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Development of Stylistics in Linguistics

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Published: 21st Nov 2023

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Style And Stylistics

Stylistics is a sub-discipline[1] which links literary criticism to linguistics. In linguistics, stylistic analysis is concerned with recurring patterns used in speech and writing; and in literature, it focuses on interpretation of a literary work. In other words, stylistic analysis tends to look for meaning in a text.

Stylistics is 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. 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 2)

The study of style is so broad and cannot be wholly discussed in this modest dissertation. However, it is important to shed light on the basic concepts and theories of stylistics, the scientific study of style, and their development throughout history. It is also important to look at the most recent stylistic approaches applied in the field of literature and linguistics.

Development of Stylistics in Relation to Language and Psychology

The study of the language of literature and style is one of the most traditional application of linguistics.

Nevertheless, the notion of style, language used in a particular way, is old and can be traced back to the fourth century BCE Greece and Rome. Orators had to be skillful in convincing people and politicians with their speeches and that went with the ability to speak fluently and well.

This ability required some strategies, decoration, and influence on people’s minds. So, language had to be said in a special manner to achieve its purposes. Steiner believes that language use was deliberately for “persuasion, instruction, ornamentation or dissimulation” (1972:129).

People who were able to use language effectively with great influence on emotions and opinions of the audience were referred to as rhetors, hence the effective language use is called “rhetorics.”

The first work that marked the beginning of the study of style could be Aristotle’s Rhetoric, an ancient Greek treatise on the art of persuasion, in the fourth century BCE. Rhetorical stylistics appeared secondly with the Latin book Rhetorica ad Herennium by 80 BC.

The book, along with Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria (first century AD) lists ten figures of speech and ‘tropes,’ which now stand for recurring feature:  onomatopoeia, antonomasia, metonymy, periphrasis, hyperbaton, hyperbole, synecdoche, catachresis, metaphor, and allegory[2] (Fahnestock 100).

Rhetors used linguistic tropes as means of ornamentation and ‘persuasive language’ to affect the audience psychologically, and this is what Steiner stresses: Language  applied,  in  a  perfectly  deliberate and  analyzable  fashion ,  to  the  job  or  persuasion ,  instruction,  ornamentation  or  dissimulation,  as  the  case  might  be. Poetics  came  under  the  heading  of  rhetoric;  both  were patently  of  the  realm  of  the  grammarian  and  teachers  of eloquent  discourse (Steiner 129).  

Steiner’s statement highlights a new term called poetics, which split from rhetorical stylistics. The term poetics comes from the Greek poietikos, which stands for “pertaining to poetry.” Poetics deals mainly with the eloquent discourse.

Therefore, language of literature focused on its beauties like symbols, metaphors, irony, and diction to exaggerate the subject matter of a literary work. Thus, while rhetorical stylistics focused on the psychological effects of speakers’ words on audience, poetics emphasized aesthetic and eloquent effects of discourse on hearers.

The emphasis was directed to the aesthetic function of  the language of literature which was viewed as the aesthetic transmission of thought. There was no great shift by the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. By then, the focus was on the classical views of style, especially of Quintillion’s idea that "custom is the most certain mistress of language" (Galperin 46) , following to the path of classical grammar and rhetorical schools. Chaucer, for example, was considered as the father of English literature when spoken and written media in England were French and latin. However style was also marked by the free use of language ( 47).

This tendency was represented by two stylistic trends. The first was of Willam Shakespeare who advocated the free use of new vocabulary and forms borrowed from other languages, namely Latin and french. The second was of Edmund Spenser who called for the use archaic words, trying to preserve old English. Books dealing with style include Leonard Cox’s The Arte or Crafte of Rhetorique and Thomas Wilson’s Arte of Rhetorique. The latter divided style into three types: elevated, middle and low (Galperin 47).

The 17 th century witnessed another shift in style of the language used in literary texts. the, then, tendency emphasised ‘refinement’, but it was towards opposite directions. while some writers preferred the adherance to classical norms, others, focused on simple language use to be understood by ordinary people. For this, Galperin states the trend’s norms, saying:

The tendency of refining and polishing the English literary language by modelling it on the classic Greek and Latin masterpieces was counter­acted, however, by another strong movement, that of restricting liter­ary English to a simple colloquial language which would easily be under­stood by the ordinary people. (51)

These norms led to the foundation of some movements in the following centuries. The 18th century was based on the the previous idea that language should be refined and imporoved by the use of standard English language norms. Two men were the pioneers of that trend: Samuel  Johnson and Jonathan Swift.

For swift, literary language should not contain "vulgar slanginess." He often criticized some university students for the use of vulgar language saying: They... come up to town, reckon all their errors for accom­plishments, borrow the newest set of phrases and if take a pen into their hands, all the odd words they have picked up in a cof­fee-house, or at a gaming ordinary are produced as flowers of style. (qtd. in Galperin 52).

Instead, Swift came up with his own perception of style as, "proper words in proper places." Hence literary language had to follow the established norms and rules that vocabulary borrowing and coining had to be restricted to safeguard literary language. In this regard, G believes that Swift called for a straightforward style in his quoted phrase "'to call a spade a spade', which has become a symbol for a plain and simple way of expression."( Galperin 53)

Samuel  Johnson, in turn, protested against random use of literary language and called for selecting words from previous great writers' literary publications and rejecting all words used in colloquial English of his time. And for the sake of saving literary language, he published his first dictionary in 1753.

However, his stylistic view was criticized by De Quincey in his book Essays on Style, Rhetoric, and Language as being lifeless, purely bookish, and mechanical (188). The sense of perfection in language and style continued till the early years of the 19th century.

However, the century was an arena of struggle between different stylistic views. The purism[3] of the 18th century collided with vulgarism[4] and led to the emmergance of different styles. These views can be summerized in Mcknight's statement:

The spirit of purism was evidently alive in the early nine­teenth century. The sense of a classical perfection to be striven for survived from the eighteenth century. The language must not only be made more regular, but it must be protected from the corrupting influences that were felt to be on all sides. Vulgarisms were to be avoided and new words, if they were to be tolerated, must conform not only to analogy but to good taste (qtd. in Galperin 54).

Purism trend did not last much due to the influence of the Romantic ear. The Revolutionary wars between France and Britain, which lasted from 1793 to 1815, had its effects on style and the language used then. Many words such as "liberty, equality, and fraternity" flooded into use by writers. Expressions were free and literature was viewed as the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"[5]

This statement is mentioned twice by William Wordsworth in his preface to the "Lyrical Ballads." He goes to say that "style is manly," making it personal and linking it to writers' feelings and thoughts. This idea leads to the identification of individual style, hence, indivedual stylistics. Vulgarism, however, had also its say and appeared to be the most influencial by the end of the century.

The works of Byron, Dickens, Twain, Crane, and other classic writers of the 19th century introduced colloquial language into standard literary English. This led to the rise of different styles dealing not only with social but also linguistic stratifications.

Galperin puts this idea forward:

The shaping of the belles-lettres prose style called forth a new sys­tem of expressive means and stylistic devices. There appeared a stylistic device…which quickly developed into one of the most popular means by which the thought and feeling of a character in a novel can be shown, the speech of the character com­bining with the exposition of the author to give a fuller picture (56).

