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Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»

Министерство образования и науки РФ

ФГБОУ ВПО «Тульский государственный педагогический университет


имени Л. Н. Толстого»

ESSENTIALS
OF TEXTUAL STYLISTICS

ОСНОВЫ СТИЛИСТИКИ ТЕКСТА

Учебное пособие

Допущено Учебно-методическим объединением


по направлениям педагогического образования
в качестве учебного пособия по направлению
«Педагогическое образование»

2-е издание

Тула
Издательство ТГПУ им. Л. Н. Толстого
2012
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»

ББК 81.2Англ-923
О75
Рецензенты:
доктор филологических наук, профессор С. Краже
(Высшая школа бизнеса и финансов, г. Рига, Латвия);
кандидат филологических наук, доцент О. А. Никитина
(Тульский государственный педагогический университет им. Л. Н. Толстого);
доктор филологических наук, профессор И. В. Чекулай
(Белгородский государственный университет)
Авторы:
д-р филол. наук, проф. И. В. Арнольд (глава 1 «Aims of Decoding Stylistics and its Theoretical Basis» = «Цели
стилистики декодирования, теоретическая база данной науки», глава 2 «The Theory of Information as one of the
Cornerstones of Decoding Stylistics» = «Теория информации как одна из основ стилистики декодирования»,
глава 3 «Basic Notions of Text Theories» = «Основные положения теории текста», глава 6 «The Relevance of
Foregrounding to Decoding Stylistics» = «Теория выдвижения и стилистика декодирования», параграф 4.5 «The
Relevance of Norm and Deviation from Norm in Decoding Stylistics» = «Теория нормы и отклонения от нормы в
стилистике декодирования»);
канд. филол. наук, доц. Ж. Е. Фомичева (параграфы 4.1–4.4 главы 4 «The Concept of Norm and its Developments in
Contemporary Stylistics» = «Теория нормы и ее развитие в современной стилистике», глава 5 «The Theory of
Foregrounding and its Developments in Contemporary Stylistics» = «Теория выдвижения и ее развитие в современной
стилистике», переработка и дополнение параграфа 3.6. «Cohesion and Coherence» = «Когезия и когерентность»);
канд. филол. наук, доц. В. Н. Андреев («Preface» = «Предисловие», параграфы 2.1, 3.1, 6.1 «Introduction» =
«Введение», переработка и дополнение параграфа 4.5 «The Relevance of Norm and Deviation from Norm
in Decoding Stylistics» = «Теория нормы и отклонения от нормы в стилистике декодирования», главы 6 «The
Relevance of Foregrounding to Decoding Stylistics» = «Теория выдвижения и стилистика декодирования»,
методические рекомендации к главе 5 = «Assignments», задания для самоконтроля к главе 5 = «Test Your
Knowledge: Test 5»);
канд. филол. наук, доц. И. В. Родионова (переработка и дополнение главы 1 «Aims of Decoding Stylistics and its
Theoretical Basis» = «Цели стилистики декодирования, теоретическая база данной науки», главы 2 «The Theory
of Information as one of the Cornerstones of Decoding Stylistics» = «Теория информации как одна из основ
стилистики декодирования», главы 3 «Basic Notions of Text Theories» = «Основные положения теории текста»,
разработка заданий для самоконтроля = «Test Your Knowledge: Test 1, Test 2, Test 3, Test 4, Test 6»,
методические рекомендации к главам 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 = «Assignments»).

Essentials of Textual Stylistics = Основы стилистики текста:


О75 Учеб. пособие.– 2-е изд.– Тула: Изд-во Тул. гос. пед. ун-та им.
Л. Н. Толстого, 2012.– 306 с.
ISBN 978-5-87954-688-0
Основная задача книги – научить сознательно подходить к художественному тексту как
целому, рассматривая его в единстве формы и идейного содержания. Все аспекты современной
стилистики текста, изучаемые отечественными и зарубежными учеными, нашли отражение
в данной книге. Перечень вопросов, рассматриваемых в книге, включает в себя основные
положения стилистики декодирования, принципы выдвижения художественного текста,
проблему стилистической нормы и отклонений от нормы. Теоретический материал пособия
иллюстрирован примерами из произведений оригинальной художественной литературы.
Пособие основано на положениях стилистики декодирования, разработанной
в трудах проф. И. В. Арнольд.
Каждый раздел книги содержит контрольные задания, помогающие студентам
лучше овладеть методикой декодирования текста и умением читать с глубоким проник-
новением в текст произведения. Задания снабжены комментариями и указаниями по их
выполнению. Каждый раздел книги сопровождается итоговыми тестами для самопроверки
и ключами к ним.
Учебное пособие рекомендовано для студентов высших учебных заведений, обу-
чающихся по направлению подготовки бакалавров 050100 «Педагогическое образование»
(профиль подготовки «Иностранные языки»), 031100 «Лингвистика», 032700 «Филология»
(профиль подготовки «Зарубежная филология»).
ББК 81.2Англ-923
ISBN 978-5-87954-688-0 © Авторы И. В. Арнольд, Ж. Е. Фомичева,
В. Н. Андреев, И. В. Родионова, 2012
© ТГПУ им. Л. Н. Толстого, 2012

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Светлой памяти
заслуженного деятеля науки РФ,
почетного профессора РГПУ им. А.И. Герцена,
доктора филологических наук, профессора
Ирины Владимировны Арнольд
(1908-2010)

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CONTENTS
CONTENTS ............................................................................................5
Preface....................................................................................................8
1. Aims of Decoding Stylistics and its Theoretical Basis..............12
1.1. Introduction................................................................................12
1.2. Aims of Decoding Stylistics .......................................................15
1.3. Decoding Stylistics in Terms of the Reader's Response .........21
1.4. General Conclusions .................................................................23
Assignments .....................................................................................26
Test Your Knowledge .......................................................................28
2. The Theory of Information as one of the Cornerstones
of Decoding Stylistics .......................................................................34
2.1. Introduction................................................................................34
2.2. The Application of Information Theory to Linguistics ................36
2.3. Basic Terms ..............................................................................42
2.4. The Adaptation of Shannon's Model to Literary
Communication.................................................................................45
2.5. General Conclusions .................................................................53
Assignments .....................................................................................54
Test Your Knowledge .......................................................................55
3. Basic Notions of Text Theories.....................................................61
3.1. Introduction................................................................................61
3.2. The Text as a Coherent Verbal Message .................................63
3.3. The Length of the Text and its Segmentation
into Constituent Elements ................................................................66
3.4. The Subject-Matter of a Text.....................................................71
3.5. Form and Addresses .................................................................72

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3.6. Cohesion and Coherence..........................................................74


3.7. General Conclusions .................................................................87
Assignments .....................................................................................88
Test Your Knowledge .....................................................................100
4. The Concept of Norm and its Developments in Contemporary
Stylistics ............................................................................................109
4.1. Introduction..............................................................................109
4.2. Language, Culture and Norm ..................................................111
4.3. Language as Discourse, Literacy Development
and Norm........................................................................................118
4.4. Language Variation, Norm and Style ......................................130
4.5. The Relevance of Norm and Deviation from Norm
in Decoding Stylistics .....................................................................144
4.5.1. Preliminaries ....................................................................144
4.5.2. The Notion of Norm..........................................................150
4.5.3. The Notion of Deviation ...................................................158
Assignments ...................................................................................166
Test Your Knowledge .....................................................................167
5. The Theory of Foregrounding and its Developments
in Contemporary Stylistics ..............................................................175
5.1. Introduction..............................................................................175
5.2. Russian Formalism’s Contribution to the Theory
of Foregrounding ............................................................................177
5.3. The Concept of Foregrounding
in the Theory of Prague School Linguists ......................................183
5.4. Literature, Literariness and Foregrounding .............................188
5.5. Paradigmatic and Syntagmatic Foregrounding .......................198

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5.6. The Theory of Foregrounding: Its Limitations


and Developments .........................................................................211
Assignments ...................................................................................220
Test Your Knowledge .....................................................................221
6. The Relevance of Foregrounding to Decoding Stylistics.........226
6.1. Introduction..............................................................................226
6.2. Defeated Expectancy ..............................................................228
6.3. Convergence ...........................................................................232
6.4. Coupling and Repetition ..........................................................236
6.5. Salient Feature ........................................................................243
6.6. Strong Positions. The Title .....................................................252
6.7. The First Lines. Epigraph. Prologue........................................258
6.8. Closure ....................................................................................262
Assignments ...................................................................................266
Test Your Knowledge .....................................................................277
Glossary of Terminology.....................................................................284
References .........................................................................................287
Further Reading..................................................................................292
Linguists and Other Scholars Mentioned in the Book .......................294
Key to Test Your Knowledge ..............................................................304

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Preface
We all read literary texts because they are interesting,
enjoyable or moving. This enjoyment, however, is only the first, though
important, step in the study of such texts. An important aspect of their
study is that we must work on explaining how we come to understand
literary works.
It is popular at the present time to stress the idea that different
readers all have different understanding of the texts they read. This
must be true for some extent as we all have different experiences which
may prompt us to have slightly divergent interpretations of different
texts. However, fascinatingly, we often agree over our understandings
of poems, plays and novels in spite of the fact that we are all different.
This book aims at exploring how the writers communicate to us through
their works and how these works affect us. It examines the way in
which the language of literary texts acts as the basis of our
understanding and responses when we read. We assume that
understanding involves an important contribution from the reader, who
brings along background knowledge and processes for inferring
meaning. However, we also assume that the text itself plays an
essential part in prompting and guiding our interpretation. Thus, this
book aims at explaining how we understand literary texts and offers a
methodology which allows to apply the techniques described in it to
other texts.
The approach that we take in this book is generally known as
“stylistics” or “stylistic analysis”. Although the term “stylistics” appears to
suggest an overall concern with the study of (authorial) style, the main
effort in stylistic analysis in the last 30 years or so has been to try to

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understand the relationship between the literary text, on the one hand,
and how we understand it, and are affected by it, on the other.
This book is dedicated to the memory of Irina Vladimirovna
Arnold (1908-2010), one of the pioneers of stylistic research in this
country, a stylistician who developed her own original version of
stylistics which she called Decoding Stylistics. Decoding Stylistics aims
at explaining how the information encoded by the creator of a literary
text is decoded by the reader and offers methodology and procedures
for such analysis.
Professor Arnold has authored many books, text-books,
monographs and articles, among which the most important are:
1. Семантическая структура слова в современном английском
языке и методика её исследования: на материале имени
существительного: Монография. — Л.: Просвещение, 1966.
2. Стилистика. Современный английский язык: Учебник для
вузов (1-е издание). — М., 1974.
3. Лексикология современного английского языка (The English
Word). — М.: Высшая школа, 1986.
4. Основы научных исследований в лингвистике: Учебное
пособие. — М.: Высшая школа, 1991.
5. Проблемы диалогизма, интертекстуальности и герменев-
тики: (В интерпретации художеств. текста) / РГПУ им.
А. И. Герцена. — СПб.: Образование, 1997.
6. Семантика. Стилистика. Интертекстуальность // Теоретиче-
ские основы стилистики декодирования: Сборник статей. –
СПб.:Изд-во С.-Петерб. ун-та, 1999.

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7. Стилистика. Современный английский язык: Учебник для


вузов (8-е издание). — М.: Флинта-Наука, 2010.
One of the authors of this book (Zh.Ye. Fomicheva) was
fortunate enough to work on her dissertation under the supervision of
I.V. Arnold who generously presented her with the hand-written notes
for the course in Stylistics that she taught at Hertzen Russian State
Pedagogical University for many years. Professor Arnold gave
permission to use her notes in creation of a text-book in Stylistics for
university students.
Our work has included general editing of the manuscript,
supplementing it with examples, providing more detailed consideration
to the problems discussed and more up-to-date treatment of the
problems of stylistics as well as development of a series of practical
tasks on the basis of theoretical notes in each chapter.
Chapter 1 “Aims of Decoding Stylistics and its Theoretical
Basis”, chapter 2” The Theory of Information as one of the
Cornerstones of Decoding Stylistics”, chapter 3 “Basic Notions of Text
Theories” are based on I.V. Arnold’s hand-written notes and presented
here with the amendments done by I.V. Rodionova; paragraph 3.6.
«Cohesion and Coherence» is presented here with the amendments
done by Zh.Ye. Fomicheva. Paragraphs 4.1. - 4.4. of chapter 4 “The
Concept of Norm and its Developments in Contemporary Stylistics” and
chapter 5 “The Theory of Foregrounding and its Developments in
Contemporary Stylistics” are written by Zh.Ye. Fomicheva. Paragraph
4.5. «The Relevance of Norm and Deviation from Norm in Decoding
Stylistics» is based on I.V. Arnold’s hand-written notes and presented
here with the amendments done by V.N. Andreev. Chapter 6 “The

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Relevance of Foregrounding to Decoding Stylistics” is based on


I.V. Arnold’s hand-written notes and presented here with the
amendments done by V.N. Andreev. Preface, Introduction to chapters
2, 3, 6 and test to chapter 5 are written by V.N. Andreev. A series of
practical tasks and tests to all chapters, with the exception of chapter
5, is worked out by I.V. Rodionova.
Our aim in compiling this book has been to enable the students
to be more systematic in their approach to reading and analyzing texts.
We are in full agreement with Professor Arnold here, whose work in
Stylistics was aimed at “educating a whole new generation of readers”
(Arnold 2007:2) who, through the stylistic analysis, become aware of
intuitions they don’t capture, leading them on to new things to try to
explain.
The authors would like to thank the reviewers of the book:
Professor Sandra Kraze, Assistant Professor Olga Nikitina and
Professor Igor Chekulai, for the time and effort they invested in the
careful reading of the manuscript as well as their valuable comments
and suggestions for its improvement which have been taken into
account in preparing the present volume for publication. We owe a
particular debt of gratitude to I.V.Arnold’s disciple, Professor Sandra
Kraze, for her inspired in-depth review which is appended to this book.

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1. Aims of Decoding Stylistics


and its Theoretical Basis

1.1. Introduction
The development of each particular branch of knowledge
depends upon the tasks set before it by society, upon the general level
attained at each given period by other related and unrelated sciences,
and upon its own history.
Decoding Stylistics is no exception and we shall, therefore,
deal with it from the point of view of its importance as a part of mental
outfit of a future teacher of English (as a foreign language) and in the
light of modern science. Decoding Stylistics has grown from what was
formerly known as "explication du texte", but differs from the latter, as
the student is taught to get maximum information from the text itself
and not from the commentaries of the teacher on extratextual matters.
In the light of modern science, i.e. according to the general le-
vel of cognition reached by humanity – we shall have to take into con-
sideration not only the progress of linguistics, but also the possibilities
of some branches of knowledge seemingly very distantly related to
Decoding Stylistics.
It has been repeatedly said by many that it is on the borderlines
of sciences that most interesting results are often obtained. The birth
of cybernetics may serve as a good example, because cybernetics
came into being as a result of collaboration of mathematicians and
physiologists.
It goes without saying that we must try and make full use of
what has been done in Decoding Stylistics in the past. People had to

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deal with text interpretation for many centuries. There is quite a number
of disciplines concerned with it in some way or other; such as stylistics,
rhetoric, poetics; one of the oldest is hermeneutics, originally developed
as a science of interpretation of the Scriptures.
In this course of studies we shall mainly rely on Decoding Sty-
listics, which, in its turn, is based on modern linguistics, on text theory,
theory of literature, including poetics, and on Information Theory
(Арнольд 1999, Макаров 2003).
Linguistics can help the study of literature in many ways
because it is concerned with language as an observable phenomenon
of human activity and because literature is language, no less than
everyday speech. It is art created from language, and language is the

object of linguistic study (Cook 1994).

Decoding Stylistics is a suitable theoretical basis for text in-


terpretation because it is concerned not with the writer but with the rea-
der; it aims at a deeper understanding of imaginative literature and a
keener insight into the ideas, emotional values, linguistic and aesthetic
features of each text by observing the structure of the text as such, the
contextual interdependence of its elements on all levels (phonetical,
lexical, grammatical) and aspects (imagery, composition), and the
interdependence of separate elements and the whole (Арнольд 2004).
In short, it aims at bringing home to the reader the total
significance of a poetic text as a whole. By poetic text we shall mean
any text of imaginative literature, not necessarily in verse.
Decoding Stylistics includes also some problems dealt with in
the disciplines studying methods of teaching languages (esp. reading
on advanced stages). The necessity of this contact will be readily un-

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derstood if we take into consideration the professional aspect of the


subject. Students have to learn not only to grasp the full meaning of a
literary text themselves and interpret it convincingly, but also know how
to help in future their own pupils in acquiring this type of competence
and the ability of finding within new texts the keys necessary to
understanding. The aim is grasping thought and feeling, together with
experiencing aesthetic pleasure, and this involves much more than a
simple dictionary understanding.
The basic methodology of the course is provided by
contemporary linguistics (Филиппов 2007, Ворожбитова 2005,
Болотнова 2007, Бабенко 2009). Decoding Stylistics demands and
provides a kind of synthesis for all previous curriculum work in
analytical and home reading and for all theoretical subjects studied
during all the years at the University; such as lexicology, theoretical
grammar, history of literature, phonetics, and other subjects. The data
of these disciplines will be combined with some new notions and terms
introduced by the teacher. These will be mainly connected with
Information Theory, as used in Decoding Stylistics, and also with Text
Grammar, Text Theory, Theory of Literature, and Poetics. The
application of psychology might be very helpful as well.

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1.2. Aims of Decoding Stylistics


Aiming at the comprehension of the total significance of a text
as a whole, we must be ready to account in some consistent manner
for the existence and function of every text element of every level, for
the way in which these elements are combined in creating the meaning,
and for the associations they may evoke in the reader's mind.
In this paragraph we shall sketch some important aspects of
Decoding Stylistics as a means for inculcating knowledge and culture
and building up a personality.
A fairly common and somewhat aggressive argument runs as
follows: "A reader's appreciation of literature is subjective and
individual, it depends upon one's innate ability to react to beauty and
upon one's personal experience. We can all read English prose at the
University, can't we?" The first question, that has to be answered, is
then: "Why bother develop a text interpretation theory? And, if this
theory exists, why bother study it at all?"
We аrе apt to think that appreciation of art is always only
innate: either the student is "sensitive", "gifted" and can "feel"
everything in a most refined way, or he is "dull” and "it cannot be
helped", and it is "wasting time to try and teach him". We shall try to
show that this intellectual defeatism is unacceptable.
In the first place it is unacceptable because it implies the idea
that art exists for a chosen few. Actually, it is true that some people are
more responsive, and others possess this quality to a smaller degree.
What is worse, the readers of the second group are, as a rule,
insensitive to their own insensitiveness. Now, art being a specific form

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of reflection of objective reality and important form of cognition (this, as


you know, is the basic thesis of aesthetics), the insensitiveness, that we
are speaking about, becomes a great handicap in the development of
human personality and, hence, culture in general.
The importance of responsiveness, as a kind of internal
maturity, is true about all art – poetry, music, theatre, cinema. People
who know how to listen to music, how to read poetry become capable
of listening to what other people say, and this is indispensable in all
human relations, and indispensable for a person's general culture. In
short, a capacity of responsiveness is a valuable part in the
makeup of a human personality.
Luckily, experience shows that intelligent reading can be taught
quite successfully. The gift of appreciation and responsiveness can be
developed. It is, for example, a well known fact that people differ in their
capacity to visualize imagery. Nevertheless, if attention is paid to the
problem, those who do not possess vivid imagination will, at least,
understand logically, if not feel, the part played by this or that image in
the text as a whole, the truth and worth of the message embodied. A
teacher must know how to develop appreciation, and this is precisely
what Decoding Stylistics is about, and why we have to study it.
The aim of Decoding Stylistics at a foreign languages department
is manifold. In addition to the general educational task we have just po-
inted out, it includes deriving linguistic information from every text. It
ensures a better and more complete understanding of what is read,
along with enhancing aesthetic pleasure and emotional involvement.
Lev Tolstoy once noticed "Art is not a handicraft, but a
transmission of feeling the artist has experienced".

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Emotional involvement deserves our special attention because,


as we know, mental processes are apt to become more intense on an
emotional background. Emotional indifference and dumbness in young
people is something dangerously growing, and every conscientious
teacher has to fight it tooth and nail.
The idea of dialogue is brilliantly expressed by Ruskin, who
said: "Art is the expression of one soul talking to another". This thought
was later vividly developed by M.M. Bakhtin.
A common misconception to be cleared out is blaming every
failure on the writer. A metaphorical argument against this was
formulated as far back as the XVIII century by Lichtenberg: "A book is a
mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can't expect an apostle to look out".
More and more people begin to realize how important special
cultural training is. Many recent publications stress the necessity of
special training for art perception. The idea is supported by poets, by
literary critics, by philologists, and others. This is true about all art, but
we shall concentrate our attention on fiction and poetry.
The reading of fiction and poetry presents some special difficul-
ties because information in a poetic text is extremely condensed and
compressed, and because a poetic text can render many meanings.
Connotations are often expressed not directly and not lexically, but by
some other means, and, therefore, not explicitly but implicitly. Words
may keep to some extent their polysemy and additional contextual
meaning.
Instances of juxtaposition of words belonging to distant
semantic fields or different functional styles, as well as peculiarities in
the statistical distribution of sounds, lexical elements, syntactic

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structures combine in creating contextual ties giving expressiveness


and emotional colouring, bringing into play complex associations, etc.
It is naturally impossible to suggest any hard and fast rules by
applying which the reader will be able to penetrate into all the meanings
a poem or a text can offer, and not misinterpret any of them. And yet
the establishment of some general procedures proves helpful and
prepares the way for a new reading technique.
It is to be hoped that principles and illustrations offered in this
book are substantial and representative enough to enable students to
understand better the significance of whatever particular text they will
be interested in. This reading technique is meant to help those who
wish to develop their insight and discover what they themselves think
and feel about each poem, story, or novel they read (hermeneutic
"reflection").
The demands of reader's competence, if the reader is a student
of a department training would-be teachers of modern languages,
concern not only his mastering the given language, but also his
developing habit of deriving new linguistic information from new texts
along with making out the plain sense of the text, the habit of judging
the details only with reference to context; and the whole final result is of
paramount importance.
The reader should not be too quick to take everything for granted,
he must be taught to respond to the text as it is, without prejudices. This is
a very intricate point, however, and needs some explanations. No reader
takes to a book without expectations (Гадамер 1988).
There is always some sort of delicate balance between what
the reader notices in the poem, on the one hand, and the whole of his

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past experience, his developed habits of mind, on the other; or, as I.A.
Richards puts it, "often the emotional and intellectual habits of the
readers are too strong for the poet... The notion, that all that a poet can
do is to put strikingly, or nicely, or elaborately, or euphoniously ideas
and feelings that we already possess, is a serious and frequent
obstacle to good reading ..." (Richards 1929).
The reader's understanding is developing in the process of rea-
ding. When he understands the significance of the line he reads, he
simultaneously foresees and expects what is coming, and sees his pre-
vious expectation as either fulfilled or defeated.
It was once said that the human mind is like a parachute – to
work it must be opened. On the other hand, without any anticipation or
previous orientation for what is coming, understanding is impossible.
If there is no sufficient feedback, that is if the presuppositions
and preconceptions are not checked and rearranged according to what
is actually read, the reader responds not to the poem, but to what he
supposes the poet should have written; in this case the poem leaves
this prejudiced reader as it found him: he is not enriched by his reading.
I.A. Richards writes: “No one can say: "There is only this and
this in the poem and nothing more". The appreciation will vary
considerably with the readers' varied minds. But minds too much given
to their own stock responses will find nothing new.” (Richards 1929).
I.A. Richards also points out that the young generation should be
taught a methodology that they will apply creatively under new cir-
cumstances, in new situations, to new objects of the rapidly changing world.
One more important aim worth mentioning in connection with
teaching how to understand English poetry and fiction is that of

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international education. Every bit of good art belonging to another


nation is a kind of bridge between the two peoples. Cultural exchange
and acquaintance with the art of other nations is a valuable form of
contact. Texts of all kinds are an indispensable part of every national
culture, a text being the main instrument of storing information and
passing it through time and space, thus transmitting the achievements
of culture from one generation to the next.
Finally, without dwelling on the whole volume of aesthetic prob-
lems, we shall at present only stress the fact that the role of art in
general, and of poetry and fiction in particular, in forming the human
personality and programming social behaviour is of paramount
importance. We treat the text as a piece of art demanding an emotional
reaction to the ideas rendered and stimulating appreciation of beauty,
as a dialogue. Form and content are not treated separately, but as a
dialectical unity. Aesthetic culture depends upon the ability to read, to
listen, to look at the works of art, to think and talk about them, and to
transmit one's emotional impressions to others.

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1.3. Decoding Stylistics


in Terms of the Reader's Response

The interpretation a reader of a later epoch puts upon a poetic


text is enriched by a larger historical experience and need not aim only
at reproducing what it was the poet himself saw in his work, or his
contemporaries might have felt at reading the poem.
The intention of the author, and his vision of life that are tra-
ditionally sought by many in stylistic analysis, is practically inaccessible.
The poet himself may be not conscious of his aim and method. I.A.
Richards points out that "poets vary immensely in their awareness both
of their inner technique and of the precise result they are endeavouring
to achieve" (Richards 1929: 183).
The reader's interpretation may differ from the author's, and be
equally valid – it may be even better. There may be much more in the
poem than the author was aware of.
"A poem may appear to mean very different things to different
readers, and all of these meanings may be different from what the
author thought he meant." (Eliot 1965: 339).
Even if a living poet is asked to comment on what he has writ-
ten, his interpretation is mostly monosyllabic and of very little help

(Leech 1969).
It should perhaps be pointed out that one can find similar argu-
mentation with an ever increasing number of workers of culture, not
only with linguists as G. Leech, but also with specialists in the theory of
literature and with producers, such as Tovstonogov.

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The reader's response, on the other hand, has too often been
underestimated. It is often heard that it is what the author wanted to
write that we have to find out in interpreting a literary text. What is
actually written seems to be of secondary importance. Everybody is so
thoroughly accustomed to this kind of thinking that its utter absurdity
passes unnoticed. Suppose some long distance runner or a weight lifter
desire with all their hearts to break the world records. Yet, they are
judged not by their aspirations, but by their results. Whatever the
intentions, they are not taken into consideration in the case of failure.
Why then should we think of the poet's intentions and not of the poem
before us? Actually, the poet's original intentions are interfered with by
many things. The creative process is extremely complicated and
individual, but, roughly speaking, one can say that even if the poet has
decided upon the state of affairs he will speak about, his feelings
concerning what he is referring to, his attitude to the reader as his
addressee, he has to adapt these to the genre, the imagery, the metre,
etc. When all the adaptations have been made, the result is something
the author himself could not have foreseen.

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1.4. General Conclusions


To sum up: we shall approach literary texts on behalf of the
reader. For a future teacher of English a literary text in this language is
of manifold interest. It provides material for getting to know the English
language, culture, literature, and life; it must also be a source of
entertainment and aesthetic pleasure, last but not least, it must have an
effective value in forming the young reader's personality. This means
that the judicious choice of material for interpretation is of paramount
importance. The text must satisfy all the above demands.
One of the basic principles of Decoding Stylistics is that the student
is taught to find his way in the text himself, as it were, independently; every
interpretation given below has a double purpose, i.e. by commenting on
some particular text to show the working of some general principle.
Interpretation presupposes explicit commenting: the student
should be able to prove the validity of his understanding. This last sta-
tement needs some explanation. We do not mean to say there is only
one correct way to understand a work of art, all other explanations
being wrong. An artistic piece of prose or poetry is quite often
polysemantic. More than that, every new epoch reads the great works
of the past with new insights, in the light of its own historical and
cultural experience. The point is that the message as suggested by
interpretation must be really contained in the text and not invented
by the analyst. The analyst must be able to prove what he is saying by
some features of the text and be careful not to misinterpret it.
Misinterpretation, unfortunately, is not at all rare even in seemingly
sophisticated pieces of literary criticism.

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The success of interpretation, its completeness and depth


depend upon the ability of the reader to combine the relevant data and
keys that he finds in his memory or thesaurus, i.e. extra-textual
information, with the features and relations within the text. The reader
should be able to formulate explicitly their interaction. Literary and his-
torical comments, although often necessary, are not sufficient without
observations of text structure and the hierarchy of meanings. The data
of the text structure in their turn need the support of extra-textual data.
Text decoding is, thus, a complex activity involving the cooperation of
different branches of knowledge.
The above discussion was necessary to prepare the way for
what is to follow. By way of conclusion, we can now stress that the
general cultural level of a person depends (to a great extent) on his
capacity to get information from various sources and to remodel this
information according to his own needs and tasks, store it, make use of
it, and transmit to others. This transmission of what has been
understood is exactly what we mean by interpretation. It involves such
aspects as theme, subject, composition, background, characters,
mood, emotions, etc. traditionally considered in literary theory. These
are perceived not on the basis of intuition, or rather only partly by intui-
tion. The intelligent reader bases his opinion on the elements actually
seen in the text and their interdependence.
As the text is something made of language, linguistics comes
foremost in explaining it. A thorough linguistic basis necessary for text
interpretation comprises stylistic features of all levels: graphical,
phonetical, lexical, morphological, syntactic, textual. These features
organize language substance into order recognizable by those who

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know the language. On every such level the reader distinguishes units,
each of which is associated with units of the same kind building up units
of the text: phonemes – morphemes – phrases – sentences – texts. To
understand the whole we are often forced to take it to pieces and study
it on separate levels. Yet, every analysis in intelligent reading must be
followed by synthesis.
“What is important is not that students are given answers –
even the right answers – to a certain set of questions, but that they
learn how answers are produced, how knowledge is generated, how
learning is conducted, what skills, attitudes, and methods are needed in
order to produce knowledge" (Ginzburg).
The interaction of all these elements and their relations to the
whole text will bring the reader to a new level of analysis, to
foregrounding and the textual level; these form the subject matter of
Decoding Stylistics and will be taken in detail later on.

