a practical application of the principle of flexibility of the norm and from anotheras a violation of the semantic and morphological norms of the English language. Variants interacting with the rigorous rules of usage may reveal the potentialities of the language for enrichment to a degree which no artificial coinage will ever be able to reach. This can be explained by the fact that semantic changes and particularly syntactical ones are rather slow in process and they reject any sudden imposition of innovations on the code already in action. There is a constant process of gradual change taking place in the forms of language and their meaning at any given period in the development of the language. It is therefore most important to master the received standard of the given period in the language in order to comprehend the correspondence of this or that form to the recognized norm of the period.

Some people think that one has to possess what is called a "feeling for the language" in order to be able to understand the norm of the language and its possible variants. But this feeling is deeply rooted in the unconscious knowledge of the laws according to which a language functions, and even in its history, which explains much concerning the direction it has progressed. When the feeling of the norm, which grows with the knowledge of the laws of the language, is instilled in the mind, one begins to appreciate the beauty of justifiable fluctuations.

Paradoxal though it may seem, the norm can be grasped, nay, established, only when there are deviations from it. It is therefore best perceived in combination with something that breaks it. In this connection the following remarks made by L. V. Scherba are worth quoting:

"... in order to achieve a free command of a literary language, even one's own, one must read widely, giving preference to those writers who deviate but slightly from the norm."

"Needless to say, all deviations are to some extent normalized: not every existing deviation from the norm is good; at any rate, not in all circumstances. The feeling for what is permissible and what is not, and mainlya feeling for the inner sense of these deviations (and senseless ones, as has been pointed out, are naturally bad), is developed through an extensive study of our great Russian literature in all its variety, but of course in its best examples."

"I say justifiable or "motivated" because bad writers frequently make use of deviations from the norm which are not motivated or justified by the subject matterthat is why they are considered bad writers."

While dealing with various conceptions of the term 'style', we must also mention a commonly accepted connotation of style as embellishment of language. This understanding of style is upheld in some of the scientific papers on literary criticism. Language and style as embellishment are regarded as separate bodies. According to this idea language can easily dispense with style, because style here is likened to the trimming on a dress. Moreover, style as embellishment of language is viewed as something that hinders understanding. It is, as it were, alien to language and therefore needs to be excluded from the observations of language scholars. That is why almost all contemporary books on grammar and general linguistics avoid problems of style or, at most, touch upon them in passing. The notion of style as embellishment presupposes the use of bare language forms deprived of any stylistic devices, of any expressive means deliberately employed. In this connection Middleton Murry writes:

"The notion that style is applied ornament had its origin, no doubt, in the tradition of the school of rhetoric in Europe, and in its place in their teaching. The conception was not so monstrous as it is today. For the old professors of rhetoric were exclusively engaged in instructing their pupils how to expound an argument or arrange a pleading. Their classification of rhetorical devices was undoubtedly formal and extravagant... The conception of style as applied ornament ... is the most popular of all delusions about style."

The notion of style as embellishment of language is completely erroneous. No matter how style is treated, it is the product of a writer's deliberate intention to frame his ideas in such a manner as will add something important, something indispensable in order to secure an adequate realization of his ideas. To call style embellishment is the same thing as to strip it of its very essence, that is, to render unnecessary those elements which secure the manifold application of the language units.

No doubt there are utterances which contain all kinds of unmotivated stylistic means. Moreover, there are writers whose style abounds in such utterances. But they are either those who, admiring the form, use it at the expense of the matter, or those who, by experimenting with the potentialities of language means, try to find new ways of rendering their ideas. In both cases the reader is faced with difficulties in decoding the message and this greatly hinders understanding.

A very popular notion of style among teachers of language is that style is technique of expression. In this sense style is generally defined as the ability to write clearly, correctly and in a manner calculated to interest the reader. Though the last requirement is not among the indispensables, it is still found in many practical manuals of style, most of which can be lumped together under the title "Composition and Style". This is a purely utilitarian point of view of the issue in question. If this were true, style could be taught. Style in this sense of expression studies the normalized forms of the language. The teaching process aims at lucidity of expression. It sets up a number of rules as to how to speak and write well and generally discards all kinds of deviations as being violations of the norm. The norm in these works is treated as something self-sustained and, to a very great extent, inflexible.

The utilitarian approach to the problem is also felt in the following statement by E. J. Dunsany, an Irish dramatist and writer of short stories:

"When you can with difficulty write anything clearly, simply, and emphatically, then, provided that the difficulty is not apparent to the reader, that is style. When you can do it easily, that is genius."

V. G. Belinsky also distinguished two aspects of style, making a hard and fast distinction between the technical and the creative power of any utterance.

"To language merits belong correctness, clearness and fluency," he states, "qualities which can be achieved by any talentless writer by means of labour and routine."