Speeches of lower classes floated to the surface in realistic novels as a means of depicting reality, and many works expressed social, psychological, and political concerns of the time. The focus on the study of language varieties led to the emergence of modern linguistics at the beginning of the 20th century:

Language is no longer regarded as peripheral to our grasp of the world in which welive, but as central to it. Words are not mere vocal labels or communicational adjuncts superimposed upon an already given order of things. They are collective products of social interaction, essential instruments through which human beings constitute and articulate their world. This typically twentieth-century viewof language has profoundly influenced developments throughout the whole range of human sciences. It is particularly marked in linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology. In all these fields the revolution in linguistic thought which Saussure and Wittgenstein ushered in has yet to run its full course. (Harris IX)

The Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure termed new linguistic dichotomies that helped in stylistic analisys like signifier, signified, langue, and parole. The latter has to do with with style because if langue represents the system of rules shared among speakers or writers of a language, parole is, then, the specific use of the system or selection from that linguistic repertoire (Leech and Short 9).

Following the steps of  De Saussure, Charles Bally wrote his book Traité de Stylistique, considering stylistics as a systemic study (taylor 1980, 21). Bally came up with his "expessive theory" believing that languistic forms convey thought and feelings.

For him, stylistic analysis should focus on the linguistic forms and their effects on emotions. In this sense, he puts that "Stylistics studies the elements of a language organized from the point of view of their affective content; that is, the expression of emotion by language as well as the effect of language on them" (taylor 1980, 23). From this view, three notions can be derived:

  1. The notion of affective expression leads to directly to the idea of choice or selection of specific diction to convey the authors thoughts and feelings.
  2. Style is personal and subjective and can be expressed by linguist forms.
  3. Stylistic study includes historical, personal, and psychological contexts

One of the pioneers of stylistics who took this approach one step further is Leo Spitzer. Spitzer relates language use, or style, to the psyche of the author. His argument that the more we read a literary work the more it reveals the inner worldview of its author, and the better connection will be established between the work and us (Spitzer 27).

This psychological stylistic approach of "close reading" takes on its shoulders the ideology that a literary work should be interpreted first and than comes the application of linguistic analysis to validate or invalidate the hypotheses. By this, Spitzer compromise between impressionistic and scientific methods of analysis.

However, he turned to reject psychology from his analysis and took text as an organism that can stand on its own and focused only on the poetic language. In the same period and based on spitzer's new approach, Roman Jakobson and members of Moscow Linguistic Circle (1915) came up with another contributing idea to the development of modern stylistics and coined an opposing view to the previous ones, which stressed the emotional effects that authors communicate.

Instead, Jakobson emphasised ‘poetic language[6]’, and focused on the message for its sake. Hence, only the text should be considered, and social, historical, ideological or biographical contexts were rejected.

In other words, the study of language should be confined to the explanation of the formal linguistic features of a literary text. That is style,  structure,  imagery,  tone,  and genre which marked the rise of formalist stylistics.

Thus, Russian formalism is derived from the application of these principles to literary texts. In this regard, Victor Erlich claims that Russian formalism was determined to free literary analysis from other related disciplines such as sociology, psychology, and history, and the focus was on lingustic features and the artistic devices which charachterize imaginative writing (1101).

However, formalism received much criticism because it does  not  pay  any  attention  to  the author, the  context, the thought.  That is, formalism does not recognize the relation between text and reality. This view gave rise to another language-based theory, Structuralism.

After Jakobson emigrated to Czechoslovakia in 1920, he, together with Mukařovský,  formed Prague Linguistic Circle (1926). It was the cradle of stracturalism which distiguishes literary and non-literary texts.

Mukařovský argues in that poetic use of language in literary texts 'deviates' from standard language use, challenging the assumption that all linguistic devices have to agree with the norms of the standard language(qtd. in Chovanec 43).

Accordingly, this deviation creates a "defamilar effect" on the reader which is the key element to any work to be called a work of art. Jakobson thiks that defamiliarisation also can be found in structural patterns where the author deviates from the common structure.

Stracturalism of Prague School related the use of poetic language to foregrounding [7] and automatistion. The latter, refers to the use of linguistic devices for a communicative purpose without any attention to attract or surprise. The former, however, refers to the use of deviated linguistic devices, making the expression poetic and uncommon to the reader.

The relationship between foregrounding and automatisation is illustrated by Mukařovský: Foregrounding is the opposite of  automatization, that is, the deautomatization of an act; the more  an act is automatized, the less it is consciously executed; the more it is  foregrounded, the more completely conscious does it become.

Objectively  speaking: automatization schematizes an event; foregrounding means the violation of the scheme" (19). By the same token, Jakobson, after his immigration to the U.S. in 1941, argued in his paper "Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics" that poetics, which refers todays to stylistics, should be ranked as an academic sub-branch of linguistics:

Poetics deals with problems of verbal structure, just as the analysis of painting is concerned with pictorial structure. Since linguistics is the global science of verbal structure, poetics may be regarded as an integral part of linguistics ( qtd. in  Sebeok 350).

Jakobson's notions gave birth to Russian Formalism, Structuralism, and helped develop New Criticism in America and Practical Criticism in Britain. New Criticism focuses on the language of the text. That is, the description of the aesthetics of the literary work, where as Practical Criticism pays attention to the psychological processes which readers go through to understand literary textsf analysis depends on cognitive stylistics.

However, Jakobson's notable achievement lies in setting six factors of speech event to achieve its communicative message. The "addresser" conveys the "message" to the "addressee" in a "context" with a "code" fully or partially familiar to both encoder and decoder. The final factor is the "contact," a physical or psychological connection between the two persons.

These factors are illustrated as follows:

Figure 1: The six factors of an effective verbal communication ( Thomas A. Sebeok , Style in Language 353)

For Jakobson, the six factors of an effective verbal communication have six corresponding functions [8] of language. Emotive or expressive function corresponds to the addresser, and conative fuctions relates to the addressee. The poetic function is associated with the message and the referential function is for the context. The phatic and metalingual functions correspond to contact and code factors. In the late twentieth century, the use of register and dialect floated to the surface in analysing a literary text.

One of the best examples is Michael Halliday's Linguistic Function and Literay Style: An Inquiry into the Language of William Golding's The inheritors.

During last decade many eminent scholars have published valuable books on stylistics. Mick Short and Geoffrey  Leech are the leading figures in this field. Especially  Leech's Language and Literature; Style and Foregrounding (2008) is accepted by the scholars as another of his classic works in stylistics after his A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry (1969).

N. Krishnaswamy writes in this context (2004):

In Rome it was  developed  by  Cicero  and  Quintilian,  and  during  the middle  ages  rhetoric  was  a  key  subject  in  university  education. Renaissance reviewed the interest in the Greek models but in 18th and the  19th centuries,  the  art  of  rhetoric  declined  and,  in  a  way,  it  was gradually  absorbed  into  linguistics.  In  the  twentieth  century  the  re-incarnated  form  with  a  new  interest  in  literary  style  is  known as stylistics. (133)

Definition of style and stylistics

From the above survey, it can be understood that stylistics went throught different statges to be finally recognised as a distinct discipline in 1960's. It may be clear that stylistics is concerned with language use in literature[9], though there is no agreement between scholars of what stlylistics and style are. It is important to shed light on some views of style and stylistics.


Style is a controvercial concept and it was under debate from ancient till contemporary time[10]. It can be applied to language, to arts like music, painting and architecture, or to activities such as sports.

