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Ferdinand de Saussure Essay

Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts from a linguistic perspective. As a discipline it links literary criticism and linguistics, but has no autonomous domain of its own. [1][2] The preferred object of stylistic studies is literature, but not exclusively “high literature” but also other forms of written texts such as text from the domains of advertising, pop culture, politics or religion.

[3] Stylistics also attempts to establish principles capable of explaining the particular choices made by individuals and social groups in their use of language, such as socialisation, the production and reception of meaning, critical discourse analysis and literary criticism. Other features of stylistics include the use of dialogue, including regional accents and people’s dialects, descriptive language, the use of grammar, such as the active voice or passive voice, the distribution of sentence lengths, the use of particular language registers, etc.

In addition, stylistics is a distinctive term that may be used to determine the connections between the form and effects within a particular variety of language. Therefore, stylistics looks at what is ‘going on’ within the language; what the linguistic associations are that the style of language reveals. * | Early twentieth century The analysis of literary style goes back to Classical rhetoric, but modern stylistics has its roots in Russian Formalism,[4] and the related Prague School, in the early twentieth century.

In 1909, Charles Bally’s Traite de stylistique francaise had proposed stylistics as a distinct academic discipline to complement Saussurean linguistics. For Bally, Saussure’s linguistics by itself couldn’t fully describe the language of personal expression. [5] Bally’s programme fitted well with the aims of the Prague School. [6] Building on the ideas of the Russian Formalists, the Prague School developed the concept of foregrounding, whereby poetic language stands out from the background of non-literary language by means of deviation (from the norms of everyday language) or parallelism.

[7] According to the Prague School, the background language isn’t fixed, and the relationship between poetic and everyday language is always shifting. [8] Late twentieth century Roman Jakobson had been an active member of the Russian Formalists and the Prague School, before emigrating to America in the 1940s. He brought together Russian Formalism and American New Criticism in his Closing Statement at a conference on stylistics at Indiana University in 1958.

[9] Published as Linguistics and Poetics in 1960, Jakobson’s lecture is often credited with being the first coherent formulation of stylistics, and his argument was that the study of poetic language should be a sub-branch of linguistics. [10] The poetic function was one of six general functions of language he described in the lecture. Michael Halliday is an important figure in the development of British stylistics. [11] His 1971 study Linguistic Function and Literary Style: An Inquiry into the Language of William Golding’s ‘The Inheritors’ is a key essay.

[12] One of Halliday’s contributions has been the use of the term register to explain the connections between language and its context. [13] For Halliday register is distinct from dialect. Dialect refers to the habitual language of a particular user in a specific geographical or social context. Register describes the choices made by the user,[14] choices which depend on three variables: field (“what the participants… are actually engaged in doing”, for instance, discussing a specific subject or topic),[15] tenor (who is taking part in the exchange) and mode (the use to which the language is being put).

Fowler comments that different fields produce different language, most obviously at the level of vocabulary (Fowler. 1996, 192) The linguist David Crystal points out that Halliday’s ‘tenor’ stands as a roughly equivalent term for ‘style’, which is a more specific alternative used by linguists to avoid ambiguity. (Crystal. 1985, 292) Halliday’s third category, mode, is what he refers to as the symbolic organisation of the situation. Downes recognises two distinct aspects within the category of mode and suggests that not only does it describe the relation to the medium: written, spoken, and so on, but also describes the genre of the text.

(Downes. 1998, 316) Halliday refers to genre as pre-coded language, language that has not simply been used before, but that predetermines the selection of textual meanings. The linguist William Downes makes the point that the principal characteristic of register, no matter how peculiar or diverse, is that it is obvious and immediately recognisable. (Downes. 1998, 309) Literary stylistics In The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Crystal observes that, in practice, most stylistic analysis has attempted to deal with the complex and ‘valued’ language within literature, i. e. ‘literary stylistics’.

He goes on to say that in such examination the scope is sometimes narrowed to concentrate on the more striking features of literary language, for instance, its ‘deviant’ and abnormal features, rather than the broader structures that are found in whole texts or discourses. For example, the compact language of poetry is more likely to reveal the secrets of its construction to the stylistician than is the language of plays and novels. (Crystal. 1987, 71). Poetry As well as conventional styles of language there are the unconventional – the most obvious of which is poetry.

In Practical Stylistics, HG Widdowson examines the traditional form of the epitaph, as found on headstones in a cemetery. For example: His memory is dear today As in the hour he passed away. (Ernest C. Draper ‘Ern’. Died 4. 1. 38) (Widdowson. 1992, 6) Widdowson makes the point that such sentiments are usually not very interesting and suggests that they may even be dismissed as ‘crude verbal carvings’ and crude verbal disturbance (Widdowson, 3). Nevertheless, Widdowson recognises that they are a very real attempt to convey feelings of human loss and preserve affectionate recollections of a beloved friend or family member.

However, what may be seen as poetic in this language is not so much in the formulaic phraseology but in where it appears. The verse may be given undue reverence precisely because of the sombre situation in which it is placed. Widdowson suggests that, unlike words set in stone in a graveyard, poetry is unorthodox language that vibrates with inter-textual implications. (Widdowson. 1992, 4) Two problems with a stylistic analysis of poetry are noted by PM Wetherill in Literary Text: An Examination of Critical Methods.

