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EXPRESSIVE MEANS (EM) AND STYLISTIC DEVICES (SD).

 

In linguistics there are different terms to denote particular means by which utterances are foregrounded, i.e. made more conspicuous, more effective and therefore imparting some additional information. They are called expressive means, stylistic means, stylistic markers, stylistic devices, tropes, figures of speech and other names. All these terms are used indiscriminately and are set against those means which we shall conventionally call neutral. Most linguists distinguish ordinary (also: substantial, referential) semantic and stylistic differences in meaning. In fact all language means contain meaning—some of them contain generally acknowledged grammatical and lexical meanings (see p. 58), others besides these contain specific meanings which may be called stylistic. Such meanings go alongside primary meanings and, as it were, are superimposed on them.

Stylistic meanings are so to say deautomatized. As is known, the process of automatization, i.e. a speedy and subconscious use of language data, is one of the indispensable ways of making communication easy and quickly decodable.

But when a stylistic meaning is involved, the process of de-automatization checks the reader's perception of the language. His attention is arrested by a peculiar use of language media and he begins, to the best of his ability, to decipher it. He becomes aware of the form in which the utterance is cast and as the result of this process a twofold use of the language medium—ordinary and stylistic—becomes apparent to him. As will be shown later this twofold application of language means in some cases presents no difficulty. It is so marked that even a layman can see it, as when a metaphor or a simile is used. But in some texts grammatically redundant forms or hardly noticeable forms, essential for the expression of stylistic meanings which carry the particular additional information desired, may present a difficulty.

What this information is and how it is conveyed to the mind of the reader can be explored only when a concrete communication is subjected to observation, which will be done later in the analyses of various stylistic devices and in the functioning of expressive means.

In this connection the following passage from "Investigating English Style" by D. Crystal and D. Davy is of interest: "Features which are stylistically significant display different kinds and degrees of distinctiveness in a text: of two features, one may occur only twice in a text, the other may occur thirty times,—or a feature might be uniquely identifying in the language, only ever occurring in one variety, as opposed to a feature which is distributed throughout many or all varieties in different frequencies."

What then is a stylistic device? Why is it so important to distinguish it from the expressive and neutral means of the language? To answer these questions it is first of all necessary to elucidate the notion 'expressiveness'.

The category of expressiveness has long been the subject of heated discussions among linguists. In its etymological sense expressiveness may be understood as a kind of intensification of an utterance or of a part of it depending on the position in the utterance of the means that manifest this category and what these means are.



But somehow lately the notion of expressiveness has been confused with another notion, viz. emotiveness. Emotiveness, and correspondingly the emotive elements of language, are what reveal the emotions of writer or speaker. But these elements are not direct manifestations of the emotions—they are just the echoes of real emotions, echoes which have undergone some intellectual recasting. They are designed to awaken co-experience in the mind of the reader.

Expressiveness is a broader notion than emotiveness and is by no means to be reduced to the latter. Emotiveness is an integral part of expressiveness and, as a matter of fact, occupies a predominant position in the category of expressiveness. But there are media in language which aim simply at logical emphasis of certain parts of the utterance. They do not evoke any intellectual representation of feeling but merely serve the purpose of verbal actualization of the utterance. Thus, for example, when we say "It was in July 1975 that the cosmos experiment of a joint American-Soviet flight took place" we make the utterance logically emphatic by a syntactical device which will be described in due course. The same thing is to be observed in these sentences:

(1) Mr. Smith was an extremely unpleasant person.

(2) Never wilt he go to that place again.

(3) In rushed the soldiers!

(4) It took us a very, very long time to get there.

In sentence (1) expressiveness is achieved by lexical means—the word 'extremely'. In (2) and (3) by syntactical means—different types of inversion. In (4) the emphasis is materialized by the repetition of the word 'very' which is in itself a word used to intensify the utterance.

But in the sentences:

(1) Isn't she cute!

(2) Fool that he was!

(3) This goddam window won't open!

(4) We buddy-buddied together.

(5) This quickie tour didn't satisfy our curiosity.

we can register positive emotiveness, inasmuch as there are elements that evoke certain representations of the feeling of the speaker. In sentence (1) and (2) there are syntactical means which evoke this effect. In (3) and (4) there are lexical means—'goddam', 'buddy-buddied' (-were on very friendly relations); in (5)—a morphological device (the suffix—ie).