However, this thesis looks at style in terms of language use. Aristotle defines it as "the most effective means of achieving both clarity and diction and a certain dignity in the use of  expanded, abbreviated, and altered froms of words; the unfamiliarity due to this deviation from normal usages will raise the diction above the commonplace" (qtd. in  Mohit Kumar Ray, 33).

This definition sets deviation form the norms of language use as a high style. In other words, Aristotle refers to foregrounding as a quality of good style, and this warns us that the views of Prague School of foregrounding, deviation, and defamiliarisation were, perhaps, derived from Aristotle's view.

Another view sees style as a "way of writing"[11] or a "mode of expression," which stresses that style is presentation of the content in different ways . This definition is called "dualism," because it sets the form (the way or mode) and content (the meaning or implication) as separate parts.

Wesley is one of the representatives of this vew believing that style is a "dress of thought": "Style is the dress of thought; a modest dress, Neat, but not gaudy, will true critics please" (qtd. in Leech and Short 13). "Monism" runs in contrast to this view, suggesting that form and content are one entity and cannot be regarded as separate features of language.

In other words, the advocates of this view think that form and content are inseparable. In this regard Flubert confidently says, "It is like body and soul: form and content to me are one." (13).

Leech and Short suggest a diagram representing both views:

Figure 2: A diagram summarizing Monism and Dualism (16) Leech and Short, in turn, define style as "the way in which language is used in a given context, by a given person, for a given purpose, and so on" (9).

They give style certain features in which it can be identified according to the way language is used (parole), the choices made from language, its domain (the genre), and paraphrasibility (31).

Another view comes from Frank Laurence Lucas in his book Style: The Art Writing Well (1955), defining style as the effective use of language for the sake of making statements or raising emotions with clarity and brevity (9).

Style can be the thumbprint of its author and reveal his identity[12] and emotions in the literary text. Pioneers of the emotive notions include Bally and Riffaterre. For them, style is "that expressive or emotive element of language which is added to the neutral presentation of the message itself"(qtd. in Leech and Short 15).

This leads to the notion of individual syle that every person has his own way of doing something or at least has some features that makes him distinct for others. These features reflect his social and political, religious, cultural, educational, background, therefore, his personality. In this case, the study of style, stylistics, should be linked to different disciplines including linguistics, history, sociology, psychology, and cultural studies, hence, the context.

Stylistics as an Interdisciplinary dicipline

It is essential to highlight what stylistic is and its relationship with other disciplines. At the same breath, it is also important to shed light on the approaches used in stylistic analysis of a literary text, especially those used in this thesis.

What is stylistics?

Stylistics may be broadly defined as the study of  the language and the style in a literary or non-literary texts, though it is not confined only to the analysis of the written language but also the spoken one. From the foregoing views of style, it is safe to say that stylistics is concerned with the study of different styles in language and literature. It sits as a fence between the two "divided disciplines" and at the same time as a bridge connecting them where it links between linguistic form and literary effect [13].

However, scholars have not yet agreed about a common definition and assumed different views to the discipline. One of the pissimistic views of stylistics is what Pual Simpson quotes from Lecercle that "nobody has ever really known what the term ‘stylistics’ means, and in any case, hardly anyone seems to care" (qtd. in Paul Simpson Stylistics 2).

For Lecercle, the best way to define stylistics is to give up defining it at all, because it is controverscial. However, Paul Simpson (2006) tries to ommit this ambiguity about stylistics believing it as a leading sub-discipline because many books, research journals, and international conferences are dedicated to it; and it is taught in language, literatue, and linguistic department over the world (2).

He thinks of stylistics as a "method of textual interpretation" of language, especially the literary one, through an account to its linguistic features in "context" [14] which serve as a "gateway" to the act of interpretation. Geofrey Leech and Mick Short state that stylistics aims to "connect textual analysis and processes of reader inference to the important general non-linguistic literary critical concepts which, when taken together, comprise the understanding of, and response to, novels and stories" (289).

This means that stylistic analysis requires from the reader an interaction and respose with text to have full understanding. Stylistics is also defined as "the study of the relationship between linguistic form and literary function.” (Leech and Short 2007: 3). Language, Stylistics, and Literature: as an interdisciplinary subject, stylistics takes the middle position between two main discipline: Linguistics and literary criticism.

This position, however, is sometimes recognizable as a bridge connecting both disciplines and sometimes as a fence deviding them. In favour of this notion, Leech and Short comment: As a sub-discipline, stylistics sits athwart the boundary between linguis-tic and literary study, and sitting on a fence always has its drawbacks. One obvious such drawback is that those in the middle of the two big fields which the fence connects/divides may not even know you are there (287).

This division between linguistics and literary criticism is obvious in the raging debate between scholars of the fields. One of the best examples can be found in a question  asked by the literary critc F. W. Bateson to the linguist Roger Fowler, "Would I allow my sister to marry a linguist? It is a good question. And I suppose, if I am honest, I must admit that I would much prefer 'not' to have a linguist in my family" (qtd. in Paul Simpson 155).

In this regard, Jakobson (1960) describes the cold relationship as "flagrant anachronisms," that "a linguist deaf to poetic function of language and a literary scholar indifferent to linguistic problems" (377). By time, stylistics seemed to prove its usefulness as tool[15] for both scholar and bridge the gap between the divided streams. Leech and Short believe that it serves as a dialogue between critics and linguists, adding that stylistics can be andventure of discovery for both of them (4, 5).

They add that the aim of stylistics is to link between the concerns of critics in aesthetic appreciation and of linguists in linguistic description (11). The days when linguistic description and literary analysis were repelling each other are now gone. Stylistics becomes the bridge in which both disciplines meet and find things in common.

In his book Linguistic Stylistcs (1973), Nils Erik Enkvist writes: We  may. . . regard  stylistics as a subdepartment of linguistics and give it a specia subsection dealing with the peculiarities of literary texts. We may choose to make  stylistics a subdepartment of literary studies which may draw on linguistic method.  Or we may regard stylistics as an autonomous discipline which draws freely, and eclectically, on methods from linguistics and from literary study (27).

H. G. Widdowson seems to put the status of stylistics in relation to language and literature, on one hand, and linguistics and literary criticism, on the other, as neither a subject nor adiscipline (1975, 3)

Disciplines                     Linguistics                                              literary criticism                                                .                                                                   .                                                .                                                                   .                                                .                                                                   .


                                               .                                                                   .                                                .                                                                   .                                                .                                                                   . Subjects                  (English) Language                                     

(English) Literature Widdowson's diagram representing the status of stylistics (page 4)

While Mick Short's book Exploring the Language of Poetry, Plays and Prose, states the opposite view that "stylistics can sometimes look like either linguistics or literary criticism, depending upon where you are standing when you are looking at it.” (1996: 1).

It is clear that stylistics palys a great role in connecting two important but separate disciplines in the study of the language of literature. This connection seems to solve  and reconcile the raging debate between scholars of both camps.

For this endeavour, Halliday (1970) puts: Linguistics is not and will never be the whole of literary analysis, and only the literary analyst -not the linguist- can determine the place of linguistics in literary studies.

But if a text is to be described at all, then it should be described properly; and this means by the theories and methods developed in linguistics, the subject whose task is precisely to show how language works (70).

Stylistics and related disciplines

From the previous section, it is undeniably clear that stylistics is related to linguistics. Ultimately, it i also linked to other linguistic discipline, like grammar, phonology, pragmatics, semantics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and so on. Since stylistic study depends on the use of linguistic levels and features, it is useful to look for the relationship between stylistics and other disciplines.