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Assignments

Task 1

Think over the following points and discuss them in your group:

1. The appearance of Decoding Stylistics as a science.


2. Branches of knowledge Decoding Stylistics is based on.
3. Decoding Stylistics and Text Interpretation.
4. The capacity of responsiveness as a valuable part in the
makeup of a human personality.
5. The aims of Decoding Stylistics at a foreign languages depart-
ment.
6. The importance of special cultural training for art perception.
7. The demands of reader’s competence.
8. The reader’s and the writer’s view on the same literary text.
9. The poet’s intentions and the poem itself.
10. The success of interpretation, its depth and completeness.

Task 2

Comment on the following quotations and discuss them in your group:

1. A reader's appreciation of literature is subjective and individual.


2. "Art is not a handicraft but a transmission of feeling the artist
has experienced" /Lev Tolstoy/

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3. "Art is the expression of one soul talking to another" /Ruskin/


4. "A book is a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can't expect an
apostle to look out". /Lichtenberg/
5. “No one can say: "There is only this and this in the poem and
nothing more". /I.A. Richards/
6. Analysis in intelligent reading must be followed by synthesis.
7. "Poets vary immensely in their awareness both of their inner
technique and of the precise result they are endeavouring to
achieve". /I.A. Richards/
8. “What is important is not that students are given answers –
even the right answers – to a certain set of questions, but that
they learn how answers are produced, how knowledge is
generated, how learning is conducted, what skills, attitudes and
methods are needed in order to produce knowledge."
/R.S.Ginzburg/

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Test Your Knowledge


Test 1

1. Decoding Stylistics has grown from the branch of knowledge that


was formerly known as:
a) lexicology
b) “explication du texte”
c) text interpretation
d) text analysis

2. What factors do not influence the development of each particular


branch of knowledge?
a) the general level attained at each given period by other
related and unrelated sciences
b) the tasks set before it by the society
c) personal preferences or fashion in this field of knowledge
d) its own history

3. What shall be taken into consideration while studying the course of


Decoding Stylistics?
a) the progress of linguistics only
b) the progress of the country at a certain period of time
c) the progress of linguistics and some closely related
branches of knowledge
d) both the progress of linguistics and seemingly distantly
related sciences

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4. What does the term “hermeneutics” mean?


a) the art of language use for effective communication
b) the science of information and the engineering
of information systems
c) the study of interpretation theory, originally developed as
a science of interpretation of Scriptures
d) a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which
context contributes to meaning

5. What does Decoding Stylistics aim at?


a) a deeper understanding of imaginative literature
b) a keener insight into the ideas and emotional values
c) a keener insight into linguistic features of the text, its
structure, and contextual interdependence of its elements
d) all the above mentioned is right

6. What science is not Decoding Stylistics related to?


a) lexicology
b) history of literature
c) phonetics
d) chemistry

7. Which discipline concerned with Decoding Stylistics is one of the


oldest?
a) hermeneutics
b) stylistics
c) linguistics
d) physics

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8. Why is Decoding Stylistics considered to be a suitable basis for Text


Interpretation?
a) it is concerned with the writer, his social and cultural
background
b) it is concerned with the reader who receives and
analyses the message
c) it is concerned both with the writer and the reader and
their interaction
d) it is concerned neither with the writer nor with the reader,
but with the text itself

9. What do the students have to learn while studying Decoding


Stylistics?
a) to grasp the full meaning of a literary text
b) to interpret a text convincingly
c) to help their own pupils to acquire the ability of finding
within a new text keys necessary to understanding
d) all the answers are correct

10. Can the reader’s responsiveness be developed?


a) yes, though it is not important for Decoding Stylistics
b) yes, if students lack imagination they will understand
the images logically or feel their importance
c) no, there are “insensitive” students, and it cannot be
helped
d) no, the art exists only for a chosen few

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11. What did Lichtenberg mean to underline saying: “A book is a mirror:


if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out”?
a) the importance of knowing traditions and history of
other cultures
b) the importance of understanding a text as a whole
c) the inability of some readers to single out the images
used it the text
d) a problem of emotional indifference and dumbness
12. What statement about the reader’s appreciation of literature is
correct?
a) It is an innate ability that can’ t be developed.
b) It can be trained successfully.
c) It is universal for the readers with the same background.
d) It is next to impossible to train.
13. Why does the reading of fiction and poetry present some
difficulties? It is so because the information in a poetic text …
a) is condensed and compressed
b) is precisely and clearly expressed
c) is intended to be misleading or deceptive
d) is extremely embellished
14. What brings expressiveness and emotional colouring to a text?
(several answers are possible)
a) words, belonging to different functional styles;
b) words, belonging to distant semantic fields;
c) words of the same etymology;
d) statistical distribution of lexical elements, syntactic
structures

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15. How are connotations usually expressed in a text?


a) explicitly
b) implicitly
c) grammatically
d) directly

16. Can the past experience ruin the understanding of a text?


a) no, it can only be helpful
b) no, it does not influence the understanding
c) yes, so called “habits of mind” can be very misleading
d) yes, past experience prevents to take everything in the
text for granted

17. What are the demands of the reader’s competence that a future
teacher of foreign languages has to meet? (several answers are
possible)
a) to develop the habit of deriving new information from a
new text
b) to judge the details only with reference to the whole text
c) to take everything in the text for granted
d) to master the given language
18. What is not the aim of the course of Decoding Stylistics?
a) international education
b) transmission of the achievements of stylistics
c) development of the aesthetic culture
d) training of the ability to derive linguistic information from
the text

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19. What term is used to call the knowledge of the results of any
behaviour considered as influencing or modifying further performance?
a) adaptation
b) decoding
c) feedback
d) encoding
20. Does the author’s interpretation of his work often coincide with the
reader’s?
a) no, and to achieve this is one of the aims of Decoding
Stylistics
b) yes, this is always the easiest and the only correct
interpretation
c) no, the intention of the author and his vision of life are
practically inaccessible
d) none of the answers is correct
21. What proves the validity of the reader’s interpretation of a literary
work?
a) the text itself, containing the ideas suggested
b) one, generally recognized explanation of the ideas
c) the polysemantic character of a literary text
d) the reader’s experience and general knowledge
22. What does the success of interpretation, its completeness and
depth depend upon?
a) the reader’s knowledge of literary & historical comments
b) the reader’s knowledge of the language
c) the reader’s ability to combine extra-textual and textual
information
d) the reader’s memory and thesaurus

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2. The Theory of Information as one of the


Cornerstones of Decoding Stylistics

2.1. Introduction

The term Decoding Stylistics is convenient because it reveals


the connection of Text Interpretation with Information Theory and also
shows which end of the communication process the attention of that
branch of stylistics is focused on. Our major interest is concentrated on
the receiving end and the pragmatic function.
The use of the approaches from Information Theory, which is
an exact science, is another example of inter-disciplinary connections in
contemporary linguistics.
Information Theory as such is a branch of applied mathematics
and electrical engineering, involving the quantification of information.
Information Theory was developed by Claude E. Shannon to find
fundamental limits on signal processing operations such as
compressing data, and on reliably storing and communicating data.
Since its inception, it has broadened to find applications in many other
areas, including statistical inference, natural language processing,
cryptography generally, networks other than communication
networks — as in neurobiology, the evolution and function of molecular
codes, model selection in ecology, thermal physics, quantum
computing, plagiarism detection, and other forms of data analysis.
A key measure of information is known as entropy, which is
usually expressed by the average number of bits needed for storage or

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communication. Entropy quantifies the uncertainty involved in predicting


the value of a random variable. For example, specifying the outcome of
a fair coin flip (two equally likely outcomes) provides less information
(lower entropy) than specifying the outcome from a roll of a die (six
equally likely outcomes).
Applications of fundamental topics of Information Theory
include lossless data compression (e.g. ZIP files), lossless data
compression (e.g. MP3s and JPGs), and channel coding (e.g. for DSL
lines). The field is at the intersection of mathematics, statistics,
computer science, physics, neurobiology, and electrical engineering. Its
impact has been crucial to the success of the Voyager missions to deep
space, the invention of the compact disc, the feasibility of mobile
phones, the development of the Internet, the study of linguistics and of
human perception, the understanding of black holes, and numerous
other fields. Important sub-fields of Information Theory are source
coding, channel coding, algorithmic complexity theory, algorithmic
information theory, information-theoretic security, and measures of
information.
We will discuss implications that Information Theory has in
relation to textual analysis in the rest of the chapter.

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2.2. The Application


of Information Theory to Linguistics

It seems obvious enough that language is used for


communication and sharing experience. The process of communication
is studied not only in Linguistics, but also in Semiotics, in the Theory of
Information, and many other disciplines.
It is necessary to emphasize and remember that Decoding Sty-
listics, we discuss, is interested not in the engineering possibilities of
Information Theory, but in its philosophical and heuristic possibilities
and does not cast out intuition, i.e. direct perception of art. Moreover,
this does not mean that all other critical approaches should be cast
aside in worshipping what is new.
One should not confuse this application of Information Theory
with its use for information retrieval, machine translation or any other
use of computers in applied linguistics. There exists nowadays
computer-oriented stylistics, but we shall not discuss it.
It may be helpful to note in this connection that the first scholars
to mention the importance of Information Theory for linguistics were not
linguists, but mathematicians – those, who created Information Theory.
It was Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in their classical book "The
Mathematic Theory of Communication" (Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1949) (the work focused on the problem of how best to encode
the information a sender wants to transmit) who pointed out that the
analysis of communication will pave the way for a theory of meaning. In
this fundamental work they used tools in Probability Theory, developed

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by Norbert Wiener, which were in their nascent stages of being applied


to communication theory at that time.
Information Theory is steadily making its way into poetics and
linguistics. To prove that one could list quite a number of names:
A.N.Kolmogorov, I.R. Galperin, R. Jakobson, G. Leech, V.V. Ivanov,
J.M. lotman, I. Levy, V.A. Zaretsky, A. M. Kondratov, J. A. Filippev,
J.Darkyshire and many other scholars who in this country and abroad
made good use of its possibilities. A. Moles and M. Bruce dealt with the
application of Information Theory in aesthetics.
We must admit that up till now Information Theory was used
only in sciences where some mathematical apparatus has been already
worked out. Cl. Shannon's main achievement was finding a way to
measure information mathematically. On the other hand,
mathematization of science is not limited to the application of existing
methods. On the contrary, history of science shows that new demands
always gave a strong impetus to mathematics itself so that new
branches of mathematics came into being.
The important thing is for a scholar to be sufficiently acquainted
with the notions he transfers from other areas into his own. Amateurish
showing off and snobbishness do more harm than anything else.
Exercises in terminological translation are useless, unless we can
accommodate the theory they express to describing the phenomena we
have to deal with. Using new terms without understanding them is a
sort of modern malapropism not to be tolerated.
It is, therefore, necessary to make our acquaintance with some
of the basic terms used in Information Theory so as to understand their
meaning and possibilities.

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Information Theory makes use of such terms as information,


message, code, communication, channel, encode, decode, feedback,
redundancy and some others that are less important for our needs.
Their importance and value for us depend on the possibility
they give to see common features in apparently different phenomena,
make new powerful generalizations and formulate laws common to
different branches of knowledge in a unified system of terms and
notions. This permits very different and distant branches of knowledge
to cooperate in development.
As an example of this cooperation one might consider the
scheme of communication offered by Claude Shannon (page 39) and
some of the many adaptations of this scheme by linguists (page 40).
The most interesting additions are context with R. Jakobson
(Jakobson 1960) and selection and development with I. Richards
(Richards 1960).
The adaptability of the scheme for the literary process from the
point of view of the theory of reflection is comprehensibly analyzed by
I.Levy, although he emphasizes that this does not yield the whole truth
about literature because, in his opinion, it is unable to show the
historical conditioning of literary facts. It may be remarked, however,
that the fact that this scheme has not been used to show this
conditioning does not mean that it cannot be so used.

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The Scheme of Communication Offered by Claude Shannon

Signal Signal

Source of
Transmitter Channel Receiver Addressee
Information

Message Message

Source
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Roman Jakobson adapted the scheme of communication


for linguistics in the following form:
Context
Message

Addresser Contact Addressee

Code

Ivor Richards gave a more elaborate variant, considering not the


participants or means of communication but the process itself:

source selection encoding transmission

reception decoding development destination


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The element of development introduced by I. Richards is of


great importance because it permits to account for that distinguishing
feature of aesthetic perception – appreciation of implicature,
implication, imagination based on imagery (Арнольд 1982).
The term “implicature” was proposed by the philosopher H.P.Grice.
In the course of his investigation of speaker meaning and linguistic meaning,
H.P. Grice introduced a number of interesting distinctions. For example, he
distinguished between four kinds of content: encoded / non-encoded content
and truth-conditional / non-truth-conditional content.
Encoded content is the actual meaning attached to certain
expressions, arrived at through investigation of definitions and making
of literal interpretations.
Non-encoded content are those meanings that are understood
beyond an analysis of the words themselves, i.e., by looking at the
context of speaking, tone of voice, and so on.
Truth-conditional content are whatever conditions that make an
expression true or false.
Non-truth-conditional content are whatever conditions that do
not affect the truth or falsity of an expression.
For H.P. Grice, these distinctions can explain, at least, three
different possible varieties of expression:
1. Conventional Implicature – when an expression has encoded
content, but doesn't necessarily have any truth-conditions;
2. Conversational Implicature – when an expression does not have
encoded content, but does have truth-conditions (for example,
in use of irony);
3. Utterances - when an expression has both encoded content
and truth-conditions (Grice 1981: 183–198).

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2.3. Basic Terms

Claude Shannon created his revolutionary mathematical theory,


now known as Information Theory in response to engineering demands.
Very soon his theory was found to have applications far beyond those
for which it was originally offered. As developed by Cl. Shannon himself
and others this theory became of fundamental importance in all
disciplines involving problems of communication, language and
meaning. Cl. Shannon gave a new interpretation to such notions as
"information" and "message".
In the above scheme (page 39)
 the information source is where the message to be
sent is selected from an array of possible messages;
 the transmitter encodes the message into a signal;
 the signal is sent through a communication channel;
 the message is received and decoded by a receiver;
 there is a destination, i.e. addressee, analogous to the
source which makes use of the signal;
 undesirable but inevitable variations in the signal due to
various external causes affecting transmission are
called noise.
In Cl. Shannon's definition information refers not to the
meaningful content of a particular message, but to the degree of
freedom of choice with which the information source may choose
among the elements to compose a given message. This information is
non-semantic, but probabilistic.

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On a later occasion Cl. Shannon described information as what


remains invariant in all reversible operations of coding or translation.
This idea seemed so attractive to many linguists that they adopted it for
a definition of meaning. In I.V. Arnold’s opinion, however, the very
general concept of information and the linguistic meaning should not be
confused (Арнольд 1981).
The non-semantic information is expressed mathematically in
terms of probability (p) and enthrophy (x).

It equals
m
H ( X ) = − a0 ∑ Pk ( X k ) log a Pk ( X k ) .
k =1

Or, in other words, it is determined by the probability of the event.


But we are interested in the essence of this relationship from
the point of view of philosophy, of the theory of reader’s response.
The amount of information in a piece of language is related to
the predictability of one linguistic choice from another. Formulated in
the terms of the theory of reader’s response, information is the trace left
on one object of reality by the influence of another object of reality.
Among the many different choices the writer has to make at the
stage of selection, note the selection of genre suitable for this or that
subject-matter and idea. He has to decide when he encodes it, whether
he does it as a novelist, a poet, a dramatist with further subdivisions of
lyrical, satirical, or comical approach and further still: an elegy, a ballad,
a sonnet, etc. These organize and connect the message, and may be
regarded as very general code systems, imposing some choice of
elements, and some further restrictions.

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The next step is the choice of images. As we read the elements


of the text, and their connections are gradually perceived, feedback
plays a most important role because our response continuously
changes, adapting to succeeding events going on as a process of
retrospective patterning combined with some expectation for what is
coming. The conclusion of a text is the point when the total pattern is
revealed. As we read the poem, our expectations or the probable
further development depend on the interaction of what we read in the
text and our thesaurus that is the contents of our memory, and these
expectations are constantly readjusted in feedback.

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2.4. The Adaptation of Shannon's Model


to Literary Communication

This model permits Decoding Stylistics to give a correct repre-


sentation, reflecting the active role of literature in history, and the
feedback between art and society.
This shows that, as given by the Theory of Information, the
scheme is general and comprehensive. Information Theory does not
claim that it can substitute any other particular science or branch of
knowledge. Its merit lies in creating a common language that
facilitates the contacts between languages; showing some basic
universal laws and relationships, it creates a basis for a general
approach and permits each science comparing its results with those
of the other sciences to find the specific and peculiar features in a
clearer and more rigorous way.
Thus, the general notion of a code that presupposes a system
of signs of any nature is particularized in many different branches of
knowledge according to their object. For example, biologists study the
genetic code.
Linguists have adopted Cl. Shannon's scheme for their model
of verbal communication for a very long time already. The term "code"
is now used by most authors writing on style; R.Jakobson was one of
the first. Now we find the word in the books by I. Levy , G. Leech and
Chatman, by I.R. Galperin, V. Kucharenko and J. Lotman and many
many others.
There are still some voices raised against this notion, their chief
argument being that language is a very complicated system and a

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constantly developing system, whereas a Morse code is simple and


constant. This view is terribly naive. The Morse code is one of the
simplest codes existing, and, therefore, convenient as the first
elementary example but not as a general idea. In explaining probability
every lecturer begins with the example of throwing dices; it does not
follow that all probabilistic processes are as simple as that.
The case with Morse Code is similar. The communication
engineering today is very far away from the elementary telegraph of
1844, and so are the technical codes. They are adaptable for very
different uses, very sophisticated, and as unlike the elementary Morse
code as the new equipment is unlike the apparatus of 130 years ago.
To be operative the verbal message requires:
1) a code fully or, at least, partially common to the addresser
and the addressee, i.e. to the encoder and the decoder of the
message;
2) a context that the addressee can recognize, and that is
either verbal or capable of being verbalized;
3) a contact, i.e. a physical channel and psychological
connection enabling both participants to enter and stay in
communication.
It must be emphasized that the definition of a code given above
does not presuppose the unchangeability of the system. On the
contrary, the system of a code may develop adapting itself to the
conditions under which it is used (Арнольд 1981).
With a literary text even if the poet and his reader speak the
same language and are contemporaries, there is always some
difference in the codes they use, moreover a poet always introduces

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some innovations by which he mobilizes the reader's attention, his


verbal code changes in the interaction with the message. It is possible
to compare these changes with those that technical codes undergo in
the process of preventing errors due to all kinds of interference.
Different philologists offered different variants of Shannon's
scheme so as to adapt it to what happens in verbal communication.
Compare the schemes by Cl. Shannon, I. A. Richards and R.Jakobson
(pages 39-40) with the following scheme suggested for the process of
literary communication (page 48).
Let’s see in detail what each term means, and how the general
scheme works in the field of communication by the channel of literature.

The process of communication starts in this case when


information

a writer or a poet, who receives a vast stream of information


Source of

from the surrounding reality, selects in this mass of


information something that he wants to impart to others. This
stage is a complicated creative process studied in the history
of literature.

It results in compressing and encoding the


Message

message, i.e. choosing the necessary items from a system of


codes. The codes involved are studied by linguistics, poetics,
semiotics, etc.

A code is a set of signs and rules in which they are


Code

arranged used for transmitting messages through some


specific channel (i.e. suitable for some specific channel).

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The Adaptation of the Scheme of Communication Offered by


Claude Shannon to Literary Communication
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The term sign can be used to mean a discrete


physical element that carries information, i.e. something
material that can be distinguished by the senses, and stands
for something else. Thus, in each letter of the alphabet we
recognize a distinct shape different from that of any other
Sign
letter, and standing for some sound. As elements of a code,
simple signs combine into more complicated codograms, and
these, in their turn, form codograms of a higher level. Finally,
a complete message results. In language all units: sounds,
morphemes, words, sentences, etc. are defined by placing
them into larger units of higher levels. The theory of signs is
studied in semiotics.
The term "signal" should be distinguished from the
term "sign". A text is an arrangement of static material signs
situated on a page, framed by a margin, and arranged
Signal

typographically in a certain way. A signal is a dynamic nerve


impulse transmitting the message to the reader's mind. The
transmission is simultaneously an interpretation directed by
the signs of the text serving as directions.

A message is the sum total of the properties of the


Message

source reflected and transmitted to the addressee, or, in other


words, it is the state of one system as rendered by the
elements of another system.

By encoding or coding we mean the operation of


Encoding

identification of symbols and groups of symbols of one kind


with symbols and groups of symbols of a different kind.

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Decoding by the receiver is the reverse operation –

Decoding
reconstruction of the message by knowing code
combinations.

A communication channel serves as a medium of

Communication
contact. The transmitter encodes the message and transmits
channel it in signals suitable for the channel serving as medium of
contact. In our case we regard literature as an analogy of the
channel.

At the stage of transmission the signal is mixed with


inevitable noise, i.e. with various disturbances in the
communication system that interfere with the reception of
Source of noise

information. The source of noise may be different. There


may be for example changes that occur in one of the codes
used during the time that passes between the moments of
encoding and decoding. Changes may affect language or
manners. Manners that were considered quite polite in the
16th century may seem revolting in the 21st. Jokes are apt to
become tasteless or lose their point with the passage of time.

In the original scheme as used in engineering, the source of


information and the addressee may be human beings, while transmitter
and receiver are technical devices. In our case it seems more
appropriate to take transmitter and receiver as human, i.e. writer and
reader respectively, and consider the end items, source and addressee
to be the social reality surrounding them.
The history of literature concentrates its attention on the
transmitting end, i.e. it studies what and who influenced the writer. In

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Decoding Stylistics and Text Interpretation the attention is concentrated


on the receiving end of the process of communication, i.e. on decoding
the message, hence the term “Decoding Stylistics”. It is not Byron’s
mood or events of his biography connected with writing this or that
particular poem that we shall study (these are studied in the history of
literature). It is the impression produced by the poem upon us, his
readers, and our attitude that are of importance. We are interested in
what seems to be said in the text and whether we agree with it, rather
than in the writer’s motives for saying it.
This last scheme adaptation brings Decoding Stylistics in
correspondence with our view of literature as a social phenomenon. It is
also an essentially cybernetic view of literature because it shows that
literature controls the reader's perception of reality and his activity in
real life. Very roughly it might be illustrated by William Blake’s poem
“On Another’s Sorrow” as follows: people’s indifference to other’s
sorrows made William Blake indignant with the situation.

On Another’s Sorrow

Can I see another’s woe,


And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?
Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrows share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill’d?
Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear –

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No, no, never can it be.


Never, never can it be.
/William Blake/
William Blake chose several general, but discrete images,
those of grief, falling tears, a groaning infant, etc. that are easy and
sure to cause emotions in the people around and encoded these in the
form of a poem. During two centuries the poem, decoded by many
generations of readers, influenced, in some degree, their mentality and
even their behaviour towards the reality of other different epochs.

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2.5. General Conclusions

Shannon's scheme and its modifications show the common


features uniting various semiotic processes, permitting to compare
them and mark distinctions and connections that might otherwise be
overlooked.
Incidentally, the suggested variation of this scheme may be of
use for stylistics also as it gives a ground for classification of various
trends in stylistics and poetics according to the stages on which the
stylist concentrates his attention.
Thus, Decoding Stylistics concentrates on the decoding and
development processes. Literary Stylistics, on the contrary, is primarily
interested in the first stage, i.e. in how the source of information
influences the encoder. Every message is sent by someone, sometime,
somewhere to someone else. It is sent under the influence of a
particular situation, external or psychological as a response to it.
Specialists in Literary Stylistics look for what is peculiar in the
codes of each writer as compared with his predecessors and
contemporaries. They are more interested in poets than in their works
or their readers. A work of art for them is in the first place a result, the
causes of which have to be investigated. Decoding Stylistics considers
a text as a source of impressions for the reader affecting his mental
make-up and personality. Traditional Stylistics is particularly interested
in stylistic devices, above everything else concentrates itself on the
code. It is worth remarking that all this does not mean that either of the
trends disregards the other stages completely, it only characterizes the
bias chosen.

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Assignments

Task 1

Think over the following points and discuss them in group:

1. The appearance of the Information Theory.


2. Basic terms of the Information Theory.
3. Four kinds of content distinguished by H.P. Grice.
4. The original scheme of communication offered by Cl. Shannon.
Various adaptations of Shannon's scheme.
5. The adaptation of Shannon's scheme to literature.
6. The notion of a code and sign.
7. The requirements for the verbal message to be operative.
8. The receiving and the transmitting ends of the scheme of
communication adapted to literature.
9. Decoding Stylistics and Literary Stylistics

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Test Your Knowledge


Test 2

1. What science is Information Theory a branch of?


a) computer-oriented linguistics
b) applied mathematics
c) modern physics
d) psychology and biology

2. What is Decoding Stylistics interested in?


a) in the engineering possibilities of Information Theory
b) in the philosophical and heuristic possibilities of
Information Theory
c) in the psychological possibilities of Information Theory
b) in the logical possibilities of Information Theory

3. What theory offered its tools to the Theory of Communication?


a) Wiener’s probabilistic theory
b) Weaver’s mathematic theory
c) Leech’s computational linguistics
d) Grice’s semantic theory

4. In which field of science did Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver


work?
a) mathematics
b) linguistics
c) physics
d) lexicology

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5. Whom does the most famous scheme of communication belong to?


a) I.A. Richards
b) T.S. Eliot
c) R. Jakobson
d) Cl. Shannon
6. What was R. Jakobson’s most significant addition to the scheme of
communication?
a) context
b) message
c) code
d) addressee
7. What was I.A. Richards’ most significant addition to the scheme of
communication?
a) encoding and decoding
b) source and destination
c) selection and development
d) transmission and reception
8. Which is the original scheme of Cl. Shannon?
a) Transmitter – Signal – Channel – Receiver – Signal –
Addressee – Source of Information
b) Source of Information – Transmitter – Channel –
Receiver – Addressee
c) Source of Information – Message – Transmitter –
Channel (+Noise) – Receiver – Message – Addressee
b) Source of Information – Transmitter – Source of Noise –
Receiver – Addressee

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9. Which is the true scheme of I. Richards?


a) source – encoding – transmission – reception –
decoding – destination
b) source – selection – encoding – transmission – reception
– decoding - development – destination
c) source – encoding – selection – transmission – decoding
– reception – destination – development
d) source – selection – encoding – reception – decoding –
development - destination
10. Which of the terms wasn’t mentioned in the original Scheme of
Communication?
a) transmitter
b) addressee
c) thesaurus
d) message
11. Who proposed the term “implicature”?
a) Cl. Shannon
b) H.P.Grice
c) I. Richards
d) R. Jakobson
12. Which of the terms is used by H.P. Grice to name the content if the
conditions make an expression true or false?
a) encoded content
b) non-encoded
c) truth-conditional content
d) non-truth-conditional

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13. Who encodes the message into a signal in Shannon’s scheme of


communication?
a) transmitter
b) receiver
c) addressee
d) channel
14. What is understood by noise in Shannon’s scheme of
communication?
a) conventional comments or sounds conveying a reaction,
attitude, feeling, etc
b) undesirable but inevitable variations in the signal due to
various external causes
c) loud or disturbing sounds causing undesired disturbance
d) loud sounds of complain
15. What system is capable of self regulation, automatic adaptation to
changing conditions of its functioning?
a) automatic system
b) conditional system
c) adaptive system
d) functioning system
16. What cannot be used as a communication channel in the scheme of
communication adapted to literature?
a) short stories
b) novels
c) newspaper articles
d) computers

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17. What branch of knowledge studies the source of information in


communication through literature?
a) stylistics
b) poetics
c) the history of literature
d) hermeneutics

18. What term is used to denote a static material discrete physical


element that carries information?
a) code
b) sign
c) word
d) signal

19. What term is used to denote a dynamic nerve impulse transmitting


the message to the reader's mind?
a) code
b) sign
c) word
d) signal

20. Who restores the message of a literary work with the help of the
thesaurus and remodels the information?
a) receiver
b) transmitter
c) addressee
d) reality

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21. What does “to decode” mean?


a) to transmit information to the addressee
b) to identify symbols of different kinds
c) to reconstruct the message knowing the code
d) to encode the message into a signal
22. On what end of the Scheme of Communication adapted to literature
is the attention of Decoding Stylistics concentrated?
a) the receiving end
b) the transmitting end
c) communication channel
d) objective reality

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3. Basic Notions of Text Theories

3.1. Introduction

Text linguistics is a branch of linguistics that deals with texts as


communication systems. Its original aims lay in uncovering and
describing text grammars. The application of text linguistics has,
however, evolved from this approach to a point in which text is viewed
in much broader terms that go beyond a mere extension of traditional
grammar towards an entire text. Text linguistics takes into account not
only the form of a text, but also its setting, i.e. the way in which it is
situated in an interactional, communicative context. Both the author of a
text and its addressee are taken into consideration in their respective
(social and/or institutional) roles in the specific communicative context.
In general, it is an application of discourse analysis at the much broader
level of text, rather than just a sentence or word.
A text, within literary theory, is a coherent set of symbols that
transmits some kind of informative message. This set of symbols is
considered in terms of the informative message's content, rather than in
terms of its physical form or the medium in which it is represented. In
the most basic terms established by structuralist criticism, therefore, a
"text" is any object that can be "read," whether this object is a work of
literature, a street sign, an arrangement of buildings on a city block, or
styles of clothing. Within the field of literary criticism, "text" also refers to
the original information content of a particular piece of writing; that is,
the "text" of a work is that primal symbolic arrangement of letters as
originally composed, apart from later alterations, deterioration,

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commentary, translations, paratext, etc. Therefore, when literary


criticism is concerned with the determination of a "text," it is concerned
with the distinguishing of the original information content from whatever
has been added to or subtracted from that content as it appears in a
given textual document (that is, a physical representation of text). Since
the history of writing predates the concept of the "text", most texts were
not written with this concept in mind. Most written works fall within a
narrow range of the types described by text theory. The concept of
"text" becomes relevant when a coherent written message is completed
and needs to be referred to independently of the circumstances in
which it was created.