It must be noted that to draw a hard and fast distinction between logical and emotional emphasis is not always possible. The fact is that the logical and the emotional frequently overlap. A too strong logical emphasis may colour the utterance with emotional elements, thus causing a kind of expressiveness which is both logical and emotive. However, the extremes are clearly set one against the other.

Now it should be possible to define the notion of expressive means. The expressive means of a language are those phonetic, morphological, word-building, lexical, phraseological and syntactical forms which exist in language-as-a-system for the purpose of logical and/or emotional intensification of the utterance. These intensifying forms, wrought by social usage and recognized by their semantic function, have been singled out in grammars, courses in phonetics and dictionaries (including phraseological ones) as having special functions in making the utterances emphatic. Some of them are normalized, and good dictionaries label them as "intensifiers". In most cases they have corresponding neutral synonymous forms. Compare, for example, the following pairs:

(1) He shall do it! = I shall make him do it.

(2) Isn't she cute! = She is very nice, isn't she?

Expressiveness may also be achieved by compositional devices in utterances comprising a number of sentences—in syntactical wholes and in paragraphs. This will be shown in the chapter on syntactical stylistic devices.

The most powerful expressive means of any language are phonetic. The human voice can indicate subtle nuances of meaning that no other means can attain. Pitch, melody, stress, pausation, drawling out certain syllables, whispering, a sing-song manner and other ways of using the voice are much more effective than any other means in intensifying an utterance emotionally or logically. In the language course of phonetics the patterns of emphatic intonation have been worked out, but many devices have so far been little investigated.

Paradoxal though it may seem, many of these means, the effect of which rests on a peculiar use of the voice, are banned from the linguistic domain. But there has appeared a new science—"paralinguistics"—of which all these devices are the inventory. The writer of this book holds the opinion that all the vocal peculiarities enumerated should be recognized as legitimate members of the phonetic structure of language and that therefore the term 'paralinguistics' should be done away with.

Professor Seymour Chatman introduces the term 'phonostylistics' and defines it as a subject the purpose of which is "the study of the ways in which an author elects to constrain the phonology of the language beyond the normal requirements of the phonetic system."1 As can be inferred from this quotation, phonetic expressive means and particularly phonetic stylistic devices (see p. 123) are not deviations from "the normal requirements of the phonetic system" but a way of actualizing the typical in the given text. Vocal phenomena such as drawling, whispering, etc. should be regarded as parts of the phonemic system on the same level as pitch, stress and tune.

In this part of the book where general ideas are presented in an introductory aspect only, there is no need to go deeper into the issue of what constitutes the notion expressive means of the phonetic system. The reader is referred to part III "Phonetic Expressive Means and Stylistic Devices» (p. 123).

Passing over to some preliminary remarks on the morphological expressive means of the English language, we must point to what is now a rather impoverished set of media to which the quality of expressiveness can be attributed. However, there are some which alongside their ordinary grammatical function display a kind of emphasis and thereby are promoted to EMs. These are, for example, The Historical Present; the use of shall in the second and third person; the use of some demonstrative pronouns with an emphatic meaning as those, them ("Those gold candles fixed in heaven's air"—Shakespeare); some cases of nominalization, particularly when conversion of verbal stems is alien to the meaning of the verbs or the nominalization of phrases and sentences and a number of other morphological forms, which acquire expressiveness in the context, though this capacity is not yet registered as one of the latent properties of such forms.

Among the word-building means we find a great many forms which serve to make the utterance more expressive by intensifying some of their semantic and/or grammatical properties. The diminutive suffixes -y (-ie), -let, e.g. 'deanV, 'sonny', 'auntie', 'stream^*', add some emotional colouring to the words. We may also refer to what are called neologisms and nonce-words formed with non-productive suffixes or with Greek roots, as 'mistressmans/ij>\ 'cleanorama' (see p. 92). Certain affixes have gained such a power of expressiveness that they begin functioning as separate words, absorbing all of the generalizing meaning they attach to different roots, as, for example, 'isms and ologies'.

At the lexical level there are a great many words which due to their inner expressiveness constitute a special layer (see chart on p. 71). There are words with emotive meaning only (interjections), words which have both referential and emotive meaning (epithets), words which still retain a twofold meaning: denotative and connotative (love, hate, sympathy), words belonging to the layers of slang and vulgar words, or to poetic or archaic layers. The expressive power of these words cannot be doubted, especially when they are compared with the neutral vocabulary.