Stylistics and sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics is the study of language variation in a speech community or such as standard or colloquial language. Style can be defined as a variation of laguage use. Accordingly, stylistics has to do with sociolinguistics because it represents language use in its context: society.

The relationship between stylistics and sociolinguistics illustrated by Turner in his book Stylistics (1973) that "stylistics is that part of linguistics, which concentrates on variation in the use of language, often, but not exclusively, with special attention to the most conscious and complex uses of language in literature" (7).

Variation is a common and key element for both disciplines, however, they are dealt with differently. Sociolinguistics analyses variation in its real perfomance in society, whereas stylistics analyses its representation it in a literary work.

As it was disscussed earlier, the debate of wether to use standard or non-standard language in literary works appeared in the 17th century. The, then, argument was that language of literature had to be simple and represent varieties of language spoken by ordinary people. This idea continued in the 18th century, but faced conter argument; however, it was at peak in the 19th, and 20th.  The use of regional dialects in literature makes the work forgrounded and gives it "local color,"[16] and ultimately it represents a new style.

Stylistics, thus, deals with sociolinguistic aspect of society because language accours in a context, place and time, and stylistics has been defined as the study of language use in its context. In this perspective, Fowler (1977) admits: Sociolinguistic structure bears on the novelist's writing in two ways.

His style responds to his place in the history of forms of prose fiction; no matter how revolutionary, he occupies a place in the history of writing; he may belong to a 'movement' or at least relate antagonistically to a 'movement', he may relate to certain genres of non-fictional writing of his time (77).

Accordingly, novelists, or authors in general, respond to the general style of the movement they belong to; and they try to reveal the features and the pecularities of their place and time through their own stylistic choices. Stylistics takes advantage of sociolinguistic features in a text to extract social powers, social classes, and levels of education. The relationship between stylistics and sociolinguistics is specifically strong enough because of their related concept: style and dialect.

Stylistics, being the study of style varieties of individual authors, and sociolinguistics, being the sudy of language varieties like dialects of speech communities, have apparently something in common. Dialect represents distinguishing patterns of speech communities such as phonology, grammar, lexis. And so does style because shift into another style indicates shift into aother dialect (Wolfram and Schilling-Estes, 1998: 217).

Stylistics and psycholinguistics

Stylistics is also closely connected to psychology in the fact that style reveals the psychological and the emotional side of its author. Pionneer of psychological stylistics is Leo Spitzer who established correlation between the style of a literary work and the psyche of its author and he tended to apply close reading as a window to the author world and personality.

Writing is a psychological act from the author who encodes the message, and reading is a psychological act from the reader who, in turn, decodes the conveyed message. In this sense, stylistics analyses the psychological effect of language use by the writer on the reader. Leech and Short comment, "If reading is complex, so also is writing; and when we come to the mystery of literary composition, we can scarcely begin to explain the operations of the creative mind which result in a sequence of words on the written page" (97).

For them, style is not the code conveyed by writer to reader, but it is the way in which the code is used (98). The application of stylometry, a contemporary approach, by certain stylisticians proved useful. James W. Pennebaker's The Secret Life of Pronouns: What words say about us (2007) is one the examples to understand the artistic work's meaning and the personality of its author.

In his book, he suggests that "words that reflect language style can reveal aspects of people’s personality, social connections, and psychological states." (14). That's because people reveal some clues to their personalities when they speak or write, and literary works are no exception.

In this regard, style is defined by Murry (1976) as a "quality of language which communicates precisely emotions or thoughts, or a system of emotions or thoughts, peculiar to the author" (65). Authors use language in a particular style to transfer thoughts and emotions to readers in telling funny stories. For example, readers feel humourous through stylistic implications.

Stylistics and Semantics

Semantics is a branch of linguistics which studies meaning of words in language. Stylistics in turn tries to study meaning in linguistic items and in texts. Stylistics takes meaning of the of a specific item, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or the whole texts as the ultimate goal. in this spirit Galperin states: Stylistics is a domain where meaning assumes paramount importance.

This is so because the term 'meaning' is applied not only to words, word-combinations, sentences but also to the manner of expression into which the matter is cast (57). Accordingly, stylistics is concerned not only with what is expressed, but with what is implied too. Since stylistics is concerned with linguistic choices, it is important in stylistic analysis to at the ability of a word to comprise several lexical meanings. Galperin names theses lexical meanings as: the contextual or dictionary, symbolic, connotative, and denotative meaning.

Stylistic Approaches to Literature

Through the earlier survey, it is clear that stylistics witnessed major development from Greek and Roman times till the contemporary time, and this development is still going on. As stylistics expands its intersts, it comes into contact with different disicplines and takes some of their principles as a basis in the analysis of the literary language, to name but some: literary stylistics, linguistic stylistics, corpus stylistics, discourse stylistics, computational stylistics, and cognitive stylistics. It is crucial, then, to shed light on stylistic approaches applied in this thesis.

Literary stylistics

Literary stylistics, sometimes called literary criticism, is concerned with interpretating the message of a work of art. Therefore, literary stylistics is interested in the aesthetics and the beauties of language use and their effects on the reader rather than the linguistic forms by themselves.

It is not the description of language and style the most important for literary stylisticians; rather, it is his intuitions, the stylistic effects on the reader, and functions produced by the text in general. It seems that literary stylistics subjective because it depends on personal interpretation and intuitive evidence, since the ultimate aim of literary stylistics is to decipher the messege conveyed by the writer.

It is meaning of the text, not the form,  that distinguishes literary stylistics from its counter-part linguistic stylistics. ……………………. As a whole, literary and linguistic stylistics work together for the ultimate goal of "stylistics." According to Katie Wales, "The goal of most stylistics is not simply to describe the formal features of texts for their own sake.

They also show their functional significance for the interpretation of the text; or in order to relate literary effects to linguistic 'causes' where these are felt to be relevant" ( A Dictionary of Stylistics 2001).

Linguistics stylistics

Linguistic stylistics, however, looks for style in terms of linguistic features of a text at different levels of linguistic description like phonology (onomatopoeia, alliteration, eye dialect, and rhyme), syntax (repetition, and question in the narrative), grammar (dialect), and sematics (metaphor, irony, and simile).It points out the "choices" made by the writer and their "effects" on the reader.

It is also concerned with the uantification of these features and their recurrence in a literary text. Thus, linguistic stylistics uses scientific methods and seems more objective than literary stylistics. It does not neglect meaning of the text but it gives more importance to linguistic description rather than interpretation.

In this regard, Ayeomoni (2003) believes that the lingustic study of literary text is "precise and definite" as it employs objective scientific methods and interpretation of texts" (177). This view echoes that of Jakobson (1960) who stated : If there are some critics who still doubt the competence of linguistics to embrace the field of poetics, I privately believe that the poetic incompetence of some bigoted linguists has been mistaken for an inadequacy of the linguistic science itself. All of us here, however, definitely realize that a linguist deaf to the poetic function of language and a literary scholar indifferent to linguistic problems a nd unconversant with linguistic methods are equally flagrant anachronisms. (377).

Jakobson shows that linguistics is able to employ "poetics" (stylistcs in this sense)  and contribute as much as literary criticism does in the interpretation of a text. However, the difference, as it seems, lies in that literary stylistics is subjective while linguistic stylistics tends to follow scientific method of objectivity.