The first is that there may be an over-preoccupation with one particular feature that may well minimise the significance of others that are equally important. (Wetherill. 1974, 133) The second is that any attempt to see a text as simply a collection of stylistic elements will tend to ignore other ways whereby meaning is produced. (Wetherill. 1974, 133) Implicature In ‘Poetic Effects’ from Literary Pragmatics, the linguist Adrian Pilkington analyses the idea of ‘implicature’, as instigated in the previous work of Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson.

Implicature may be divided into two categories: ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ implicature, yet between the two extremes there are a variety of other alternatives. The strongest implicature is what is emphatically implied by the speaker or writer, while weaker implicatures are the wider possibilities of meaning that the hearer or reader may conclude. Pilkington’s ‘poetic effects’, as he terms the concept, are those that achieve most relevance through a wide array of weak implicatures and not those meanings that are simply ‘read in’ by the hearer or reader.

Yet the distinguishing instant at which weak implicatures and the hearer or reader’s conjecture of meaning diverge remains highly subjective. As Pilkington says: ‘there is no clear cut-off point between assumptions which the speaker certainly endorses and assumptions derived purely on the hearer’s responsibility. ’ (Pilkington. 1991, 53) In addition, the stylistic qualities of poetry can be seen as an accompaniment to Pilkington’s poetic effects in understanding a poem’s meaning. Stylistics is a valuable if long-winded approach to criticism, and compels attention to the poem’s details.

Two of the three simple exercises performed here show that the poem is deficient in structure, and needs to be radically recast. The third sheds light on its content. Introduction Stylistics applies linguistics to literature in the hope of arriving at analyses which are more broadly based, rigorous and objective. {1} The pioneers were the Prague and Russian schools, but their approaches have been appropriated and extended in recent years by radical theory.

Stylistics can be evaluative (i. e. judge the literary worth on stylistic criteria), but more commonly attempts to simply analyze and describe the workings of texts which have already been selected as noteworthy on other grounds. Analyses can appear objective, detailed and technical, even requiring computer assistance, but some caution is needed. Linguistics is currently a battlefield of contending theories, with no settlement in sight. Many critics have no formal training in linguistics, or even proper reading, and are apt to build on theories (commonly those of Saussure or Jacobson) that are inappropriate and/or no longer accepted.

Some of the commonest terms, e. g. deep structure, foregrounding, have little or no experimental support. {2} Linguistics has rather different objectives, moreover: to study languages in their entirety and generality, not their use in art forms. Stylistic excellence — intelligence, originality, density and variety of verbal devices — play their part in literature, but aesthetics has long recognized that other aspects are equally important: fidelity to experience, emotional shaping, significant content.

Stylistics may well be popular because it regards literature as simply part of language and therefore (neglecting the aesthetic dimension) without a privileged status, which allows the literary canon to be replaced by one more politically or sociologically acceptable. {3} Why then employ stylistics at all? Because form is important in poetry, and stylistics has the largest armoury of analytical weapons. Moreover, stylistics need not be reductive and simplistic. There is no need to embrace Jacobson’s theory that poetry is characterized by the projection of the paradigmatic axis onto the syntagmatic one.

{4} Nor accept Bradford’s theory of a double spiral: {5} literature has too richly varied a history to be fitted into such a straitjacket. Stylistics suggests why certain devices are effective, but does not offer recipes, any more than theories of musical harmony explains away the gifts of individual composers. Some stylistic analysis is to be found in most types of literary criticism, and differences between the traditional, New Criticism and Stylistics approaches are often matters of emphasis.

Style is a term of approbation in everyday use (“that woman has style”, etc.), and may be so for traditional and New Criticism. But where the first would judge a poem by reference to typical work of the period (Jacobean, Romantic, Modernist, etc. ), or according to genre, the New Criticism would probably simply note the conventions, explain what was unclear to a modern audience, and then pass on to a detailed analysis in terms of verbal density, complexity, ambiguity, etc. To the Stylistic critic, however, style means simply how something is expressed, which can be studied in all language, aesthetic and non-aesthetic. {6}

Stylistics is a very technical subject, which hardly makes for engrossing, or indeed uncontentious, {7} reading. The treatment here is very simple: just the bare bones, with some references cited. Under various categories the poem is analyzed in a dry manner, the more salient indications noted, and some recommendations made in Conclusions. Published Examples of Stylistic Literary Criticism G. N. Leech’s A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry (1969) Laura Brown’s Alexander Pope (1985) Roy Lewis’s On Reading French Verse: A Study in Poetic Form (1982) George Wright’s Shakespeare’s Metrical Art. (1988)

Richard Bradford’s A Linguistic History of English Poetry (1993) Poem The Architects But, as you’d expect, they are very Impatient, the buildings, having much in them Of the heavy surf of the North Sea, flurrying The grit, lifting the pebbles, flinging them With a hoarse roar against the aggregate They are composed of — the cliffs higher of course, More burdensome, underwritten as It were with past days overcast And glinting, obdurate, part of the Silicate of tough lives, distant and intricate As the whirring bureaucrats let in And settled with coffee in the concrete pallets, Awaiting the post and the department meeting — Except that these do not know it, at least do not Seem to, being busy, generally.