All kinds of set phrases (phraseological units) generally possess the property of expressiveness. Set phrases, catch words, proverbs, sayings comprise a considerable number of language units which serve to make speech emphatic, mainly from the emotional point of view. Their use in every-day speech is remarkable for the subjective emotional colouring they produce.

It must be noted here that due to the generally emotional character of colloquial language, all kinds of set expressions are natural in everyday speech. They are, as it were, part and parcel of this form of human intercourse. But when they appear in written texts their expressiveness comes to the fore because written texts, as has already been pointed out, are logically directed unless, of course, there is a deliberate attempt to introduce an expressive element in the utterance. The set expression is a time-honoured device to enliven speech, but this device, it must be repeated, is more sparingly used in written texts. In everyday speech one can often hear such phrases as: "Well, it will only add fuel to the fire" and the like, which in fact is synonymous to the neutral: "It will only make the situation worse."

Finally, at the syntactical level there are many constructions which, when set against synonymous neutral ones, will reveal a certain degree of logical or emotional emphasis.

In order to be able to distinguish between expressive means and stylistic devices, to which we now pass, it is necessary to bear in mind that expressive means are concrete facts of language. They are studied in the respective language manuals, though it must be once again regretfully stated that some grammarians iron out all elements carrying expressiveness from their works, as they consider this quality irrelevant to the theory of language.

Stylistics studies the expressive means of language, but from a special angle. It takes into account the modifications of meanings which various expressive means undergo when they are used in different functional styles. Expressive means have a kind of radiating effect. They

noticeably colour the whole of the utterance no matter whether they are logical or emotional.

What then is a stylistic device? It is a conscious and intentional intensification of some typical structural and/or semantic property of a language unit (neutral or expressive) promoted to a generalized status and thus becoming a generative model. It follows then that an SD is an abstract pattern, a mould into which any content can be poured. As is known, the typical is not only that which is in frequent use, but that also which reveals the essence of a phenomenon with the greatest and most evident force.

SDs function in texts as marked units. They always carry some kind of additional information, either emotive or logical. That is why the method of free variation employed in descriptive linguistics1 cannot be used in stylistics because any substitution may cause damage to the semantic and aesthetic aspect of the utterance.

A. W. De Groot points out the significance of SDs in the following passage:

"Each of the aesthetically relevant features of the text serves to create a feature of the gestalt2 of the poem. In this sense the relevant linguistic features may be said to function or operate as gestalt factors."3

The idea of the function of SDs is expressed most fully by V. M. Ik-munsky in the following passage:

"The justification and the sense of each device lies in the wholeness of the artistic impression which the work of art as a self-contained thing produces on us. Each separate aesthetic fact, each poetical device (emphasis added) finds its place in the system, the sounds and sense of the words, the syntactical structures, the scheme of the plot, the compositional purport—all in equal degree express this wholeness and find justification."4

The motivated use of SDs in a genuine work of emotive literature is not easily discernible, though they are used in some kind of relation to the facts, events, or ideas dealt with in the artistic message. Most SDs display an application of two meanings: the ordinary one, in other words, the meaning (lexical or structural) which has already been established in the language-as-a-system, and a special meaning which is superimposed on the unit by the text, i.e. a meaning which appears in the language-in-action.

Sometimes, however, the twofold application of a lexical unit is accomplished not by the interplay of two meanings but by two words (generally synonyms) one of which is perceived against the background of the other. This will be shown in subsequent chapters.

The conscious transformation of a language fact into a stylistic device has been observed by certain linguists whose interests in linguistic theory have gone beyond the boundaries of grammar. Thus A. A. Potebnya writes:

"As far back as in ancient Greece and Rome and with few exceptions up to the present time, the definition of a figurative use of a word has been based on the contrast between ordinary speech, used in its own, natural, primary meaning, and transferred speech."1

The contrast which the author of the passage quoted points to, can not always be clearly observed. In some SDs it can be grasped immediately; in others it requires a keen eye and sufficient training to detect it. It must be emphasized that the contrast reveals itself most clearly when our mind perceives twofold meanings simultaneously. The meanings run parallel: one of them taking precedence over the other.

Thus in "The night has swallowed him up" the word 'swallow' has two meanings:

a) referential and b) contextual (to make disappear, to make vanish). The meaning (b) takes precedence over the referential (a).

The same can be observed in the sentence: "Is there not blood enough upon your penal code that more must be poured forth to ascend to Heaven and testify against you?" (Byron)

The interrogative form, i.e. the structural meaning of a question, runs parallel with the imposed affirmative thought, i.e. the structural meaning of a statement, and it is difficult to decide which of the two structural meanings—the established or the superimposed—takes the upper hand.