To sum up the dicussion of linguistic and literary stylistics, one may state that literary stylistics requires artistic gifts and taste for the language use as it is based on intuition, subjectivity, and personal interpretation.

Thus, it is about how the reader interacts with the text and comes up with new interpretation intuitively. But intuitions are personal attempts to understand the meaning of the text, and one may assume as many interpretations as readers. Linguistic stylistics, on the other hand, seems cold in its treatment of the text and more scientific that it excludes the emotive sense of the work.

Therefore, it is stylistics which brings the two subject (language and literature), the two disciplines (linguistics and literary criticism), and the two approaches ( linguistic stylistics and literary stilistics) under one umbrella.

Digital Stylistics

Technology spreads to cover all subjects and disciplines; it can be used scientific studies like medicine, architecture, archeology, and in art such as music, cenema, theatre, and even in social sciences as history, sociology, psychology. Language and literature are no exception. Stylistics then takes advantage of computer into the analysis of texts, and this leads to the emergence of different approaches like stylometry and courpus stylistics as offshoots of computational linguistics and corpus.

These approaches take counting of recurring linguistic features as a major tenet in the analysis and interpretation of language and literature. However, counting is a too but not an end for stylisticians. In this regard, Paul Simpson states a myth regarding the misunerstanding of the direction of contemporary stylistics: "There appears to be a belief in many literary critical circles that a stylistician  is simply a 'dull old grammarian' who spends rather too much time on such trivial pursuits as 'counting' the nouns and verbs in literary texts" (3).

For him, this misunderstanding is due to the wrong perception of stylistic methods. Stylistics is not only about quantification or statistics; it is, also, context-based analysis (ibid 3). Ho in turn, supports this view and gives qualitative dimension to corpus stylitics stating that the approach is not only a quantitative examination of literature.

Rather, it is a qualitative stylistic study of the language of literature, reinforced and combined by corpus-based quantitative methods and technology (10). Similarly, corpus stylistics is defined by Carter as an analysis "relatively objective methodological procedure that at its best is guided by a relatively subjective process of interpretation” (2010: 67).

This definition seems contradictory that corpus stylistics has two opposing qualities at once, objectivity and subjectivity.

Accordingly, corpus stylistics use quantitative methods to find objective linguistic evidence in a literary work ; and, then, tries to give qualitative description to the findings.

Given this, corpus stylistics combine the scientific objectivity of linguistic stylistics and the intuitive subjectivity of literary stylistics. It tries to give as McEnery et al. (2006) suggest a "balance between the use of corpus data and the use of one’s intuition" ( qtd in Ho 11). Semino and Short's book Corpus Stylistics stresses the significant contribution made when applying corpus stylistic approach"The corpus stylistics approach has not prevented us from doing anything we would have done before . . . but it has enabled us to find out a great deal more than we would otherwise have been able to do" ( 226).

Whereas Michaela Mahlberg et al argue in Text , Discours e and Corpora that corpus stylistics takes advantage of descriptive tools that are not only suitable for linguistic frameworks but also for literary interpretation (219). The term corpus[17] indicates comparison between two works or more in order to find similarities and differences. This comparison is given via different computer softwares and tools like WordSmith Tools by Scott (2007), WMatrix by Rayson (2009), AntConc by Anthony (2011), MLCT by Piao, to name but four.

These tools are used to count word frequencies along texts or corpus. These corpus data are used as a quantitative evidence but needs qualitative analysis to give more sense to the stylistic anlysis. In this regard Ho suggests: "To conduct a corpus stylistic study, we need to bear in mind that our primary concern should always be the 'artistic totality' of style, a trait which transcends the mere counting of the components of the surface structure of the text.

Quantification and statistics should always be utilized as a means rather than an end, to verify or refute our intuition-based analysis. The use of computers for analyzing electronic versions of texts is to generate and display linguistic evidence in support of our interpretation and stylistic analysis (10, 11).

If two or more texts are comprared in terms of words frequencies or linguistic phenomena, corpus stylistics, as Michaela Mahlberg points "not only adds systematicity to but reduces subjectivity from stylistic analysis  by drawing on computer methods (Contemporary Corpus Linguistics ed. Paul Baker 48).

In the same manner, Enkvist (1973) suggest that if style is considered to be a variety of language linked to context, then, it is comparison which serves as a basis for the analysis because style, being variation, is based on differences that can be detected through comprarison (21).

Based on this notion of comparison, one can anlyse literary works taking into account that works have to be converted into electronic readible text extensions like 'xml', 'txt', or 'pdf' to build the corpus of the analysis.

These files go through computational analysis using the softwares and tool mentioned above in order to find recurring elements of features and save  them as quantitative data.

Then, quantification should be interpreted manually to confirm the finding. Therefore, it is important when using this approach to look for words frequencies to discover as much conscious and inconscious massages behind recurrences of these words. In this regard, Sinclair (1991) stresses, “Anyone studying a text is likely to need to know how often each different word  form occurs in it” (60).

Characteristics of corpus stylistics/ principles

Given these characteristics that corpuss stylistics is a fence between computation, statistics, linguistics, and literary criticism and that it is based mainly on words frequencies, it is clear that style has another quality: measurment. However, it is important to ask the following question: How to measure styles in literary works?

The problem of measurement

Leech and short dicuss the notion of measuring style being featured by frequencies, and give a detailed explanation of the problems related to measurement of style. To quote from them Bernard Bloch's definition of style as "the message carried by the 'frequency distributions' and transitional 'probabilities' of its linguistic features, especially as they 'differ' from those of the 'same features' in the language as a 'whole'" (35).

Similar to this definition, Enkvist (1964) considers style as frequencies of linguistic items in contextual probabilities and to measure it in a passage these items have to compared with similar ones in normal language use (29).

These definitions suggest that style is recognised by its 'frequency distributions' and 'probabilities' forgrounded from the norms in the 'whole language.' Leech and Short propose that these kinds of difinitions carry certain problems:

  1. Quantification is a less essential part of stylistics
  2. The average lenght of English sentence, as a stylistic feature, is not fixed unless it is measured against the language as a whole.
  3. It is impossible to list and measure all the linguistic features in a text (35, 36).

There are also certain problems related words and sentence measures. If the softwares detect words as entities seperated by spaces, then, can we consider contractions, acronyms, and hyphenated words as single words? If a sentence ends with a period, how can we destiguish it from abbreviated word? These shortcomings of the corpus stylistic approach are a sort of relief to stylisticians because it seems impossible to have a complete interpretation of a literary work.

Stylistic Devices

Stylistic or literary devices are specific techniques used by writers to create artistic and creative texts, and these devices are termed according to their linguistic functions and effects in a text. Thus, stylistics studies literary devices in literature at different linguistic levels: Phonological, semantic, pragmatic, graphological, lexical, and syntactic. At the phonological level, analysis may include , but not limitted to, onomatopoeia, assimilation, elision, alliteration, assonance, and rhyme.

The analysis at the graphological level includes eye dialect. At the lexical and syntactic level, stylistics provides an insight into dialect, slang, archaism, idioms, and proverbs. Semantically, it studies irony, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, forgrounding, and symbols. Pragmatically, the analysis is concerned with implicature and speech act. In this section we will discuss some of these stylistic devices related to the hypothesis.


