Functional Styles


Иностранные языки, филология и лингвистика

Therefore functional style of language is a historical category. Thus the FS of emotive prose actually began to function as an independent style after the second half of the 16th century; the newspaper style budded off from the publicistic style; the oratorical style has undergone considerable fundamental changes and so with other FSs The development of each style is predetermined by the changes in the norms of standard English. The BellesLetters Style We have already pointed out that the belleslettres style is a generic term for three...



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Основы теории изучаемого языка                                                                                         Стилистика английского языка

                                                                                                   Лекция 11

                                                                                                              Functional Styles

Lecture 11

Functional Styles

An FS is a patterned variety of literary text characterized by the greater or lesser typification of its constituents, supra-phrasal units (SPU), in which the choice and arrangement of interdependent and interwoven language media are calculated to secure the purport of the communication.

Each FS is a relatively stable system at the given stage in the development of the literary language, but it changes, and sometimes considerably, from one period to another. Therefore functional style of language is a historical category. There are many instances to prove this. Thus, the FS of emotive prose actually began to function as an independent style after the second half of the 16th century; the newspaper style budded off from the publicistic style; the oratorical style has undergone considerable fundamental changes, and so with other FSs,

The development of each style is predetermined by the changes in the norms of standard English.

It is also greatly influenced by changing social conditions, the progress of science and the development of cultural life in the country. For instance, the emotive elements of language were abundantly used in scientific prose in the 18th century. This is explained by the fact that scientists in many fields used the emotional language instead of one more logically precise and convincing, because they lacked the scientific data obtainable only by deep, prolonged research. With the development of science and the accumulation of scientific data, emotive elements gave way to convincing arguments and "stubborn" facts.

The English literary language has evolved a number of FSs easily distinguishable one from another. They are not homogeneous and fall into several variants all having some central point of resemblance, or better to say, all integrated by the invariant—i.e. the abstract ideal system.

The Belles-Letters Style

We have already pointed out that the belles-lettres style is a generic term for three substyles in which the main principles and the most general properties of the style are materialized. These three sub-styles are: '

1. The language of poetry, or simply verse.

2. Emotive p г о s e, or the language of fiction.

3. Т'he  language of the drama.

Each of these substyles has certain common features, typical of the general belles-lettres style, which make up the foundation of the style, by which the particular style is made recognizable and can therefore be singled out. Each of them also enjoys some individuality. This is revealed in definite features typical only of one or another substyle. This correlation of the general and the particular in each variant of the belles-lettres style had manifested itself differently at different stages in its historical development.

According to I.R. Galperin, this is a generic term for three substyles: the language of poetry; emotive prose (the language of fiction); the language of the drama.  Each of these substyles has certain common features, and each of them enjoys some individuality.  The common features of the substyles are the following:

  1.  The aesthetico-cognitive function (a function which aims at the cognitive process, which secures the gradual unfolding of the idea to the reader and at the same time calls forth a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction which a reader experiences because he is able to penetrate into the author's idea and to form his own conclusions).
  2.  Definite linguistic features:
  3.  Genuine, not trite, imagery, achieved by purely linguistic devices.
  4.  The use of words in different meanings, greatly influenced by the lexical environment.
  5.  A vocabulary which will reflect to a certain degree the author's personal evaluation of things or phenomena.
  6.  A peculiar individual selection of vocabulary and syntax.
  7.  The introduction of the typical features of colloquial language to a full degree (drama), to a lesser degree (in prose), to a slight degree (poetry).

The belles-lettres style is individual in essence.  This is one of its most distinctive properties.

The language of poetry is characterized by its orderly form, which is based mainly on the rhythmic and phonetic arrangement of the utterances.  The rhythmic aspect calls forth syntactic and semantic peculiarities.  There are certain restrictions which result in brevity of expression, epigram-like utterances and fresh, unexpected imagery.  Syntactically this brevity is shown in elliptical sentences, in detached constructions, in inversion, etc.