In the following chapters where detailed analysis of the different SDs will be carried out, we shall try, where possible, to consider which of the two meanings realized simultaneously outweighs the other.

The birth of SDs is a natural process in the development of language media. Language units which are used with more or less definite aims of communication in various passages of writing and in various functional styles begin gradually to develop new features, a wider range of functions, thus causing polyfunctionality. Hence they can be presented as invariants with concrete variables.

The interrelation between expressive means and stylistic devices can be worded in terms of the theory of information. Expressive means have a greater degree of predictability than stylistic devices. The latter may appear in an environment which may seem alien and therefore be only slightly or not at all predictable. Expressive means, on the contrary, follow the natural course of thought, intensifying it by means commonly used in language. It follows that SDs carry a greater amount of information and therefore require a certain effort to decode their meaning and purport. SDs must be regarded as a special code which has to be well known to the reader in order to be deciphered easily.

The notion of language as a special code is now very much practised in the analyses of the functions of language units. E. Stankievicz sees a kind of code-switching when SDs are employed. He also acknowledges the twofold application of the language code when ". .. the neutral, basic code serves as the background against which the elements of another system acquire expressive prominence within the context of the basic system."1 SDs are used sparingly in emotive prose, lest they should overburden the text with implications thus hindering the process of decoding. They are abundantly used in poetry and especially so in some trends of poetical tradition, consequently retarding mental absorption of the content.2

Not every stylistic use of a language fact will come under the term SD, although some usages call forth a stylistic meaning. There are practically unlimited possibilities of presenting any language fact in what is vaguely called its stylistic use. For a language fact to be promoted to the level of an SD there is one indispensable requirement, which has already been mentioned above, viz. that it should so be used to call forth a twofold perception of lexical or/and structural meanings. Even a nonce use can and very often does create the necessary conditions for the appearance of an SD. But these are only the prerequisites for the appearance of an SD. Only when a newly minted language unit which materializes the twofold application of meanings occurs repeatedly in different environments, can it spring into life as an SD and subsequently be registered in the system of SDs of the given language.

Therefore it is necessary to distinguish between a stylistic use of a language unit, which acquires what we call a stylistic meaning, and a stylistic device, which is the realization of an already well-known abstract scheme designed to achieve a particular artistic effect. Thus many facts of English grammar are said to be used with stylistic meaning, for example, the morphological expressive means mentioned on p. 28. But most of them have not yet been raised to the level of SDs because they remain unsystematized and so far perceived as nonce uses. They are, as it were, still wandering in the vicinity of the realm of SDs without being admitted into it. This can indirectly be proved by the fact that they have no special name in the English language system of SDs. An exception, perhaps, is the Historical Present which meets the requirements of an SD.

So far the system of stylistic devices has not been fully recognized as legitimate members of the general system of language. This is mainly due to the above-mentioned conception of grammatical theory as dealing exclusively with a perfectly organized and extremely rigid scheme of language rules, precise and accurate in its application.

LEXICAL EXPRESSIVE MEANS AND STYLISTIC DEVICES

A. INTENTIONAL MIXING OF THE STYLISTIC ASPECT OF

Heterogeneity of the component parts of the utterance is the basis for a stylistic device called bathos. Unrelated elements are brought together as if they denoted things equal in rank or belonging to one class, as if they were of the same stylistic aspect. By being forcibly linked together, the elements acquire a slight modification of meaning.

"Sooner shall heaven kiss earth—(here he fell sicker)

Oh, Julia! what is every other woe? — (For God's sake let me have a glass of liquor;

Pedro, Battista, help me down below) Julia, my love! — (you rascal, Pedro, quicker) —

Oh, Julia! — (this curst vessel pitches so) — Beloved-Julia, hear me still beseeching!" (Here he grew inarticulate with retching.)

Such poetic expressions as 'heaven kiss earth', 'what is every other woe'; 'beloved Julia, hear me still beseeching' are joined in one flow of utterance with colloquial expressions — For God's sake; you rascal; help me down below', 'this curst vessel pitches so'. This produces an effect which serves the purpose of lowering the loftiness of expression, inasmuch as there is a sudden drop from the elevated to the commonplace or even the ridiculous.

As is seen from this example, it is not so easy to distinguish whether the device is more linguistic or more logical. But the logical and linguistic are closely interwoven in problems of stylistics.