In A Glossary of Literary Terms, onomatopoeia is defined narrowly as a "word, or a combination of words, whose sound seems to resemble closely the sound it denotes: 'hiss,' 'buzz,' 'rattle,' 'bang'" (236).

Hiss, for example, is a sound made by a snake and "mew" is a sound made by a cat. In literature, onomatopoeias serve as imitations or indications of sounds of actions, of animals, and of nature. As quoted in Abrams and Harpham's A Glossary of Literary Terms,  Tennyson’s “Come Down, O Maid” (1847) is a representative example of onomatopoeia use: "The moan of doves in immemorial elms, And murmuring of innumerable bees." (236) Galprin (1977) suggests two types of onomatopoeia: "Direсt onomatopoeia is contained in words that imitate natural sounds, as ding-dong,  buzz, bang, cuckoo, tintinabulation, mew, ping-pong, roar and the like […] Indirect onomatopoeia is a combination of sounds the aim of which is to make the sound of the utterance an echo of its sense.

It is sometimes called "echo-writing". An example is: 'And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain' (E. A. Poe)" (124-5). To give another example for direct onomatopoeia and its effect, Hemingway's For Whom the BellTollsis often cited, "The train was coming steadily . . . later came the noise of the whistle. Then it came chu-chu-chu-chu-chu-chu steadily larger and larger . . ." (29). The effect is clear that the imitation of the approaching train sound is more expressive that any other description. Here sounds are spelled in words and they sound the same as the sounds they imitate.

Literary Dialect

Cuddon defines dialect as "A language or manner of speaking peculiar to an individual or class or region. Usually it belongs to a region . . . dialect differs from the standard language of a country in some cases very considerably" (217).

The use of dialect in literature was common from the 18th century onward, and so the term dialect has got a literary quality. Thus, it is called literary dialect. It is defined by Milton as a  stylistic  construct,  it  is  a  marked  code  that invites  readers to go beyond denotative  meanings to seek the specific connotations of the speech depicted." (5).

Also, Literary dialect is a stylistic device which can be analysed syntactically, morphologically, graphologically, and phonologically. It encompasses sounds, grammar, lexis, and spelling. The study of literary dialects reveals variations in speech patterns from the standard spelling and pronunciation at both graphological and phonological levels. The use of weak forms and the aspects of connected speech is significant in creating real conversations and recording the historical narrative accurately. Literary dialect use also gives an indirect description of the social class of a character, his region, and his education.

For this, Lori Lake (2005) suggests that "The use of proper dialect helps to vividly express a characters' identity.” All these aspects are represented throug the use of literary dialrct and eye dialect. For example, "now wir nivir gaunnae see…" is used in Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, Which can be translated as 'now, we are never going to see.' 

In this regard, Galperin (1977) states, "These morphological and phonetic peculiarities are sometimes regarded as violations of grammar rules caused by a certain carelessness which accompanies the quick tempo of colloquial speech or an excited state of mind" (37).

The syntactic variation can be seen in substituting standard words with their corresponding lexical synonyms, for example, mom , mamy or ma for mother, dad or dady for father. Grammar is also exposed to to change revealing the peculiarities of different varieties of language.

Double negation, contracted forms, and many can be examined stylistically. For example, ain't is used for are not, am not, is not, have not, and has not. Though ain't is already negative, the following exapmle shows double negation "… as ain’t never been away from home much and has allus had a mother." (Crane 5). Leech and Short distinguish between two linguistic terms used in literary texts: dialect and idiolect.

For them, dialect is dialect is a set of linguistic features shared by speech community while idiolects refers to the linguistic "thumbprint" which distinguishes one person from another (134). Consequently, dialect refers to individuals in the same community whereas idiolect specifies each individual from that community.

The detailed representation of a particular region with its distinctive setting, dialect, customs, dress, and ways of thinking and feeling in literary works is often called "local color." This technique was generally used by American writers after the Civil War.

Eye dialect

Eye dialect is another technique used by writers to represent accuratly the pronunciation of words in an unusual spelling forms. The term was first coined in 1925 by George P. Krapp in "The  English Language  in  America" to refer to the violated convention of the eyes, not of the ears, in which colloquial speech appears in prints.

In a sense, non-standard spelling for non-standard pronunciation draws the attention of the reader's eyes. For Krapp, dialect writers use eye dialect: "Not to indicate a genuine difference of pronunciation, but the spelling is merely a friendly nudge to the reader, a knowing look which establishes a sympathetic sense of superiority between the author and reader as contrasted with the humble speaker of dialect" (qtd. in McArthur 395).

This indicates that eye dialect does not cause a difference in pronunciation but the unconventional spellings draws the reader's attention to different social speech classes, especially working class, represented in literary works.

Standard spelling indicates a superior class of the speaker while non-standard spelling represents his inferior class. Krapp refers to unusual spellings like enuff  for ‘enough’, wimmin  for ‘women’, animulz  for ‘animals' to show how these words are really pronounced. Since Krapp's time, eye dialect has become a stylistic device and expanded to take several definitions.

Now, it may refer to variations of spelling to indicate given pronunciations or refers to "semi-phonetic spelling" (David Brett 49), or sometimes limitted to "spelling errors" (McArthur 395). In contrast to Krapp's definition, Wilson thinks that eye dialect is represented by deliberately misspelled words to indicate a 'nonstandard' or 'dialectal' pronunciation like dat for 'that'.

This kind of spelling is commonly used in American literature like Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, and in British literature such as Dickens's Bleak House. The problem, however, with the eye dialect is that it is sometimes hard to translate. In this regard, David Brett states: The presence of eye dialect in a text clearly poses problems for the translator.

Few languages display such a tenuous relationship between sound and orthographic representation as there is in English, hence, the use of eye dialect sensu stricto may not be feasible in the target language. Furthermore, regional or class-based accents, and all the stereotypes they evoke, are unlikely to have exact counterparts in other language. (50) The difficulty for the reader lies in that regional accents do not always have a corresponding in the standard language.


Repetition is one of the syntactic stylistic devices which reveals the psychological state of the author's mind when he is under strong emotion. It tends to give extra emphasis on the idea through repeating the word, phrase, or sentence many times,  which necessarily, draws the attention of the reader to the key idea. For Galperin, There are four subcategories in which repetition may occur: anaphora, epiphora, framing and anadiplosis (225). He adds that repetition "can  be  regarded  as  the  most  typical  stylistic  device  of English  oratorical" (290).

Thus, it is an important stylistic device not only to show the writer's intention but also to convince the reader of the inteded message. In The Red Badge of Courage, for example, we can find such a stylistic device, "Also, he was drilled and drilled and reviewed and drilled and drilled and reviewed" (Crane 7).This example shows that the character is trained on war matters over and over.


Metaphor is a stylistic device defined in Cuddon's wordsas one thing is described in terms of another where comparison is usually implicit (507). While Abramsdefines it as "a departure from the literal … use of language which serves as a condensed or elliptical simile, in that it involves an implicit comparison between two disparate things" (189).

Accordingly, metaphor is studied in the stylistic term at the semantic level because it denotes the "condensed, implicit" meaning in two different things. In this regard, Galperin defines it as the  power  to realize two different lexical meanings instantaneously. He thinks that metaphor occurs when two different phenomena (things, events, ideas, actions) inherit properties from one another because to the creator of the metaphor they have something in common (140).