Emotive prose shares the same common features, but these features are correlated differently than in poetry.  The imagery is not so rich as in poetry; the percentage of words with contextual meaning is not so high.  Emotive prose features the combination of the literary variant of the language, both in words and in syntax, with the colloquial variant.  But the colloquial language in the belles-lettres style is not a simple reproduction of the natural speech, it has undergone changes introduced by the writer and has been made "literature-like".  In emotive prose there are always two forms of communication present - monologue (the writer's speech) and dialogue (the speech of the characters).  Emotive prose allows the use of elements from other styles as well.  But all these styles undergo a kind of transformation under the influence of emotive prose.  Passages written in other styles may be viewed only as interpolations and not as constituents of the style.

Language of the drama is entirely dialogue.  The author's speech is almost entirely excluded except for the playwright's remarks and stage directions.  But the language of the characters is not the exact reproduction of the norms of colloquial language.  Any variety of the belles-lettres style will use the norms of the literary language of the given period.  The language of plays is always stylized, it strives to retain the modus of literary English.

Publicistic Style

The publicistic style of language became a separate style in the middle of the 18th century.  Unlike other styles, it has two spoken varieties, namely the oratorical substyle and the radio and TV commentary.  The other two substyles are the essay (moral, philosophical, literary) and journalistic articles (political, social, economic).  The general aim of publicistic style is to influence the public opinion, to convince the reader or the listener that the interpretation given by the writer or the speaker is the only correct one and to cause him to accept the expressed point of view.

Publicistic style is characterized by coherent and logical syntactical structure, with an expanded system of connectives and careful paragraphing.  Its emotional appeal is achieved by the use of words with the emotive meaning but the stylistic devices are not fresh or genuine.  The individual element is not very evident.  Publicistic style is also characterized by the brevity of expression, sometimes it becomes a leading feature.

The oratorical style is the oral subdivision of the publicistic style.  Direct contact with the listeners permits a combination of the syntactical, lexical and phonetic peculiarities of both the written and spoken varieties of language.  Certain typical features of the spoken variety of speech present in this style are: direct address to the audience (ladies and gentlemen, honourable member(s), the use of the 2nd person pronoun you, etc.), sometimes contractions (/'//, won't, haven't, isn't and, others) and the use of colloquial words.

The SDs employed in the oratorical style are determined by the conditions of communication.  As the audience rely only on memory, the speaker often resorts to repetitions to enable his listeners to follow him and to retain the main points of his speech.  The speaker often use simile and metaphor, but these are generally traditional, because genuine SDs may be difficult to grasp.  This style is evident in speeches on political and social problems of the day, in orations and addresses on solemn occasions, as public weddings, funerals and jubilees, in sermons and debates and also in the speeches of counsel and judges in courts of law.

Political speeches fall into two categories: parliamentary debates, and speeches at rallies, congresses, meetings and election campaigns.

Sermons deal mostly with religious subjects, ethics and morality; sometimes nowadays they take up social and political problems as well.

Orations on solemn public occasions are typical specimens of this style and not a few of their word sequences and phrases are ready-made phrases or cliches.

The essay is rather a series of personal and witty comments than a finished argument or a conclusive examination of the matter.  As a separate form of English literature the essay dates from the close of the 16th century. The essay was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 17th century essays were written on topics connected with morals and ethics, while those of the 18th century focused attention on political and philosophical problems.

The most characteristic language features of the essay are: brevity of expression; the use of the first person singular; a rather expanded use of connectives; the abundant use of emotive words; the use of similes and sustained metaphors.  

In comparison with oratorical style, the essay aims at a more lasting, hence, at a slower effect. Epigrams, paradoxes and aphorisms are comparatively rare in oratory, as they require the concentrated attention of the listener. In the essay they are commoner, for the reader has opportunity to make a careful and detailed study both of the content of the utterance and its form.

Journalistic  articles.  Irrespective of the character of the magazine and the divergence of subject matter—whether it is political, literary, popular-scientific or satirical, all the already mentioned features of publicistic style are to be found in any article. The character of the magazine as well as the subject chosen affects the choice and use of stylistic devices. Words of emotive meaning, for example, are few, if any, in popular scientific articles. Their exposition is more consistent and the system of connectives more expanded than,-say, in a satirical article.

The language of political magazine articles differs little from that of newspaper articles as described in the chapter on Newspaper Style (see below). But such elements of publicistic style as rare and bookish words, neologisms (which sometimes require explanation in the text), traditional word-combinations and parenthesis are more frequent here than in newspaper articles.


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