"But style () is talent itself, the very thought."1

Almost the same point of view is held both by A. N. Gvozdev and F. L. Lucas. Gvozdev states that "Stylistics has a practical value, teaching students to master the language, working out a conscious approach to language"2 and Lucas declares that the aims of a course in style are: a) to teach to write and speak well, b) to improve the style of the writer, and c) to show him means of improving his ability to express his ideas.3

It is important to note that what we call the practical approach to the problem of style should by no means be regarded as something erroneous. The practical side of the problem can hardly be over-estimated. But should it be called style? The ability to write clearly and emphatically can and should be taught. This is the domain of grammar, which today rules out the laws and means of composition. The notion of style cannot be reduced to the merely practical aspect because in such a case a theoretical background for practical aims cannot be worked out. Moreover, stylistics as a branch of linguistics demands investigation into the nature of such language means as add aesthetic value to the utterance.

Just as the interrelation between lexicology and lexicography is accepted to be that of theory and practice, so theoretical and practical stylistics should be regarded as two interdependent branches of linguistic science. Each of these branches may develop its own approach and methods of investigation of linguistic data.

The term 'style' is widely used in literature to signify literary genre. Thus, we speak of classical style or the style of classicism, realistic style, the style of romanticism and so on. The use of the word 'style' has sometimes been carried to unreasonable lengths, thus blurring the terminological aspect of the word. It is applied to various kinds of literary works: the fable, novel, ballad, story, etc. The term is also used to denote the way the plot is dealt with, the arrangement of the parts of literary composition to form the whole, the place and the role of the author in describing and depicting events.

It is suggested in this work that the term 'style' be used to refer to purely linguistic facts, thus avoiding the possible ambiguity in its application. After all the origin of the word 'style' is a justification for the suggestion. However, we are fully aware of the fact that such a proposition will be regarded as an encroachment on the rights of literature to have its own terms in spite of the fact that they are the same as terms in linguistics.

Now let us pass to the discussion of an issue the importance of which has to be kept clearly in mind throughout the study of stylistics, that is the dichotomy of language and speech or, to phrase the issue differently, language-as-a-system and language-in-action. It deserves at least a cursory discussion here not only because the issue has received a good deal of attention in recent publications on linguistic matters, but also because, as will be seen later, many stylistic devices stand out against the background of the distinctive features of these two above-mentioned notions. The simplicity of the issue is to some extent deceptive. On the surface it seems that language-in-action takes the signs of language-as-a-system and arranges them to convey the intended message. But the fact is that the signs of the latter undergo such transformations in the former that sometimes they assume a new quality imposing new significations on the signs of the language code. There is compelling evidence in favour of the theory which demands that the two notions should be regarded in their unity, allowing, however, that each of them be subjected to isolated observation.

Language-as-a-system may figuratively be depicted as an exploiter of language-in-action. All rules and patterns of language which are collected and classified in works on grammar, phonetics, lexicology and stylistics first appear in language-in-action, whence they are generalized and framed as rules and patterns of language-as-a-system.

It is important here to call attention to the process of formation of scientific notions. Whenever we notice a phenomenon that can be singled out from a mass of language facts we give it a name, thus abstracting the properties of the phenomenon. The phenomena then being collected and classified are hallowed into the ranks of the units of language-as-a-system. It must be pointed out that most observations of the nature and functioning of language units have been made on material presented by the written variety of language. It is due to the fixation of speech in writing that scholars of language began to disintegrate the continuous flow of speech and subject the functioning of its components to analysis.

So it is with stylistic devices. Being born in speech they have gradually become recognized as certain patternized structures: phonetic, morphological, lexical, phraseological and syntactical, and duly taken away from their mother, Speech, and made independent members of the family, Language.

The same concerns the issue of functional styles of language. Once they have been recognized as independent, more or less closed subsystems of the standard literary language, they should be regarded not as styles of speech but as styles of language, inasmuch as they can be patterned as to the kinds of interrelation between the component parts in each of the styles. Moreover, these functional styles have been subjected to various classifications, which fact shows that the phenomena now belong to the domain of language-as-a-system.

However, it must constantly be born in mind that the units which belong to this domain are abstract in their nature. Functional styles are merely models deprived of material substance, schemes which can be materialized in language forms. When materialized in language forms they become practical realizations of abstract schemes and signify the variants of the corresponding invariants of the models.

This relatively new science, stylistics, will be profitable to those who have a sound linguistic background. The expressive means of English and the stylistic devices used in the literary language can only be understood (and made use of) when a thorough knowledge of the language-as-a-system, i.e. of the phonetic, grammatical and lexical data of the given language, has been attained.

It goes without saying that the more observant the student is, the easier it will be for him to appreciate the peculiar usage of the language media.

Justification for bringing this problem up is that some language scholars frighten students out of studying stylistics on the ground that this subject may effectively be studied only on the basis of a perfect command of the language. Such scholars, aware of the variables and unknowns, usually try in their teaching to sidestep anything that may threaten well-established theories concerning the laws of language. Alert- ness to the facts of language-in-action should be inherent, but it can be developed to a degree necessary for an aesthetic evaluation of the works of men-of-letters. And for this purpose it is first of all necessary to get a clear idea of what constitutes the notions 'expressive means' and 'stylistic devices'.

 


Date: 2014-12-29; view: 4858


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