From these views of metaphor, we may notice that metaphor is primarily based on comparison of similarities between two different objects. However, it is clear that metaphor is not simile and vice versa because in metahpor deviation in comparison is "implicit" which creates a desire for the reader to find what is in common between the copmared things. To understand it, for Fasold and Conner (2006), the reader has to bring three components: the context, morphology, and syntax" (138).


Personification is another another stylistic device related to metaphor in which abstract ideas or inanimate objects are given human person qualities. Abrams (2009) defines it as "another figure related to metaphor … in which either an inanimate object or an abstract concept is spoken of as though it were endowed with life or with human attributes or feelings" (121).

Similarly, Cuddon (1999) describes personification as "the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects" (661).  For example, Milton states in Paradise Lost as Adam eats the apple, "Sky lowered, and muttering thunder, some sad drops wept at completing of the mortal sin" (1002-3). In this example, drops become are given human qualities such as feeling sad or weeping.


Simile is one of the stylistic devices closely related to metaphor in terms of comparison but different in that it requires the use of connective words such as 'like', 'as', 'such as', 'as if, 'seem'… etc. it is used in literary works to reinforce meaning. Abrams (2009) indicates that a simile is a comparison between two different things using the word 'like' or 'as' (119).

Cuddon sets the characteristics by which one can distinguish between metaphor and simile: "a figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another, in such a way as to clarify and enhance an image. It is an explicit comparison (as opposed to the metaphor, where the comparison is implicit.) recognizable because of the use of the words 'like' or 'as'. It is equally common in prose and verse and is a figurative device of great antiquity" (830). This means that simile compares two things explicitly using connective words.


Imagery is one of the most common stylistic devices used in literary works. It is the use of words to create a mental image. Cuddon defines it as "a general term covers the use of language to represent objects, actions, feelings, thoughts, ideas, states of mind and any sensory or extrasensory experience" (413).

This means that imagery can also be expressed through other stylistic devices such as metaphor and simile. Similarly, Galperin defines it as the "use of language media which will create a sensory perception of an abstract notion by arousing certain associations (sometimes very remote) between the general and the particular, the abstract and the concrete, the conventional and the factual" (264).

In this way, the use of language in a particular way to describe an abstract or concrete creates a sensery perception of the imagined idea or object.

Irony and Sarcasm

Another stylistic device which can be studied at the semantic level is irony. It conveys a double meaning: the intended meaning of the writer or the speaker and the opposite meaning. Galperin defines as a "stylistic device also based on the simultaneous realization of two logical meanings—dictionary and contextual, but the two meanings stand in oppsition to each other" (146).

For Cuddon, There is difference or absurdity between words and their meaning, or actions and their results, or appearance and reality (430). However, the hidden meaning is not intended to decieve the reader or the listener; but it is aimed "to achieve special rhetorical or artistic effects" ( Abrams 165).

There are two kinds of irony: verbal and situational irony. Verbal irony as Cuddon defines it, "At its simplest, verbal irony involves saying what one does not mean" (430). In other words, meaning is contrary to what is siad or written. Also, Abrams defines it as "a statement in which the meaning that a speaker implies differs sharply from the meaning that is ostensibly expressed" (165)

 Irony of situation, on the other hands, is identified as "situational irony occurs when, for instance, a man is laughing uproariously at the misfornrne of another even while the same misfornrne, unbeknownst is happening to him" (Cuddon 430). Situational irony is also called stractural irony when  a given situation or event is different from what is initially expected. In this regard, Abrams states, "Some literary works exhibit structural irony; that is, the author, instead of using an occasional verbal irony, introduces a structural feature that serves to sustain a duplex meaning and evaluation throughout the work" (166).

Sarcasm can also be identified as a rhetorical and general use for ironical remarks. it is generally confused with irony because of the their resemblance. In this sense, Abrams states the similarity and difference between irony and sarcasm:

Sarcasm in common parlance is sometimes used as an equivalent for all forms of irony, but it is far more useful to restrict it only to the crude and taunting use of apparent praise for dispraise … The difference in application of the two terms is indicated by the difference in their etymologies; whereas “irony” derives from “eiron,” a “dissembler,” “sarcasm” derives from the Greek verb “sarkazein, ”“to tear flesh. ” An added clue to sarcasm is the exaggerated inflection of the speaker’s voice.

Accordingly, irony and sarcasm have double meaning: the expressed and the intended. Irony is a statement in which the inteded meaning differs sharply from expressed meaning; sarcasm is the use of praise for dispraise. The effect of both terms can be humorous. The difference lies in that irony is mild and is not intended to insult while sarcasm is a harsh form of irony in which praise is intended to insult or make fun of someone.

The following example illustrates sarcasm clearly: "This is my brilliant son, who failed out of school."

Hyperbole and Understatment

Hyperbole is a stylistic device synonymous to overstatement used for the sake of emphasis. It catches the attention of the reader when utterance is magnified than usual or expected. Galperin cites a definition of hyperbole as "the result of a kind of intoxication by emotion, which prevents a person from seeing things in their true dimensions.

If the reader (listener) is not carried away by the emotion of the writer (speaker), hyperbole becomes a mere lie" (qtd. in Galperin 177). This means that hyperbole aims to present things more important than usual, and if it fails to catch the attention and feelings of the reader than it turns to be nonsense statement.

On the other hand, Galpering thinks that hyperbole is a device enables the reader to make a reasonable evaluation of the expression where thought takes the upper hand on feeling (177).

On the contrary, understatement is a stylistic device used to reduce utterance to emphasize the meaning. The aim of using this figure is represent the fact or the value as less important than in reality. Both understatement and hyperbole are used to produce ironic, comic, or serious effect.


Symbolism in literature is also commoly used to indicate another meaning for the expressed one.  It can be animate or inanimate object which is used instead of a direct words. This stylistic device is often used to convey a meaning deeper than used with simple words.

In literary use,  the term symbol is defined by Abrams as "a word or phrase that signifies an object or event which in its turn signifies something, or suggests a range of reference, beyond itself" (358). Arthur Symons on the other hand claims that symbols are an essential part of language because words are nothing but symbols.

He confidently states, "Without symbolism there can be no literature; indeed, not even language. What are words themselves but symbols, almost as arbitrary -as the letters which compose them, mere sounds of the voice to which we have agreed to give certain significations" (1).

For example, the 'scale' generally symbolizes 'justice' while the 'white dove' is commonly used to express 'peace'. Another stylistic device related to symbolism is allegory. However, the difference between them is that a symbol has a real existence while an allegory is arbitrary (Cuddon 885).

An example of allegory is the famous quotation from George Orwell's Animal Farm, " All animals are equal but a few are more equal than others." This expression represents societal stratification and social classes.


To sum up what has been discussed in this section, one may consider stylistics as a developing discipline which combines not only the principles of the two related but divided disciplines: linguistics and literary criticism; but also different disciplines like psychology, sociology, history, computer sciences, and statistics, in addition to subdisciplines like semantics and phonology.

If you're working on a linguistics dissertation and looking for professional academic assistance, ukessays.com has expert dissertation writers specialising in language and linguistics that can help.


