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Phonostylistics came into existence as an attempt to start bridging the gap between linguistic and extra-linguistic factors in analysing stylistic differentiation of oral texts.

Phonostylistics is not just a new brand of linguistics, to set side by side on the shelves with all the old brands. It is a whole different way of looking at phonetic phenomena. It is a way of doing phonetic science which includes various extra-linguistic factors, instead of systematically excluding them.

There is no consensus of opinion as to what grounds there are for classifying some factors as linguistic, and some as extra-linguistic (or non-linguistic). The most realistic approach is to introduce the scale of linguisticness, ranging from 'most' to 'least' linguistic. At the 'most linguistic' end would be classified those features of utterance most readily describable in terms of closed systems of contrasts, which have a relatively clear pho­netic definition and which are relatively easily integrated with other aspects of linguistic structure, eg phonemic distinctions, syllables, stress, nuclear tone type and placement, intonation group boundaries, pause, etc.

At the other, 'least linguistic' end would be placed all phe­nomena of speech that are not language, i. e. those feature of utterance which seem to have little potential for entering into systemic relationships, which have a relatively isolated function and cannot be easily integrated with other aspects of language structure, eg vocal effects lacking any semantic force (such as breathy and raspy voice quality or coughing).

Discuss the following questions in pairs.

1. Speak on linguistic and extra-linguistic factors. What is the difference between them?

2. How did phonostylistics come into existence?

3. What is phonostylistics?


Phonetic Functional Styles

These styles are related to so­cial setting or circumstances in which language is used. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person speaks differently on different occasions (e.g. when chatting with intimate friends or talking to official persons, when delivering a lecture, speaking over the radio or giving a dictation exercise). In other words, the choice of a speech style is situationally determined.

The problem of speech typology and phonetic differences conditioned by such extra-linguistic factors as age, sex, personal­ity traits, status, occupation, purpose, social identity (or 'class dialect') and the emotional state of the speaker also bear on the issue.

Summing up, phonostylistics is concerned with a wide range of correlated issues. Our knowledge of many of them is, howev­er, still very defective.

This part focuses on phonetic styles, with the main emphasis being laid on intonation.

Discuss the following questions in pairs.

1. Why does a person speak differently on different occasions?

2. What determines the choice of a speech style?



Intonation plays a central role in stylistic differentiation of oral texts. Stylistically explicable deviations from intonational norms reveal conventional patterns differing from language to language. Adult speakers are both transmitters and receivers of the same range of phonostylistic effects carried by intonation. The intonation system of a language provides a consistently rec­ognizable invariant basis of these effects from person to person.

The uses of intonation in this function show that the informa­tion so conveyed is, in many cases, impossible to separate from lexical and grammatical meanings expressed by words and con­structions in a language (verbal context) and from the co-occur­ring situational information (non-verbal context). The meaning of intonation cannot be judged in isolation. However, intonation does not usually correlate in any neat one-for-one way with the verbal context accompanying and the situational variables in an extra-linguistic context. Moreover, the perceived contrast with the intonation of the previous utterance seems to be relevant. In the following example a connecting phrase in the appropriate intonation conditions the stylistic force of the accompanying sentence, and contrasts with the 'literal' meaning of the words:

You 'KNOW | I think he's RIGHT (= let me tell you, I think...)

You KNOW I think he's right (= you are aware that I think...)

One of the objectives of phonostylistics is the study of intonational functional styles. An intonational style can be defined as a system of interrelated intonational means which is used in a certain social sphere and serves a definite aim in communication. The problem of intonational styles classification can hardly be regarded as settled as yet. In this book we distinguish the following five style categories:

(1) informational (formal) style;

(2) scientific (academic) style;

(3) declamatory style;

(4) publicistic style;

(5) familiar (conversational) style.

The situational context and the speaker's purpose determine the choice of an intonational style. The primary situational deter­minant is the kind of relationship existing between the partici­pants in a communicative transaction.

Intonational styles distinction is based on the assumption that there are three types of information present in communica­tion:

(a) intellectual information,

(b) emotional and attitudinal (modal) information,

(c) volitional and desiderative information.

Consequently, there are three types of intonation patterns used in oral communication:

(a) intonation patterns used for intellectual purposes,

(b) intonation patterns used for emotional and at­titudinal purposes,

(c) intonation patterns used for volitional and desiderative purposes.