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3.2. The Text as a Coherent Verbal Message

Our experience teaches us that a person, who has mastered a


language enough, is able to produce and interpret an utterance
characterized by coherence and cohesion, i.e. a piece of connected
discourse. This discourse may be of a very different character: daily
conversation, advertisements, poetry, news broadcasts, etc. Which of
these are texts? What are the characteristic features of a text, and
when shall we consider a piece of discourse a text?
We have often used this word already, supposing everybody
has some idea of what a text is. The implication has been that a text is
something made of language units; it serves to transmit information.
Language, being the most important means of human communication,
is used to inform others of many things that are, or seem, important.
Information transmitted in a verbal message may be of two
kinds. The information of the first type renders the cognitive
experiential logical data and does not depend upon the conditions
and participants of the communication act. The second type of
information concerns the speaker's or writer's attitude to the subject
matter and his listener or reader, it renders the role he adopts or
assumes in the communication process, i.e. that of questioning,
informing, evaluating, expressing emotion, persuading, identifying
the social standing of the speaker, etc., or, in other words, serving to
establish some human relations.
Messages in language are used to influence other people's
behaviour and feelings, to instruct, to amuse, and to bring about other
desired ends. Information is transmitted from a source to an addressee

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as a message. A text is a specific form of message serving not only to


transmit information, but also to store it.
By saying that a text is something made of language, we
formulated a linguistic point of view. This insistence on verbal character
of the text is not universally accepted, other approaches are also
possible. Thus, in semiotics the notion of the text is much wider: any
message and any work of art are considered texts: be it "Gulliver's
Travels" by J. Swift, a combination of verse and music as in B. Britten's
"War Requiem" with words from a funeral service and the poems by
Wilfred Owen, or a symphony without any words, or even a building,
Hampton Court Palace, for example.
In linguistics the notion of the text is restricted to coherent verbal
messages in any of the three or four thousand human languages.
It has been argued that a whole text is the primary unit of
speech and the primary unit of stylistic description. It may be regarded
as one sign, one unit. It is neither a string of sentences nor a set
of stylistic devices. The analysis of the meaning and structure of
lower ranking units is, of course, necessary, but it should be considered
in relation to the whole text and to its other components (i.e.
syntagmatically), and not only discussed, as it is usually done, in
relation to similar elements in other texts as a matter of choice
(paradigmatically). This approach is open to discussion.
What is more generally accepted is the meanings of its
components. That is why an inventory of these components of any level
cannot serve as an interpretation. An effective interpretation has to
describe the parts as well as the relations existing between them.
These relations will later on form the main topic of discussion on

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foregrounding (i.e. the making some meanings prominent through


various kinds of means) and on context. This means that the properties
of texts cannot be adequately described by discussing their fragments
only. We may take a poem to pieces, but this analysis should be
followed by synthesis restoring the completeness of the whole.
So we will treat a text as a system of relationships
linguistically manifested, as a whole where every thing is
determined by juxtapositions, equivalence, similarities and
contrasts. In applying this thesis one should not lose sight of the
phrase "manifested linguistically" (as this is what keeps the approach
on a firmly materialistic ground).
It is worth mentioning in this connection that the systematic
approach is characteristic of all modern science in general. In the
course of its history science passes from atomistic study of isolated
objects to the investigation of their interdependence and interaction of
these relations within the whole structure, or system.
These phrases "verbal message", "manifested linguistically" and
the like lead us to one more intricate point. What if the message is stored
and transmitted not in words, but in some signs reducible to words? There
is, for instance, an interesting book about language by F.Fulsom. It opens
with a picture of a deerskin, on which an Indian narrates the events of a
famous battle. The Indians fight against general Koster. F. Fulsom, a
linguist, is justified to call this picture a text, because although in its pictorial
state it is not verbal, it is reducible to words, it is a form of storing a
message, so that at any moment it can be decoded in words, and it is
meant to be so decoded, not just admired. The verbal form is latent, and the
deerskin picture is akin to a hieroglyphic manuscript.

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3.3. The Length of the Text and its


Segmentation into Constituent Elements

Another problem that arises in connection with the definition of


the text is that of its constituent elements and size. Should a text be
divided into words or sentences necessary for a message to be
considered a text?
As an utterance occurs in the process of communication, it
seems logical to divide it, first, into sentences, and then into words. It is
universally agreed that the number of words does not characterize a
sentence: it may be long or contain one word only, so that the number
of words in a sentence is one, or more than one:

Nwds > = 1.
Similarly, a text may also be long, or contain one sentence, so

Nsts > = 1.
Thus, a text has its lower limit, one sentence, and this, in its turn, may
contain only one word.

Therefore the sign "Stop!" is a text.

As a curiosity consider the following poem:

poem

/Tom Raworth, 1970/

It contains nothing but the title "poem" (with a small “p”).


The opinion that the lower limit of the text is two words is quite
illogical – the number of words is entirely beside the point.
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We shall agree with a clear-cut formulation offered by one of


the leading authorities on text theory Van Dijk who writes that a text
may consist of n sentences (where n > =1), but will not be described in
terms of underlying sentence structure, not as a linearly ordered set of
sentences, but as a coherent whole.
The well-known English scholar M. Halliday, emphasizing the
irrelevance of length for the definition of a text, pointed out that texts
may include the Japanese haiku which is a poem of 17 syllables only,
or a Homeric epic.
M. Halliday wrote: "A text is an operational unit of language, as
a sentence is a syntactic unit; it may be spoken or written; and it
includes, as a special instance, a literary text, whether haiku, or
Homeric epic. It is the text, and not some super-sentence, that is the
relevant unit for stylistic studies; this is a functional-semantic concept,
and is not definable by size" (Halliday 1974: 107).
One of the shortest English poems is about the antiquity of
microbes, it runs as follows:

Adam
Had 'em

It may be of interest to note that although length cannot


distinguish texts from sentences, or even words, as we have seen, it
may serve as an important distinctive feature in genres. Thus, literature
and folklore possess a great wealth of aphoristic sayings, highly structured
and forming complete messages characterized by shortness, compactness:

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and
out of which they grow.
/O. Wendell/

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Proverbs can also be mentioned in this connection. A definition


of proverbs always mentions their being short, memorable, and often
highly condensed. In the Random House Dictionary a proverb is
defined as a short popular saying that with bold imagery expresses
effectively some commonplace truth or usual thought:

If you want a thing well done, do it yourself.

Manners make the man.

World literature knows many forms of verse specifically limited


in length. The ancient monostich, as the name implies, contained only
one line. The distich-lines form is still used. Here is one:
The Span of Life
The old dog barks backward without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.
/R. Frost/
Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) adapted this form in his ironical
"marginalia", i.e. notes in the margin of a book, manuscript, or letter:

The tobacco farmers


were Baptists, who considered
smoking a sin.
Needing above all
silence and warmth, we produce
brutal cold and noise.
A dead man,
who never caused others to die,
seldom rates a statue.
/ W. H. Auden /

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The Persian quatrains or rubais by Omar Khayam


(XI century) were independent 4-line poems; it was their translator,
Ed.Fitz-Gerald who wove them into a big connected poem. About a
hundred quatrains are connected by their light hedonism and an appeal
to enjoy the intoxicants of life: verse, love, the wine:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,


A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise anew?
/Omar Khayam/

Five lines also have their peculiar poetic form – the limerick, a
sort of fun-making jingle. It is a form of comic verse consisting of five
anapaestic lines of which the first, second, and fifth have three metrical
feet and rhyme together, and the third and fourth have two metrical feet
and rhyme together. Coming originally from the folklore, limericks were
especially popularized by Ed. Lear in his Book of Nonsense (1846).
Here is an example:

There was an old man of Lime


Who married three wives at a time.
When asked: "Why a third?"
He replied: "One's absurd,
And bigamy, sir, is a crime.
/Ed. Lear/

A sonnet is a verse form of Italian origin consisting of 14 lines


in iambic pentameter with rhymes arranged according to a fixed

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scheme, usually divided either into octave and sestet, or, in the English
form, into three quatrains and a couplet. It expresses a single complete
thought or feeling:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?


Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee
/W.Shakespeare/

Thus, though the length of the text is irrelevant for its definition,
it may serve as an important distinctive feature in genres and help to
differentiate a limerick from a proverb, or a sonnet from a quatrain.

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3.4. The Subject-Matter of a Text

The ‘material’ of a literary work of art are, on the one level,


words, on another level, human behaviour and experience, and on
another level, human ideas and attitudes. All of these, including
language, exist outside the work of art, in other modes; but in a
successful poem or novel they are pulled into polyphonic relations by
the dynamics of aesthetic purpose.
The subject matter of the story is the main area of interest
treated in the story. It may be an element of character (the subject of
ambition in Macbeth), an element of plot (the subject of marriage in
Pride and Prejudice), or an element of thought (the subject of
appearance vs. reality in practically any work). Certain literary genres
(historical novels, detective stories, science fiction) may concentrate on
certain subjects.
The subject matter of the information transmitted in a text may
be of different nature. A weather forecast, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, an
advertisement for ice-cream, Cybernetics and Society by Norbert
Wiener, an Act of Parliament, and the "No smoking!" notice are all texts
centering round peculiar subject-matters.

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3.5. Form and Addresses

Opinions differ as to the form in which a text exists. Some


scholars (Z. Turaeva, I. Galperin) maintain that an utterance is
called a text only when it is a written message, others say that there
is no point to exclude folklore, and that graphical presentation
(fixation in written form) is optional (I. Arnold). Of course, the written
form is more usual, but a folklore song, although oral, is in some
respects more of a text than a telephone directory, however nicely
published.
The borderline is represented by all sorts of familiar phrases
existing in oral tradition and forming a complete whole, but mostly used
(like proverbs) within larger units. For example,

"Intuition is the strange instinct that tells a woman she is right


whether she is or not."
/Anonymous/

There is also the problem of the addresses. Shall we consider


an utterance to be a message and a text, when the addressee is not
mentioned, or when the addressee is not human? G.G. Byron, for
instance, addresses a star:

Sun of the sleepless! Melancholy star!


Whose tearful beam glows tremulously far,
That show'st the darkness thou canst not dispel,
How like art thou to joy remembered well.
So gleams the past, the light of other days,
Which shines, but warms not with its powerless rays;

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A night-beam Sorrow watcheth to behold,


Distinct, but distant - clear - but, oh, how cold.
/Byron/

Words are addressed not to a person, but to an inanimate


object, a celestial body that Byron calls thou as a form of
personification. Human feelings are, thus, ascribed to a star, though
nobody would take this literally. Every reader accepts this, not as
something meant for outer space, but as a manifestation of the poet's
lyrical mood, meant for terrestrial readers. We know poems formally
addressed to the West Wind, a sky-lark, the Night, the Ocean and so
on, but, naturally, printed and published for the benefit of human
readers.
Actually, a text may have two levels of communicational
existence. Every text is addressed by a poet (writer) to the mass of
possible readers, but it may, especially as a poem, create its own
situation of address.
In the book about language by F.Fulsom, that was mentioned
above, we get to know about an Indian custom: “They make and keep
on the roadside heaps of stones for luck. Every passer-by adds one
more stone pronouncing a sort of magic formula: "I put this stone for all
men's sake and for all women's sake. Wherever I go, may luck follow
me, and wherever my people go, may luck follow them."
The message in this case is neither written nor addressed to any
other human being. Shall this be considered a text? We are justified in
considering this oral charm a text because it is a complete verbal message
stored in the memory of the members of a tribe and passed on to younger
generations. The addressee is actually imaginative – the charm is meant to
conciliate fate and supernatural forces.

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3.6. Cohesion and Coherence

By coherence we mean logical consistency – unity and


structural composition. It may depend on various factors of
syntagmatic arrangement, such as repeated occurrence of equivalent
elements either distant or juxtaposed. It may depend on a special
choice and arrangement of semantically related words, and the
resulting repetition of some scenes, particularly those referring to the
important themes of the message.
The language substance in a text is organized on all levels;
phonetically, lexically, graphically, etc. This creates alongside the linear
connections other meaningful ties, helping the reader to overcome the
linearity of speech, and grasp the relative importance of various
elements, their hierarchy in the message. Thanks to this property of
cohesion, a text is a structure blended into one piece by the integration
of its parts which cannot be what they are if taken separately.
Decoding Stylistics and Text Theory study the ways in which
sentences and linguistic units larger than sentences build themselves
up into integrated units.
Coherence and cohesion have been two very prominent
terms in Discourse Analysis and Text Linguistics, but they are difficult to
distinguish. They are related etymologically, and share the same verb
(cohere). That there are grounds for a useful distinction, however, is
indicated by the derived adjectives coherent and cohesive, which,
even in common usage, have different meanings.
Texts are made up of sentences, just as houses are made up
of bricks, posts, beams, and so on. But that is clearly not the whole
story, in either case. You don't build a house simply by bringing bricks,

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beams, etc. together; you have to fasten or bond them together in a


variety of ways. The same applies to texts: sentences must be bound
together and cross-linked.
A text is an integrated structure, just as surely as a house is:
both need various kinds of fastening devices to hold their parts
together. In the case of a house, those devices or binding agents may
be potentially visible (nails, screws, brackets, adhesives) while one
major means is invisible (gravity). In the case of texts, all the cohesive
ties are invisible: they are implicit but palpable connections between
words in different sentences. Cohesion, thus, refers to all the linguistic
ways in which the words of a passage, across sentences, cross-refer or
link up. It is important to bear in mind from the outset that we are
particularly considering links between or across sentences, and
not links within sentences.
Popularized by M. Halliday and R. Hasan (Halliday, Hasan
1976), cohesion refers to the means (phonological, grammatical,
lexical, semantic) of linking sentences into larger units (paragraphs,
chapters, etc.), i.e. of making them ‘stick together’. Other equivalent
terms popular at one time or another have been inter-sentence linkage /
concord; supra-sentential relations; and connectivity.
Cohesive ties can be overt or explicit, or covert or implicit, and
there are several patterns or processes. With these concepts in mind
we can now observe some linguistic means serving to ensure cohesion.
These are:
 pronominal linkage with a preceding noun,
 conjunctions and conjunctive adjectives,
 deictic words (substitutes),

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 ellipsis,
 sequence of events reflected in verb forms and
adverbials of time (submodifiers),
 the already mentioned semantic repetition of variously
related words – synonyms, hyponyms, antonyms,
partitives, words from the same lexical set and so on.
Let’s consider them in consistent manner.

(i) Pronominal linkage with a preceding noun


• personal pronouns (incl. it, its, etc.),
• regular and possessive demonstratives (this, that, these, those,
here, there, then),
• the 'subsequent mention' definite article.

‘Always the same. Have the little bitches into your bed. Lose
all sense of proportion.’
‘They are students?’
‘The Mouse. God knows what the other thinks she is.’
But Breasley clearly did not want to talk about them…
/Fowles: The Ebony Tower/

(ii) Explicit comparative constructions with the following items


• (the) same, similar, such, different, other, more, less,
• ordinal numbers (first, second, etc.),
• as + adjective,
• comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs.
The point about this type of reference cohesive
device is that, when one of them is used, they invariably
only make full sense in relation to adjacent text.

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(iii) Ellipsis as an implicit device


A point in the flow of text is made sense by making a mental
connection to some adjacent text (called the co-text), but here what
characterizes the point in the flow of text is the ellipsis of understood
material. Material is left out since its repetition or near-repetition is felt
to be unnecessary. There are two subtypes: partial and full ellipsis.
Partial ellipsis is some 'abridged' or condensed structure
used to stand in for the full sequence. This is known as partial ellipsis or
substitution, and is very common. It can relate to nouns and nominal
phrases, in which case the items one/ones, the same appear. Or it can
relate to verbs and verbal phrases, in which case the following items
are common: do, be, have, do the same, do so, be so, do it/that. Or
there can be partial ellipsis of an entire clause, in which case the items
so (for positive clauses) and not (for negative clauses) are used. Here
are examples of each:

Kimberley: Can I look at your watch?


Martin: Sorry, I'm not wearing one.
Kimberley: You mean you don't usually wear a watch?
Martin: I usually do, but today I left it at the shop to be
repaired.
Kimberley: Will it be ready by this evening?
Martin: I think not; they said come back tomorrow.
Full ellipsis is a subtype of ellipsis, where there
is 'full' omission of a second mention of items which can be
'understood' as implicit, because they are retrievable in the
given context. In the following dialogue underlined blanks are
our textual additions, and indicate points at which understood

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material has been ellipted, and could be restored. Again, what


gets ellipted can be either nominal, or verbal, or clausal in
nature, and the items that mark the sites of ellipted sequences,
like buoys in a channel, are of distinct kinds. With full nominal
ellipses you find some, one, none, any, neither, each, a few, a lot,
many, much, most and all adjacent to the 'gaps'. With full
verbal ellipsis you find that various parts of the verbal construction are
omitted, being 'understood'. Ellipsis of a full clause is reflected in the
use of the polar rejoinders Yes and No. Here are the examples:

Martin: I heard that everyone in the hockey squad had


to do extra training this week.
Kimberley: A few ____ had to ____, but most ____ were
excused____.
Martin: Oh were they____?
Kimberley: Yes.

Clausal ellipsis also happens when there is omission of a


whole clause where it would otherwise occur after a verb of
communication or cognition, as in these examples:

Betty: I've just heard tomorrow is a holiday. Why didn't


anyone tell me____?
Alan: Don't forget next Monday's a public holiday.
Brian: I know____.

Ellipsis and substitution cohesion are commonest in two-


party dialogue, in which the second party can often customize
their responses, so as to incorporate the substance of the first
party's claim without actually repeating it verbatim.

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(iv) Conjunctions and conjunctive adjectives


Conjunction cohesion refers to the use of certain words or
phrases, usually at the beginning of a sentence, with the effect of
clarifying the semantic or logical relationship of the information that
follows with the information that has come before. Cohesive
conjunctions, thus, have a 'semantic signposting' function. The
semantic or logical connection may be implicit between the foregoing
and following text, but the use of the conjunction makes that connection
more explicit. Compare the following examples:

1. I saw Jan eat three whole pizzas in a row. She was


very ill.

2. I saw Jan eat three whole pizzas in a row. As a result,


she was very ill.

Reading the first statement you may feel obvious that Jan
became ill because of her eating excesses; but perhaps what is actually
meant is because she was ill she ate in that way. Thus, the use of a
cohesive conjunction makes the semantic connection in the second
statement much more specific and explicit.
In this case, a conjunction which signposts a 'cause',
'result' or 'purpose' connection between the prior text and the
following text is used. Such conjunctions refer to a cluster, called
causal conjunctions, which is one of five main clusters of cohesive
conjunctions:
1 additive (and, nor, or, furthermore, similarly, in other words, etc.);
2 adversative (yet, but, however, all the same, conversely, on the
contrary, rather, etc.);

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3 causal (so, then, therefore, consequently, as a result, to this end,


in that case, otherwise, etc.);
4 temporal (then, next, first, meanwhile, hitherto, finally, in
conclusion, to sum up, etc.);
5 continuative (now, of course, well, anyway, surely, after all, etc.).
There is a very simple and clear way of feeling the cohesive
function of these words and phrases, (that is to say, their connection to
some previous text to which the material that immediately follows the
conjunction should be additively, or adversatively, etc. linked. Since
conjunctions serve precisely to connect up previous material with
following material, then to use them where there simply is no previous
material, actual or easily imaginable, defies normal logic.

(v) Explicit lexical repetition


Recurrent uses of the same content word or of related words
convey a sense of the integratedness of a text. Since such linkage is all
predicated on the relations between word uses and meanings, this is
called lexical cohesion. The reasoning underlying lexical cohesion is
quite straightforward, despite the few technical terms that will be
introduced. It is often easier to recognize lexical cohesion by
considering cases where it is totally absent.
I.V. Arnold, as an example, offers to imagine a text, whose
content words are the following, none of which is repeated: sandpiper,
spoke, dot matrix, melancholy, velvet, inscrutable, platelets, paint,
comb, diaper, overture.
For example:

The sandpiper spoke to the platelets with a melancholy velvet


comb.

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I.V. Arnold suggests that such a text displays no lexical


cohesion: no familiar or ordinary connection between any of these
items can be seen; none of them recognizably keeps company with any
of the others in ways that might be reported in a dictionary, thesaurus,
usage dictionary, or similar record.
Thus, what lexical cohesion amounts to is any situation in
which we can argue that a word in one sentence of a text is, in the
language or culture, non-randomly associated with a word or words in
other sentences. Such patterns of lexical association are important,
since they help us to interpret a text rapidly; they contribute to our
sense of the text as coherent. These linguistic or cultural non-random
associations may be a matter of sheer repetition or near-repetition, or a
case of a more general or more particular reformulation, or instances of
familiar idiomatic or usage-based co-occurrence.
Take a word like bacon: all the following words, in adjacent
sentences, would be instances of lexically cohesive linkage with that
word:
bacon (pure repetition);
meat, food, stuff (increasingly general reformulations);
green streaky (particularizing reformulation);
rasher, pork; eggs; save; crispy; and so on.
Again, the converse scenario, in which we encounter words in
the same text which have no 'inbuilt' tendency to appear in the same
context, highlights the reality and importance of lexical cohesion.
I.V.Arnold points out that if “the words bacon, processor and dahlia
appear in successive sentences, we have no sense that their
appearance in the same text is predictable or unsurprising. We would

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be inclined to take a close look at sentences in which such disparate


items jointly appeared”.
The major kinds of lexical cohesion are the following:
1 Simple repetition of a given word: chair …chair.
2 Use of a synonym or near-synonym: chair …seat.
3 Use of a subordinate, superordinate or general term to
denote a particular entity on a later occasion: e.g.,
subsequently referring to a rabbit as the Angora (this is
a subordinate term, a kind of rabbit), or as the pet (a
superordinate label: the rabbit is here a kind of pet), or
as the animal (a more general term yet). Note that the
most general terms (thing, stuff, item, person, guy,
place, time, etc.) are very general indeed and,
although common in speech, are often frowned upon
in writing.
4 Collocation: tendency of rabbit to co-occur with hole,
hutch, etc. and bunny.
Here is another illustration that will make the theory of cohesive
devices clearer.

The Trout by Sean O'Faolain is a well-known story about a little


girl who saved the life of a big fish. The coherence of the whole story is
based, in the first place, on the unity of subject, plot, character, and
background. The linguistic means of cohesion serve to reflect this logical
coherence. Actually, it is a story of how a brave little girl overcame her very
natural fear and in the deep of night stole into a part of the garden, she was
afraid to enter even by day, in order to take from a sort of pool there a trout
awaiting to be brought to the kitchen, and carried it to the river.

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The story begins as follows:

"One of the first places Julia always ran to when they


arrived in C. was the Dark Walk. It is a laurel walk, very old
almost gone wild, a lofty midnight tunnel of smooth, sinewy
branches. Underfoot the tough brown leaves are never dry
enough to crackle: there is always a suggestion of damp and
cool trickle. She raced right into it."

The extract illustrates pronominal linkage (Julia - she, Dark


Walk - it). The words laurel, branches, leaves all show class – member
relationship, belonging to the same thematic group, and also the
relationship of parts to the whole.
Further on we read:

“This year she had the extra joy of showing it to her small
brother, and of terrifying him as well as herself. And for him the
fear lasted longer because his legs were so short.”

Here cohesion is ensured by pronouns, deictic words, the


definite article and conjunctions.
Late at night, when everybody is asleep, the girl escapes and
runs to the captured fish.
Cohesion is created by a sequence of events in successive
time supported by the same tense form:

"She sat up. Stephen was a hot lump of sleep, lazy thing...
She leaped up and looked out of the window".

The part played by the tense form is also very important. Thus,
"Morning's at seven. The lark's on the wing" may be considered as a

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coherent message. Whereas "Morning's at seven. The lark was on the


wing " are two separate sentences.
The examples above illustrate one of the main pragmatic
functions of cohesion, which is to avoid exact repetition in the
interests of ease and economy of communication, unless it is
rhetorically necessary, and therefore marked. Other functions include
the furthering of an argument by progression, contrast, or by
explanation; and conjuncts are useful linking devices here, especially in
complex or technical texts (however; in addition; so, etc).
Certain registers are characterized by particular kinds of
cohesive ties: substitution in colloquial speech; rhyme, stanza
schemes, alliteration, etc., as phonological patterns of cohesion in
poetry.
Coherence has obvious significance for literary forms. Aside
from Deconstruction Theorists, most readers expect logical consistency
and clarity in the working out of the plot, for instance (Narrative
coherence), as we expect clear and plausible narration (Discourse
coherence). Novels, like Joice’s Finnegans Wake, therefore, which
appear to lack coherence, are particularly frustrating, and come close
to ‘incoherence’ in the sense of ‘unintelligibility”. Discourse coherence
is a marked feature of dramatic dialogue, which tends to lack the non
sequiturs, the digressions, and redundancies which can occur in
ordinary conversation.
J. Culler uses the term models of coherence to refer to the
various ways in which readers make sense of texts and naturalize
them, by drawing on their familiarity with other texts, their cultural
knowledge, etc.

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As a special and spectacular example of cohesion, we can


take the phenomenon of foregrounding called coupling. The
phenomenon was described and the term suggested by Samuel Levin.
Coupling is a semantically relevant appearance of equivalent
elements in equivalent positions. We shall describe and discuss
coupling at length somewhat later, dealing with foregrounding (in
Chapter 6). Parallel constructions and antithesis come under this more
general class. They may be illustrated by many proverbs, aphorisms
and aphoristic sentences.
An aphorism is known as a short pithy statement, or maxim
expressing some general, or gnomic truth about (human) nature. It is
usually marked by the Present Tense, as in A. Pope’s An Essay on
Criticism:

A little learning is a dangerous thing.


Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
/Pope/

Impersonal and authoritative, it is characteristic of many ancient


literatures and appears frequently in 17th and 18th century prose
essays. Yet, as Ch. Fowler notes, in the novel it is a sign of the
intrusive, or assertive author-narrator (Fowler 1977). Aphorisms are
characteristic of the works of Henry Fielding, George Eliot, Martin Amis.
Compare the aphorisms created by Martin Amis in his novel
“Information” (1995) where he appears throughout the novel as an
omniscient, but personalized narrator, presiding over what he calls an
«anti-comedy» of rancor and thwarted revenge. He speaks in a voice of
male mislife angst, brooding on innocence lost, dreams deferred, fears
not allayed:

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Writers don’t lead shapely lives. Shape they give to the


lives of others: accountants, maniacs.
/M. Amis/

Nicotine is a relaxant. Cigarettes are for the unrelaxed. We


are the unrelaxed.
/M. Amis/

Aphoristic sentence in grammar refers to a minor sentence


type (i.e. without a finite verb) where there are two equivalent, or
parallel, constructions: as in proverbs

Easy come, easy go.


First come, first served.

Sometimes regarded as an unproductive sentence type, it is,


however, quite common in ordinary speech and registers such as advertising:

Fill trolley, save lolly.


No homework, no pocket money.
/K. Wales/

Coherence and coupling are even more pronounced in poetry


than in prose. Here is one more short poem:

Love equals
Swift and slow,
And high and low,
Racer and lame,
The hunter and his game.
/H.D.Thoreau/

The boundaries between elements are provided here by metre


and rhyme, and also by recurrent antithesis, conjunctions.

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3.7. General Conclusions

Having, thus, outlined some features, by which texts may be


identified, we shall now give a summing up description of the proposed
object of study.
A text is a basic speech unit, manifesting itself in verbal
utterances (or in messages which may be decoded as verbal
utterances). A text may contain n sentences (where n> =1), but cannot
be described in terms of underlying sentence structure alone (a
sentence being a syntactic, not textual unit). The main characteristic
features of a text are functional: it serves for transmitting and storing
information between members of human society. The message,
manifested linguistically, can be stored, and possesses the structural
feature of cohesion. As a special instance, texts include literary texts
and folklore texts; although the written form is more usual, texts may be
oral. M. Halliday argues that it is the text, and not some supersentence,
that forms a unit for stylistic studies. This point of view is also
characteristic for Decoding Stylistics.
Both Text Theory and Decoding Stylistics, in spite of much
research already done, are still in their infancy and have still to be
developed. We shall make ample use of both because Text Theory is in
many ways part of Decoding Stylistics, and because Decoding Stylistics
is especially well suited to the demands of training foreign language
teachers.

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Assignments

Task 1

Think over the following points and discuss them in group:

1. Text linguistics as a branch of linguistics.


2. The notion of the text in literary theory, linguistics, semiotics.
2. The text as a coherent verbal message.
3. The length of the text and its segmentation into constituent
elements.
4. The subject – matter of a text.
5. Form and addresses.
6. Cohesion and coherence.
7. The overview of cohesive devices.
8. Types of ellipsis and their function in the text.
9. Lexical cohesion.
10. Types of coherence.
11. Cohesion, coherence and coupling.

Task 2

Now consider the following extract from Through the


Looking-glass, and its many cohesive devices:

The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice.


'Come, it's pleased so far,' thought Alice, and she went on.
'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

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'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the
Cat.
'I don't much care where - ' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
' - so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long
enough.'