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Benjamin F.  Fisher. The Red Badge of Courage under British Spotlights Again,” War, Literature  &  the  Arts  Stephen  Crane  in  War  and  Peace  special  issue  (2000): 203-12. Print

Bolton J. Mathew. “The Red Badge of Courage in the Context of the 1890s.” ed. Eric Carl  Link.  Critical  Insight:  The  Red  Badge  of  Courage  by  Stephen  Crane. Canada: Salem Press, 2011. 23-38. Print

Bowers,  Fredson.  ed.  Stephen  Crane:  Tales,  Sketches,  and  Reports,  vol.  8. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1973. Print

Berryman,  John.  Stephen  Crane:  A  critical  Biography.  Cooper  Square  Press,  2001. Print

Ferrara, Marc and Gordon Dossett, “A Sheaf of Contemporary American Reviews of Stephen Crane.” Modern Fiction Studies 10 Spring (1978): 168-79. Print

Link,  Eric  Carl.  ed."On  The  Red  Badge  of  Courage."  Critical  Insights.  Ed.  Link,  Eric Carl. Pasadena, California: Salem, 2010. Print

Mitchell, Lee Clark. Ed. “Introduction”. New  Essays  on “The  Red  Badge  of  Courage: The American Novel”. New York. Cambridge University Press, 1986. Print

Richardson,  Mark.  “Stephen  Crane's  The  Red  Badge  of  Courage”.  vol.  1  American Writers Classics. ed. Jay Parini. New York: Scribner's, 2003. 237-55. Print

Schaefer,  Michael.  “Heroes  Had  No  Shame  in  Their  Lives:  Manhood,  Heroics,  and Compassion  in  The  Red  Badge  of  Courage  and  A  Mystery  of  Heroism.” A Special Edition of War, Literature & the Arts (1999): 1O4-13. Print

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Sorrentino,  Paul. The Crane Log

The Critic

The interaction with various disciplines allows stylistics to develop new approaches in its analysis of literary texts like rhetorical, poetic, …… There has also been different views of what stylistics is as the terms "style" is controvertial and is still under disagreement. Some consider stylistics '……..'. others sees it as '…………"

Statistical method to take large number of apparently random variables and group them together into “factors”

Factors will be groups of (+ve and –ve) features

Linguist might then try to characterize the factors in terms of some psycholinguistic feature. see http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/biber/Web text types.ppt

thouand is still develloping th gA fast-developing area which is having an increasing effect on contem-porary stylistics is corpus linguistics (cf  Biber 1988, Biber, Conrad and Reppen 1998, McEnery and Wilson 1996, Sinclair 2004, Thomas and Short 1996)

Stylistic devices

Expressive means are those phonetic, morphological, word-building, lexical, phraseological, syntactical forms, which exist in language-as-a-system for the purpose of logical or emotional intensification of the utterance. Phonetic EM - pitch, melody, stress, pausation, drawling out, whispering and sing-song manner Morphological EM - number, Historical Present, “shall” in the 2 or 3 person, demonstrative pronouns, verbals Lexical EM - different affixes: e.g. diminutive suffixes – dearie, sonny, auntie, streamlet. At the lexical level expressiveness can also be rendered by the words possessing inner expressive charge - interjections, epithets, slang and vulgar, poetic or archaic words, set phrases, idioms, catchwords, proverbs and sayings// Stylistic device is a conscious and intentional intensification of some typical structural and/or semantic property of a language unit (neutral or expressive) promoted to a generalized status thus becoming a generative model. SDs display an application of 2 meanings: the ordinary one (already established in language-as-a-system) and a special – imposed on the unit by the author (or content), a meaning, which appears in language-in-action Stylistic devices (tropes, figures of speech) unlike expressive means are not language phenomena. They are formed in speech and most of them do not exist out of context. According to principles of their formation, stylistic devices are grouped into phonetic, lexico-semantic and syntactic types. Stylistic devices are the result of revaluation of neutral words, word-combinations and syntactic structures. Stylistic devices are studied by stylistic semasiology. “Dickens was never afraid of making excessive use of a way of writing that happened to appeal to him. [ …] He was never afraid of repetition.”                (Brook 1970:36) “[i]t is tempting to read Dickens’ s work […] as one long novel  –  partly because the plots seem to matter less than such things as his evocations of atmosphere and his handling of character”                   ( Kucich 1994: 403)

  • Some stylisticians quantitatively analyse large amounts of data and texts, not possible otherwise, and thus can provide answers to questions such as what is Dickens' writing style in his novels? (Saumya Sharma, “Language Wise.” The Times of India, July 8, 2013)

Mohit Kumar Ray. A Comparative Study of the Indian Poetics and the Western Poetics.

Richard Ohmann (1964) Generative Grammars and the Concept of Literary Style (published online on 04 Dec 2015) (accessed on 31 January 2016). Lecercle, J-J. (1993). ‘The current state of stylistics’, The European English Messenger 2, 1, 14–18.

Symons, Arthur. The symbolist movement in literature. New York: Dutton, 1919. pdf

[1] Some critics consider stylistics as a branch of linguistics (see Geoffrey Leech and Mick Short's Style in fiction page 282, Paul Simpson's Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students page 2, and Jakobson's Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poeticcs  qtd. In  Thomas A. Sebeok , Style in Language page 350. However, Ronald Carter classifies stylistics as an independent discipline. See Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy And Literature page 192.
[2] Some of these terms are discussed in x x x x pages
[3] Is the practice of defining or recognizing one variety of a language as being purer or of higher quality than other varieties. (wikipedia.org)
[4] In the study of language and literary style, a vulgarism is an expression or usage considered non-standard or characteristic of uneducated speech or writing. (ibid)
[6] A language characterised by its tense use of literary devices and deviation from the norms of everyday or standard language. For more information on the discussion poetic language and non-poetic language, see Richard Bradford's Roman Jakobson: Life, language, art. London and New York: Routledge. 2005.
[7]  Foregrounding is a literary device in which somthing stands out from the surrounding words or images. It has two kinds: deviation and parallelism. These concepts are still used in contemporary stylistic analysis by many critics like Mick Short and Geoffrey Leech. See  Leech, G. and Short, M.  (2007) Style in Fiction.
[8] For more information, see Louis Hébert's paper, The Functions of Language, on the following web page: http://www.signosemio.com/jakobson/functions-of-language.asp
[9]Although many have also extended their interest to the analysis of non-literary texts too (Leech and Short, Style in Fiction. 2007: 284).
[10] If we trace back the etimology of the word style, it can be defined as stilus: Latin, and stylos: Greek for ( stick or instrument fro writing, pen) which means that style is mainly about written language, or stylus altus (works of art), or stylus mediocris (the style of high society), or even stylus humilis (the style of low society and comedies).
[11] See Ohman's "Generative Grammar and the Concept of Literary Style" (423).
[12] Many critics tend to attribute texts of unknown or desputed authorship to their real author only through deep, statistical analysis of style. Generally the approach used in this stylistic analysis is referred to as "stylometry". See, for example, James W. Pennebaker's The Secret Life of Pronouns (2007).
[13] See Dan McIntyre's paper (2012), "Linguistics and literature: stylistics as a tool for the literary critic"(1).
[14] Context is an essential element to text analysis because text is produced in time, a place, and in a cultural context. For example, see Paul Simpson's Stylistics (3).
[15] See Dan McIntyre's paper (2012), "Linguistics and literature: stylistics as a tool for the literary critic".
[17] Corpus (Latin, Pl Corpora): A colloction of written or spoken meterial stored on a computer and used to find how language is used (http://dictionary.cambridge.org).
[18] Lillian R. Furst, Realism (London, New York: Longman, 1992)

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