All intonational styles include intellectual intonation patterns, because the aim of any kind of intercourse is to communicate or express some intellectual information. The frequency of occurrence and the overall intonational distribution of emotional (or attitudinal) and volitional (or desiderative) pat­terns shape the distinctive features of each style.

Informational (formal) style is characterised by the predominant use of intellectual intonation patterns. It occurs in formal discourse where the task set by the sender of the message is to communicate information without giving it any emotional or volitional evaluation. This intonational style is used, for instance, by radio and television announcers when reading weather fore- casts, news, etc. or in various official situations. It is considered to be stylistically neutral.


In scientific (academic) style intellectual and volitional (or desiderative) intonation patterns are concurrently employed. The speaker's purpose here is not only to prove a hypothesis, to create new concepts, to disclose relations between different phenomena, etc., but also to direct the listener's attention to the message carried in the semantic cpmponent. Although this style tends to be objective and precise, it is not entirely unemotional and devoid of any individuality. Scientific intonational style is frequently used, for example, by university lecturers, school teachers, or by scientists in formal and informal discussions.


In declamatory (artistic) style the emotional role of intonation increases, thereby intonation patterns used for intellectual, volitional (and emotional purposes have an equal share. The speaker's aim is to appeal simultaneously to the mind, the will and feelings of the listener by image-bearing devices. Declamatory style is gen­erally acquired by special training and it is used, for instance, in stage speech, classroom recitation, verse-speaking or in reading aloud fiction.


Publicistic (oratorial) style is characterized by predominance of volition­al (or desiderative) intonation patterns against the background of intellectual and emotional ones. The general aim of this intonational style is to exert influence on the listener, to convince him that the speaker's interpretation is the only correct one and to cause him to accept the point of view expressed in the speech. The task is accomplished not merely through logical argumentation but through persuasion and emotional appeal. For this reason publicistic style has features in common with scientific style, on one hand, and declamatory style, on the other. As distinct from tne latter its persuasive and emotional appeal is achieved not by the use of imagery, but in a more direct manner. Publicistic style is made resort to by political speech-makers, ra­dio and television commentators, participants of press conferences and interviews, counsel and judges in courts of law, etc.


The usage of familiar (conversational) styleis typical of the English. It occurs both within a family group and in informal external relationships, namely, in the speech of intimate friends or well-acquainted people. In such cases it is the emotional reaction to a situational or verbal stimulus that mat­ters, thereby the attitude- and emotion-signalling function of in intonation here comes to the fore. Nevertheless intellectual and intonation patterns also have a part to play.


Analysis of most varieties of English speeches shows that the intonational styles in question occur alternately (fusion of styles). For example, a University lecturer can make use of both scientific style (definitions, presentation of scientific facts) and declamatory style (an image-bearing illustration of these defini­tions and facts).

Moreover, intonational styles contrastivity is explicable only within the framework of speech typology, embracing primarily: (a) varieties of language, (b) forms of communication, (c) degree of speech preparedness, (d) the number of participants involved in communication, (e) the character of participants' relationship.

Language in its full interactional context has two varieties — spoken and written. The term 'spoken' is used in rela­tion to oral texts produced by unconstrained speaking, while the term 'written' is taken to cover both oral representation of writ­ten texts (reading) and the kind of English that we sometimes hear in the language of public speakers and orators, or possibly in formal conversation (more especially between strangers). Since the spoken and the written varieties may have an oral form the term 'oral text' is applicable to both. According to the nature of the participation situation in which the speaker is involved two forms of communication are generally singled out — monologue and dialogue, the former being referred to as a one-sided type of conversation and the latter as a balanced one.

Degree of speech preparedness entails distinction between prepared and spontaneous speech. Sometimes quasi-spontaneous speech is being distinguished.

As far as the number of participants involved in communica­tion is concerned, speech may be public and non-public. And, finally, from the character of participants' relationship viewpoint there are formal and informal types of speech.

Thus, an intonational style is a many-faceted phenomenon and in describing, for example, the intonational identity of famil­iar (conversational) style one has to take into account that it oc­curs in the spoken variety of English, both in one-sided (mono­logue) and balanced (dialogue) types of conversation, in sponta­neous, non-public, informal discourse.

Since the scope of this book is practical rather than theoreti­cal, we shall not deal with each style in its entirety. Our attention will be confined to the study of those aspects of intonational styles that are essential for would-be teachers of English.

Date: 2016-01-14; view: 2066

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