Tips for Inquisitive Minds:


Identify all the cohesive links you can see here. Having read
through the text a couple of times, start at its end and work backwards.
Use at least two different styles of labeling, to differentiate
grammatically cohesive links from lexically cohesive ones. For greater
detail, since there are four major kinds of cohesion, you could use four
distinct labelling styles. To get you started: consider the do that of the
Cat's final rejoinder. To which earlier phrase is it closely tied, and what
kind of grammatical cohesion is this? With reference to the same
utterance, you may be wondering about the word you: is it a cohesive
item here? The answer is that it is not, since it is not here 'unpacked' by
an earlier textual formulation. Instead we make sense of the you by
connecting it not first to some adjacent text, but directly to the situation
and the addressee in that assumed situation. This is an instance of
deixis, not cohesion, and is explained below.

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Task 3

Are all occurrences of personal pronouns examples of


cohesion? Comment on the following examples. Mind that they
are not connected in any way.

Mary was surprised that the day had stayed fine.


She had expected it to rain.

She was surprised that the day had stayed fine. She had
expected it to rain. In fact everyone warned her that it
frequently rained here.

Tips for Inquisitive Minds:


Mind the use of you in the previous example. Consider the case
when it may 'link' directly (and not indirectly, via adjacent text) to some
postulated person assumed to exist in the situation in which the text is
embedded. Speak on the pronouns used either deictically or
cohesively.
Cohesive items invariably link up with other items in adjacent
text (usually preceding text, occasionally following); and those nearby
co-textual items enable the addressee to interpret or make sense of the
cohesive item itself.
Deixis (the noun) and deictic (the adjective) are related
to the word 'index': all three terms involve pointing to a
person, place, or time, rather than genuinely naming that
person, place, or time. Deictic terms can only be interpreted if you know

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the situation within which they are used, and, in particular, if you know
the speaker's position in space and time.

Task 4

The following is the first sentence of Ian McEwan's novel,


Black Dogs:

Ever since I lost mine in a road accident when I was eight, I


have had my eye on other people's parents.

Comment on any fleeting difficulties you may have found


in understanding this sentence, and particularly in understanding
what is being referred to by the referentially cohesive pronoun
mine.

Tips for Inquisitive Minds:


Assuming for the moment that the confusing effect is deliberate
on the part of McEwan, or his first-person narrator, are you tempted, by
the nature of those things fleetingly conflated, to entertain further
speculations about the speaker we are just beginning to meet?

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Task 5

Label the kinds of cohesion between sentences in the


following poem by Craig Raine. The poem has been slightly
amended.
A Martian Sends a Postcard Home

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings.


Some are treasured for their markings.
They cause the eyes to melt,
or the body to shriek without pain.
I have never seen one fly. But 5
sometimes they perch on the hand.
Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground.
Then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper. 10
Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colours darker.
Model T is a room. But the lock is inside.
A key is turned to free the world
for movement. It is so quick, there is a film 15
to watch for anything missed.
But time is tied to the wrist.
Or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.
In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up. 20

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If the ghost cries, they carry it


to their lips and soothe it to sleep
with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.
Only the young are allowed to suffer 25
openly. Adults go to a punishment room
with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises
alone. No one is exempt,
and everyone's pain has a different smell. 30
At night, when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs
And read about themselves -
in colour, with their eyelids shut.

1. Mark, by circling the relevant individual words and


connecting them with dotted lines, all the words in the poem that
relate in any way to: (a) flight, or (b) colour, or (c) suffering. What
does each of these lexical networks (a lexically cohesive
patterning) contribute to the tone and impact of the poem?
2. Read over line 5 again. What, taken on its own, would it
possibly mean, if the word one was interpreted in a non-cohesive
way, i.e., as not linking back to Caxtons?

Tips for Inquisitive Minds:


Highlighting the cohesive links between lines of this poem
may be useful not merely to get an appropriate interpretation
of individual sentences, but also so as to derive suitable interpretations

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of whole clusters of sentences, such as the cluster comprising lines 1-6.


The scope for misreading and incomprehension comes with the use of
daring metaphor: as soon as the speaker asserts 'Caxtons are
mechanical birds', some interpreters will be confused. Precisely so as
to keep such confusion at bay, this cohesion analysis may be useful in
its unequivocal assertion that the ellipsis after Some in line 2 should be
filled by Caxtons, that the they in lines 3 cohesively co-refer to Caxtons,
and that the one of line 5 substitutes for a Caxton. Those are strong
and somewhat questionable claims: in the light of what line 1 asserts,
there seem grounds for thinking that the Some in line 2 could denote
some mechanical birds or some wings, and neither of those readings
creates semantic anomaly. More semantically odd, but grammatically
permitted, would be reading lines 3-5 as concluding with the statement I
have never seen an eye fly. So, in claiming that all of the opening six
lines focus on Caxtons, the interpreter is excluding some plausible
variant readings. But he or she is also facilitating interpretation, by the
same token: for rather than the poem comprising somewhat disjunct
and hard-to-relate propositions (Caxtons are mechanical birds; some
wings are treasured for their markings; the markings cause the eyes to
melt; I have never seen an eye fly, but sometimes eyes perch on the
hand), the poem is being treated as a sequence of comments around
the mystery word, Caxtons. Hence, the interpretive task is considerably
more manageable: what thing can it be that can be said to be
mechanical, have many wings, be incapable of flight, able to perch on
the hand and cause humans to cry and shriek, and might be called
Caxtons?

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3. Why is the “they” of line 21 not considered a cohesive


item?
4. Notice how the speaker talks about ''the eyes', 'the
body', ''the hand', etc. Why? To what effect? Are these thes
textually cohesive here, tying back to some previously mentioned
eyes, body and hand?

Tips for Inquisitive Minds:


If it is agreed that they are not cohesive in this way, we might
classify them in one of two ways: one way would be to treat them as
referring deictically to some particular unnamed individual's eyes, etc.
Alternatively they may be referring generically to 'anyone's eyes, body,
hand'. This is a common enough usage in quasi-factual descriptions,
but descriptions in what kind of situation, implying what kind of relation
between the reporter and the reported?
5. A large part of the 'strange-making' or 'defamiliarizing'
effect of this poem comes from unexpected renamings of what are
(to us) quite ordinary things. What are 'our' standard names for
Caxtons, the haunted apparatus, and the suffering mentioned in
line 26?

Tips for Inquisitive Minds:


This very different way of naming feels so coherent in itself that
it may suggest to us that here is not merely an alternative way of
naming the same world, but a different naming of a different reality. The
poet Wallace Stevens said as much when he remarked that “metaphor
creates a new reality from which the original appears to be unreal”.
Raine's renamings are the most explicit contribution to the poem's

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reconfiguring of the world, but all the cohesive devices, we have


examined, make a crucial contribution too: just how cohesion is
deployed will shape what kind of text is created.

Task 6

Now consider the following passage, from Faulkner's


famous story The Bear. At this point in the story, sixteen-year-old Ike
has gone into the big woods on his own, in pursuit of Old Ben, the
quasi-mythical bear, and spirit of the wilderness, whose defiance of
men and dogs and guns is legendary. Ike wishes less to hunt Old Ben
than to encounter him. With that intent, he has discarded his
instruments of control, his gun and watch and compass, setting these
down by a certain tree, and walks on defenseless. But then he
becomes lost and, having realized this, sets about trying to find his way
back to the tree where he has left his equipment. The text continues:

“When he realized he was lost, he did as Sam had coached


and drilled him: made a cast to cross his back-track. He had not been
going very fast for the last two or three hours, and he had gone even
less fast since he left the compass and watch on the bush. So, he went
slower still now, since the tree could not be very far; in fact, he found it
before he really expected to and turned and went to it. But there was no
bush beneath it, no compass, nor watch, so he did next as Sam had
coached and drilled him: made his next circle in the opposite direction
and much larger, so that the pattern of the two of them would bisect his
track somewhere, but crossing no trace, nor mark anywhere of his feet,
or any feet, and now he was going faster though still not panicked, his
heart beating a little more rapidly, but strong and steady enough, and

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this time it was not even the tree because there was a down log beside
it which he had never seen before, and beyond the log a little swamp, a
seepage of moisture somewhere between earth and water, and he did
what Sam had coached and drilled him as the next and the last, seeing
as he sat down on the log the crooked print, the warped indentation in
the wet ground which, while he looked at it, continued to fill with water
until it was level full, and the water began to overflow, and the sides of
the print began to dissolve away.”

How has Faulkner exploited our expectations concerning


the cohesive function of words like it and did, in the way this part
of the narrative is told? How does the use (misuse?) of cohesion
here reflect and express Ike's experience of a confrontation
between prediction and control, on the one hand, and the
unforeseen and uncontrolled, on the other?

Task 7

Read over the following extract, from Brookner's A Closed


Eye, which begins right after a couple, Harriet and Jack, on the verge of
an affair, kiss. It is Harriet who speaks first:

'Do you do this all the time?'


'____Not all the time, no. You could stay, you know'
'Why should I___?'
'Possibly___because you want to__. And__ because I might
want you to___.'
'You?' There was no answer. 'I have to leave, you see. You do
see___, don't you?'

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'I should expect nothing less of you___.'


'Oh, don't be so ... so rude____,' she said angrily.
They both smiled.
'Goodbye, Jack,' she said, holding out her hand. He kissed her
again. There was no doubt now about her response.
'That's better___,' he said. 'I loathe soulful women, with
consciences.'

1. In the right or left margin, label the kind of cohesion, and


the subtype if you can, involved at each of the blank places
underlined (all underlinings are the additions of the authors of this
book). Comment very briefly on any problematic cases.
2. Look at Jack's final That, in That's better. Why might we
argue that, from our point of view as readers, the word That is
cohesive; but from the point of view of Harriet and Jack, his word
is deictic?
3. Among the 'problematic cases' alluded to in (1) above,
the last two underlined 'blanks' are probably prominent. What's
missing is nothing so straightforward as a personal pronoun,
such as she, but some kind of comparison. Note that phrases like
so rude, better, and nothing less all imply comparison, even if the
comparison involved has not been spelt out verbally.

Tips for Inquisitive Minds:


Each of the sentences used is quite strongly 'latched', by the
comparative phrase, to the words and situation that have gone before
as you can see from the odd effect if one of these sentences is
imagined opening a conversation. Imagine Jack beginning a

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conversation with Harriet by saying 'I should expect nothing less of


you': very strange, precisely because there would be no prior statement
from Harriet for Jack's rejoinder to be a latched comment upon.
Because of this subtlety and covertness, this is perhaps the most
complex kind of cohesion, and we can expect it to be acquired at a
relatively late stage by English-speaking children, or foreign learners of
the language.
4. Can you speculate over whether so/not ellipsis is more
frequent in certain kinds of language use (spoken, written, for-
mal, informal, professional, personal, etc.), while Yes/No (i.e., full
clausal) ellipsis might appear more often in certain other kinds of
language use?

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Test Your Knowledge

Test 3

1. What is the text?


a) a string of sentences logically connected
b) a set of stylistic devices
c) a system of relationships linguistically manifested as a
whole
d) something made of language

2. What information transmitted by a verbal message is considered to


be of the first type?
a) the information that renders the cognitive experiential
logical data
b) the information that concerns the speaker’s attitude to
the subject matter
c) the information that depends upon the participants of the
communicative act
d) the information that serves to establish some human
relations

3. What does the second type of information render?


a) the writer’s attitude to the subject matter and the reader
b) the role the writer adopts in the communication process
c) the established human relations between the writer and
the reader
d) everything mentioned above

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4. What does the text serve to?


a) to transmit information
b) to transmit and store information
c) to store information
d) to evaluate information
5. What branch of science defines a text as “a coherent verbal
message in any human language”?
a) grammar
b) linguistics
c) lexicology
d) semiotics
6. What branch of science considers “a symphony without any words a
text”?
a) grammar
b) linguistics
c) lexicology
d) semiotics
7. What is semiotics?
a) a study of sign processes, or signification and
communication, signs and symbols
b) a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which
context contributes to meaning
c) a social science—a term with which it is sometimes
synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical
investigation and critical analysis
d) the study of interpretation theory, originally developed as
a science of interpretation of Scriptures

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8. What does systematic approach to text study mean?


a) an inventory of text components of any level
b) the investigation of interdependence and interaction of
text components within the whole system
c) an atomistic study of isolated text items
d) the analysis of the meaning and structure of lower
ranking units

9. Who proved that a message can be stored and transmitted not only
by means of words?
a) M. Halliday
b) Van Dijk
c) F.Fulsom
d) S.G. Darian

10. What is the minimal quantity of words in a text?


a) more than two
b) one
c) not less than three
d) the minimal quantity is not specified

11. How long can the shortest text be?


a) one sentence, consisting of one word
b) one sentence, consisting of more than one word
c) two sentences
d) a passage, consisting of 5-6 sentences

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12. Who of the linguists insisted that a text is not definable by size?
a) Van Dijk
b) F.Fulsom
c) M. Halliday
d) J. Ruskin

13. What can the length of the text help to distinguish?


a) one genre from another
b) a word from a text
c) a sentence from a text
d) a word from a sentence

14. What is rubai?


a) a poem of one line
b) a poem that contains four lines
c) a poem without a rhyme
d) a sort of fun-making jingle

15. How many lines are there in a sonnet?


a) ten
b) twelve
c) fourteen
d) sixteen

16. What is the subject-matter of a text?


a) the main area of interest
b) the author’s message
c) the succession of the main events
d) the main conflict

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17. Who of the following linguists stated that graphical presentation of a


text is optional?
a) I. Arnold
b) Z. Turaeva
c) I. Galperin
d) M. Blokh

18. What does not allow an utterance to be a text?


a) if the addressee is not mentioned
b) if the addressee is not human
c) if the addressee is an inanimate object
d) all the answers are incorrect

19. What is coherence?


a) a synonym to cohesion
b) logical consistency
c) one of the means of linking sentences
d) an antonym to cohesion

20. Why are the terms coherence and cohesion difficult to distinguish?
a) they are related etymologically
b) they have a common usage
c) they have the same derivatives
d) they have the same meaning

21. What does the term “cohesion” refer to?


a) stylistic devices
b) means of linking sentences into larger units
c) completeness of the verbal message
d) verbal nature of the text

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22. What linguistic means do not serve to ensure cohesion?


a) deictic words
b) zeugma
c) repletion of hyponyms
d) ellipsis

23. What type of cohesive ties does not exist?


a) overt
b) covert
c) ensured
d) implicit

24. What are the subtypes of ellipsis?


a) partial and full
b) partial and complete
c) complete and incomplete
d) gapped and full

25. What ellipsis is called full?


a) in which the verbs or verbal phrases are substituted by
the verbs do, be, have
b) in which the nouns or nominal phrases are substituted
by one, the same
c) in which some items can be 'understood' as implicit,
because they are retrievable in the given context
d) in which an abridged structure is used for the full
sentence

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26. What cohesive device performs a ‘semantic signposting’ function?


a) deictic words
b) ellipsis
c) repletion of hyponyms
d) repletion of conjunctions
27. What term is used for the following cluster of cohesive conjunctions:
yet, but, however, conversely?
a) additive
b) adversative
c) causal
d) continuative
28. What type of cohesion presupposes that a word in one sentence of
a text is non-randomly associated with words in other sentences?
a) lexical cohesion
b) conjunction cohesion
c) reference cohesion
d) ellipsis
29. What are the main types of lexical cohesion?
a) use of subordinate, superordinate or general term,
collocations
b) simple repetition, synonym and near-synonym repetition,
use of subordinate, superordinate or general term,
collocations
c) simple repetition, synonym and near-synonym repetition,
collocations
d) simple repetition, synonym and near-synonym repetition,
use of subordinate, superordinate or general term

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30. Which of the following is one of the main pragmatic functions of


cohesion?
a. to draw the readers’ attention to some specific details
b. to stress the complexity of certain registers
c. to emphasize certain connotations
d. to avoid exact repetition in the interests of ease and
economy of communication

31. What term is used for logical consistency and clarity in the working
out of the plot?
a) discourse coherence
b) causal coherence
c) narrative coherence
d) complete coherence

32. Who introduced the term “models of coherence” to refer to various


ways in which readers make sense of texts?
a. Ch. Fowler
b. J. Culler
c. I. Arnold
d. S. Levin

33. Who worked out the phenomenon of coupling?


a. Ch. Fowler
b. J. Culler
c. I. Arnold
d. S. Levin

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34. What term is used to define a semantically relevant appearance of


equivalent elements in equivalent positions?
a. coupling
b. parallel patterns
c. aphoristic sentences
d. antithesis
35. What kind of relationships exists between Text Theory and
Decoding Stylistics?
a. Decoding Stylistics is a part of Text Theory
b. they are not related to each other
c. they share some common features
d. Decoding Stylistics is based on Text Theory

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4. The Concept of Norm and its Developments


in Contemporary Stylistics

4.1. Introduction

Norm is a widely discussed concept in linguistics and stylistics


but not without its problems (Cook 1994; Carter 1997; Culpeper 2001;
Wales 2001; Semino and Culpeper (eds) 2002; Simpson 2006). Strictly,
norm is a statistical concept, referring to what is statistically average.
Consequently, deviation refers to the divergence in frequency from the
norm. But, whatever its area of application, in words of Katie Wales,
norm quickly becomes a ‘loaded’ concept, acquiring the connotations of
‘standard’ or ‘normality’, or ‘typicality’ opposed to ‘non-standard’ or
‘abnormality’ or ‘untypicality’ (Wales 2001: 273-24).
It was common in the formative years of stylistics in the 1960s
to define style in terms of a deviation from a norm (Levin 1962).
Similarly, ideas of idiolect, of certain writers using particular
constructions very or less frequently, presuppose some norm against
which individual variation can be measured. Style in this sense appears
‘abnormal’; and what is assumed to be ‘normal’ would therefore have
no ‘style’ (Lanser 1981). Presumably the norm from which style departs
is the norm of ordinary language; but this is itself composed of many
different norms (Wales 2001: 274). With reference to a view which fully
recognizes contemporary English as an immensely varied language
and stresses variable rules, it is important to emphasize how the
concept of ‘norm’ itself is historically variable and how different social

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and cultural assumptions can condition what is regarded as linguistic


and stylistic norm. In this respect the role of the interdisciplinary
approach to some identification of the different aspects of the concept
of norm is vital and essential. With this fact in mind, we should be
perceptive to new developments in contemporary stylistics and related
or overlapping courses concerned with language in relation to broader
issues, for example basic literary theory, practical criticism, the history
of literary language, rhetoric of composition, rhetoric and politics, text
linguistics, cultural and media studies, critical linguistics and discourse
analysis. In the way stated, some points of special relevance to modern
stylistics are really worth making here because interest in language and
linguistic norms is always at the fore in stylistic analysis.

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4.2. Language, Culture and Norm

Obviously, outside language we understand that each


society has its own norms of social behavior or social relations, or its
own images of such norms, and violations of those norms are
considered antisocial, abnormal and potentially reprehensible. In this
manner, Michel Foucault (Foucault 1967) focuses specifically on
modern European culture (that is, from roughly the seventeenth
century onwards) which he regards as a series of repressive
measures taken against vulnerable minority groups, and, indeed,
anyone who could be held culpable of ‘deviant’ behavior. Deviant in
this case, in the postmodernist thinker’s words, comes to mean all
those who do not conform to a model of behavior proposed by the
ruling elite (Foucault 1967: 38-39). Following Nietzsche’s lead,
Foucault considers value judgements essentially conventional,
deprived in the first instance from the power structures of a given
society. Thus, the ‘Great Confinement’ becomes for Michel Foucault
a potent symbol of the modern age, whereby anything that threats
the rule of reason, and the institutional authority developed to
implement this, is first of all marginalized and then strictly policed.
Control, in Foucault’s view, becomes the watchword of modern
society, and conformity the social norm. Departure from normative
expectancies involves departure from what the average person would
do in a particular situation. As S. Sim points out, ‘It is a pattern that
Foucault will detect being repeated in other areas of social life, such
as in the development of the modern prison and medical services’.
Thus, Foucault’s approach to cultural values, in Sim’s view, is based

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on the assumption that all cultural discourses are expressions of


underlying power relations (Sim 2002: 33; 59).
Just as the norms of grammar can be broken, so can the norms
of social behavior. It should be noted that the mass media and
advertising are powerful means of presenting and reinforcing norms of
social behavior. The impulse to conform to perceived standards of
propriety and correctness is for some people as important as the
world’s leading brands. It is worth stressing that advertisers are, as
always, linguistically sensitive to such phenomena. In the way stated,
R. Carter (Carter 1997: 9-11) focuses particularly on the issues
between Standard English and the national perceptions of its functions.
The scholar notes that the accents used to overlay many current
television and radio advertisements betray some fundamental British
social attitudes towards accent variation. Thus, Standard English
accents (or Received Pronunciation) are used to sell banking and
insurance policies, ‘lean cuisine’ ready meals, expensive liqueurs and
exotic holidays; regional accents are used to market cider and beers,
holidays in inclement British coastal resorts, locally bred turkeys from
Norfolk and wholemeal bread which is either ‘ot from t’oven’ or is
invariably bread ‘wi’ nowt teken out’ (Carter 1997: 10).
It is worth stressing here that the notion of the Received
Pronunciation accent refers to the high-prestige varieties of British
English. The topic of varieties of language is discussed in a vast
literature. As K. Wales notes, traditionally, Received Pronunciation
(RP) was a kind of sociolect, a variety of language distinctive of a
particular social group or class. Thus, Received Pronunciation (RP)
was associated with those educated at Oxbridge and public schools, as

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well as the upper classes (Wales 2001). We will return to the notions of
accent, idiolect, sociolect, Received Pronunciation (RP) in more detail
when discussing some general categories of language variation.
Another R. Carter’s observation on English advertising
language (Carter 1997: 9-10) is of the essence. Given the connection
between Standard English, proper accents, purity and cleanliness, it will
not surprise us to learn that bleach is marketed in RP accents. As the
scholar notes, dialects may coexist with Daz, but never with Domestos.
In conclusion, R. Carter stresses the point very strongly that ‘to uphold
standard English is to uphold standards’. Thus, the connection here
between standards of English and standards of hygiene, in the
scholar’s view, is also revealing. It all points to the conclusion that
‘Standard English is a mark of purity and cleanliness, while non-
standard English is unclean’.
K. Wales (Wales 2001) notes that mass media or mass
communication (often referred to popularly as the media) essentially
provide information for public consumption, through the complex
technological and ‘mass-produced’ media of print, broadcasting,
advertising, film and other popular forms of culture such as ‘pulp’ fiction
and pop music. As K. Wales points out, linguists, following the lead of
sociology and media studies (McLuhan 1964), have become
increasingly concerned with ways in which the institutionalized media,
in particular, reflecting the ideologies of partisan politics or
consumerism, influence the language in which these are encoded and
also the world-views of their audiences. What is debatable, in fact, in
the scholar’s view, is the assumption of a ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ public
voice of discourse (Wales 2001: 245).

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It would, no doubt, be possible to demonstrate. With


reference to media language, N. Fairclough (Fairclough 1989) makes
the following useful remarks:
‘since all discourse producers must produce with some
interpreter in mind, what media producers do is address an ideal
subject, be it viewer, or listener, or reader. Media discourse has built
into it a subject position for an ideal subject, and actual viewers or
listeners or readers have to negotiate a relationship with the ideal
subject’ (Fairclough 1989: 49).
In reference to advertising language, Paul Simpson
(Simpson 2000) highlights how a network of linguistic strategies is
used to create a specific ‘angle’ on a particular consumer, thus
reinforcing norms of social behavior. In this manner, the scholar
explores the ways in which things are ‘made to look’ in language,
focusing on language as representation, as a projection of positions
and perspectives, as a way of communicating attitudes and
assumptions. The elusive question of the ‘truth’ of what a text says is
not an issue here; rather, it is ‘angle of telling’ adopted in a text. The
modal grammar of point of view is one of the concerns of this
discussion.
In the advertisement ‘Free Slimming Remedy’, in Simpson’s
view, persuasive strategies are intensified and pointedly directed at the
‘overweight’ person’s responsibility for finding a ‘cure’ for obesity. This
advice is said to be couched in the following deontic constructions:
‘Here is a herbal remedy that every overweight person should
seriously think about; you should treat yourself to a course of these
fabulous herbal aid to slimming tablets’ (Simpson 2000: 155-156).

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The linguistic feature which underpins Simpson’s discussion


of the advertisement ‘Free Slimming Remedy’ (Simpson 2000: 147-
156) is the concept of modality. Yet, to evaluate fully and precisely the
ways in which the resources of advertising language are exploited in
the text, we must give a brief description of the term and some
grammatical means for conveying modal commitment, amongst which
are included deontic constructions.
The term modality refers broadly to a speaker’s attitude
towards, or opinion about, the truth of a proposition expressed by a
sentence. It also extends to their attitude towards the situation or event
described by a sentence. Modality, as P. Simpson notes (Simpson
2000: 47), is therefore a major exponent of the interpersonal function of
language. A noticeable characteristic of the advertisement is the way in
which it exploits the interactive potential of written language.
The scholar, considering some of the linguistic features of
persuasive discourse such as advertising language, identifies the
different types of modality found in English. Some points should be
borne in mind in relation to this. First, deontic modality is the modal
system of ‘duty’, as it is concerned with a speaker’s attitude to the
degree of obligation attaching to the performance of certain actions.
Thus, P. Simpson (Simpson 2000: 47-48) focuses specifically on the
deontic modal auxiliaries which realize a continuum of commitment
from permission (1) through obligation (2) to requirement (3):

1. You may leave.


2. You should leave.
3. You must leave.

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Second, modal auxiliaries are said to have a variety of


functions, and some of these forms may ‘double up’ as epistemic forms.
And finally, epistemic modality is concerned with the speaker’s
confidence or lack of confidence in the truth of a proposition expressed.
Most obviously, in the advertisement ‘Free Slimming Remedy’ noted
above, the modal auxiliaries are used in their epistemic sense of
confidence. As P. Simpson notes, the deontic system is of crucial
relevance to the strategies of social interaction, especially to tactics of
persuasion and politeness (Simpson 2000:48).
Thus, the advertisement exploits what Fairclough refers to as
implicit assumptions in advertising (Fairclough 1989: 202). These are
assumptions about the sets of beliefs readers are expected to hold. In
this case, the concept ‘overweight’ is assumed to be socially
stigmatized, something for which a ‘remedy’ is required. Thus, in
offering a ‘remedy’, the advertisement reinforces the very insecurity of
those to whom it is addressed. By personalizing the relationship
between producer and audience through direct address, the text draws
upon epistemic modality and presupposition in making its claims for the
product (Simpson 2000: 155). Yet, a consideration of even social
behavior shows an important fact about the concept of norm, namely
that it is not absolute, but relative. What is abnormal social behavior
to one group of people may be normal to another, and vice versa. With
it all, language is seen as powerful means of presenting and reinforcing
norms of social behavior.
In the context of the main argument in this chapter, it can also
be noted that the latter discussion of the concept of norm hinges to
some extent on the definition of the notion of ‘culture’. It should be

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noted that traditional anthropological and sociological approaches have


viewed culture as a resource for analyzing social relations, symbols,
language use or material objects. In this manner, the definition of
culture employed by Roberts, Davies and Jupp (Roberts, Davies and
Jupp 1992) describes it as ‘the shared systems of meaning, derived
from the experiences which people live through, which in turn influence
the schemata which people bring to interactions and the interpretive
frames they use in them’ (Roberts, Davies and Jupp 1992: 371).
However, although this definition recognizes social, political and
economic realities as contributing to a person’s culture, this culture, in
D.M. Neil’s view, is still characterized as an observable and definable
system. The scholar argues that such an interpretation of culture gives
a distorted picture of intercultural communication and collaboration in
intercultural discourse (Neil 1996: 16-17).
It is important that there is a growing recognition in the
literature of the inadequacy of such definitions and of the validity of the
views of culture as a dynamic process (Williams 1983; Fukuyama 1992;
Sim 2002). In the way stated, B. Street elucidates one such view in a
paper entitled ‘Culture is a Verb’ (Street 1991). According to B. Street, a
culture is a process, the active construction of meaning, hence his
description of this notion as a verb (Street 1991: 2). Street’s argument
seems to us analogous to the idea that the mind is not a passive
recipient of information, but an active manipulator of that information.
The latter approach, we think, also has numerous semantic and
thematic consequences. The main argument that both the concepts of
norm and culture are most worth changing can further explore the
interface between the issues of language, discourse and literacy.

