Lecture One Style and Stylistics(4)

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Lecture One Style and Stylistics(4)One,Style,and,style,one

    Lecture One Style and Stylistics

Outline of Content


     1.1. Factors Deciding Style

     1.2. Definitions of Style

     1.3. Stylistics

     1.4. The Needs for Stylistics

     1.5. Procedure & Principles of Stylistic Analysis

Two versions of self-introduction

     Version 1

     My name is xxx. You can call me Ms. x. I got my B.A. degree from xxxxxx.

    After graduation from college, I worked nearly ten years in a number of fields

    including tourism, international trade, stock market. My jobs enabled me to

    have business trips to major English-speaking countries such as USA, Canada,

    Australia, etc. Later on, I went back to my old school and got my M.A. degree,

    with the orientation in Translation. Due to my rich working experiences and

    my study, I am able to get access to a wide varieties of English in daily use,

    as well as in specialized fields. Hope to share this knowledge with you in this


    Version 2

     Hi, guys. So cute to be with you. In this semester, we shall spend a bit of time

    together and chat a bit about sort of stylistics. You can just call me xx and let

    s have fun together.

    Consider the following questions

     How do you feel about the above three versions of self-introduction? In what way do they differ?

     What decides a style?

1.1. Factors Deciding Style

     Who, what, whom, how, when, where, why

     -- Who said what to whom;

     -- How, when and why something is said

    1) Style Related to Topics/Fields (what is said)

     Stylistic differences are most apparent when texts /discourses deal with

    different topics or fields of study. For example, language used in science and

    technology differ drastically from those dealing with literature or commerce in

    many ways. (Our course will focus on this aspect of language varieties later



     --- military drilling commands (P3[1.4])

     Attention! On Fours, fall in!


Eyes right!

     Forward march!

     Shoulder arms!

     --- limerick (P3 [1.3])

     --- ad.

     We know eggzactly (exactly) how to sell eggs. (novel, fresh, memorable,

    effective, purposeful; repetition, coined term, simple)

     See also [1.5][1.7] on P4

    2) Style Related to Participants (who talked to whom)

     Different styles can be created as the result of what the participants are in

    terms of social status, social class, age, race, sex, education, etc. -- who is the speaker

     See [1.8] & [1.9] on P5,

     [1.10] & [1.11] on P6


     Read the following example and analyze the differences: E.g. a young college girl explains how to suck an egg in the following way: “Take an egg, and make a perforation in the base and a corresponding one in

    the apex. And then, apply the lips to the aperture, and by forcibly inhaling

    the breath, the shell is entirely discharged of its contents.

     In contrast, her grandmother would say: Make a hole in each end and suck.


     -- whom the speaker talks to

     The same person would usually talk differently to different people (e.g. to his

    boss, his family members, the elderly people or a kid). E.g.

     -- Hi, joe. How is everything? (to a friend)

     -- Morning, Ma. Is breakfast ready?

     -- Good morning, Sir. How are you?

    3) Style Related to Medium (How is sth conveyed)

     Medium / Channel: means by which a message is conveyed from one person to

    another, such as in spoken or written form, in books or in newspapers, via TV or

    radio or computer or mobile phone, etc.

     Differences in medium/channel can result in stylistic differences among texts in

    terms of choice of words, sentence pattern, sentence length, sound effect, visual

    effect, etc.

     E.g. 1 Some common signs used in e-mails or cell phone short messages: Smiley meaning

     :-) happy

     :-D big smile

     :-O surprised

     :-( sad

     :-/ confused

     :> embarrassed


X-( angry


     E.g. 2 A face-to-face conversation: (Inexplicit information) A: Going to buy one?

     B: Dont know. Perhaps.

     A: Better hurry, they’re packing up.

     B: Oh, all right.

    4) Style Related to Occasion (when and where is sth expressed) The same meaning can be expressed in different wordings depending on the

    specific occasions/contexts given. Hence, different styles are created. See [1.1], [1.2] on P2

     a). My beloved father has joined the heavenly choir. (a solemn funeral with

    strong religious atmosphere)

     B) My dear father has passed a way. (a formal occasion) C) My father has died. (informal occasion)

     D) My old man has kicked the bucket. (very casual occasion, also show

    non-respect to the dead)

    5) Style Related to Functions of Texts (why is sth expressed)

     Different texts have different functions, e.g. to transfer information, to call

    upon peoples action, to express writers feeling, etc. To achieve these

    functions may require different forms/styles in writing. e.g. [1.16] on P9


     Read following sentences and try to identify what functions they perform and

    what stylistic differences there are:

     no smoking (to give order)

     Im lovin it (to appeal and call upon action)

     This lunar beauty / Has no history / Is complete and early (to express


     In this contract, the terms hereinafter are understood as follows(to make clear

    terms to be observed)

     Graves ophthalmopathy usually occurs in association with hyper-thyroidism.

