6. Stylistics and other linguistic disciplines

1.Style and stylistics
Linguistic stylistics like other language branches has the facts of the language as the main object (after Galperin). But it has a
different subject of study which is the styles of speech, stylistic means and devices and their correlation to the meaning they are
Nowadays stylistics is regarded from various angles but most of scholars agree that it is generally applied to such notions as:
Aesthetic functions of the language;
Expressive means of the language;
Synonymous ways of thought expression;
Emotive speech colouring;
Stylistic devices;
Stratification of the literary language into separate systems (speech styles);
Interrelation between language and thought;
Individual manner of language usage.
The central term of stylistics is style. The term comes from Latin ”stilus‘– a pointed instrument which Romans used to write
on wax tablets. Later it came to express the manner of writing.
The scope of problems and the object of stylistics go far back to ancient schools of rhetoric and poetics. In rhetoric we find
most of the notions and terms that contemporary stylistics employs.
Thus, Stylistics can be defined as a branch of modern linguistics devoted to the detailed analysis of literary style, or of
the linguistic choices made by speakers and writers in non-literary contexts. (Chris Baldick Oxford Concise Dictionary of
Literary Terms, 1996)
According to I.R. Galperin, stylistics deals with the investigation of two independent tasks:
1. Stylistics studies the special media of language which are called stylistic devices and expressive means.
Expressive means and stylistic devices form three large groups of phonetic, lexical, syntactical means and devices. Each group
is further subdivided according to the principle, purpose and function of a mean or a device in an utterance.
2. Stylistics studies the types of texts which are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication and are called
functional styles of language.
Expressive means of a language are those linguistic forms and properties that have the potential to make the utterance
emphatic or expressive. These can be found on all levels—phonetic, graphical, morphological, lexical or syntactical.
Expressive means and stylistic devices have a lot in common but they are not completely synonymous. All stylistic devices
belong to expressive means but not all expressive means are stylistic devices.
A stylistic device is a literary model in which semantic and structural features are blended so that it represents a generalized
According to the type of stylistic research we can distinguish literary stylistics and linguastylistics. They have some
meeting points or links in that they have common objects of research.
Consequently they have certain areas of cross-reference. Both study the common ground of:
1) the literary language from the point of view of its variability;
2) the idiolect (individual speech) of a writer;
3) poetic speech that has its own specific laws.
The points of difference proceed from the different joints of analysis.
While lingua-stylistics studies:
• Functional styles (in their development and current state).
• The linguistic nature of the expressive means of the language, their systematic
Literary stylistics is focused on:
character and their functions.
1) the composition of a work of art.
2) Various literary genres.
3) The writer's outlook.
2. Language, speech, text
Language – is a system of mental associations of elementary and complex signs (speech sounds, morphemes, words, word
combinations, utterances, and combinations of utterances) with our mental picture of objective reality. Language is a
psychological phenomenon of social significance. It exists in individual minds, but serves the purpose of social intercourse
through speech.
Language performs different functions:
communicative: language arose from the needs of intercourse and social regulation;
cognitive (due to the existence of language mankind has acquired its immense knowledge of the outside world).
Language exists in human minds but manifests itself in acts of speech. Speech is not a purely mental phenomenon, but a
psycho-physiological action. It is a process of sending acoustic signals (messages), perceptible to anyone within hearing.
The result of speech (what we actually understand) is ‘text’. It is not only what is written or printed, it’s a coherent sequence of
signs (words, phrases).
The subject matter of Stylistics and linguistics in general is language as a system, but the material studied by S. is text (texts) as
the result of speech acts.
3. Sublanguages and styles.
Style – is the set of specific features of a text type or of a concrete text. Style is just what differentiates a group of
homogeneous texts (an individual text) from all other groups (other texts). Style may be belles-letters or scientific or neutral or
low colloquial or archaic or pompous, or a combination of those. Style may also be typical of a certain writer-Shakespearean style,
Dickensian style, etc. There is the style of the press, the style of official documents, the style of social etiquette and even an
individual style of a speaker or writer—his idiolect. Stylistics deals with styles. The scholars from different countries propose
more or less analogous systems of styles based on a broad subdivision of all styles into two classes: literary and colloquial and
their varieties.
Prof. I.R.Galperin distinguishes 5 groups of functional styles for the written variety of language: 1)
the belles-lettres style
4) scientific prose style
publicistic style
newspaper style
5) the style of official documents
While Prof. I.V. Arnold suggests 4styles:
poetic style
3) newspaper style
scientific style
4) colloquial style
According to structuralists, no national language is a homogeneous whole, because many of its constituents are not used in
every sphere of communication, but belong to more or less strictly delimited special spheres, to specific types of speech. Yu. M.