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4.3. Language as Discourse,


Literacy Development and Norm

We should remember that language as a part of social


behavior is similarly affected. It is common and often sensible to
suppose that there is a normal set of rules for the English language on
each of the linguistic levels: phonological, grammatical, lexical and
semantic; and that violation of these rules constitutes deviation and
markedness. To some extent, this is true. We speak of ‘normal’
spelling, ‘normal’ word order, because there is a core of grammar and
vocabulary which has been largely codified in rules and which can be
said to constitute Standard English. However, ‘The Wordsworth
Encyclopedia’ rightly points out, ‘Generally, Standard English today
does not depend on accent but rather on shared educational
experience, mainly of the printed language. Present-day English is an
immensely varied language, having absorbed material from many other
tongues’ (The Wordsworth Encyclopedia 1995: 739).
In this connection, R. Carter argues convincingly that ‘popular
views of language as constituting of right or wrong forms, with the
sentence as the main basis for exemplification, restrict opportunities both
for using language productively and for understanding how language is
used’ (Carter 1997 :3). Thus, a view of one Standard English with a single
set of rules, in the scholar’s view, accords fully with ‘a monolingual,
monocultural version of society intent on preserving an existing order in
which everyone can be drilled into knowing their place’ (Carter 1997: 9).
In this context, J. Culpeper (Culpeper 2001) points out that as
far as social and personality evaluation is concerned, the most salient

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dimension of accent variation in Britain is the degree to which it varies


from the standard. A general problem with research in the area of
accents, in the scholar’s view, is the issue what constitutes ‘the
standard’. In Giles and Powesland (Giles and Powesland 1975), and
indeed many other studies, the standard is assumed to be Received
Pronunciation (RP), a particularly high-prestige accent spoken by a
small elite (only a few percent of the total population of Britain) and not
marked for region (that is, theoretically, an RP speaker from the north
should sound more or less the same as an RP speaker from the south).
J. Culpeper comes to the conclusion that standard is defined primarily
in social and evaluative terms. As the scholar then points out, one
specific problem that flows from this is that, outside the language
laboratory, contextual factors determine what constitutes that prestige
dialect. In the local Lancashire pub, for example, the regional accent
carries more prestige than RP, which in that context may attract
negative attributions of snootiness. In the context of the family dinner
table, a different dialect yet again may be the prestige accent. The
scholar stresses the point very strongly that in some fictional contexts
RP has developed negative associations (Culpeper 2001: 206-207).
In that connection it is worth stressing that R. Carter’s book
‘Investigating English Discourse’ (Carter 1997), quoted above, is of
great academic interest to us, since in it the scholar pursues in
particular a view of language as discourse and argues that language
development should be fostered by engagement with a variety of
different texts, comprising their own norms and functioning in a variety
of different socio-cultural contexts. R. Carter points out, for example,
that in addition to highly valued canonical texts including dramatic texts

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from different historical periods, the texts would also include examples
of popular fiction, insurance literature, advertisements and political
speeches as well as media texts such as television soap opera and
radio comedy programmes. Literary texts would, thus, be seen as
continuous with all other kinds of texts and not as something wholly
separate from them. Such an approach to the study of texts, in the
scholar’s view, would enable students ‘to see through language’.
In the way stated, it means ‘subjecting different varieties of language,
spoken and written, to comparative scrutiny. Comparison and contrast,
between literary and non-literary, between spoken and written, between
the variables of male and female, between standard and non-standard,
are at the very centre of the enterprise’ (Carter 1997: 16-17).
In the context of the main argument in this chapter, it should
be noted that contemporary scholars have been faced with all manner
of problems dealt with identifying different aspects of the concept of
norm in linguistics and stylistics. One of them is connected with the
essence of literacy. On the one hand, the major concern is the
importance of national literacy in the modern world. Some of the
reasons, like the need to fill out forms and get a good job, are so
obvious that they needn’t be discussed. E. D. Hirsch’s concern,
however, is fostering effective nationwide communications. In his view,
our chief instrument of communication over time and space is the
standard national language, which is sustained by national literacy. All
nationwide communications, whether by telephone, radio, TV, or writing
are fundamentally dependent upon literacy, for the essence of literacy
is not simply reading and writing, but also the effective use of the
standard literate language (Hirsch 1988: 2-3).

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Yet, to evaluate thoroughly different aspects of the concept of


norm in linguistics and stylistics, we should examine the essence of the
interrelationship of discourse, literacy and language in the modern
world. Thus, with reference to a view of language as discourse, M.
Halliday argues sensibly for such version of literacy which goes beyond
most traditional accounts of that notion. The scholar rightly points out
that ‘to be literate is not only to participate in the discourse of an
information society; it is also to resist it; it is rather perverse to think you
can engage in discursive contest without engaging in the language of
the discourse’ (Halliday 1996: 357). In other words, M. Halliday argues
in favour of literacy development at all levels and such knowledge
about language that should embrace both detailed understanding of the
differences and distinctions between spoken and written discourse and
a critical awareness of the social and cultural functions of language.
It should be said, however, that nowadays the notion ‘the
standard literate language’ itself inevitably causes problems in
discussions of language and literacy noted above. Obviously, these
problems have a direct connection with the functions of language in a
contemporary society and the status of the Standard English as well.
Thus, after detailed consideration, R. Carter (Carter 1997)
comes to the conclusion that Standard English can be metaphorically
regarded as ‘a dialect with an army and a navy’ (Carter 1997: 10). The
scholar, examining the term ‘standard’, points out that in one sense it
can mean uniform, ordinary, common to all, normal. In this sense it
carries the meaning of ‘standard’ measure, as in a standard British
weight or nail or rawplug. In a second sense ‘standard’ means a sign or
sculptured figure or flag of a particular power, usually a political power

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(a king, a noble or a commander) as in a ship’s standard or the


Queen’s standard or in the term ‘standard-bearer’, something around
which could be grouped armies, fleets, nations. There are a few points
in Carter’s observation (Carter 1997: 9-11) that are really worth noting.
As the scholar stresses, the senses, quoted above, converge in
the meaning of standard as ‘authoritative’, so that Standard English
becomes the common, standard language used by those in authority.
The standard becomes no longer a marker for an authority external to it,
but an authority in itself. Consequently, the standard language is
language with a standard. Thus, the normative is reinforced as the
normal. In the way stated, the whole process illustrates the unambiguous
connection between standard language and social and political power
and helps to explain the much quoted statement that ‘any standard
language is no more than a dialect with an army and a navy’. As Carter
notes, in the history of the English language such a process accelerated
during the eighteenth century in particular, coinciding with the growth of a
centralized nation state linguistically based on the East Midlands dialect
of the south-east of the country and reinforced by a central-to-region
administration based in metropolitan London (Carter 1997: 10).
The scholar stresses the point very strongly that ‘it is no
semantic accident that words such as ‘standard’, ‘correct’ and ‘proper’
are key words in relation to English ‘for debates about the status of the
English language are only rarely debates about language alone.
English, as Carter notes, is synonymous with Englishness, that is, with
an understanding of who the proper English are’ (Carter 1997: 9).
In the way stated, P. Simpson’s idea of the Standard English
seen as one of the dialects of British English (Simpson 2006) coincides

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with a multilingual, culturally diverse view of society rich in ‘the different


strands of language variation’ (Simpson 2006: 106). Influenced and
shaped by the regional origins and socioeconomic background of their
speakers, dialects, in the scholar’s view of the notion, are distinguished
by patterns in grammar and vocabulary while accents are distinguished
through patterns of pronunciation. Thus, P. Simpson’s distinction
between the Standard English dialect and the Received Pronunciation
accent is reflected in the scholar’s view of the pool of British linguistic
varieties. As P. Simpson duly notes, the Standard English dialect
and the Received Pronunciation accent represent jointly the high-
prestige varieties of British English, although these are far outnumbered
(in terms of numbers of speakers) by many non-standard regional
varieties (Simpson 2006: 103).
A convincing argument made by many contemporary
stylisticians which links the issues of language, discourse and literacy
suggests quite strongly that a main goal in the full development of
literacy sustaining the standard national language should be the
achievement of ‘discourse literacy’ (Carter and Nash 1990; Carter
1997; Simpson 2003, 2006; Wales 2001;Semino and Culpeper 2003).
The latter notion is seen as a competence fluently and accurately to
read and write extended texts and also involves a capacity for active
reconstruction and deconstruction of texts. A main related argument is
that a language user who is discourse literate has a simultaneous
capacity for seeing through language (Carter and Nash 1990) in two
main senses: a capacity to see through language to the ways in which
we can be manipulated and in varying degrees controlled by
language; and a capacity to see through language in the more active

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and dynamic sense of creating a vision in and with language,


a capacity for constant vision and revision which empowers the user
to engage with and, where necessary, to redirect society’s discourses
and to articulate one’s personal position as a subject within those
discourses.
Obviously, the latter approach to the notion of literacy is based
on a view, which, in R. Carter’s words, ‘recognizes Englishes as well
as English and which stresses variable rules’. Consequently, it ‘accords
with a multilingual, culturally diverse view of society’ (Carter 1997: 9)
and strongly argues in favour of considering both non-literary language
and literary language really ‘composed of many, different, norms’
(Wales: 274-275). Thus, the development of discourse literacy noted
above presupposes a comprehensive evaluation of the relative
character of linguistic norms connected with the socio-cultural
conditions under which linguistic discourses are constructed. It means,
in R. Carter’s view, that language cannot be seen as neutral – and
decontextualised. This has to be so if our concerns are to be with social
and historical realities and values (Carter 1007: 16).
In this manner, K. Wales (Wales 2001: 274) clearly highlights
key issues for understanding the concept of norm, focusing in particular
on its relativity in linguistics and stylistics. The scholar, examining
different linguistic varieties, spoken and written, and illustrating the
heterogeneity of language, ‘non-literary’ and ‘literary’, states that ‘it is
easier to establish phonological norms, the norms of word building,
than the norms of grammar or meaning (especially).’ She points out, for
example, that “Wait while (=’until’) tea” is ‘ungrammatical’ to some
speakers, but not to others whose dialect it belongs to.

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In reference to the norms of grammar, discussed above, it is


worth stressing that the development of discourse literacy also
presupposes a comprehensive evaluation of the genuine grammatical
rules of a language and a critical awareness of their variations in both
literary and in everyday discourse. Such an emphasis on grammar and
its stylistic potential is an essential prerequisite for the genuine
awareness of language, its constant and variable rules. Thus, P.
Simpson (Simpson 2006) argues that when we talk of the grammar of a
language we are talking of a hugely complex set of interlocking
categories, units and structures: in effect, in the scholar’s view, the
rules of that language. In the academic study of language, P. Simpson
stresses, the expression ‘rules of grammar’ does not refer to
prescriptive niceties, to the sorts of proscriptions that forbid the use of,
say, a double negative or a split infinitive. The so-called ‘rules’ are
nothing more than a random collection of ad hoc and prejudiced
strictures about language use. On the contrary, the genuine
grammatical rules of a language, in Simpson’s view, are the language
insofar as they stipulate the very bedrock of its syntactic construction in
the same way that the rules of tennis or the rules of chess constitute
the core organizing principles of those games. P. Simpson stresses that
this makes grammar somewhat of an intimidating area of analysis for
the beginning stylistician because it is not always easy to sort out which
aspects of a text’s many interlocking patterns of grammar are
stylistically salient (Simpson 2006: 9-10).
In relation to the norms of meaning and their relativity, noted
above, it should be pointed out that the development of discourse
literacy presupposes a comprehensive evaluation of the meaning of

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language in both literary and in everyday discourse and, in R. Carter’s


words, a full exploration of ‘ways in which language and literature can
be integrated so that they are mutually enriching’ (Carter 1997: 17).
Applied to human language, its different components and discourse
types, we can see how information works in this sense, in other words,
quoted above, it will enable us increasingly ‘to see through language’.
In this context, we should note that the phrase a “regency
spaceship of fishtanks and startling energy bills” may seem an odd
collocation, yet in the context of Martin Amis’s novel “The Information”
(Amis 2006) is perfectly acceptable and understandable in a series of
American urban portraits where the novelist shows considerable skill in
metaphorical treating the external world. Presumably the way the real
world is invoked in this English postmodernist novel convincingly
demonstrates the view that ‘literary language tends to be high in
information value, with its unusual metaphors and striking turns of
phrase’ (Wales 2001: 213). As noted above, so-called information
theory is concerned with the efficiency of a system in the transmission
of a message, and informational value is measured in terms of
degrees of predictability. The assumption that ‘the greater the
unpredictability, the higher the informational value of a signal’ is of
great interest to us since it is closely connected with the theme of
novelty in literary expressions (Kovecses 2002; Simpson 2006). Thus,
the degree of novelty exhibited by a metaphor deals with ‘qualitative
differences in the sorts of metaphors that are found in different
discourse contexts’, both literary and non-literary (Simpson 2006: 43).
This can be illustrated with reference to the theory of cognitive
stylistics and its core concepts.

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The problem under discussion takes us back, directly and


indirectly, to the theory of foregrounding and the notion of the
literariness which will be studied in depth in the next chapter. At this
stage of discussing the problem it should be noted that in many
approaches to literary language there has been the supposition of a
norm and deviation. The norm is presumably the language of non-
literature, a sort of undifferentiated language, from which literary
language deviates. In this context, deviations are violations of
linguistic norms. As K. Wales points out, such a notion lies behind
the Prague School concept of foregrounding (Jakobson 1935, 1960)
and behind ideas common in the early 1960s of poetic grammars
whose ‘rules’ would be different from those of ordinary language
(Wales 2001: 274).
However, R. Carter disagrees with the latter view of deviation
theory. The scholar points out, that deviation theory presupposes a
distinction between poetic and practical language which is never
demonstrated. As R. Carter notes, it can easily be shown that deviation
routinely occurs in everyday language and in discourses not usually
associated with literature. Similarly, in his review of the problem, in
some historical periods, literature was defined by adherence to rather
than deviation from, literary and linguistic norms (Carter 1997: 125).
Thus, an important feature of cognitive stylistics has been its
interest in the way we transfer mental constructs, and especially in the
way we map one mental representation onto another when we read
texts. As P. Simpson notes, stylisticians and poeticians have
consistently drawn attention to this system of conceptual transfer in
both literary and in everyday discourse, and have identified two

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important tropes: metaphor and metonymy, through which this


conceptual transfer is carried out (Simpson 2006: 41).
In the way stated, R. Gibbs (Gibbs 1994) highlights the
important part metaphor plays in our everyday conceptual thought. All
this proves conclusively that in modern English, even ‘non-literary
language’ contains the poetic deviations of word-play and metaphor, for
instance, and generally is not as homogeneous as appears to be
assumed. In this context, metaphors are seen not as some kind of
distorted literal thought, but rather as basic schemes by which people
conceptualize their experience and their external world. As R. Gibbs
stresses, figurative language generally is found throughout speech and
writing; moreover, it does not require for its use any special intellectual
talent or any special rhetorical situation (Gibbs 1994: 21).
In a similar way, P. Simpson (Simpson 2006) proves the latter
point and points out that ‘metaphor is simply a natural part of
conceptual thought and although undoubtedly an important feature of
creativity, it should not be seen as a special or exclusive feature of
literary discourse’ Simpson 2006: 42). The scholar stresses the point
very strongly that if we accept that metaphors are part and parcel, so to
speak, of everyday discourse, an important question presents itself. It is
connected with establishing the objective criterion for qualitative
differences in the sorts of metaphors that are found in different
contexts, both literary and non-literary. An important criterion in this
respect is the degree of novelty exhibited by a metaphor. As P.
Simpson points out, as with any figure of speech, repeated use leads to
familiarity, and so commonplace metaphors can sometimes develop
into idioms or fixed expressions in the language. The scholar states

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features which clearly differentiate the sorts of metaphors that are


found in different discourse contexts: “what arguably sets the use of
metaphor in literature apart from more ‘idiomatised’ uses of the trope is
that literature metaphors are on the one hand typically more novel and
on the other typically less clear (Kovecses 2002: 43)”. P. Simpson
comes to the conclusion that writers consciously strive for novelty in
literary expression and this requires developing not only new
conceptual mappings, but also new stylistic frameworks through which
these mappings can be presented (Simpson 2006: 43).
It is worth stressing that a cognitive approach to style and
norms of language, ‘non-literary’ and ‘literary’, enables us to see
through language shifts in the meaning of words which are important
for a full understanding of literature and for the discourses which the
society around us constructs; it gives us the means to see through
language basic schemes by which people conceptualize their
experience and their external world across the domains of spoken and
written contexts, and, finally, it gives us the power to explore language,
and, more specifically, to explore creativity in language use, that is, to
be really discourse literate, for, in the scholars’ words, ‘a language user
who is discourse literate has a simultaneous capacity for seeing
through language’ (Carter and Nash 1990).

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4.4. Language Variation, Norm and Style

A careful consideration of different notions referring to the


pool of linguistic varieties of modern English and describing different
systems of language which distinguish one group of people or one
function from another proves conclusively a multilingual, culturally
diverse character of society. A comprehensive evaluation of these
varieties of language gives us the means to define speakers’ usage
in English correctly and precisely measure individual variation
against some norm. A critical awareness of variations in dialect,
register and style gives writers the power to shape the social and
cultural backdrop of a text and enables readers to enrich their ways
of thinking about language and make comparisons between writers,
and between texts.
In this context, P. Simpson (Simpson 2006) strongly stresses
two further points of special relevance to stylistic analysis raised in
connection with the notions of the Standard English dialect and the
Received Pronunciation accent considered above. As the scholar
points out, one consequence of not seeing Standard English as a
dialect is that it leads to a limited understanding of the full gamut of the
system of the English language. When critics discuss the
representation of ‘dialect’ in literature, they tend to be talking rather
more narrowly about the regional, non-standard dialects, often of a rural
and particularly conservative type, which are used by particular fictional
characters. P. Simpson strongly insists that ‘all speech and writing is
framed in a dialect of some sort, whether it be standard or non-
standard, high-prestige or low status’ (Simpson 2006: 103).

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Another important point (Simpson 2006: 102-103) deals with


the study of accent seen as one of the general categories of language
variation noted above. Given that accent is a variety of language
defined through pronunciation, it might seem that the study of accent
has no place in the stylistic analysis of written literary discourse.
However, as P. Simpson notes, writers make use of any number of
often ingenious techniques for representing features of spoken
discourse in print. In this manner, the scholar convincingly shows the
nuances of spoken Edinburgh vernacular captured through a variety of
orthographic techniques used in Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting.
P. Simpson’ observation is partly shared by J. Culpeper
(Culpeper 2001: 206-213). The scholar notes that writers primarily use
graphological devices, and to a lesser extent grammatical, to convey a
sense of dialect. If dialectal words are used, they tend to be well-known
items stereotypically associated with a particular dialect. This strategy
ensures comprehensibility for readers, who would rapidly be flummoxed
by the general use of dialectal vocabulary.
J. Culpeper illustrates his conclusion with some present-day
fictional examples, since historical texts have additional
complications which will need consideration. In the scholar’s view
(Culpeper 2001: 166-167), English spelling is not up to the job of
presenting different accents accurately. Thus, writers are limited be
the medium they are communicating in. They may utilize
conventionalized ways of presenting the dialectal features of speech
in writing, and they may stop short of systematic accuracy, relying on
the readers’ knowledge of accents and dialects to ‘fill in the gaps’.
Above all, we need to remember that the norms of writing are at

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issue. As Hughes (Hughes 1996: 96) points out: ‘if a writer chooses
to be “realistic”, the reader automatically takes this to be a cue that
the speaker is abnormal in some way’. J. Culpeper’s point (Culpeper
2001: 210) is that writers create an illusion of regional accent in
writing and against the norms of writing. This is what has been
referred to as ‘eye-dialect’, a graphologically-based dialect. The
spelling of characters’ speech conveys no information about the
distinctive nature of their accents.
Consider one of J. Culpeper’s examples from Sue Townsend’s
novel The Queen and I (1992) which depicts a world in which a
Republican government is elected in Btitain, and the royal family,
stripped of its trappings, is sent to live on a council estate – the
significantly named Hell Close – in the midlands. In this social satire,
much of the humour comes about through characterization, in
particular, prototypicality distortions. J. Culpeper’s following example
from The Queen and I is spoken by one of the residents of Hell Close:

‘Well, I wun’t exactly say jus’ like you an’ me’, said Wilf.

/Townsend, 195/

As J. Culpeper notes, the spelling of Wilf’s speech apparently


conveys no information about the distinctive nature of his accent. The
use of ‘u’ in wun’t conveys nothing distinctive about the pronunciation of
that word. Similarly, the absence of ‘t’ in jus’ and ‘d’ in wun’t and an’ is
uninformative. One should remember that the alveolar consonants ‘t’
and ‘d’ in word-final position are particularly susceptible to assimilation
or elision in English: assuming informal, fairly rapid speech, most
speakers would not pronounce a word-final ‘t’ or ‘d’. The point is that

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Sue Townsend is creating an illusion of regional accent in writing and


against the norms of writing (Culpeper 2001: 210).
It is common for much work in stylistics and sociolinguistics to
make a distinction between the national varieties of English, noted
above. Different dictionaries account for these varieties in many
different ways. As Katie Wales stresses (Wales 2001: 105), a variety is
common in sociolinguistics especially to describe any system of
language which distinguishes one group of people or one function from
another: whether regional or occupational (the notion of dialect); social
(the notion of sociolect); or situational (the notion of register).
The term dialect is generally understood to refer to a variety of
language associated with subsets of users: in a geographical area (rural
dialect, e.g. Cornwall, Leicestershire; urban dialect if a town or city, e.g.
Tyneside, Cockney); or with a social group (class dialect if associated
with socio-economic status, e.g. working class; occupational dialect if
associated with a profession or trade, e.g. train-drivers, coal-miners, etc.).
Similarly, in J. Culpeper’s view of the notion (Culpeper 2001: 166), ‘dialect’
is usually taken to be linguistic thumbprint of a particular group of people
(or speech community). As the scholar notes, traditionally, the dialects that
have received most attention are regional (the dialect spoken by the
people of a particular geographical area) and social (the dialect spoken by
the people of a particular social group).
J. Culpeper (Culpeper 2001: 208-209) points out, person
prototypicality judgments depend on the interaction between behaviors
and situations, and that people are perceived as highly prototypical if
they exhibit the same behaviors consistently across situations, and
particularly in situations where those behaviors are not expected, or,

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indeed, if they simply appear in situations where they are not expected.
Townsend takes a group from the top of the social scale and places
them in the context of those groups at the bottom. This is the reverse of
what happens to Sly in the prologue to The Taming of the Shrew and
Bottom in a Midsummer Night’s Dream, where commoners find
themselves in an aristocratic, or even royal, context.
One of the techniques, in Culpeper’s view, Townsend utilizes to
highlight the distinct social group memberships of the characters is to
signal that they have different dialects. For example, the Queen, talking
to Beverly, her new next-door neighbor, says:

‘Harris found a rat,’ said the Queen.


‘A ret?’
‘A rat look!’ Beverly looked down at the dead rodent at the
Queen’s feet.

/Townsend, 54/

The unusual spelling ret signals that the Queen’s pronunciation


of the vowel in rat is typical of conservative RP, where it rhymes with
‘net’. Note that for us to easily understand the language here, the word
is first spelt conventionally as rat, a representation of Beverley’s
representation of the Queen’s accent.
K. Wales focuses on the contemporary notion of urban
dialects (Wales 2001: 105-106). The scholar points out that while
many rural dialects have virtually disappeared during the last century
(and hundreds of local dialect words), urban varieties remain distinctive,
if often difficult to describe. In some communities, many varieties
(foreign as well as English) co-occur. Speech varies here between the

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people themselves, rather than between regions or villages. The study


of urban dialects developed relatively late in the twentieth century
sociolinguistics, where regional dialectology, based largely on rural
informants has been well-established for a century.
P. Simpson (Simpson 2006: 102-108) focuses on different
variations in dialect, register and style making the keen observation on
their stylistic peculiarities. The scholar states clearly that whereas a
dialect is a linguistic variety that is defined according to the user of
language – it tells you their social and regional background –
a register, on the other hand, is defined according to the use to which
language is being put. In other words, a register shows, through a
regular, fixed pattern of vocabulary and grammar, what a speaker or
writer is doing with language at a given moment. Registers are often
discussed in terms of three features of context known as field, tenor
and mode. Obviously, field of discourse refers to the setting and
purpose of the interaction, tenor to the relationship between the
participants in interaction and mode to the medium of communication
(that is, whether it is spoken or written).
As K. Wales duly notes (Wales 2001: 338-339), to these three
main features can be added the function of the variety: e.g. expository,
didactic. TV sports commentary, in the scholar’s view, is obviously
distinguished as a variety, with its special vocabulary reflecting the
subject, the audio-visual medium, the functions of describing and
evaluating and the fairly informal relations between commentator and
mass audience. The scholar stresses that different registers will overlap
with each other in respect of function or medium or even field (e.g. a
prayer v. a sermon), so that many linguistic features will be common to

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several registers. However, it should be noted that no two registers will


ever be identical. As K. Wales points out, the stylistic and sociolinguistic
term register suggests a scale of differences, of degrees of formality,
appropriate to different social uses of language. It is considered to be
part of the communicative competence of every speaker that he or she
will constantly switch usages, select certain features of sound,
grammar, lexis, etc., in the different situations of everyday life: a
domestic chat, a business letter, a telephone conversation, etc. All
these uses of language serve different social roles.
It should be noted that, in P. Simpson’s view, it is a truism of
modern linguistics that no two speakers use language in exactly the
same way. We all have our own linguistic mannerisms and stylistic
idiosyncrasies, and the term reserved for an individual’s special unique
style is idiolect (Simpson 2006: 104).
As J. Culpeper stresses, ‘Idiolect’ is usually taken to be a
person’s total, individual linguistic thumbprint. A related argument is
that the dialects one speaks are also part of one’s idiolect. The scholar
points out that people frequently perceive others as members of social
groups rather than as individuals (Culpeper 2001: 166).
The next step involves examining the term Sociolect created
by analogy with words like dialect and idiolect which is used in
sociolinguistics to refer to a variety of language distinctive of a
particular social group or class (Wales 2001). As K. Wales rightly
notes, linguists have always had problems in defining speakers’ usage
in English strictly on the basis of social class, since there appears to be
no strict correlation between class as defined sociologically, and
linguistic features. It is noted that the distinction of classes is harder to

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make than geographical distinctions, for more variables are involved;


education, occupation, etc. The study of sociolects has been intensified
and made more complex by research into urban dialects noted above.
In reference to dialectology, K. Wales points out its tendency to
concentrate on regional, rural varieties, where the speakers/informants
present a more socially unified community. The term sociolect can
also be applied to the varieties of language used by different age
groups; both sexes; or various occupations, etc.
Thus, McEwan’s novel Enduring love looks at several concerns
that run throughout his fiction. Like The Cement Garden, The Comfort
Strangers, The Child in Time, and The Innocent, it is a study of extreme
and, in part, deeply disturbed psychological states. The dominant focus
of the novel is on characters’ psychology. As D. Malcolm notes, in its
way it is a version of a very traditional, triangular, psychological love
story, a version of the kind of fiction that explores characters’ minds and
feelings in respect of each other. The novel takes a character (Joe) of a
particular set of mind and presents him and it with a degree of
complexity and ambiguity. Joe’s language is that of authority. This can
be noted, in the scholar’s words’, ‘in the apodictic (that is, in form
assertive, completely certain) statements or rhetorical questions that
mark his speech’. But his vocabulary, too, is one that demands the
reader’s assent, a vocabulary of scientific fact and certainty. For
example, Joe describes his feelings during the ballooning accident,
using words like ‘barely a neuronal pulse later,” “thoughts in which fear
and instant calculations of logarithmic complexity were fused” (p.14).
Jed’s and Clarissa’s, the other characters’, language, in fact, does not
substantially differ from Joe’s, except with regard to the presence of

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scientific terminology in the narrator’s discourse. The relative social and


educational homogeneity of character and milieu in the novel is
reflected here. Jed and Clarissa and Joe speak similar languages,
although in Jed’s and Joe’s cases with markedly different accents
(Malcolm 2002: 168-169).
The term genderlects refers to very marked differences in
some languages between the speech of old and young men; or
between male and female speech (Wales 2001 : 362).
As J. Culpeper notes (Culpeper 2001: 165-166), studies in
language and gender provide some valuable insights, and indeed
caveats, for the study of language and character. Thus, the hypothesis
that particular linguistic features (such as tag questions, hedges)
characterize ‘women’s language’ was criticized for lacking an empirical
basis. This gave rise to many quantitative studies designed to establish
whether there were ‘real’ differences between men’s and women’s
language. However, these studies have been beset with
methodological problems, including the difficulty (impossibility?) of
isolating the variable of ‘sex’ (understood as a biologically determined
category) from other contextual variables such as status, and the
difficulty in selecting samples of men and women who are comparable
in terms of social background. Furthermore, some empirical studies
have tended to focus on matters of form, and pay insufficient attention
to function. This discussion, in the scholar’s view, raises a number of
issues that are also pertinent to the study of language and
characterization. First, we must be wary about assuming that people’s
linguistic stereotypes or casual schemas, such as ‘women’s language
hypothesis, have empirical validity. This is not to say, of course, that

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they are any less important in forming an impression of a person or,


indeed, character. Secondly, identifying which characteristic correlates
with a particular linguistic feature is problematic, since some
characteristics may be conflated or confused with other characteristics
(such as sex and status). Thirdly, the discussion of function and context
illustrates that we have to move beyond the simplistic ‘X linguistic
feature = Y personality feature’ equation which has bedeviled more
traditional language attitudes research. What a particular form means in
one context may differ from what it means in another.
What is also very significant, in K. Wales’s review of the
varieties of language, is that they contain sub-varieties: within the
national variety of British English. Thus, the dialect spoken in the north-
east of England varies in respect of certain features between
Newcastle, Durham city and Darlington; the language of television
commentary varies between sports coverage and royal weddings,
between football, wrestling and snooker. After a careful consideration of
the key notions, K. Wales comes to the conclusion that ‘language, in
fact, is far from being a uniform phenomenon, which makes a
systematic description exceedingly difficult’ (Wales 2001: 403).
It should be noted that literary discourse has the capacity to
stack up or absorb other varieties of language. With reference to the
style of literary works, P. Simpson (Simpson 2006) introduces the term
sociolinguistic code referring to the pool of linguistic varieties that
both derive from and shape the social and cultural backdrop to a text.
Thus, in the scholar’s words, sociolinguistic code is a key organizing
resource not just for narrative but for all types of literary discourse. In
the case of monolingual writing in English, that code will remain largely