    (to give academic information)


    1.2. Definitions of Style

     In plain language, style is different ways of expressing the same or different

    things by different people for different purposes in different times. These factors often function jointly to decide a specific style. The major concern of style is to use proper words in proper places

    Definitions given by dictionaries:

     Style is the manner of expression in writing or speaking which changes at all

    times according to the actual situational elements, e.g., the participants, time,

    place, topic, etc. of the communicative events, from very formal to very



     -----Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics

    1.3. Stylistics

    1.3.1. The Definition

     Stylistics is a branch of linguistics which studies style in a scientific and

    systematic way concerning the linguistic features of different varieties of

    language at different levels.

    1.3.2 The Scope of Study

    1) General Stylistics: the study of different varieties of language.

     --- according to fields of discourse, with the related functions of language:

    news reports, advertisements, public speeches, novels, poetry, legal documents,

    scientific thesis, etc.

     --- according to attitude: formal language, informal language, etc.

     --- according to medium: spoken language, written language, etc.

     Our focus of study is on general stylistics in relation to mode and different


    2) Literary Stylistics

     Broadly speaking, literary stylistics studies variations characteristic of

    different literary genrespoetry, prose, novels, drama, etc. Literary stylistics

    concentrate on literary significance as well as linguistic choices in literary

    texts. It also studies the different styles of individual authors and their works,

    as well as period styles. We will touch upon this field as a variety of language

    but it is not our major concern in this course.

    3) Theoretical Stylistics

     Theoretical stylistics studies the theories, the origin, the trend, and the

    historical development of stylistics as well as characteristics of different

    branches of stylistics. It also studies the relationships between stylistics and

    other branches of learning. This discipline is usually major concern of post

    graduate course and thus is not our focus.

1.4. The Needs for Stylistics

     Why do we study stylistics?

    1) Style is an integral part of meaning. It gives us additional information of a

    text/ utterance (e.g. the speakers regional and social origin, education

    background, his/her relationship with the hearer, his/her feelings, emotions or

    attitudes, the occasion and purpose of the discourse, etc.)

     With a sense of style, we can arrive at a better understanding of a


     Let us look at the following example.


     Policeman: Whats your name, boy?

     Black physician: Dr. Poussaint. Im a physician.

     Policeman: Whats your first name, boy?

     Black physician: Alvin.


     When the term boy is used to address a kid, it shows the friendliness of the

    speaker. But when this form is used insistently to address a physician, who is

    usually addressed respectfully in the United States as Dr. So-and-so, it shows

    the policemans racist contempt and prejudice against black people.

     As EFL learners, we often fail to notice those stylistic subtleties which

    contribute significantly to meaning. Stylisticsthe study of stylemay help

    us develop a consistent method of language analysis and solve problems of

    interpretation by bringing into focus the stylistically significant features that

    we might otherwise overlook.

    2) Stylistics may help us to acquire a keener language sense.

     A sense of style is an important part of ones language sense, i.e. the intuitive

    knowledge about linguistic appropriateness. A native speaker of English

    knows how to adjust his style of language to different types of situation: at

    home or in court; with friends or with strangers; writing a love letter or a

    scholarly paper.

     If we wish to communicate in English successfully, we too need to develop a

    semi-instinctive sense of style. Stylistics may help us speed up this process

    of acquisition by giving us access to different language varieties and by

    encouraging us to participate the problem-solving activity and to do practical

    analysis by ourselves so as to facilitate our sensitivity to language variation.

1.5. Procedure & Principles of Stylistic Analysis

     How do we do stylistic analysis?

     1. Levels of Linguistic Description

     In a stylistic analysis, features of a text are analyzed and described at different

    linguistic levels, which include:

     -- the phonological/graphological level: the system of speech sound and the

    writing system

     -- the lexical level: vocabulary

     -- the syntactical level: sentence structure

     -- the semantic level: overall text pattern, cohesion and coherence in meaning

    realization, etc.

     2. Principles of Analysis

     --- the principle of frequency

     Generally, we recognize a style only when certain language features occur

    frequently or prevail in a text to become the salient / important features. In our

    analysis, we often need to calculate /compute frequencies of certain language

    features in order to substantiate our observation.

     For instance, in order to verify the observation that the style of a certain text is

    formal/informal, we need to know the percentage of content words, the

    percentage of Latinate/Anglo-Saxon words, the ratio of dependent to

    independent sentences, and other linguistic data.

     --- the principle of comparison

     The distinction of style cannot be perceived without comparison.


     A regional style is defined by matching it against Standard English; an

    individual’s style against that of a group of people; the style of literary

    language against that of non-literary language.

     --- the principle of placing a text

     Similarly, the linguistic features of a given text should be compared with a set

    of relative norms of language in use (e.g. relative norms for spoken/written

    varieties, for formal/informal style, for literary or technical style, etc. ) This is

    called the placing of a text. By doing so, we can judge whether the given text

    conforms with or deviates from the convention/norms.

     When analyzing non-literary language varieties, we focus more on conformity

    with the relative norms.




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