Screbnev uses the term ‘sublanguage’ to describe each specific language (bookish, colloquial, neutral, etc.) It should be noted
that in many manuals on stylistics (e.g. in Galperin’s and Arnold’s books) instead of the term ‘sublanguage’ the term “functional
style” is used.
Pr. Screbnev says that the number of sublanguages and styles is infinite.
The examples of sublanguages are: different kinds of jargons (medical, military, students’), dialects, classical poetry,
advertisement, Internet chats and so on.
We speak and write differently in accordance with the circumstances of communication. In each case we select the form of
expression which is the most appropriate under the circumstances.
Being itself a system of signs, language may be sub-divided into parallel sub-systems, synonymous to one another. For
example, special sub-systems are made by:
Neutral type of intercourse:
The old man is dead. (This sentence consists of stylistically indifferent words: each of them could be used in any text if it deals
with human age and death). Старик умер.
Super-standard (high-flown, solemn or official) type :
The gentleman well advanced in years has attained the termination of his terrestrial existence. (What makes the utterance elevated
stylistically is not the enumerated bookish words, but florid, excessively ornamental word combinations: well advanced in years,
attained the termination of his terrestrial existence).
Старец скончался
Sub-standard (lying below the standard) type:
The ole bean he kicked the bucket (the low colloquial features are low colloquial form ole =old , idiomatic phrases ‘old bean’,
‘kicked the bucket’ and the superfluous pronoun ‘he’ as a syntactical peculiarity of popular speech). Cтарый хрыч сыграл в
Everybody understands the linguistic distinctions of different but synonymous ways of expressing the similar idea.
The ultimate aim of stylistics is to establish the objective laws and practical rules of using proper linguistic forms in proper
On the whole, stylistics is, in broad sense, the investigation of synonymous linguistic means for the purpose of finding out the
spheres of applicability.
1. Never seen the chap, not I!
2. Me, I never clapped eyes on this here guy.
3. I deny the fact ever having seen this person.
4. I have no association with the appearance of the individual I behold.
5. I have certainly never seen the man.
To say that we observe here examples taken from different languages would be, of course, too much. Every word and every
construction are English all right. And yet each utterance belongs to a special variety of English.
The colloquial character is clearly seen both in the choice of words (chap) and in syntax (absence of the subject I and the
auxiliary word ‘have’, as well as the appended statement not I).
Low colloquial: the word guy, the illiterate demonstrative this here, the emphatic construction to clap eyes on somebody,
the pronoun me as the subject.
represents an official, bookish manner of speaking
demonstrates a high-flown, pompous, affective manner of speech
neutral standard English.
Sublanguages should not be identified with styles. The term “sublanguage” is wider than the term “style”. Style is the
specificity of sublanguages.
A sublanguage as a variant of a language, used in this or that communicative sphere, comprises three classes of linguistic
Non-specific (neutral) – common to all sublanguages (e.g. do, have, must, can);
Relatively specific – used in 2 or more sublanguages (the word ‘operation’ is used in several spheres: in medicine,
criminology, mathematics, banking, military matters);
Absolutely specific – belong only to one sublanguage (psychotherapy, pulmonary –легочный- belong to medical
It goes without saying that this division is valid with regard to any class of linguistic units – phonemes, morphemes, words and
sentences. Style is an absolutely specific sphere of a sublanguage or what differs one sublanguage from another.
The morphemes un-, -less, -ful are non-specific, whereas super-, ultra-, pseudo- are bookish and, hence, specific.
Words table, water, have, do, on are used in all sublanguages, such lexical units as thou, oft, brethren – in religious and poetic
texts, derivational, paradigm, hyperbole – in the sublanguage of linguistics.
The sentence
John isn’t here – neutral,
John ain’t here – uneducated speech
Going home? – colloquial
Are you going home? – neutral.
Seminar 1
Introdiction into Fundamentals of English Stylistics
Part A
Style and stylistics.
Expressive means of a language and stylistic devices.
Lingua-stylistics and literary stylistics.
Language, speech, text.
Styles and sublanguages.
Three types of subsystems (neutral, super-standard and sub-standard).
Three classes of linguistic units (non-specific, relatively specific and absolutely specific).
What does stylistics study?
What is the object of stylistics?
What is the origin of the word ‘stylistics’?
What is stylistics?
What are the tasks of stylistics according to Galperin?
Give the definition of the terms “expressive means of a language” and “stylistic devices”.
What is the difference between them?
What are the meeting points and differences between linguastylistics and literary stylistics?