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within the parameters of a single language and its sub-varieties,


although in bilingual writing it is common for any number of indigenous
language varieties to intermix, and often alongside a ‘superstrate’
language like English. It is interesting to note that the term code-
switching is normally used to explain transitions between distinct
languages in a text, and literary code-switching (Hess1996: 6; Pratt
1993: 177) is a sophisticated technique which signals movement
between different spheres of reference and has important
consequences for a range of thematic intentions (Simpson 2006: 102).
In reference to the term code-switching used in non-literary
discourse, K. Wales points out that many regional speakers may keep
only their accent, otherwise using the grammar and vocabulary of
Standard English. As a result, code-switching is used in sociolinguistics
to refer to the shifting adopted by speakers between one variety or
dialect or language and another. Bilingual speakers regularly switch
languages systematically and appropriately: according to the person
addressed (e.g. father v. mother), or the situation (e.g. home v. office),
or even the topic (pleasure v. business). This latter variation is
sometimes termed metaphorical code-switching. In informal
conversations some bilingual speakers will shift from language to
language many times, even within sentences, for emphasis and feeling
(called conversational code-switching). But even monolingual
speakers can code-switch: usually according to situation and/or degree
of formality: e.g. shifting from regional speech within the family circle to
the standard form outside it (Wales 2001: 63).
It should be stressed that literary works which remain within the
compass of a single language in P. Simpson’s view of code-switching,

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may still exhibit marked variation in terms of their use of sociolinguistic


code. Some key dimensions of such intra-lingual variation are idiolect,
accents and dialect, register and anti-language. The latter refers to the
semi-secretive languages born out of subcultures and alternative
societies. These societies, ‘antisocieties’, are consciously established
as alternatives to mainstream society such that their relationship to the
dominant social order is one of resistance, even active hostility. In the
scholars’ view, antilanguages are therefore typically characterized by
references to proscribed drugs, to alternative sexual behaviors or more
generally to the various activities of a criminal underworld (Halliday
1978). As P. Simpson poits out, antilanguages play an important part
in, and often dominate completely, the style of literary works which are
thematically concerned with such subcultures and antisocieties.
Notable examples of such fiction are William Burroughs’s The Naked
Lunch (1959), Hubert Selby Jnr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966), and
Anthony Burgess’s antilanguage novel sine qua non, A Clockwork
Orange (1962). The most important process in the formation of an
antilanguage is relexicalisation which involves recycling established
words in the language into new structures and meanings. It should be
stressed that in the stylistic analysis of sociolinguistic code, we need to
identify and explore the connections between features like accent,
register or antilanguage in a text (Simpson 2006: 104-105).
As K. Wales notes, code-switching in literary texts provides
an interesting field for analysis, both in terms of its possible reflection
of social reality, and its manipulation as a literary device. There is a
strong correlation, for example, between the voice of the narrator and
the standard dialect or ‘official’ language (code of the norm? of

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authority?), and between the voice of the characters in direct speech


and regional dialect (the code of the deviant? of subversion?) (Wales
2001: 63-64).
Stylisticians, in making comparisons between writers, and
between texts, have therefore to work on the basis of contextual
norms: measuring Ian McEwan’s prose style, for instance, against that
of other writers of the period, or the larger context of contemporary
prose style, if necessary. In stylistics, K. Wales points out, we match
any text or piece of language against the linguistic norms of its genre,
or its period, and the common core of the language as a whole.
Different texts will reveal different patterns of dominant or foregrounded
features ( Wales 2001: 275).
As D. Malcolm notes, in Ian McEwan’s novel Black Dogs
(1992), the norm is much more one of an unobtrusively educated
vocabulary and syntax, interspersed with occasional formalities. For
example, when Jeremy, the narrator, returns to June’s French
farmhouse, he reflects on her presence there even after death (91-92).
In this passage, phrases like “the contemplation of eternity” or “some
delicate emanation, a gossamer web of consciousness inhered” stand
out in terms of formality and sophistication, but lexis is predominantly
toward a neutral point on an informality-formality scale. The same is
true of syntax: completely when it occurs is not of a particularly involved
kind, and, indeed, there are a number of simple and compound
sentences. D. Malcolm points out that in McEwan’s first three novels,
linguistic sophistication is marked and surely serves as a self-referential
device, focusing the reader’s attention on the text and the act of
narration (and thus raising questions about the partiality of any

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account). As in the Innocent, this element seems much less marked in


Black Dogs. Where is does occur, it seems primarily motivated by
Jeremy’s character and upbringing. He writes of his manner of speech
as an adolescent, “the rather formal, distancing, labyrinthine tone in
which I used to speak… which was supposed to announce me to the
world as an intellectual” (xviii), and one may assume that some habits
remain. For example, his observations about scorpions bear the mark
of a kind of adolescent pedantry (93-94). Here, however, such
passages fulfill a different function in the text from that in McEwan’s first
three novels. They enhance the verisimilitude of the novel (“Ah yes,
Jeremy would speak just like that…,” the reader says), rather than call
attention to the text itself and its linguistic substance (Malcolm 2002:
136-137).
Thus, sociolinguistic code, highlighted in the chapter,
expresses through language the historical, cultural and linguistic setting
which frames a narrative. What is most important, in P. Simpson’s
words, it locates the narrative in time and place by drawing upon the
forms of language which reflect the sociocultural context. In the way
stated, sociolinguistic code encompasses, among other things, the
varieties of accent and dialect used in narrative, whether they be
ascribed to the narrator or to characters within the narrative, although
the concept also extends to the social and institutional register of
discourse deployed in a story (Simpson 2006: 21).

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4.5. The Relevance of Norm and Deviation


from Norm in Decoding Stylistics

4.5.1. Preliminaries

In what follows attention will be concentrated on the relevance


of norm and deviation to Decoding Stylistics.
This is a problem fast becoming the major focus of interest in
stylistics because much of the expressive affective or aesthetic
emphasis added to the cognitive information conveyed by a text
depends upon it. This emphasis constitutes the information of the
second kind, which in its interaction with that of the first kind (cognitive)
determines style. For M. Riffaterre, “language expresses and style
stresses” (Riffaterre 1979).
Clearly a writer does not possess the extra-linguistic means of
stressing his meaning such as intonation, loudness of voice, gestures.
What is implied is that his means of adding emphasis to information
conveyed is a special organization of material, including various types
of deviation. Note the word "including". This means deviation is not the
only basis, or rather that there is a sort of interaction between deviation
from some general norm and creating a new norm specific to each
given text. Neither regularity in itself, nor any particular instance of cre-
ating linguistic prominence by deviating from it will be stylistically
relevant, unless it stresses something important in the meaning of the
text. When the poet deviates from the usual semantic relations charac-
teristic of the given language this reflects his looking at things in some
new way.

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K. Wales writes, that “Green thought is an odd collocation, yet


in the context of Marvell’s poem ‘The Garden’ is perfectly acceptable
and understandable”.
To clear up this crucial point we shall need the support of the
notions described in the Theory of Information. Information in a
technical sense is derived from communication theory, particularly the
work of C. Shannon and W. Weaver on the systems of signals.
The so-called Information Theory is concerned with the
efficiency of a system in the transmission of a message, and the
informational value or weight is measured in terms of degrees of
predictability. The greater the unpredictability, the higher the
informational value of a signal.
Applied to human language, its different components and
discourse types, we can see how information works in this sense.
Literary language tends to be high in information value, with its unusual
metaphors and striking turns of phrase.
A term often used in the Information Theory is a code
meaning a system of signs and rules of combining them that is used
to transmit messages through a given channel. The notion of a set of
rules implies here also constraints disallowing some combinations,
and these have not yet been discussed. The fact that language is a
social and psychological phenomenon does not contradict the above
definition and interfere with its being a system of signs. The
difference of focus as compared to artificial codes leads among
others to the priority of combinatorics. Many meanings are
expressed not by separate signs – words – but by the way they are
employed in various codograms, that is combinations of signs. And

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this way implies not only rules but constraints and this is how the
signal redundancy is ensured.
According to I.V. Arnold, basic to all rules and constraints are
the grammar rules and what was previously treated as "exceptions".
For example, English nouns can take a plural form (bell - bells) and be
preceded by articles (the bell, a bell). This, however, is not the case
with all nouns. There are several meaningful constraints. Mass nouns
and abstract nouns take zero articles and do not have a plural form.
These constraints may be meaningfully broken in their turn. When they
are broken, the words where this deviation occurs are reclassified, i.e.
they change their meaning, mostly their lexico-grammatical meaning
(because of this reclassification), and also may acquire additional
expressiveness: thus the mass noun sand by taking the plural form
receives the meaning of “a vast expanse of sand, i.e. desert” in P.B.
Shelley's "Ozymandias" (Ozymandias is a Greek name for the Egyptian
pharaoh Ramses II (13th century B.C.) who is said to have erected a
huge statue of himself):

Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land,


Who said – ‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:

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My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,


Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
/Percy Bysshe Shelley/

The images of the poem reveal how transient the power of


kings is as compared to that of art and nature. Thus, we have the
general rule, the norm (the regular plural in -s), a constraint on this
norm (no plural for mass nouns) and a meaningful deviation from this
(reclassification) enhancing the impression produced by the picture of
decay and loneliness presented in this sonnet. All three stages belong
to the language and may be regarded as usual but very different in
frequency.
The reclassification of this type is a fact of language and as
such it is described in grammar books. Thus, in "A Grammar of
Contemporary English" we read: "A mass noun like bread can be
'reclassified' as a count noun involving a semantic shift so as to denote
quality". The book gives examples of this phenomenon in different parts
of speech. A deviation may have a comical effect. It is well known, for
instance, that some proper nouns are plural invariables: the Alps, the
Andes, the Himalayas, the Rockies. The break of this constraint is oc-
casional and sounds funny in the following:

"...being a stranger in the place I did not know one Alp from
another. I alped my way for some weary hours, till the sun went down."
/Brendan Behan/

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The violation of one rule may be individual, occasional, creating


an unorthodox meaning of a word or a whole sentence. This brings us
to the so-called notion of semi-marked structures.
The following example is a famous case of linguistic deviation
in poetry: “a grief ago” (Dylan Thomas). The normal combination
would be a minute, day, year ago. The poet, as G. Leech puts it, has
gone beyond the normal range of choice. The word grief, being placed
in a position normally taken by nouns denoting time, receives itself a
temporal expressive meaning. Compare: a few cigarettes ago, two
wives ago. Two more examples by the same poet are: “all the sun long,
all the moon long”. Here the words sun and moon acquire the additional
meaning of "time full of light".
A code, therefore, consists of rules that may be kept and may
be broken. When the breaking of rules results in the appearance of a
new meaning and/or additional expressiveness we shall call that
deviation, whereas the main rules and restrictions of arranging the code
constitute its norm.
On the other hand, there are some rules which are rigid and if
they are not observed the result is not a change of meaning but non-
sense. For example, some types of inversion are emphatic, others
impossible as the following examples show:

The head that wears a crown lies uneasy. – neutral


Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. – emphatic
Head the that wears crown a lies uneasy. – impossible

This leads us to the notion of constant and variable values in


linguistics.

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The importance of deviation lies in compelling the reader's


attention and helping him to see what is or is not important in the text.
Everybody knows that it is possible from part of a sequence (a
sentence, a line, a paragraph, etc) to predict with greater or lesser
accuracy the succeeding features and this is what makes elliptic
decoding sufficient for the reader. M. Riffaterre points out that it is na-
tural for the decoder to disregard a high percentage of what the text
contains and reconstruct the whole from the few words he actually per-
ceives. To be noticed by the reader the important elements have to be
either repeated or unpredictable. The unpredictability may result
from breaking the norms of linguistic code:

He who attempts to tease the cobra


Is soon a sadder he and sobra.
/Ogden Nash/

It is not usual for personal pronouns to be modified by


adjectives and articles as in “a sadder he”. The other deviation is
“sobra” (instead of more sober) or from violating logical expectations:

Get a house and a wife and a fire to put her in.

The last verbal phrase breaks the expectation of marital bliss


established by the previous enumeration of nouns after a sort of norm
has been created within this very short space.

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4.5.2. The Notion of Norm


This line of reasoning brings us to the most important stylistic
opposition – the opposition between traditional and situational desig-
nation. Between what is more predictable and what is less predictable
or unpredictable. The norm is a linguistic abstraction very susceptible to
all kinds of simplification. It is a sort of very general grammar. No
actual use of the language can be said to be "absolutely normal", just
as there exists no average "absolutely normal" human being in real life,
everybody has his or her peculiarities.
The norm comprises the most frequent codes and the basic, i.e.
the main invariants, rules and constraints of arranging the signals of the
code. But what are these most frequent rules and elements? It is a well-
known fact that a language contains many regional and social varieties.
The norm of the language is the common core of all its dialects, regional
variants, functional styles, registers, idiolects, etc., it includes the simplest
and most frequent combinations of its elements. Standard English cuts
across the boundaries of various dialects, yet we distinguish regional
varieties, i.e. British, American, Australian, Canadian and Indian English,
each with a norm of its own. (Some scholars prefer to speak not of the
norms but of the peculiarities within their respective norms.) Within each
of these there are varieties depending upon subject matter and sphere of
communication (functional styles and registers); educational level and
social background and standing; the situation and the attitude of the
speakers towards one another.
The topic is discussed in a vast literature. Different dictionaries
account for these varieties in many different ways. Katie Wales in her
“Dictionary of Stylistics” stresses that a variety is common in

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sociolinguistics especially to describe any system of language which


distinguishes one group of people or one function from another:
whether regional or occupational (see the notion of DIALECT);
social (see the notion of SOCIOLECT);
or situational (see the notion of REGISTER).
Dialect refers to a variety of language associated with subsets
of users: in a geographical area (rural dialect, e.g. Cornwall,
Leicestershire; urban dialect if a town or city, e.g. Tyneside, Cockney);
or with a social group (class dialect if associated with socio-economic
status, e.g. working class; occupational dialect if associated with a
profession or trade, e.g. train-drivers, coal-miners, etc.).
Sociolect is a term created by analogy with words like dialect
and idiolect which is used in sociolinguistics to refer to a variety of
language distinctive of a particular social group or class.
Linguists have always had problems in defining speakers’
usage in English strictly on the basis of social class, since there
appears to be no strict correlation between class as defined
sociologically, and linguistic features; in any case, the distinction of
classes is harder to make than geographical distinctions for more
variables are involved; education, occupation, etc. Certain lexical
variations have often been popularly pointed out, however, that
distinguish (broadly) the ‘upper’ from the ‘lower’ classes.
Traditionally, Received Pronunciation was a kind of sociolect,
associated with those educated at Oxbridge and public schools, as well
as the upper classes.
The term sociolect can also be applied to the varieties of language
used by different age groups; both sexes; or various occupations, etc.

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More technical-sounding equivalents are Lect and Diatype.


Lect is used in sociolinguistics as a generic term equivalent to
a language variety for any set of features with a definite functional or
situational identity. There are genderlects which distinguish male and
female speech. S. Adamson has the useful term chronolect for a
variety distinctive in time, dividing people in terms of language change
(Adamson 1998). We can talk of the chronolect of the late sixteenth
century, relevant for the understanding of Shakespeare.
The term register in stylistics and sociolinguistics is used to
refer to a variety of language defined according to the situation. It
suggests a scale of differences, of degrees of formality, appropriate to
different social uses of language. It is part of the communicative
competence of every speaker that he or she will constantly switch
usages, select certain features of sound, grammar, lexis, etc., in the
different situations of everyday life: a domestic chat, a business letter, a
telephone conversation, etc. All these uses of language serve different
social roles.
What is also very significant is that varieties can contain sub-
varieties: within the national variety of British English, the dialect
spoken in the north-east of England varies in respect of certain features
between Newcastle, Durham city and Darlington; the language of
television commentary varies between sports coverage and royal
weddings, between football, wrestling and snooker. Language, in fact,
is far from being a uniform phenomenon, which makes a systematic
description exceedingly difficult.
The peculiar features characterizing, for instance, regional
varieties may concern any level of the language. With each dialect is

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associated a distinctive set of grammatical and /or lexical features, and


also very commonly a distinctive accent or pronunciation. The
Australian phrase given below shows phonetical difference reflected in
spelling, lexical difference and peculiarities of pronomial substitution:

The job's still not done.


I'll finish her this arvo, but
(…finish it this afternoon, however).

The stylistic function of these peculiarities in a literary text may


be different. Thus, in Ferlingetti's "Coney Island of the Mind" the
presence of such Americanisms as segregation, congressional,
patrolman, mortician, making a sad scene, living it up, etc. shows that
the satire has a definite address, that it is the American way of life that
is exposed.
Many regional speakers may keep only their accent, otherwise
using the grammar and vocabulary of Standard English. As a result,
code-switching is used in sociolinguistics to refer to the shifting adopted
by speakers between one variety or dialect or language and another (see
page 140).
Code-switching in literary texts provides an interesting field
for analysis, both in terms of its possible reflection of social reality, and
its manipulation as a literary device. There is a strong correlation, for
example, between the voice of the narrator and the standard dialect or
‘official’ language (code of the norm? of authority?), and between the
voice of the characters in direct speech and regional dialect (the code
of the deviant? of subversion?).
A regional dialect differs from a regional variety in that
although it has a norm, the norm is not a literary norm. The students sho-

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uld be cautioned however against understanding the traces of dialect


vernacular only as violations of grammar rules and marks of illiteracy.
These peculiarities often fulfill other different functions. The local
Cockney Dialect, for instance, as used in speech characterization often
enhances the wit characteristic of the simple people of London. This is
how by means of speech characterization Dickens depicts Sam Weller, a
cheerfully ironical and resourceful character with an endless store of
humorous comment setting off the events of the "Pickwick Papers", and
the greatest portrayal of the Cockney type in English literature:

It's over, and can't be helped, and that's one consolation, as


they always says in Turkey, ven they cuts the wrong man's head off.
/ Dickens /
Also some forms that are deviating from the point of view of
Standard English may come within the norm of the dialect. When
the English redcoat (soldier) says in Kipling's poem:

We aren't thin red 'eroes,


nor we aren't no blackguards too.
/Kipling/
The use of double negation and the dropping of the initial
sound in the word heroes fully correspond to the low colloquial Cockney
norm. At the same time it gives an ironical echo of a hackneyed news-
paper cliché calling English soldiers "a thin red line of heroes".
The constraints change in the course of a language history. In
Chaucer's time a similar abundance of negations was perfectly correct.
Chaucer characterized the Knight's good breeding using four negations
running:

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He never yet no vileyne ne sayde


In al his lyf, unto no manner wight.
/ Chaucer /
The problem of functional styles and registers is another major
focus of interest. Functional styles depending on the role of language in
different spheres of communication in different human institutions are
studied in this country. The English scholars are more interested in what
they call registers (see above). Both functional styles and registers rep-
resent norms within the general norm from which they deviate, featuring the
elements of the same system in a markedly different frequency distribution.
Functional styles and registers are varieties 'according to use'. In this they
contrast with regional and social dialects depending on the background of
the speaker and thus constituting varieties 'according to user'.
The norm of Standard English is codified in numerous books on
grammar and dictionaries. The rules of functional styles have not been
fixed to the same extent. They lie in the speakers' ability for judging on
the ground of past experience about what is appropriate or not
appropriate in a given situation.
They vary depending on the subject matter, the situation, the
medium of communication (speech, writing, radio broadcasting), the
tone of communication (colloquial or formal), the role of the message (a
document, a letter, a telephone conversation), the social relations
between the participants. G. Leech mentions legal English, scientific
English, liturgical English, advertising English, the English of journalism.
This is a division according to the subject-matter and the
situation involving also the other distinctive features. Legal English, for
example, is chiefly conveyed in written form, and when pronounced

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orally follows the written form, it is formal and the message most often
is a document. The social relations between the participants are rigidly
regulated and their respective roles strictly codified.
The difference brought about by various social relations is
clearly seen in the following examples:

We hope to arrive at approximately four.


We'll be there about four.
We’ll turn up fourish.

The difference between a formal written instruction and an oral


order is seen from the following example:

Distinguished patrons are requested to ascend to the second


floor.
Up you get, you fellows.

English linguists of today affirm that every speaker has at his


command a certain range of registers, and almost unconsciously
changes his manner of speaking, when turning from a conversation
with a friend to dictating an official letter. The range of registers
mastered for decoding is for a great majority of people greater than that
for encoding (Mind code-switching, mentioned above).
By idiolect we mean the code of each individual person. Each
of us has his own peculiar way of using language. No two speakers
ever learn the same language in exactly the same experience. It could
be very bad for communication and social life in general, if each of us
was confined to the shell of his idiolect and his norm. This would result
in complete incommunicability.
In reading literature a failure in communication happens when

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people are unable or unwilling to accept unfamiliar ways of expression,


forgetting that literature cannot exist without changes. The inability to
adjust one's idiolect to that of the others has the same effect as the
inability to adjust one's behaviour. It also leads to narrow-mindedness
and backwardness. This makes Decoding Stylistics all the more
important as it develops the reader's ability to grasp the meaning of
deviations from what he or she is accustomed to.
In making the effort of adjusting our idiolect to those of other
people and to bring theirs in line with our own in everyday life we are
helped by our notion of the norm, which is shared by all the individuals
speaking that language.
An older view of style saw it as idiolect in a less linguistic, more
psychological or philosophical sense. Very many people still take it for
granted that once one has grasped this "consistent manner", it throws
all the necessary light upon the text in question. This approach has a
long tradition to support it. Comments in the seventeenth century (Sir
Thomas Brown) and the eighteenth century (Buffon) argue for style as
the revelation of personality, or of the psyche: a view taken up by early
twentieth-century European stylisticians such as Leo Spitzer (1948).
Yet, in fact, it is scholastic and in a way misleading. We all know and
agree that every human being changes with time, so if the style reflects
the poet's personality according to the Buffon’s formula “the style is the
man”) it must also change.
The style also depends very much on the topic and the genre of
the text. The variation of literary speech according to genres is un-
questionable. Each text creates its own norm. When a reader stumbles
on something that does not correspond to this norm he will ask himself
how the change contributes to the total meaning of the text.
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4.5.3. The Notion of Deviation

Deviation has been very commonly used in early work in stylistics,


and has appeared in definitions of style itself. It has also been used in
generative grammar to refer to any unit which is not grammatical or is ill-
formed, which does not conform to the ‘rules’ of the language.
Although some writers (for instance, G. Leech and M. Short in
their work “Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional
Prose” (1981, 2nd edn. 2007)) have tried to make a distinction between
deviation and deviance, preferring deviance in sense (1) below; for the
most part, according to Katie Wales, the terms are used synonymously:
(1) Strictly, deviation refers to divergence in frequency from a
norm, or the statistical average. Such divergence may depend on:
(a) the breaking of normal rules of linguistic structure (whether
phonological, grammatical, lexical or semantic) and so be statistically
unusual/infrequent;
(b) the over-use of normal rules of usage, and so be statistically
unusual in the sense of over-frequent.
(2) Not surprisingly, statistical deviance easily becomes
associated with what is unusual, unpredictable, unexpected,
unconventional.
/Katie Wales 2001: 103/

Deviation is particularly associated with poetic language; our


expectations and tolerance of the unusual, in structuring and
conceptualizations, are high. But marked deviations are also found
in advertising language, as in such eye- and attention-catching
devices as in: Beanz meanz Heinz; Crack a can of Carnation.

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The idea that poetry characteristically violates the norms of


everyday language was much propounded by the Prague School. As
the entry for norm reveals, it is important to know what kind of norm a
deviation is taken to diverge from. Norm itself is very much a relative
concept. A sentence like I am here since five years is grammatically
deviant measured against the English language as a whole; whereas I
ain’t done nothing is ungrammatical only when dialectal usage is
measured against Standard English. Similarly, a line like Irks care the
crop-full bird? (Browning: Rabbi ben Ezra) is deviant against the
‘norms’ of prose.
(3) The definition of style itself as a deviation from a norm
(common in the 1960s) is rather unsatisfactory, since there are as
many norms as there are varieties of language, non-literary, as well
as literary.
Conversational, everyday language is often regarded as a
norm; but it is perhaps to think of a ‘scale’ or ‘degrees’ of
deviance/normality, and of a ‘set’ of norms against which we judge, for
example, the deviation(s) of poetic language.
(4) It is also possible to argue that all texts, whatever the
degree of deviance, establish their own particular ‘secondary’ or
‘second order’ norms; and some early stylisticians, following Levin
(1965) distinguish between external and internal deviation.
External deviation measures the language of the text against
the ‘norms’ outside it; internal deviation refers to the features within a
text that differ from the expected, set up by the norm of the text itself;
what is also known as defeated expectancy.

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This type of deviation may be illustrated by e.e. cummings’s


poems. e.e. cummings (1894-1962) is an American poet, painter,
essayist, author, and playwright. While his poetic forms and themes
share an affinity with the Romantic tradition (dealing with themes of
love and nature, the relationship of the individual to the masses and to
the world) cummings' work universally shows a particular idiosyncrasy
of syntax, or way of arranging individual words into larger phrases and
sentences. Many of his most striking poems do not involve any
typographical or punctuation innovations at all, but purely syntactic
ones. Some of his poetry is free verse (with no concern for rhyme or
meter). In his works it is, thus, quite normal for deviant language to be
normal, and normal language to be deviant, as this example shows:

light’s lives lurch


a once world quickly from rises
army the gradual of unbeing fro
on stiffening greenly air and to ghosts go
drift slippery hands tease slim float twitter faces
Only stand with me, love! against these its
until you are, and until i am dreams…
/e.e. cummings/

Here the words underlined are foregrounded (linguistically and


thematically) by their very ‘normality’.
It may not be so easy, especially on first reading, to establish
the linguistic ‘norms’ of other texts except in a rough and ready
way. Many texts, especially novels, depend on linguistic variety and
also on counterpointing, the localized playing-off of one feature
against another.

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Every case of deviation demands some explanation on the part


of the reader (it need not be explicit) and that heightens his activity. To
achieve this, important elements have to be unpredictable.
The problem of norm has many possible solutions and many
aspects. The most important, however, is the relative and probabilistic
nature of the norm, a deviation from Standard English may correspond
to a norm of a secondary order - that of a dialect, or a functional style or
a register, in the norm of a text new variations take place. The presence
of a deviation is felt by the reader on the basis of probabilistic
prognosis. His or her prognosis may be defeated in a quantitative or
qualitative way. Thus, there are two types of deviations
• quantitative deviations,
• qualitative deviations.
Both are changes in the code according to the demands of the
message. The quantitative deviation is, for instance, represented by
repetition, that is a significant accumulation of elements of any kind
surpassing their average distribution. The violation of rules and
constraints controlling a given code are always partial. Their effect is
mostly transmitting connotations and the hierarchy of meanings.
Consider, for instance, the following example from "A
Midsummer Night's Dream":
... the fairest dame
That lived, that loved, that liked, that looked with cheer.
/Shakespeare/
The deviation is quantitative – it is highly improbable for a
succession of four attributive clauses so similar to one another with four
so similar verbs to appear in one sentence.

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An unpredictable accumulation of genitives occurring in a poem


by Hopkins is discussed by G. Leech in “A Linguistic Guide to English
Poetry” (1969, p. 32). It runs as follows:

Our hearts' charity's hearth's fire, our thoughts' chivalry's


throng's Lord
/Hopkins/

Here two adjacent half lines contain three genitives each,


whereas in practice one rarely uses more than two.
A qualitative deviation with a contrast for traditional and
situational nomination is present in every kind of trope: metaphor,
metonymy, periphrasis and so on. As this aspect is described in every
book on stylistics, we shall give only one example "King Lear:”

Men must endure


Their going hence, even as their coming hither
/Shakespeare/

Where the usual nomination for going hence and coming hither
would have been death and birth respectively.
A deviation may be also logical as in the following:

Those eyes the greenest of things blue


The bluest of things grey
/Swinburne/

Nevertheless, no text can deviate too far from the expectations


of its possible readers, otherwise it becomes unreadable. On the other
hand, deviation is necessary. A linguistic deviation, as G. Leech views
it, is a break of the normal process of decoding: it leaves a gap, as it

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were, in one's understanding of the text. The deviation can be rendered


significant and expressive if by an active effort of his imagination the
reader finds some deeper connection which compensates for the
superficial incompleteness.
A general theory of deviation and semi-marked structures is
of great importance for stylistics and poetics, because we must know
the mechanism which enables the reader in each case to find a
semantically acceptable interpretation. After a brief survey of
quantitative deviation based on unusual frequency distribution, we have
to pay attention to qualitative deviations, breaking some constraints of
the lexical, morphological, syntactic, phonological, graphic or register
character. In “ in Just - spring” e.e.cummings, cited above, well-known
for his use of many eccentric deviations such as introducing
irregularities in the typographical line, evoking psychological states by
syntactic jumbles and creating new words, evolves this peculiar manner
of expression in rendering the spring carefree joy of life felt by children
in spring:

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The роеm above represents an extreme case. More often we come


across semi-marked structures embedded in more or less usual context.

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M.Riffaterre's conception of context is probabilistic too, he


treats context as a linguistic pattern suddenly broken by an unpredic-
table element, he calls this a stylistic device. The main constituting
feature of a stylistic device is the opposition of two meanings for the
unit in question – the one in the norm (traditional) and the other in
context (situational). J.М. Skrebnev accordingly introduces the
expression "contrast between traditional and situational nomination –
meaning deviation".
Deviations vary greatly in both intensity and structure, yet no
text may deviate too far from the expectations of its possible readers.

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Assignments

Task 1

Think over the following points and discuss them in group:

1. The notion of norm and deviation in contemporary stylistics.


- the Prague School viewpoint
- the viewpoint of literary criticism
- the Russian Formalists viewpoint
- the viewpoint of modern scholars
2. The relevance of norm and deviation to Decoding Stylistics.
Norm and deviation in terms of rules, constraints and code.
3. Semi-marked structures.
4. The importance of deviation in a literary text.
5. Causes of unpredictability.
6. Norm. Primary norm; secondary norm. Its relative nature.
7. The problem of language variety, dialect, sociolect, lects,
register, functional style.
8. Code-switching.
9. Idiolect and success of communication.
10. Deviation and deviance. Types of deviation.