Another example is the following—

"But oh? ambrosial cash\ Ah! who would lose thee? When we no more can use, or even abuse thee!" ("Don Juan")

Ambrosial is a poetic word meaning 'delicious', 'fragrant', 'divine'. Cash is a common colloquial word meaning 'money', 'money that a person actually has', 'ready money'.

Whenever literary words come into collision with non-literary ones there arises incongruity, which in any style is always deliberate, inasmuch as a style presupposes a conscious selection of language means.

The following sentence from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" illustrates with what skill the author combines elevated words and phrases and common colloquial ones in order to achieve the desired impact on the reader—it being the combination of the supernatural and the ordinary.

"But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for."

The elevated ancestors, simile, unhallowed, disturb (in the now obsolete meaning of tear to pieces) are put alongside the colloquial contraction the Country's (the country is) and the colloquial done for.

This device is a very subtle one and not always discernible even to an experienced' literary critic, to say nothing of the rank-and-file reader. The difficulty lies first of all in the inability of the inexperienced reader to perceive the incongruity of the component parts of the utterance.

Byron often, uses bathos, for example,

"They grieved for those who perished with the cutter And also for the biscuit-casks and butter."

The copulative conjunction and as \yell as the adverb also suggest the homogeneity of the concepts those who perished and biscuit-casks and butter. The people who perished are placed on the same level as the biscuits and butter lost at the same time. This arrangement may lead to at least two inferences;

1)for the survivors the loss of food was as tragic as the loss of friends who perished in the shipwreck;

2)the loss of food was even more disastrous, hence the elevated grieved ... for food ie must be born in mind, however, that this interpretation of the

sub-tie stylistic device employed here is prompted by purely linguistic analysis; the verbs to grieve and to perish, which are elevated in connotation, are more appropriate when used to refer to people—and are out of place when used to refer to food. The every-day-life cares and worries overshadow the grief for the dead, or at least are put on the same Level. The verb to grieve, when, used in reference to both the people who perished and the food which was lost, weakens, as it were, the effect of the first and strengthens, the effect, of the second.

The implications and inferences drawn from a detailed and meticulous analysis of language means and stylistic devices can draw additional information from the communication. This kind of implied meaning is derived not directly from the words but from a much finer analysis called supralinear or suprasegmental.

Almost of the same kind are the following lines, also from Byron:

"Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter, Sermons and soda-water—the day after."

Again we have incongruity of concepts caused by the heterogeneity of the conventionally paired classes of things, in the first line and the alliterated, unconventional: pair in the second line. It needs no proof that the words sermons and soda-water are used metonymically here signifying 'repentance' and 'sickness' correspondingly. The decoded form of this utterance will thus be: "Let us now enjoy ourselves in spite of consequences." But the most significant item in the linguistic analysis here will, of course, be the identical formal structure of the pairs 1. wine and women; 2. mirth and laughter and 3. sermons and soda-water. The second pair consists of words so closely related that they may be considered almost synonymous. This affects the last pair and makes the words sermons and soda-water sound as if they were as closely related as the words in the first two pairs. A deeper insight into the author's intention may lead the reader to interpret them as a tedious but unavoidable remedy for the sins committed.

Byron especially favours the device of bathos in his "Don Juan." Almost every stanza contains ordinarily unconnected concepts linked together by a coordinating conjunction and producing a mocking effect or a realistic approach to those phenomena of life which imperatively' demand recognition, no matter how elevated the subject-matter may be.

Here are other illustrations from this epoch-making poem:

"heaviness of heart or rather stomach;"

"There's nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms As rum and true religion" "...his tutor and his spaniel" "who loved philosophy and a good dinner" "I cried upon my first wife's dying day And also when my second ran away."

We have already pointed out the peculiarity of the device, that it is half linguistic, half logical. But the linguistic side becomes especially conspicuous when there is a combination of stylistically heterogeneous words and phrases. Indeed, the juxtaposition of highly literary norms of expression and words or phrases that must be classed as non-literary, sometimes low colloquial or even vulgar, will again undoubtedly produce a stylistic effect, and when decoded, will contribute to the content of the utterance, often adding an element of humour. Thus, for instance, the following from Somerset Maugham's "The Hour before Dawn":

'"Will you oblige me by keeping your trap shut, darling?' he retorted."

The device is frequently presented in the structural model which we shall call heterogeneous enumeration (see p. 216).


Date: 2014-12-29; view: 2986


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