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SYNTACTICAL EXPRESSIVE MEANS AND STYLISTIC DEVICES

A. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Within the language-as-a-system there establish themselves certain definite types of relations between words, word-combinations, sentences and also between larger spans of utterances. The branch of language science which studies the types of relations between the units enumerated is called syntax.

In the domain of syntax, as has been justly pointed out by L. A. Bulakhovsky, it is difficult to distinguish between what is purely grammatical, i. e. marked as corresponding to the established norms, and what is stylistic, i. e. showing some kind of vacillation of these norms. This is 'particularly evident when we begin to analyse larger-than-the-sentence units.

Generally speaking, the examination of syntax provides a deeper insight into the stylistic aspect of utterances.

The study of the sentence and its types and especially the study of the relations between different parts of the sentence has had a long history. Rhetoric was mainly engaged in the observation of the juxtaposition of the members of the sentence and in finding ways and means of building larger and more elaborate spans of utterance, as, for example, the period or periodical sentence. Modern grammars have greatly extended the scope of structural analysis and have taken under observation the peculiarities of the relations between the members of the sentence, which somehow has overshadowed problems connected with structural and semantic patterns of larger syntactical units. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the study of units of speech larger than the sentence is still being neglected by many linguists. Some of them even consider such units to be extralinguistic, thus excluding them entirely from the domain of linguistics.

Stylistics takes as the object of its analysis the expressive means and stylistic devices of the language which are based on some significant structural point in an utterance, whether it consists of one sentence or a string of sentences. In grammar certain types of utterances have already been patterned; thus, for example, we have all kinds of simple, compound or complex sentences, even a paragraph long, that may be regarded as neutral or non-stylistic patterns.

At the same time, the peculiarities of the structural design of utterances which bear some particular emotional colouring, that is, which are stylistic and therefore non-neutral, may also be patterned and presented as a special system.

Stylistic syntactical patterns may be viewed as variants of the general syntactical models of the language and are the more obvious and conspicuous if presented not as isolated elements or accidental usages, but as groups easily observable and lending themselves to generalization.

This idea is expressed by G. O. Vinokur in his "???" where he maintains that in syntax it is no new material that is coined, but new relations, because the syntactical aspect of speech is nothing more than a definite combination of grammatical forms, and in this sense the actual words used are essentially immaterial. Therefore syntactical relations, particularly in poetic language, are that aspect of speech in which everything presents itself as actualization of the potential and not merely the repetition of the ready-made.1



By "the potential" G. Vinokur apparently means variations of syntactical patterns.

It follows, therefore, that in order to establish the permissible fluctuations of the syntactical norm, it is necessary to ascertain what is meant by the syntactical norm itself. As a matter of fact any change in the relative positions of the members of the sentence may be regarded as a variant of the received standard, provided that the relation between them will not hinder the understanding of the utterance.

But here we are faced with the indisputable interdependence between form and content; in other words, between the syntactical design of the utterance and its concrete lexical materialization.

Syntactical relations can be studied in isolation from semantic content. In this case they are viewed as constituents of the whole and assume their independent grammatical meaning. This is most apparent in forms embodying nonsense lexical units, as in Lewis Carroll's famous lines, so often quoted by linguists.

"Twas brilling, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimbol in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogroves And the mome raths outgrabe."

The structural elements of these lines stand out conspicuously and make sense even though they are materialized by nonsense elements. Moreover, they impose on the morphemes they are attached to a definite grammatical meaning making it possible to class the units. So it is due to these elements that we can state what the nonsense words are supposed to mean. Thus, we know that the sequence of the forms forcibly suggests that after twas we should have an adjective; the y in slithy makes the word an adjective; gyre after the emphatic did can only be a verb. We know that this is a poem because it has rhythm (iambic tetrameter) and rhyme (abab in 'toves—borogroves;' 'wabe—outgrabe').

A closer examination of the structural elements will show that they outnumber the semantic units: nineteen structural elements and eleven which are meant to be semantic. The following inferences may be drawn from this fact:

1) it is the structural element of the utterance that predetermines the possible semantic aspect;

2) the structural elements have their own independent meaning which may be called structural or, more widely, grammatical;

3) the structural meaning may affect the lexical, giving contextual meaning to some of the lexical units.

B. PROBLEMS CONCERNING THE COMPOSITION OF SPANS OF UTTERANCE LARGER THAN THE SENTENCE

In recent years a new theory concerning the inner relations between context and form within the sentence has appeared. This theory, elaborated by S. Harris, M. Postal and others, is called Generative Grammar. It maintains that grammar must not only describe the laws which regulate the functioning of linguistic units but must also be capable of generating new sentences.

"A grammar of this kind," writes John Lyons, "is 'predictive' in that it establishes as grammatical, not only 'actual' sentences, but also 'potential' sentences."1

The reference to Lyons's statement has direct bearing on the problems of stylistic syntax. The fact is, as will be seen later, that any one of the syntactical SDs is capable of generating an unlimited number of sentences within the given pattern. However, according to orthodox generative grammar, some of them are regarded as 'ill-formed' and even 'ungrammatical' inasmuch as they fail to meet the requirements of the basic (kernel) structures.

The theory further maintains that there are two kinds of structures — a deep structure and a surface structure. The latter are the actual sentences produced by the former, which is not presented in language units and therefore unobservable.

Mention of this theory is made here, firstly, because in modern stylistics attempts are being made to build up a grammar which would generate deviant constructions and thus broaden the limits of the 'well-formed' sentences which are regarded as the only ones that are 'grammatical'. Another reason is that transformation, one of the basic methods employed in generative grammars, is very effectively used in stylistics when it is necessary to find the stylistic meaning of this or that sentence structure. A third reason is that generative grammars aim at reconstructing the processes connected with the formation of sentences. This has direct bearing on the interpretation of syntactical SDs and particularly on their linguistic nature.

This theory enables the interpreter to look at a sentence from the point of view of what is 'behind' the sentence.

As J. P. Thorne states, "Generative grammar is important to stylistics because in addition to these 'surface structure' facts, it is concerned with the so-called 'deep structure' aspects of language, that is, those facts about linguistic structure which cannot be directly related to what can be observed. Most stylistic judgments relate to deep structure."1

It follows then that the so-called generative grammar is not so strikingly new. This is also noted by the well-known linguists John Lyons and D. Bollinger,% who state positively that there is nothing new in the theory of generative .grammar.

Another development in linguistics also having direct bearing on the problems which concern us when dealing with syntactical SDs, is 'text-linguistics', as it is called. This development, which as yet has not been formed as a separate theory, aims at investigating the objective criteria concerning ways and means of constructing texts of different kinds and genres.3

For this purpose it is first of all necessary to find the elements into which any text may fall. In other words, there must be certain constituent units of which any text is composed.

Phonemes, the smallest language units, function within morphemes and are dependent on them, morphemes function within words, words — within sentences, and sentences function in larger structural frames which we shall call "supra-phrasal units". Consequently, neither words nor separate sentences can be regarded as the basic constituents of a text. They are the basic units of lower levels of language-as-a-system, as is shown above.


Date: 2014-12-29; view: 1350


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