Give the definition of the word ‘language’.
What are the two main functions of the language?
What is the difference between language and speech?
What is text as opposed to language and speech?
What is text?
What is style?
What term corresponds with the term ‘sublanguage’ in manuals on stylistics written by I. Galperin and I. Arnold?
What is the difference between sublanguages and style?
What are the grounds for saying that a national lg is not a homogeneous whole?
How many styles do Galperin and Arnold single out?
How many sub-languages and styles can be singled out within a national language?
Why is the number of styles and sublanguages practically unlimited?
Give examples of synonymous sub-systems of a language.
What is the ultimate aim of stylistics?
What is stylistics in a broad sense?
What are the three classes of linguistic units?
What constitutes the central part (the common core) of all sublanguages within the national language?
What is the peculiarity of non-specific units?
What are relatively specific units as opposed to non-specific?
What are absolutely specific units?
Give examples (from morphology, vocabulary, syntax) of all the three kinds of units (non-specific, relatively specific,
absolutely specific).
Every type of speech uses its own lingual sub-systems: not all the forms comprising the national language but only a certain
number of forms.
Every sub-system consists of:
linguistic units common to all sub-systems;
specific linguistic units, to be found only in the given sub-system.
Every linguistic unit, along with the meaning, has its stylistic value which may be characterized as connotation (additional
meaning). The connotation of a stylistic unit is just what we think of it as belonging either to the specific sphere of a certain subsystem or to the non-specific sphere common to all the sub-systems.
Hence, stylistic value is actualized by means of associations, namely:
linguistic units that are used everywhere cause no definite associations with any particular type of speech. Thus, they
have no definite stylistic value and are called stylistically neutral. It does not mean that they have no connotations. Evidently
such words have so many connotations that it results in their mutual elimination (взаимная ликвидация).
linguistic units belonging to the specific sphere of a sub-system are mentally associated with that sphere. They are
stylistically coloured. They possess a certain stylistic connotation (additional meaning). We could say that stylistically coloured
units (bookish, solemn, poetic, official and so on) have something like a label on them, a kind of ‘trade-mark” showing the place
of a given unit in the general language scheme.
Thus, we observe an opposition of stylistically coloured specific elements to stylistically neutral non-specific elements.
Many scholars define ‘style’ as deviations from the lingual norm. In their opinion what is stylistically coloured is a departure
from the norm of the given national language. They all substitute the word ‘norm’ for the word ‘neutrality’
To decide whether such a substitution is appropriate or not, we have to define ‘norm’.
Norm is generally understood as pre-established and conventionally accepted parametres (i.e. characteristics) of what is
The characteristic feature of norm in language is its plurality. What is normal for educated people seems bookish for children.
Pr. Screbnev believes that there are as many norms as there are sublanguages. Each sublanguage has its own norm.
Stylistics and other linguistic disciplines
Such well-known linguistic disciplines as phonetics, morphology, lexicology and syntax deal with clear-cut objects. This
comes from the fact that they are level disciplines, i.e. disciplines treating one linguistic level each.
The smallest (shortest) unit of language is the phoneme. The sequence of phonemes represents the phonemic level. Phonemes
combined constitute the second level: the morphemic level. Morphemes make a word, a ‘lexeme’: hence, the lexical level. One or
more than one word make an utterance, or, in traditional terminology, a sentence.
The general principal is: each level consists of units of the neighbouring lower level: a sentence consists of words, a word is
divided into morphemes, and a morpheme contains phonemes.
Stylistics is not a level discipline, because it pertains to all the levels. Moreover it must be subdivided into separate,
independent branches treating one level each:
stylistic phonetics
stylistic morphology
stylistic lexicology
stylistic syntax
Stylistics describes specific spheres of sublanguages, what differentiates one sublanguage from others.
Stylistic phonetics pays attention only to style-forming phonetic features of sublanguages: it describes variants of
pronunciation occurring in different types of speech. Special attention is paid to prosodic features of prose and poetry.
Stylistic morphology is interested in grammatical forms and meanings that are peculiar to particular sublanguages,
comparing them with neutral ones common to all the sublanguages.
Stylistic lexicology studies the semantic structure of the word and the interrelation (or interplay) of the connotative and
denotative meanings of the word, as well as the interrelation of the stylistic connotations of the word and the context.
Stylistic Syntax is one of the oldest branches of stylistic studies that grew out of classical rhetoric. Stylistic syntax shows
what particular constructions should be employed in various types of speech, what syntactical structures are style-forming
(specific) in the sublanguage in question.