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Test Your Knowledge

Test 4

1. What term is used to denote a statistical concept, referring to what is


statistically average?
a) language
b) norm
c) deviation
d) idiolect
2. What is the distinctive feature of norm?
a) it is absolute
b) it is relative
c) it is formal
d) it is logical
3. What is the Prague School viewpoint on the concept of literary
language in terms of norm and deviation?
a) it is a register
b) it is a combination of norm and deviation
c) it is norm
d) it is deviation
4. What is the viewpoint of contemporary scholars on the concept of
literary language in terms of norm and deviation?
a) it is a primary norm
b) it is a primary deviation
c) it is a secondary norm
d) it is deviation

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5. What discourse is considered by literary criticism to be the most


creative of discourses, original in its ideas and inventive in its forms?
a) poetry
b) prose
c) drama
d) everyday speech

6. What helps in foregrounding and estranging poetic language and


meaning consciously and creatively against the background of non-
literary language?
a) norm of Standard English
b) devices of deviation
c) devices of deviation together with repetition
d) literary language

7. What does ‘non-literary language’ contain?


a) norm of Standard English
b) poetic deviations
c) metaphors
d) all the above mentioned

8. What is the norm of ordinary language?


a) it is composed of many different norms
b) it is universally acknowledged
c) it does not contain any norm
d) it is unchangeable

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9. Why is the problem of norm and deviation from norm the major
focus of interest in stylistics?
a) because all the cognitive information conveyed by a text
depends upon it
b) because much of the expressive affective or aesthetic
emphasis added to the cognitive information conveyed by a
text depends upon it
c) because the expressive affective or aesthetic emphasis
depends upon it
d) because all linguistic and extra-linguistic means depend
upon it
10. Which means are extra-linguistic means?
a) intonation
b) gestures
c) loudness of voice
d) all the above mentioned
11. What means does the author use to add emphasis to the
information conveyed?
a) intonation
b) various types of deviation
c) extra-linguistic means
d) deviation together with the norm of the text
12. When is deviation stylistically relevant?
a) when it is noticeable
b) when it prevents the information from noise
c) when it stresses something important in the meaning
d) when it is predictable

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13. What increases the informational value of a signal?


a) the degree of unpredictability
b) the degree of predictability
c) the degree of abstraction
d) the degree of simplicity
14. What term denotes a system of signs and rules of combining them
which is used to transmit the message through the channel?
a) signal
b) constraint
c) code
d) message
15. What disallows some combinations of signs?
a) rules
b) constraints
c) deviations
d) signals
16. What message is called redundant?
a) a highly predictable one
b) an unpredictable one
c) a highly informative one
d) a metaphorical one
17. What does the meaningful break of constraints result in?
a) in reclassification
b) in additional expressiveness
c) in both reclassification and additional expressiveness
d) in nonsense

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18. What is the norm? (several answers are possible)


a) a sort of very general grammar
b) a linguistic abstraction susceptible to simplification
c) the common core of all idiolects
d) a combination of the most frequent codograms
19. What term is used to denote a variety according to the user?
a) dialect
b) register
c) functional style
d) chronolect
20. What term is used to denote a variety of language used by different
age groups?
a) sociolect
b) agelect
c) genderlect
d) chronolect
21. What does the term “chronolect” suggest?
a) a variety defined by the place
b) a variety defined by the situation
c) a variety defined by the time
d) a variety defined by the users
22. What term is used to denote a variety according to the use?
a) dialect
b) register
c) sociolect
d) chronolect

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23. What does the term “code-switching” suggest?


a) a distinctive set of grammatical and lexical features
b) a strict correlation between language varieties
c) an American approach to language usage
d) a language shifting adopted by speakers between one
variety or dialect and another
24. Does regional dialect represent a norm?
a) no, it is deviation
b) yes, though a specific norm
c) no, it has marks of illiteracy
d) yes, a literary norm
25. Where is the norm of Standard English codified?
a) in the user’s mind
b) in dictionaries
c) in the history of the language
d) in the medium of communication
26. What norm lies in the speaker’s ability for judging about what is
appropriate in the given situation?
a) the norm of dialects
b) the norm of language varieties
c) the norm of functional styles
d) the norm of idiolects
27. What term is used to denote a code of each individual person?
a) individualect
b) genderlect
c) sociolect
d) idiolect

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28. What does the inability to adjust one's idiolect to that of the others
lead to?
a) narrow-mindedness and backwardness
b) mental defectiveness
c) psychological development
d) need to communicate
29. Why is deviation highly associated with poetic language?
a) because it is marked by rhyme and alliteration
b) because our expectations of the unusual in structure and
conceptualization are high
c) because it is either ungrammatical or ill-formed
d) because it is marked by topographical and punctuation
innovations
30. What kind of deviation measures the language of the text against
the norms outside it?
a) internal deviation
b) external deviation
c) textual deviation
d) contextual deviation
31. What kind of deviation measures the language of the text against
the norms set up by the text itself?
a) internal deviation
b) external deviation
c) textual deviation
d) expected deviation

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32. On what basis is the presence of deviation felt by the reader?


a) on the basis of background knowledge
b) on the basis of linguistic knowledge
c) on the basis of language expressiveness
d) on the basis of probabilistic prognosis
33. What kind of deviation is represented by a significant accumulation
of elements surpassing their average distribution?
a) qualitative deviation
b) quantitative deviation
c) accumulative deviation
d) distributive deviation
34. What kind of deviation does a metaphor present?
a) qualitative deviation
b) quantitative deviation
c) textual deviation
d) tropical deviation
35. In what case does a text become unreadable?
a) when it deviates from Standard English
b) when it deviates from certain register
c) when it deviates too far from the reader’s expectations
d) when it deviates from literary language

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5. The Theory of Foregrounding and its


Developments in Contemporary Stylistics

5.1. Introduction

According to the theories of Russian Formalism and the


theories of Prague School, literary works are special by virtue of the
fact that they foreground their own linguistic status, thus drawing
attention to how they say something rather than to what they say:
poetry ‘deviates’ from everyday speech and from prose by using metre,
surprising metaphors, alliteration, parallelism and other devices by
which its language draws attention to itself. Unusual prominence given
to one element of a text, relative to other less noticeable aspects got
the term ’foregrounding’. The concept of foregrounding is considered
to be one of the important influences on stylistics that have helped to
shape its development over the years.
A popular term in stylistics was introduced by Garvin (1964) to
translate the Prague School term of the 1930s, aktualisace, literally
actualization (which came to be used by some translator-critics as the
direct equivalent of the mentioned above Czech term) (Wales 2001).
The Prague School scholars believed, like the Russian formalists
before them, it was function of poetic language to surprise the reader
with a fresh and dynamic awareness of its linguistic medium, to de-
automatize what was normally taken for granted, to exploit language
aesthetically. Foregrounding is thus, as Katie Wales notes, the
‘throwing into relief’ of the linguistic sign against the background of the

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norms of ordinary language. So the regularized patterns of metre are


foregrounded against the natural rhythms of speech (Wales 2001:157).
The concept of foregrounding refers to one of the most durable
theoretical contributions to contemporary stylistics together with the
notion of the poetic function in language. These are some of the central
ideas of two interrelated movements in linguistics, known as Russian
Formalism and Prague School Structuralism.

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5.2. Russian Formalism’s Contribution


to the Theory of Foregrounding

Russian Formalism was one of the most important linguistic


and literary movements of the early twentieth century, but
comparatively unknown in the west until Todorov’s translation of some
of the important texts into French in the 1960s. As Katie Wales notes,
there were two main groups: the Moscow Linguistic Circle, founded
1915, and the St Petersburg group, Opoyaz, founded 1916 (Wales
2001:159). The most important figures are Viktor Shklovsky (de-
automatization; estrangement; fabula; plot);Vladimir Propp (function;
morphology of folk-tales); Roman Jakobson, Boris Tomashevsky (the
theory of thematics, motifs); Yuriy Tynyanov (the theory of parody;
syn-functionality, auto-functionality). One scholar, whose work literally
links the Formalists with the Prague School and western structural
linguistics and poetics, is Roman Jakobson (dominant; equivalence;
metaphor; poetic function; speech event), who moved from the
Moscow circle to the Prague group in 1920 and later emigrated to the
United States.
The cornerstone of their new and radical aesthetic is the notion
of ostranenie: a neologism created by V. Shklovsky nominalizing the
Russian adjective for ‘strange’ and prefixing it with a morpheme
denoting a process. This term is most frequently translated into English
as ‘defamiliarization’ or ‘making strange’, expressing, in Guy Cook’s
words, ‘the idea that the function of literature is to restore freshness to
perception which has become habitual and automated: to make things
strange, to make us see them anew’ (Cook 1994:131).

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The process of defamiliarization is given proof in the following


cognitive contemplation on poetic metaphor: ’Poets often write for the
express purpose of creating disturbing images, ones that result from
the mappings of image structures from widely disparate knowledge
domains’ (Cameron & Low 1999:32). The opening lines from the
surrealist poet Andre Breton’s Free Union (Breton 1931/1974) illustrate
image metaphors and their capacity to reflect the mapping of mental
images from one source of knowledge onto the mental images from
another very clearly:

My wife whose hair is brush fire


Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of
the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a
child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows’.

These novel image mappings, about hair, thoughts, mouths


and teeth, in British cognitive linguists’ view, open up new possibilities
for further explorations of mappings between different knowledge
domains. The scholars stress that ‘the power of poetic metaphor comes

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from the poet’s ability to create many such novel, one-shot kind of
mappings between different mental images’ (Cameron & Low 1999:
32). Their argument, in our opinion, describes the nature of the
expectations which are overturned and seems analogous to R. Carter’s
idea that “literary language will always be patterned in some way and
will involve a creative play with these patterns’ (Carter 1997:169).
G. Cook notes that literature is characteristic of a tendency to
deviate from expectation and stresses the necessity to define the
linguistic constituency of literature, ‘for talk of deviation must remain
impressionistic and intuitive if it cannot describe the plain backcloth of
normality against which the brighter stitches of deviation stand out’
(Cook 1994: 129-130).
The Russian formalists, as R. Carter stresses, wanted to set up
a science, a poetics of literature which sought to define the literariness
of literature. That is, they sought to isolate by rigorous scientific means
the specifically literary forms and properties of texts (Carter 1997: 124).
Although the term formalist, in G. Cook’s view, may be generally
applied in literary theory to any who seek to study the literary text as an
autonomous object divorced from the specific circumstances of its
creation and creator, and from the historical and social context of its
reception, the term is most generally associated with the ‘Russian
formalists’ (Cook 1994: 130).
R. Carter points out that there is some similarity between the
formalist theory of defamiliarization and principles of literary criticism
worked out by I.A. Richards in the 1920s (Richards 1925; 1929).The
Russian formalists’ definitions were predicted on a division between
poetic and practical language and to this extent were paralleled by

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I. A. Richards’s opposition between scientific and poetic discourse


(Carter 1997:124).
Since there is no exclusively literary content, the Russian
formalists argued, poetics should evince a concern with the how rather
than the what. The formalist theory of defamiliarization, G. Cook
stresses (Cook 1994: 132), ‘was not conceived as taking place at the
level of content, as it would be in a theory regarding literary language
as a transparent or reflective medium through which ‘reality’ may be
perceived. It is, rather, at the level of form, that ‘the glass armour of the
familiar’ is shattered’. Thus, R. Carter, after consideration of the history
of literary language in the twentieth century, concludes that the Russian
formalists’ influence has been pervasive in the export of Russian
formalism into American New Criticism, and with its subsequent import
into practical criticism in Britain (Carter 1997:124).
G. Cook in his book “Discourse and Literature: The interplay of
Form and Mind” (Cook 1994) cited above focuses specifically on the
Russian formalists’ radical new view of ‘form conceived as content’.
The scholar stresses that Shklovsky unequivocally rejected the reigning
critical view that ‘new form comes about to express new content’,
replacing it with the assertion that ‘new form comes about not in order
to express new content but in order to replace an old form that has
already lost its artistic viability’ (Shklovsky, quoted by Eikhenbaum
[1926] 1978: 29). With this new view of form, in G. Cook’s words, ‘the
centre of critical attention shifted away from the relationship of the
literary text with the world or with its creator, and towards internal
formal relationships, either within one literary work or between literary
works’(Cook 1994: 132).

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Thus, the early formalists gave special attention to the linguistic


constituents of the literary medium – language – and drew on the new
science of linguistics for their theoretical and descriptive apparatus.
Their main theoretical position, in Carter’s opinion, was that literary
language is deviant language. It is a theory which has had considerable
influence (Carter 1997:124).
Similarly, the failures and weaknesses of the formalists’ approach
are discussed on the basis of two interdependent and mutually defining
categories, ‘norm and ‘deviation’ or ‘normality’ and ‘deviance’. The formalist
concept of defamiliarization, and the various devices which realize it,
concern departure from expectation and constitute a theory of literature as
deviation from a norm. Yet, as Guy Cook notes, it fails to identify the norm
by which that deviation is defined. The absence of a linguistic theory, in the
author’s view, accounts for the creativity of the formalists’ work on text
structure and the sparseness of their work on language (with the exception
of prosody) (Cook 1994:138).
M. Bakhtin, in his critiques of formalism, wrote that it is not
possible to isolate language from its senders and receivers. Language
is, in the author’s words, ‘like an electric spark’ which can only exist
between two terminals (Bakhtin 1973:103). By the end of the 1920s the
formalists were scattered and silenced. M. Bakhtin was arrested, exiled,
and forced into relative obscurity. Jacobson turned his attention to the
formal linguistic aspects of literature. The work which the Russian
formalists and M. Bakhtin had begun on the deviant discoursal features
of literature thus lay dormant, buried under an exclusive attention to the
formal system of language, until the revival of interest in discourse in
the 1970s (Crystal & Davy 1969; Foucault 1972; Coulthard 1977).

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‘Scientific’ approaches to literature, in Cook’s view, ‘had split


into two directions: the rigorous attention to sub-sentential form by R.
Jakobson and stylistics, and the search for conformities to structural
patterns – rather than deviations from them – of the structuralists’
(Cook 1994: 139). Jakobson in a famous paper (Jacobson 1960)
articulated a theory of poetic language which stressed the self-
referentiality of poetic language. In his account, literariness results
when language draws attention to its own status as a sign and when as
a result there is a focus on the message for its own sake.
As Guy Cook points out, for all their limitations, their over-
emphases and under-emphases, the contribution of formalism to
literary theory and discourse analysis remains immense. The scholar
stresses a developing tradition which runs from Russian Formalism,
through structuralism and Jakobsonian functionalism, to stylistics,
reader-response, and reception theory (Cook 1994: 130; 156).

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5.3. The Concept of Foregrounding


in the Theory of Prague School Linguists

The Prague School, properly the Prague Linguistic Circle, like


Russian Formalism, was one of the most important linguistic and
literary movements of the early twentieth century. Its work, as Katie
Wales stresses (Wales 2001), still continues to this day (see, e.g.,
functional sentence perspective; theme and rheme). Greatly influenced
by the structuralism of Saussure, the Prague linguists made significant
contributions to phonetics, phonology and semantics through their
ideas on components or ‘distinctive features’. Yet the Prague School
developed Saussure’s ideas of langue and parole along essentially
functionalist lines: i.e. what shape the language system are the
functions it must perform. So Jakobson’s model of the speech event is
based on their ideas. Functionalism is the basis of their study of literary
language and its aesthetic qualities, with prime importance to the poetic
function (Wales 2001: 314-315).
Like Russian Formalism they were extremely interested in the
related art forms of film and painting. In visual art the term ‘foreground’
denotes the elements that achieve salience by standing out in relief
against a background. In Formalist literary theory, it is argued that in
texts foregrounded elements achieve salience through deviation from a
linguistic norm (Havranek 1932; Mukarovsky 1970). Thus, in Culpeper’s
review of the concept of foregrounding in the theory of Prague School
linguists, ‘foregrounding involves intentional divergence from what
usually happens’ (Culpeper 2001:129). The characteristics of such
foregrounded elements includes ‘unexpectedness, unusualness, and

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uniqueness’ (Mukarovsky 1970:53-54). The idea of literary language as


language which can result in renewal or in new ways of seeing the
familiar is largely focused in contemporary stylistics (Carter 1997;
Cameron & Low 1999; Culpeper 2001; Pope 2001; Toolan 2004;
Simpson 2000; 2006).
Only gradually did the ideas of the Prague linguists become
known in the west: partly through Roman Jakobson, and also through
the translations of their work into English in the 1960s (Garvin 1964;
Vachek 1964). Building on the ideas of the Russian Formalists, the
Prague School developed the influential notions in ‘Stylistics of
foregrounding and (de-) automatization’: the characteristic function of
poetic language as ‘highlighting and estranging language and meaning
consciously and creatively by means of deviation or patterns of
parallelism against the background of non-literary language’ (Wales
2001:315). The notion of poetic language seen as the most creative of
discourses, original in its ideas and inventive in its forms, is also proved
in the way Dennis Freeborn describes the term ‘verse’ in his book
‘Style’ (Freeborn 1996):
“Verse has been called a heightened form of ordinary
language, in the sense that it does nothing that is not done in ordinary
speech, but what it does is foregrounded and focused on for its own
sake. So natural rhythms are made regular, and ‘sound effects’ like
alliteration, assonance and rhyme, which occur in ordinary language
but usually in a random way, are made a deliberate part of the sound’
(Freeborn 1996:152).
The question of the literariness (R. Jakobson) of literature has
preoccupied many schools of thought. The Russian formalists and

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Prague school linguists stressed, that certainly literature, especially


poetry, has commonly foregrounded language and meaning
consciously and creatively in a way that overrides a simple informative
function. It is to these movements in linguistics in the early decades
of the twentieth century that we owe much of the theory of poetic
language that has proved influential on poetics and stylistics.
Their critical focus on the formal features of poetry arises out of
a belief that this, in fact, is what poetry is ‘about’: that poetic language is
self-referential and perceptible in a way that non-literary language is
not. The meaning of a poem, in these movements’ views, comes as
much from the form as from the content, which in any case is created
within the poem. This world autonomy, and lack of ‘proper’ speech act
relevance has been commented on by many scholars (Bakhtin 1973;
van Peer 1986; Cook 1994; Short 1996; Carter 1997; Simpson 2006);
yet it must not be overstressed.
R. Carter notes that the emphasis on patterning and on self-
referential and representational nature of literary discourse is valuable;
but it should be pointed out that ‘(1) Jakobson’s criteria work rather
better in respect of poetry than of prose; (2) he supplied no clear criteria
for determining the degrees of poeticality or ‘literariness’ in his
examples’. Jakobson, in Carter’s view, does not seem to want to
answer his own question as to what exactly makes some messages
more unequivocal examples of works of art than others (see also
Waugh 1980); (3) Jacobson stresses too much the production of
effects, neglecting in the process the recognition and reception of such
effects. The reader or receiver of the message and his or her
sociolinguistic position tend to get left out of account (Carter 1997:126).

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Contemporary stylisticians emphasize the activity of the reader


in the interpretation of foregrounded features of a text and the necessity
of his or her general and intertextual knowledge. What is or is not
foregrounded may well be difficult to establish in some contexts, and an
element of subjectivity of response seems inevitable to M. Short and W.
van Peer (van Peer 1986; Short 1996). These scholars place emphasis
on the perceptual prominence of foregrounded features, their existence
signalled by the reader’s attention.
Similarly, R.A. Zwaan (Zwaan 1996) argues that literary texts can
also draw attention to the textbase level by not presenting information in a
coherent and unambiguous manner. Zwaan’s argument for the role of
fictional characterization, in Culpeper’s view, seems relevant and analogous
to the ideas of foregrounding theory (Culpeper 2002). J. Culpeper points out
that with regard to characterization, a writer can present incoherent,
ambiguous or unusual information about character in order to prevent the
reader from any easy integration of schematic and textual information. This,
in Culpeper’s words, ‘forces the reader to rely more heavily on the
information in the textbase. Of course, this kind of “non-automatic”
processing can be related to foregrounding theory’ (Culpeper 2002: 267).
J. Culpeper’s approach is reflected in P.Stockwell’s book
(Stockwell 2002), in which he claims that foregrounded elements are
not only psychologically more striking but are also regarded as more
important in relation to the overall interpretation:
‘Certain aspects of literary texts are commonly seen as being
more important or salient than others. Though this is partly a subjective
matter, it is also largely a matter of the cues that the text provides. For
example, the opening to Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield
contains masses of information of the circumstances of the main
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character’s birth, including what became of his infant shawl, how much
it cost and who bought it. All of this information remains in the
background by never being mentioned again, while the central plot-
advancing elements of Copperfield’s life are foregrounded by several
devices: placed as a topic in the chapter heading (‘I am born’), and
repeated several times throughout the passage’ (Stockwell 2002: 14).
Consequently, one of the main reasons for the success of the
concept of foregrounding, in contemporary stylisticians’ view, lies in its
relevance to the study of the process of textual interpretation. The
scholars draw attention to the fact that more interpretative effort is
focused on foregrounded elements, in an attempt to rationalize their
abnormality, than on backgrounded elements (Leech 1969; 1981; 1985;
Leech and Short 1981). G.N. Leech argues that foregrounding invites
an act of imaginative interpretation by the reader. When an abnormality
comes to our attention, we try to make sense of it. We use our
imaginations, consciously or unconsciously, in order to work out why
this abnormality exists (Leech 1985:47).
Scholars of today focus their thought and consideration on the
informational value of literary works (including both text-intrinsic and
text- extrinsic features) and acquired literary competence of a reader. In
their view, many poets from the Anglo-Saxon clerics to W. Blake and
W. Owen have seen their work as fulfilling an important social or
ethical function. What Y. Lotman aptly calls the ‘semantic saturation’ of
a poem (Lotman 1971) comes as much from the information of the
different linguistic levels as also from its intertextual and intersubjective
relations with other texts and (social and cultural) knowledge at large
(Cook 1994; Carter 1997; Wales 2001; Stockwell 2002; Simpson 2003).

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5.4. Literature, Literariness and Foregrounding

Many of the central ideas of two movements in linguistics


mentioned above find their reflexes in contemporary stylistics. The
concept of foregrounding is in the focus of some excellent books and
articles on stylistics and its developments (Leech 1965; Арнольд 1974,
1999; Leech, Short 1981; van Peer 1986, 1993; Cook 1994; Short
1996; 1996; Carter 1997; Culpeper 2001; Simpson 2006). Russian and
western stylisticians have made advances in solidifying the foundations
of the concept of foregrounding and developing it.
Jonathan Culpeper, examining some of the basic ideas in
foregrounding theory, states that the theory of foregrounding has been
a keystone in stylistics and literary theory for the last 30 years. He
acknowledges that though rooted in Russian Formalism and the work of
the Prague School, its main development came about in the 1960s and
70s, notably through Jakobson and Leech. J. Culpeper points out that
foregrounding ‘has been seen as a notion that can help explain the
nature of ‘literariness’, and also guide the interpretation of literary texts’
(Culpeper 2001:129).
J. Culpeper’s notion of foregrounding seems to be analogous to
P. Stockwell’s observation on it (Stockwell 2002). Both involve the idea
of the relationship between literariness and foregrounding. Of the two
notions, the latter is determined to be a means of identifying the former:
‘More generally, P. Stockwell notes, the literary innovations and
creative expression can be seen as foregrounding against the
background of everyday non-literary language. In this view, one of the
main functions of literature is to defamiliarise the subject-matter, to

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estrange the reader from aspects of the world in order to present the
world in a creative and newly figured way. This can even be seen as a
means of identifying literariness, though of course this is a slippery
notion since many non-literary uses of language contain creative and
striking elements too (Stockwell 2002: 14).
Consequently, foregrounding can be seen as a means of
finding out literariness, explaining its nature and revealing its ability to
estrange the reader from the facets of the external world on purpose to
treat it in a new imaginative and inventive way. However, the question
of the literariness of literature (R. Jakobson) and the impossibility of
defining literary language in any simple way deal with many problems
arising from the contemporary demand for studying literature and its
language in relation to other discourses, in terms of a continuum rather
than a polarity. Literary language can be different and yet not different
from ‘ordinary’ or non-literary language; there is, as Katie Wales notes,
as it were, a ‘prototype’ of literary language, and also numerous
variants. But it is the impossibility of defining it in any simple way that is
its most defining feature (Wales 2001: 238). Similarly, in Carter’s view,
literature is subject to constant change, it is not universally the same
everywhere and is a category of text eminently negotiable. Definitions
of literary language are part of the same process (Carter 1997: 123).
The linguistic constituency of a prototype of literary language, in our
opinion, can be provided with the following contemplation on the
features of literary language by Geoffrey Hartmann:
‘Is not literary language the name we give to a diction whose
frame of reference is such that words stand out as words (even as
sounds) rather than being, at once assailable meanings? The meaning

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of words is not unimportant, of course; it is deviation from normal use


that suggests something is wrong with speaker or hearer, with the
source or the receiver. For instance, two persons (voices) may be trying
to get through at the same time; or perhaps we have come in at the
wrong point, and cannot follow. To call a text literary is to trust it will
make sense eventually, even though its quality of reference may be
complex, disturbed, unclear. It is a way of ‘saving the phenomena’ of
words that are out of the ordinary or bordering the nonsensical – that
have no stabilized reference’ (Hartmann 1981: 31).
The study of literariness, its nature and language is now in the
forefront of research in a number of disciplines. Clearly, discussion of
literary language cannot take place with reference only to text-intrinsic
features. Literary language, in our view of the notion, has to be defined
with reference to many branches of linguistics, stylistics and sub-
disciplines where stylistic methods are enriched and enabled by
theories of discourse, culture and society as ‘literature exists at many
different levels for different people in different communities’ (Carter
1997: 169). Recognition of literariness is seen as one of the most
fundamental components in literary competence. For this reason, we
consider that the study of the relationship between literariness and
foregrounding helps the scholars explain the notion of literariness and
guide the interpretation of literary texts.
Undoubtedly, the idea of literary language as language which
can result in renewal or in new ways of seeing the familiar is closely
connected with the necessity to supply clear criteria for determining the
degrees of literariness and its linguistic constituency since, in the view
of stylisticians, language and literature are separate systems or

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phenomena, although literature is made from language which is its


primary medium and is, therefore, of considerable significance in our
reading of literature (Carter 1997:171; Simpson 2006: 3).
Stylistics is known to be a method of textual interpretation in
which primacy of place is assigned to language. The reason why
language is so important to stylisticians is because the various forms,
patterns and levels that constitute linguistic structure are an important
index of the function of the text. The text’s functional significance as
discourse acts in turn as a gateway to its interpretation. The latter
approach is provided by P. Simpson (Simpson 2006) in which he also
claims that ‘while linguistic features do not of themselves constitute a
text’s ‘meaning’, an account of linguistic features nonetheless serves to
ground a stylistic interpretation and to help explain why, for the analyst,
certain types of meaning are possible (Simpson 2006: 2).
The preferred object of study in stylistics is literature, whether
that be institutionally sanctioned ‘Literature’ as high art or more popular
‘noncanonical’ forms of writing. R. Carter focuses specifically on
polysemantic chatacter of the notion of literature in the field of
contemporary stylistics. In one sense, R. Carter notes, literary language
is the language of literature; it is found in literary texts and is, for many
literary critics, an unproblematic category. Such a position cannot,
however, be as unnegotiable as it seems to be, if only because the
term ‘literature’ itself is subject to constant change. In the history of
English ‘literature’, Carter stresses, literature has meant different things
at different times: from elevated treatment of dignified subjects (fifteenth
century) to simply writing in the broadest sense of the word (e.g.
diaries, travelogues, historical and biographical accounts: eighteenth

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century) to the sense of creative, highly imaginative literature (with a


hieratic upper-case ‘L’) appropriated under the influence of romantic
theories of literature by Matthew Arnold and F.R. Leavis in the last one
hundred years (Carter 1997: 123).
The traditional connection between stylistics and literature, as
P. Simpson notes, brings with it two important caveats (Simpson
2006:3). The first is shared by many contemporary scholars and deals
with the fact that creativity and innovation in language use should not
be seen as the exclusive preserve of literary writing. Many forms of
discourse (advertising, journalism, popular music – even casual
conversation) often display a high degree of stylistic dexterity, such that
it would be wrong to view dexterity in language use as exclusive to
canonical literature (Carter 1997; Wales 2001; Culpeper 2001; Pope
2001; Stockwell 2002; Simpson 2006).
The second caveat is that the techniques of stylistic analysis
are as much about deriving insights about linguistic structure and
function as they are about understanding literary texts. Thus, the
question ‘What can stylistics tell us about literature?’ is always
paralleled by an equally important question ‘What can stylistics tell us
about language?’ (Simpson 2006:3).
The purview of modern language and linguistics determine the
methods of contemporary stylistics. It is the full gamut of the system of
the language that makes all aspects of a writer’s craft relevant in
stylistic analysis. P. Simpson, examining the purpose of contemporary
stylistics and the prominence it enjoys in modern scholarship, states:
“Why should we do stylistics? To do stylistics is to explore language,
and, more specifically, to explore creativity in language use. Doing

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stylistics thereby enriches our ways of thinking about language and, as


observed, exploring language offers a substantial purchase on our
understanding of (literary) texts” (Simpson 2006: 3).
It has been reiterated above that the opposition of literary to
non-literary language is seen as both inaccurate and inadequate to
contemporary stylistics since many non-literary uses of language
contain creative and striking elements. Increasingly, empirically based,
investigative studies of language continue to reveal the pervasiveness
of literariness in everyday discourse. These studies parallel the kind of
explorations undertaken by Carter, McCarthy and other scholars (see
Carter 1997). The data collected in relation to the problem mentioned
above are treated in both sociolinguistic and cognitive view of language
(Cameron & Low 1999). The notion of literary language as a yes/no
category, in Carter’s view, should be replaced by one which sees
literary language as a continuum, a cline of literariness in language use
with some uses of language being marked as more literary than others
(Carter 1997: 208).
Literary language is considered to be different from other
language uses nowadays in that it functions differently. Some criteria
for specifying literariness in language are proposed (Carter 1997:128-
136). These criteria, although based on those proposed earlier by
Carter and Nash, are extended and modified in a number of ways.
Some of the differences of the literary language are demarcated with
reference to criteria such as: medium dependence, re-registration;
semantic density produced by interaction of linguistic levels; displaced
interaction; polysemy; discourse patterning. What is prototypically
literary, Carter stresses, will be a text which meets most of the above

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criteria; a non-literary text will meet none or few of these criteria; that is,
it will be monosemic, medium-dependent, project a direct interaction,
contain no re-registration and so on. Reference to the criteria will
enable us to determine what is prototypical in conventional literary
language use, as far as it is understood in its standard, modern
Western conception; in other words, the criteria will assist in
determining degrees of literariness and provide a systemic basis for
saying one text is more or less ‘literary’ than another. The terms
‘literary’ and ‘non – literary’, as Carter notes, might be replaced by the
more neutral terms text and discourse (Carter 1997: 128).
We will summarise the main criteria for specifying literariness
in language in brief form, rather than offer any kind of detailed
description of them:
Medium dependence. The notion of medium dependence
means that the more literary a text the less it will be dependent for its
reading on another medium or media. A text may be dependent on a code
or key to abbreviations used and on reference to a map or illustrations. To
a lesser extent a text could be said to be medium-dependent in that it is or
is likely to be accompanied by a photograph or by some means of pictorial
supplement. By contrast, a text can be said to be dependent only on itself
for its ‘reading’. It generates a world of internal reference and relies only
on its own capacity to project. This is not to suggest that it cannot be
determined by external political or social or biographical influences. No
text can be so entirely autonomous that it refers only to itself nor so rich
that a reader’s own experience something it refers to cannot extend the
world it creates. A text is said to be sovereign as it requires no necessary
supplementation (Carter 1997: 129).

