Stylistics as a brunch of linguistics, its object, subject matter and main tasks of investigations


Stylistics investigates the principles of choice and usage of all language units in different communicative situations and effect produced by this choice. The object of stylistic investigation is the same as of the other linguistic sciences (phonetics, grammar, lexicology). But when the latter concentrate on so to say flesh and body of the language its structure, its main units and the types of relation that exist among these units k stylistics reveals the soul of the language. Stylistics concentrates on the aesthetic function of language, on the inventory of special language media which secure a desirable effect of the utterance, synonymous way of expressing one and the same idea, the individual manner of an author in making use of language and on a number of other issues.

To better understand the above mentioned statement let us refer to the examples. One and the same sense can be rendered differently in different speech situations, depending on the social status of communicants, their personal emotional attitude to the topic and each other, their motives and values. Compare the following utterances conveying the same idea:

1)Never seen the chap, not I!

2)Me, I never clapped eyes on this here guy.

3)I deny the fact of ever having seen this person.

4)I have no associations with the appearance of the individual behold.

5)I have never certainly seen this man.

All of them express the same denotative (logical or factual) but different connotative (emotional, evaluative, functional) meaning which influences the choice of language media neutral as in (5) and stylistically marked as in (1,2,3,4).

Examples of a similar kind are innumerable. Suffice is to recall the extract from emotive prose to illustrate how the correlation between the logical and emotional, expressive, appealing functions of language units can be used to create the image of the characters:

My three screws to young Val cause hes the only Forsyte who knows the horse from a donkey. Soams gives the sarcastic statement of the testator the precise juriditial wording devoid of irony and scorn: I hereby leave my three racehorses to my kinsman Valerius Darty of Wandson, Sussex, because he has special knowledge of horses. (J. Galsworthy. The white monkey).

Thus taking into consideration everything that has been said it is possible to state that stylistics is a complex linguistic science that incorporates different trends and theories. It investigates the stylistic system of the language. It aims to answer the question how language is used and how it functions in different spheres of human creative activity. It exposes the power of language to embody logical, emotional, expressive, imaginary information in various types of oral and written discourses.

According to the aim of scientific analysis, problems discussed, aspects and methods of investigation stylistics can be subdivided into different trends or types.

General or theoretical stylistics defines the general stylistic notions and categories, elaborates the principles and methods of stylistic analysis. It studies the universal stylistic resources of different languages. Some scholars suggested subdividing general stylistics into stylistics of language, stylistics of speech, functional stylistics and literary stylistics.

Stylistics of languagestudies all language units from the point of view of their stylistic value. It means that stylistics is a linguistic science about the most appropriate and motivated usage of language means (phonemes, morphemes, words, word combinations, sentences and texts), about their emotive, expressive, evaluative, imagery power, their functions in rendering logical and aesthetic content of a message in different types of communication (written or oral).

Stylistics of language can be further subdivided into:

Phonetic stylistics investigates all peculiarities of sound organization of emotive prose and poetry, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, assonance etc.

Grammatical stylistics investigates stylistic potential of different grammatical categories, sentences types and suprasyntactic units.

Lexical stylistics investigates stylistic function of words and phrases and correlation between their direct and indirect (contextual) meaning.

Stylistics of speech studies the usage of different stylistic means in social or individual language practice. It investigates the realization of certain functional styles in different types of monologues and dialogues revealing the creative activity if a speaker.

Literary stylistics investigates the set of expressive means and stylistic devices that are characteristic for a certain piece pf literary work, for a certain author, literary trend or even the whole literary epoch. It also studies the main factors that determine the artistic value of a literary text and its impact on the reader.

Functional stylistics is a linguistic science about functional styles, genres and types of language subsystems. It focuses on the study of certain types of texts which due to the choice and arrangement of language means are differentiated by pragmatic aspect of communication. The task of functional stylistics is 1) to define the notion of functional style; 2) to define the notion of functional style and work out the complete typology of functional styles and their varieties.

The other separate trend in style study is the stylistics of text. Its task is to study the peculiarities of text composition, the arrangement of language material that is relevant for text interpretation. The stylistics of text tries to explain how the general idea and content of a literary work is embodied in the structure of the text. There are several approaches to the treatment of text as a unity of form and content. If the task of stylistic analysis is to reveal the idea of its author we can speak of the encoding or generative stylistics. It usually takes into consideration the extratextual realities of authors biography, political and social conditions of the epoch the text was written in and those factors that could directly or indirectly influence the creation of the text and the idea it embodies. If the stylistic analysis of a text focuses on the readers impressions, the way he/she understands the text we can speak of the decoding stylistics. Decoding stylistics tries to define those textual elements that are the most significant for the reader in the process of text perception, comprehension and interpretation.

Contrastive stylistics is the type of stylistic analysis that studies and compares the stylistic systems of two or more languages. Its primary tasks are 1) to describe stylistically marked language units of all language levels in different languages; 2) to study stylistic resources of different languages; 3) to compare functional styles and genres of the languages under consideration; 4) to investigate the ways of expressing various stylistic concepts (e.g. humour or satire) or stylistic functions each compared language has in its disposal; 5) to compare individual styles of different authors who created their works in different languages and in different epochs.

The branching off of contrastive stylistics as a separate trend dates back to the middle of the XX-th century. The originator of contrastive studies was French scholar Charles Bally. Later on his ideas were developed by such Russian and French linguists as A. Molblanc, V.G. Gak, A.V. Fedorov, Y.S. Stepanov, L. Barkhudarov, I. Galperin, K. Dolinin, E. Risel and others. Depending on the object of investigation two branches of contrastive stylistics are distinguished: the comparative analysis of the original and translated texts (which boarders with the theory and practice of translation) and the analysis of coincidences and convergences in two versions of original text.

The scientists who deal with the contrastive stylistic problems precede not only from the merely linguistic viewpoint but take into account multiple exstralinguistic factors (aims of communication, types of utterances, sphere of communication, etc.). That is why contrastive stylistics employs data of social linguistics, psycholinguistics, history, art, literary studies, philosophy.


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