Stylistics interacts with such theoretical discipline as semasiology. This is a branch of linguistics whose area of study is a
most complicated and enormous sphere—that of meaning. The term semantics is also widely used in linguistics in relation to
verbal meanings. Semasiology in its turn is often related to the theory of signs in general and deals with visual as well as verbal
meanings. Meaning is not attached to the level of the word only, or for that matter to one level at all but correlates with all of
them—morphemes, words, phrases or texts. Semasiology as a branch of linguistics treats semantic structures of linguistic units. It
is a theory of meaning. Stylistic semasiology studies shifts of meanings and their expressive purposes.
Onomasiology (or onomatology) is the theory of naming dealing with the choice of words when naming or assessing some
object or phenomenon. In stylistic analysis we often have to do with a transfer of nominal meaning in a text (antonomasia,
metaphor, metonymy, etc.)
Pr. Screbnev suggested a different subdivision of stylistics. He divided it into paradigmatic (or stylistics of units) and
syntagmatic (or stylistics of sequences).
The term ‘paradigm’ denotes a list of grammatical forms to select from: case paradigm, tense p., mood p., stylistic paradigm
(kid – child – infant). The word ‘paradigmatic’ is used with reference to all units language has at its disposal.
The term ‘syntagma’ means combination of units and the term ‘syntagmatic’ denotes the totality of combinations and the rules
of combining.
Some scholars believe that paradigmatic represents lg as a system & syntagmatic characterizes speech.
Pr. Screbnev defines paradigmatic stylistics as stylistics of units; it studies cases when the stylistic effect is due to the use of
one unit (word, phrase, and sentence).
Syntagmatic stylistics is stylistics of sequences. It deals with cases when the stylistic effect is due to combinations of 2 or more
units (он пил чай с женой, лимоном и удовольствием)
He also uniquely singles out one more level. In addition to phonetics, lexicology and syntax he adds semasiology (semantics).
Paradigmatic stylistics :
phonetics – italics, apitalization, repetition of letters, onomatopoeia;
morphology – depersonification;
lexicology – Positive: poetic, official, professional. Neutral. Negative: colloquial, neologosims, jargon, slang, nonce-word,
vulgar words;
syntax – completeness of sentence structure: ellipsis, aposiopesis, one-member nominative sentences, repetition of sentence
parts, syntactic tautology, polysydenton. Word order: inversion of sentence members. Communicative types of sentences: quasiaffirmative sentences, quasi-interrogative sentences, quasi-negative sentences, quasi-imperative sentences. Type of syntactic
connection: detachment, parenthetic elements, asyndetic subordination and coordination;
semantics – hyperbole, meosis, metonymy, metaphor, allusion, personification, antonomasia, allegory, irony.
Syntagmatic stylistics:
phonetics –alliteration, assonance, paronomasia, rhythm and meter, rhyme;
morphology – it deals with the importance of grammar forms used in a paragraph or text that help in creating a certain stylistic
lexicology – it studies the “word-and content” juxtaposition that presents a number of stylistic problems – especially those
connected with the co-occurrence of words of various stylistic colourings;
syntax – parallelism, anaphora, epiphora, framing, anadiplosis, chiasmus;
semantics – simile, clarifying synonyms, climax, anti-climax, zeugma, pun, disguised tautology, oxymoron, antithethis.
Seminar 1
Part B
Stylistic connotation and stylistic neutrality. Neutrality and norm.
Stylistics and other linguistic disciplines.
Level structure of stylistics.
Semasiology and onomasiology.
Paradigmatic and syntagmatic stylistics.
What does every type of speech use?
Name the elements of every lingual sub-system.
What is “connotation”?
What is the difference in the nature of connotations of stylistically coloured and stylistically neutral linguistic units?
What is wrong with defining style as deviation from norm?
What is the traditional definition of the word “norm”?
What is the characteristic feature of norm in language?
What is Prof. Screbnev’s theory of ‘norm’?
Which linguistic branches are level disciplines?
Why are they called ‘level’ disciplines?
What are language levels and their constituent units respectively?
What is the general principal by which level units are identified?
Is stylistics a level discipline?
Into what branches is stylistics subdivided?
What phenomena does stylistics investigate and describe at each level?
What are the meanings of the words “semantics”, “semasiology”, “onomasiology”?
What do stylistic semasiology and onomasiology investigate?
What are the meanings of the words “paradigm”, “paradigmatic”?
What linguistic units can form a paradigm? Give examples on your own.
What are the meanings of the words “syntagma”, “syntagmatic”?
What is the interrelation between paradigmatics and syntagmatics?
What are the two parts of stylistics according to professor Screbnev’s concept?
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