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Re-registration. The notion of re-registration means that no


single word or stylistic feature or register will be barred from
admission to a literary context. Registers such as legal language or
the language of instructions are recognized by the neat fit between
language form and specific function; but any language at all can be
deployed to literary effect by the process of re-registration. For
example, Auden makes use of bureaucratic registers in his poem
‘The Unknown Citizen’; wide use of journalistic and historical
discourse styles is made in such novels as Salman Rushdie’s
Midnight’s Children (1981) and Shame (1983) and in numerous
novels by Norman Mailer. Re-registration recognizes that the full,
unrestricted resources of the language are open to exploitation for
literary ends. For example, the opening to Anthony Burgess’s novel
Time for a Tiger exploits the language more normally connected with
travel brochure and geography book discourse but redeploys or re-
registers it for subtle literary purposes. Here the guidebook style is
regularly subverted, an ironic undercutting serving to suggest that the
conventional geographical or historical presentation of the state is
comically inappropriate to a world which is much more
heterogeneous and resistant to external ordering or classification
(Carter 1997: 129-132).
Interaction of levels: semantic density. This is one of the
most important of defining criteria. The notion here is that a text that is
perceived as resulting from the additive interaction of several
superimposed codes and levels is recognized as more literary than a
text where there are fewer levels at work or where they are present but
do not interact as densely. An interactive patterning of different
linguistic levels is foregrounded.

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It is clear that where different levels of language multiply


interact there is a potential reinforcement of meaning. More than one
possible meaning is thereby represented or symbolized although any
activation of meanings must be dependent on a reader whose literary
competence permits ‘reasonable’ correlation of linguistic forms and
semantic functions. Interaction of levels is one aspect of a cline of
relative ‘literariness’ and enables us to begin to talk about one text
being more or less literary that another. If there are different linguistic
levels at work, we have a degree of semantic density which is different
from that in the other texts and which results from an interactive
patterning at the levels of syntax, lexis, phonology and discourse. The
most prominent of these patterns is contrast (on different levels). This
interaction of levels, particularly in the form of contrast, serves to
symbolize or represent the unstated content of the passage, for
example (Carter 1997: 133-134).
Polysemy. The monosemy of the text is closely connected with
the need to convey clear, retrievable and unambiguous information.
There is no indication that the text should be read in more than one
way. One characteristic of the polysemic text is then that its lexical
items do not stop automatically at their first interpretant; denotations are
always potentially available for transformation into connotation,
contents are never received for their own sake but rather as a sign for
something else. Polysemy is a regular feature of advertisements
(Carter 1997: 134).
Displaced interaction. A displaced interaction in a text deals
with the more indirect or displaced speech acts when a reader is asked
to perform no particular action except that of a kind of mental

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accompaniment to the text in the course of which he or she interprets or


negotiates what the message means. The meaning may change on
rereading of course. A displaced interaction in a text allows meanings
to emerge indirectly and obliquely. What we conventionally regard as
‘literary’ is likely to be a text in which the context-based interaction
between author and reader is more deeply embedded or displaced
(Carter 1997: 134).
Discourse patterning. Criteria for literariness discussed so far
are focused mostly on effects at sentence level. At the supra-sentential
level of discourse, effects can be located which can help us further to
differentiate degrees of literariness. The discourse patterning should
reinforce content (Carter 1997: 135).
We will return to the criteria in more detail when discussing
examples of the types of foregrounding.

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5.5. Paradigmatic
and Syntagmatic Foregrounding

Stylistics, in Paul Simpson’s view of the notion, (Simpson 2006)


is interested in language as a function of texts in context. The scholar
uses modern critical theory to enlarge our understanding of stylistics
itself and to suggest how a text is constructed in language and
functions as discourse. The author argues the case for employing the
concept of contemporary stylistics looking towards language as
discourse: that is, towards a text’s status as discourse, a writer’s
deployment of discourse strategies and towards the way a text ‘means’
as a function of language in context. Language, Simpson notes, in its
broadest conceptualization is not a disorganized mass of sounds and
symbols, but is instead an intricate web of levels, layers and links.
Thus, an utterance or a piece of text is organized through several
distinct levels of language which can be identified and teased out in the
stylistic analysis of text, which in turn makes the analysis itself more
organized and principled, more in keeping so to speak with the purpose
of stylistics (Simpson 2006:3-5).
Moreover, what is absolutely central to our understanding of
language (and style) is, in the scholar’s view, that these levels are
interconnected: they interpenetrate and depend upon one another, and
they represent multiple and simultaneous linguistic operations in the
planning and production of an utterance. The interconnectedness of the
levels and layers also means there is no necessarily ‘natural’ starting
point in a stylistic analysis, so we need to be circumspect about those
aspects of language upon which we choose to concentrate. Interaction

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between levels is important: one level may complement, parallel or


even collide with another level. In addition, we should remember that
stylistics acknowledges that utterances (literary or non-literary) are
produced, in Simpson’s words, “in a time, a place, and in a cultural and
cognitive context”. These ‘extra-linguistic’ parameters are inextricably
tied up with the way a text ‘means’. Paul Simpson argues that ‘the more
complete and context-sensitive the description of language, the fuller
the stylistic analysis that accrues’ (Simpson 2006: 3-9).
This approach to the criteria of the contemporary stylistic
analysis is also reflected in Peter Stockwell’s view on linguistic features
of foregrounding and their relationship with deviance, one of the
important elements in literariness, or at least in literary value. Stockwell
is concerned with the broad resources that different levels of language
offer for the creation of stylistic texture expressing these phenomena:
‘Foregrounding within the text can be achieved by a variety of
devices, such as repetition, unusual naming, innovative descriptions,
creative syntactic ordering, puns, rhyme, alliteration, metrical emphasis,
the use of creative metaphor, and so on. All of these can be seen as
deviations from the expected or ordinary use of language that draw
attention to an element, foregrounding it against the relief of the rest of
the features of the text (Stockwell 2002: 14). Thus, foregrounding
requires for its production and delivery the assembly of a complex array
of linguistic components belonging to the major levels of language.
Foregrounding, in Simpson’s notion of the concept, refers to a
form of textual patterning which is motivated specifically for literary-
aesthetic purposes. It is meant to be a technique for ‘making strange’ in
language, or to extrapolate from Shklovsky’s term ostranenie, a method

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of ‘defamiliarisation’ in textual composition. Capable of working at any


level of the language, foregrounding typically involves a stylistic
distortion of some sort, either through an aspect of the text which
deviates from a linguistic norm or, alternatively, where an aspect of the
text is brought to the fore through repetition or parallelism. That means,
in Simpson’s words, that foregrounding as an important textual strategy
comes in two main guises: foregrounding as ‘deviation from a norm’
and foregrounding as ‘more of the same’ (Simpson 2006:50).
Synthesising more formally some of the observations made
above, we must state that foregrounding is achieved by a variety of
means, which have been largely grouped under two main types:
deviation and repetition; or paradigmatic and syntagmatic
foregrounding, in terms of G.N.Leech (Leech 1965). Leech focuses
specifically on the two sides of foregrounding: just as you can have
deviation through irregularity, so you can also have deviation through
regularity. We should remember that deviations are violations of
linguistic norms: grammatical or semantic, as was shown in the
previous part of this book titled “Norm and Deviation from Norm in
Decoding Stylistics”. In one sense repetition is supposed to be a kind of
deviation, as the entry for that term reveals: it violates the normal rules
of usage by overfrequency (Leech 1966; Jakobson 1966; Hankiss
1971; Арнольд 1974; Мальцев 1980; Freeborn 1996; Wales 2001).
Repetitive patterns (of phoneme, morpheme, word, clause,
sentence, for example) are superimposed on the background of the
expectations of normal usage, and so strike the reader’s attention as
unusual. Alliteration, assonance, parallelism, and many figures of
speech or schemes involving repetition of lexical items are thus

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commonly exploited in poetic language. For R. Jakobson, patterns of


repetition, on all levels of sound, syntax, lexis and meaning, are the
most important feature of poetic language, in many languages if not all.
In his review of parallelism as a type of deviation, Jakobson argued that
this patterning of equivalences in the syntagmatic chain is the essence
of poetic language (Jakobson 1960: 358).
Our tolerance of deviation is very high in poetry. Not that
creative language, as K. Wales notes, is confined solely to poetry; but
in poetic discourse unusual words and structures, and phrases rich in
connotations, seem most heavily concentrated. An obvious example is
poetic metre, which can be seen as foregrounded against the natural
rhythm of speech, regularized into repetitive patterns. It is metre which
distinguishes poetry most obviously from prose (Wales 2001:303-304).
Similarly, Dennis Freeborn stresses that ‘once you have discovered
what the metre is, then you ‘fit’ the words to the pattern in a way which
is different from the natural rhythms of ordinary speech – ‘heightening’
these rhythms. The line of verse is also a rhythmical unit, and we tend
to hear lines in even stress patterns, so that a line of five syllable beats
(a very common metre in English verse) will have an additional sixth
‘silent beat’ (Freeborn 1996:152):

December and the closing of the year ~’

Both rhyme and rhythm derive from the same Greek word
rhuthmos ‘flow’. In phonetics and prosody, K. Wales notes, rhythm is
generally described as the perceptual pattern of accented or stressed
and unaccented or unstressed syllables recurring at roughly equal
intervals; in verse the regularity is heightened to produce metrical
patterns (Wales 2001:348).

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Consider in this respect the following example from ‘Cities and


Thrones and Powers’ by Rudyard Kipling providing ‘non-thumping’
rhythm. The poem, quoted by D. Freeborn (Freeborn 1996: 172), is in a
falling triple rhythm. Each pair of lines, 3+2, forms a metrical unit of 5
beats. A falling triple rhythm does not ‘thump’. Freeborn focuses
specifically on the fact that the rhythmic movement depends upon how
the beats are distributed within and across the lines of the verse, and
equally upon the subject matter, which prepares a particular mood for
the reading:

Cities and Thrones and Powers


Stand in Time’s eye,
Almost as long as flowers,
Which daily die:
But, as new buds put forth
To glad new men,
Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth
The Cities rise again…
/Kipling, quoted by Freeborn 1996: 172/

As K. Wales points out (Wales 2001), pronounced regularity of


rhythm is also found in many literary prose works, and was much
cultivated along with the syntactic regularity of parallelism and
antithesis by eighteenth-century essayists like Johnson. A rhythmical
prose very close to verse was also cultivated in the Anglo-Saxon period
by homilists. Rhythm, the scholar notes, is sometimes foregrounded for
expressive or iconic effects by novelists: so Dickens suggests the
regularity of movement and sound of a speeding train in Dombey
and Son:

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Through the hollow, on the height, by the heath, by the orchard, by


the park, by the garden, over the canal, across the river, where the sheep
are feeding, where the mill is going, where the barge is floating, where the
dead are lying, where the factory is smoking, where the stream is running…
/Dickens, quoted by Wales 2001: 348/

Throughout Paul Simpson’s overview of the concept of


foregrounding the main emphasis is made on the way the resources of
the language system are deployed (Simpson 2006). The scholar
focuses in particular on the idea of salience motivated by literary
considerations. He argues that whether the foregrounded pattern
deviates from a norm, or whether it replicates a pattern through
parallelism, the point of foregrounding as a stylistic strategy is that it
should acquire salience in the act of drawing attention to itself. This
salience motivated purely by literary considerations ‘constitutes an
important textual strategy for the development of images, themes and
characters, and for stimulating both effect and affect in a text’s
interpretation’. One of P. Simpson’s main conclusions is that ‘if a
particular textual pattern is not motivated for artistic purposes, then it is
not foregrounding’ (Simpson 2006: 50).
We should note that patterns of sound in language can be
found not only in verse and poetry, but also in everyday uses of
language. They are exploited in advertising, in public speaking, perhaps
especially in political oratory. Patterning, as was shown above, is often
found in the language of prose as kind of literary writing. In addition, K.
Wales notes (Wales 2001: 348) that in literary criticism the term rhythm
has sometimes been used rather loosely and vaguely following the
(1927) work of Forster on the novel, to refer to patterns of repetition

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which apply to the text as a whole, and so give it its characteristic


texture and structure, comparable to the overall ‘rhythm’ of a piece of
music. In contrast to that view of the notion of rhythm, P. Simpson
points out that a writer’s craft ‘involves the constant monitoring and
(re)appraisal of the stylistic affects created by patterns in both
foreground and in the background’ (Simpson 2006:50).
A clear and convincing example of foregrounding based on
patterning in the language of prose is provided by a famous scene from
chapter 51 in The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) by Charles Dickens which
portrays the death of Little Nell, the idealized heroine of the story. The
adjective little, in D. Freeborn’s view, had important connotations for
Charles Dickens, who uses the word frequently to describe other
characters like, for example, Ruth Pinch in Martin Chuzzlewit and Paul
Dombey in Dombey and Son (Freeborn 1996:183).
Charles Dickens’s many famous books describe life in Victorian
England and show how hard it was, especially for the poor and for
children. It has often been pointed out in the literary studies of
Dickens’s novels that one of his styles, expressing tragic or pathetic
feeling, tends to fall into the rhythms of verse, and the scene of the
death of Little Nell illustrates this very clearly.
Dennis Freeborn stresses, that reading any Dickens novel, you
find his style changing with the scene he is describing, and the feelings
he is expressing, so that we have to speak of Dickens’s styles, in the
plural (Freeborn 1996:183-196). Equally, Paul Simpson (Simpson
2000:66-67) points out that the novel Hard Times (1854) by Charles
Dickens can be a clear example of style variation which occurs
according to the author’s point of view and its modal grammar.

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Most obviously, stylistic features are basically features of


language, so style in one sense is synonymous with language. Style of
a literary work, as K. Wales notes (Wales 2001: 371), can be seen as
systemic variations in linguistic features common to particular literary
situations. Moreover, style is thought to be distinctive; in essence, the
set or sum of linguistic features that seem to be characteristic: whether
of genre or period. Style is very commonly defined in this way,
especially at the level of text. What is implied in the linguistic literature,
however, is that the language is in some way distinctive, significant for
the design of theme, for example (Simpson 2000, 2006; Wales 2001;
Williams 1995). Consequently, distinctive linguistic features common to
a style of a particular author across and within texts are motivated
specifically for literary-aesthetic purposes, namely for ‘the development
of images, themes and characters, and for stimulating both effect and
affect in a text’s interpretation’ (Simpson 2006:50).
Dennis Freeborn (Freeborn 1996:183-188) notes that we
usually read a story without conscious attention to the sound of the
language, but the extract portraying the death of Little Nell is different.
The scene was very popular and emotionally convincing to Dickens’s
readers. His intention was to evoke pity and sadness, a quality which is
called pathos. Much of the extract can be written in the form of verse.
Writing which has alternating stressed and unstressed syllables may
come to sound like the regular beats and off-beats of metrical verse. If
this regularity, as D. Freeborn notes, falls into grammatical units which
contain three, four or five syllables, then we have units which
correspond to lines of verse. For example, after the first sentence ‘For
she was dead’, which recurs several times, the next two form a perfect

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pair of lines of ‘blank verse’, or iambic pentameters – 5-stress rising


duple verse:
5-stress lines

Upon her little bed she lay at rest.


The solemn stillness was no marvel now.

Line 6 of the extract forms a pair of 4-stress lines of verse,


4-stress lines

Her couch was dressed with here and there,


Some winter berries and green leaves.

and part of lines 3 and 4 a pair of 3-stress lines,


3-stress lines

So free from trace of pain,


So fair to look upon.

If you are reading poetry in metrical form, Dennis Freeborn


notes, then you look for an underlying rhythmic pattern into which you
fit the words in ways which you would not necessarily do if you were
reading prose. Once you feel, in Freeborn’s words (Freeborn
1996:186), that the episode is charged with such emotion that its
rhythmic quality is ‘heightened’, then you will find many more lines of
verse in it. Consider in this respect the following sentence from the
extract. The eleven syllables of ‘She seemed a creature fresh from the
hand of God’ can easily be accommodated to a 5-stress verse line,

She seemed a crea ture fresh from the hand of God

in which you read ‘ from the’ as a double off-beat, like a single syllable.

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Much of the extract falls into a rising duple rhythm – from off-
beat to beat, in which unstressed and stressed syllables alternate,
and so can be read as if it were verse. Where this regularity does
not occur, D. Freeborn notes, it is often easy to fit the words in ways
that are quite usual in verse writing. Much of the text can in fact be
pressed into verse form, and though it does not become a poem, it
may clearly be called poetic prose, with the rhythms of metrical
verse (Freeborn 1996:187).
We should note that stylisticians match any text or piece of
language against the linguistic norms of its genre, or its period, and the
common core of the language as a whole. Clearly, as K. Wales
stresses, each author draws upon the general stock of the language in
any given period; what makes styles distinctive is the choice of items,
and their distribution and patterning (Wales 2001: 371-372). Most
theories of style accept the definition of style in terms of choice.
Consequently, the selection of features partly determined by the
demands of genre, form, theme can be examined in a wide variety of
text types and stylistic theories (Halliday 1994; Williams 1995; Short
1996; Simpson 2000, 2006; Simpson 2000, 2006).
The experiential function of the language, as P. Simpson notes,
is an important marker of style, especially so of the style of narrative
discourse, because it emphasizes the concept of style as choice. The
scholar points out that there are many ways of accounting in language
for the various events that constitute our ‘mental picture of reality’
(Halliday 1994: 106). Similarly, there are often several ways of using
the resources of the language system to capture the same event in a
textual representation. What is of interest to stylisticians, P. Simpson

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notes, is why one type of structure should be preferred to another, or


why, from possibly several ways of representing the same ‘happening’,
one particular type of depiction should be privileged over another. The
scholar stresses that ‘choices in style are motivated, even if
unconsciously, and these choices have a profound impact on the way
texts are structured and interpreted’ (Simpson 2006: 22).
In a similar way, Dennis Freeborn stresses that a short text like
the first text from The Old Curiosity Shop portraying the death of Little
Nell cannot provide results which are ‘statistically significant’, but a look
at the choice of words may provide one of the clues towards an
understanding of its style. There are 256 word ‘types’ in the text out of
a total word count of 499 ‘tokens’, a number of them occurring several
times, especially function words like the, and, of. Most of the words
belong to the core vocabulary of English and derive from Old English.
The words that you might decide are not in ‘everyday’ use –e.g. vent,
languid, agony, fatigues, tranquil are all relatively late adoptions, and
the phrase ever and anon is now archaic, though the words are simple
enough. The use of core vocabulary words that are mostly short, in the
scholar’s view, affects the style of a piece of writing, not only in the way
it may fall relatively easily into a rhythmic pattern, but in the directness
of its meaning (Freeborn 1996:189).
Yet to evaluate fully and precisely distinctive linguistic features
of one of Dickens’s styles, expressing tragic or pathetic feeling, we
must notice a peculiarity of the grammatical structure of the text. We
normally assume that vocabulary is only one aspect of the style of a
text. Whether it is simple to read and understand, or complex, depends
equally upon its grammatical structure.

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The scene of the death of Little Nell is told using relatively


simple grammar as well as mostly core vocabulary. D. Freeborn
(Freeborn 1996) makes the following observation on the peculiarities of
the grammatical structure of the text: just over half the clauses are main
clauses, of these, ten are simple sentences; most subordinate clauses
are relative or nonfinite clauses qualifying noun phrases. Complexity of
the grammatical structure, in Freeborn’s words, is found only in the
rhetorical sequences of parallelism, which consist of repetitions of a
similar structure in sequence: so + adjective; adverbial preposition used
with a complement; It was + noun phrase qualifying relative clause;
noun phrase qualifying relative clause or prepositional phrase
(Freeborn 1996:189-190).
The interaction of both relatively simple grammatical structure
and mostly core vocabulary with the rhetorical sequences of parallelism
produces an anticipatory effect – grammar contributes to vocabulary in
its relatively easy fall into the rhythms of verse and natural rhythms
being made more regular, highlighted and foregrounded. The use of
core vocabulary words that are mostly short, familiar and clear affects
the style and makes it both significant for the design of the theme and
distinctive, noticeable for the perception of the author’s message.
Repetitive patterns of sound and syntax are superimposed on
the background of the expectations of normal usage in the language of
prose, and so strike the reader’s attention as unusual. The text that is
perceived as resulting from the additive interaction of several
superimposed codes and levels is recognized as more literary than a
text where there are fewer levels at work or where they are present but
do not interact as densely. An interactive patterning of different

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linguistic levels is foregrounded and, as was mentioned above, where


different levels of language multiply interact there is a potential
reinforcement of meaning. Thus, verse form of the text acquires
salience in the act of drawing attention to itself and helps the author
evoke pity, sorrow and sadness in his portrayal of the social evils of
Victorian England. Both paradigmatic and syntagmatic types of
foregrounding constitute an important textual strategy motivated for
creating one of Dickens’s styles, expressing tragic and pathetic feeling,
which tends to fall into the rhythms of verse and promotes the
development of the images and the theme of the novel.

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5.6. The Theory of Foregrounding:


Its Limitations and Developments

Foregrounding, following the emphasis of the Russian


formalism and the Prague School, has been defined in terms of
deviation by many contemporary scholars. Ronald Carter has clearly
explained the Russian formalists’ notion of the deviation theory in its
critical reflection (Carter 1997).
According to deviation theory, R. Carter notes, literariness or
poeticality inheres in the degrees to which language use departs or
deviates from expected configurations and normal patterns of language
and thus defamiliarises the reader. Language use in literature is
therefore considered to be different because it makes strange, disturbs,
upsets our routinised ‘normal’ view of things and thus generates new or
renewed perceptions. The author of the critical analysis gives an
example: the phrase ‘a grief ago’ would be poetic by virtue of its
departure from semantic selection restrictions which state that only
temporal nouns such as ‘week’ or ‘month’ can occur in such a
sequence. As a result, grief comes to be perceived as a temporal
process. Deviation theory, as Ronald Carter stresses, represents a
definition of literary language which contains interesting insights but
which on close inspection is theoretically underpowered. In his account,
it ‘needs greater theoretical and linguistic precision for the definition to
hold and it needs to be considered and tested alongside
complementary definitions’ (Carter 1997:124-125).
Whereas many of the precepts of both the Formalist
and Prague School movements have had a significant bearing

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on the way stylistics has developed, P. Simpson notes (Simpson


2006), this is not for a moment to say that stylisticians have
embraced these ideas unequivocally, unanimously or without
debate. Contemporary stylisticians, in the scholar’s review of
foregrounding theory, have made advances in solidifying the
foundations of this generally useful concept. Amongst other things,
their work has incorporated cognitive and psychological models of
analysis to explain how text-processors perceive foregrounding in
texts (van Peer 1986; Cook 1994).
As P. Simpson notes, application of the concept of the poetic
function in language also brings with it an important caveat. Although
not articulated especially clearly by Jacobson, it is essential to view the
poetic function not as an exclusive property of literature but rather as a
more generally creative use of language that can pop up, as it were, in
a range of discourse contents. One consequence of seeing the poetic
function as an exclusively literary device is that it tends to separate off
literature from other uses of language, and this is not a desired
outcome in stylistic analysis (Simpson 2006: 53).
The theory of foregrounding raises many issues to do with the
stylistic analysis of text, the most important of which, in some scholars
view, is its reliance on the concept of a ’norm’ in language. The theory
of foregrounding presupposes that there exists a notional yardstick
against which a particular feature of style can be measured. The
questions addressed in the articles and books written by G. N. Leech,
P. Simpson, R. Carter, G. Cook deal with the concept of norm and
standards of its measurement (Leech 1985; Simpson 2006:51; Carter
1997:125; Cook 1994:138-139).

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If there is a deviation in the text then this can only be measured


if you state the norm from which the deviation occurs. The biggest
stylistic problem is the necessity to state if the norm is the standard
language, the internally constituted norms created within a single text,
the norms of a particular genre, a particular writer’s style, the norms
created by a school of writers within a period. A related issue concerns
what happens when a once deviant pattern becomes established in a
text. We should decide on two alternatives: the pattern stays
foregrounded for the entire duration of the text or it gradually and
unobtrusively slips into the background. This latter issue will come more
to the fore in Simpson’s observation on the concept of internal
foregrounding. The scholar provides an opportunity, through the
analysis of a passage from Hemingway’s novella, to investigate and
illustrate further the concept of foregrounding (Simpson 2006).
Another difficulty that needs scientific attention and thought is
to state what level of language (grammar, phonology, discourse,
semantics) is involved. This is an important question, because a
deviation at one level may be norm adherence at another level. There
is a further problem in that our stylistic ability to measure and account
accurately for deviations will depend on what levels of language
linguists know most about. Since the greatest advances this century, as
R. Carter notes, have been in grammar and phonology, formalist
poetics has tended to discuss literariness, rather limitedly, in terms of
grammatical and phonological deviations (Carter 1997:125).
One way of addressing these important questions has been
offered by G. N. Leech (Leech 1985) who distinguishes three types of
deviation according to what type of norm is involved.

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Primary deviation, or external deviation as it is sometimes


called (Levin 1965), involves departure from the norms of language as
a whole. J. Culpeper (Culpeper 2001:130) illustrates this type of
deviation with an example from Antony and Cleopatra, a tragedy by
Shakespeare, printed in the First Folio of 1623. When Antony says, ‘Let
Rome in Tiber melt’, deviation occurs at a semantic level, since, quite
obviously, a city cannot melt. Our attention is captured and we can
work to construct an interpretation. In Antony’s wish the defeat of Rome
is presented as a physical process of liquefaction and dissolving. This
is consistent with other foregrounded features in the play that work to
enforce this vision of the decay of Rome, of Antony, and, ultimately, of
life. Towards the end of the play, Cleopatra’s reaction to Antony’s death
contains a similar semantic deviation: ‘The Crown o’th’ earth doth melt’
(IV.xv.63). The firm substance of Antony’s life, the symbol of earthly
power, now dissolves. These foregrounded features also correlate with
lexical foregrounding achieved through neologism. Shakespeare coined
his own vocabulary for dissolution: discandy (IV.xii.22; III. Xiii.165), and
dislimns (IV.xiv.10). These foregrounded features are interpreted as
part of a meaningful pattern. Leech (Leech 1965: 50) referred to this
type of patterning as ‘cohesion’ of foregrounding.
Secondary deviation involves departure from the norms of
literary composition (for example, the norms of author or genre.
Culpeper (Culpeper 2001:131) focuses specifically on Antony and
Cleopatra, a tragedy by Shakespeare. The scholar makes the following
observation: ’Antony and Cleopatra, for example, contains almost
exactly double the normal number of scenes in Shakespeare’s
tragedies. Antony and Cleopatra has 45 scenes compared with an

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average (mean) of 22 for the other tragedies. Furthermore, the varience


of this average is relatively narrow, yielding a standard deviation of only
5.15. This secondary deviation is largely the result of the fact that it is
the only Shakespearean play in which substantial parts take place in
two different continents. By flitting rapidly backwards and forwards from
West to East, our attention is constantly drawn to the contrasts between
the two worlds: the solid, harsh, cold barrenness of Rome, and the fluid,
lush, warm fertility of the East’.
Tertiary deviation, or internal deviation as it is sometimes
called (Levin 1965), involves departure from the norms created within a
text. Leech (Leech 1969:120) illustrated that type of deviation with an
example from Othello, the Moor of Venice, a tragedy by Shakespeare,
printed in the Folio of 1623:

O, that the slave had forty thousand lives!


One is too poor, too weak for my revenge.
Now do I see ‘tis true. Look here, Iago;
All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven:
‘Tis gone.
Arise, black vengeance, from thy hollow cell!
Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne
To tyrannous hate! Swell, bosom, with thy fraught,
For ‘tis of aspics’ tongues!

Commenting on the Leech’s analysis, J. Culpeper claims that


this example illustrates the effect of ‘defeated expectancy’, which arises
from the ‘disturbance of the pattern which the reader or listener has
been conditioned to expect’. In Culpeper’s view, the example from
Othello is a matter of deviation from an internally established norm as

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the reader encounters a textually-established norm with regard to the


particular verse form, the iambic pentameter (Culpeper