So perhaps it is only on those cloudless, almost Vacuumed afternoons with tier upon tier Of concrete like rib-bones packed above them, And they light-headed with the blue airiness Spinning around, and muzzy, a neuralgia Calling at random like frail relations, a phone Ringing in a distant office they cannot get to, That they become attentive, or we do — these Divisions persisting, indeed what we talk about, We, constructing these webs of buildings which, Caulked like great whales about us, are always.

Aware that some trick of the light or weather Will dress them as friends, pleading and flailing — And fill with placid but unbearable melodies Us in deep hinterlands of incurved glass. © C. John Holcombe 1997 Metre Though apparently iambic, with five stresses to the line, the metre shows many reversals and substitutions. Put at its simplest, with: / representing a strong stress \ representing a weak stress x representing no stress, and trying to fit lines into a pentameters, we have -| /| x| x| x| /| -| \| x| /| x| | But| as| you’d| ex| pect| | they| are| ve| ry| x| /| x| x| /| x| /| x| \| x| x|.

Im| pat| ient| the| build| ings,| hav| ing| much| in| them| x| x| \| x| /| x| x| \| /| /| x x| Of| the| heav| y| surf| of| the| North| Sea,| flurr| ying| x| /| -| /| x| x| /| x| /| x| \| The| grit,| | lift| ing| the| pebbl| es,| fling| ing| them| \| x| /| -| /| x| \| x| /| x| \| With| a| hoarse| | roar| a| gainst| the| agg| re| gate| x| \| x| /| \| x| /| /| x| x| /| They| are| com| posed| of,| the| cliffs| high| er| of| course| \| /| x| \| -| /| x| / | x| \| | More| burd| en| some,| | un| der| writ| ten| as| | x| /| x| /| -| /| -| /| x| /| | It| were| with| past| | days| | o| ver| cast| | x| /| x|.

\| /| x| \| -| /| x| x| And | glit| ter| ing,| ob| du| rate,| | part| of| the| -| /| x x x| /| -| /| -| /| x x| /| x x| | Sil| icate of| tough| | lives| | dist| ant and| in| tricate| -| \| x| /| x| /| x| \| -| /| x| | As| the| whir| ring| bu| reau| crats| | let| in| x| /| x x| /| x| \| x| /| x| /| x| And | set| tled with| cof| fee| in| the| con| crete| pal| lets| x| /| x x| /| x| \| x| /| x| /| x| A| wait| ing the| post| and| the| de| part| ment| meet| ing| x| \| x| /| \ x | /| x| x| \| /| x| Ex| cept| that| these| do not| know| it, | at| least| do| not| -| /| x| /| x| /| x| /| x| \| x|.

| Seem| to| be| ing| bus| y| gen| ER| all| y| \| x| /| x x| /| x| \| x| /| x| /| x| So| per| haps| it is| on| ly| on| those| cloud| less| al| most| -| /| x| /| x| \| x| /| x x| \| /| x| | Vac| uumed| af| ter| noons| with| ti| ER u| pon| ti| ER| x| /| x| \| /| /| -| /| x| /| x| | Of| con| Crete| like| rib| bones| | packed| a| bove| them| | x| /| \| /| x| \| x| /| /| x| \| | And | they| light| head| ed,| with| the| blue| air| i| ness| | -| /| x x| /| x| /| x| \| x| /| x x| | | Spin| ning a| round| and| muz| zy,| a| neu| ral| gia| | -| /| x x| /| x x| /| x| /| x x| /| |.

| Cal| ling at| ran| dom like| frail| re| lat| ions a| phone| | -| /| x x x| /| x| /| x x| /| x| /| x| | Ring| ing in a| dist| ant| of| fice they| can| not| get| to| x| /| x| /| x| /| x x| /| /-| \| | That| they| be| come| at| ten| tive, or| we| do| these| | x| /| x x| /| x x| /| \| x| /| x| /| Di| vis| ions per| sist| ing, in| deed| what| we| talk| a| bout| -| /| x| /| x x| /| x| /| x| \| | | We,| con| struct| ing these| webs| of| build| ings| which| | -| /| x| /| \| /| x| /| x x| /| x| | Caulk| Ed | like| great| whales| a| bout| us are| al| ways| x| /| x x| /| x x| /| x| /| x| | |.

A| ware| that some| trick| of the| light| or| weath| ER| | | \| /| x x| /| -| /| x x| /| x| | | Will| dress| them as| friends| | plead| ing and| flail| ing| | | x| /| x| /| x| \| x| /| x x| /| x x| And| fill| with| plac| id| but | UN| bear| able | mel| odies| -| /| x| \| -| /| x x x| /| \| /| | | Us | in| deep| | hint| erlands of| in| curved| glass| | Poets learn to trust their senses, but even to the experienced writer these (tedious) exercises can pinpoint what the ear suspects is faulty, suggest where improvements lie, and show how the metre is making for variety, broad consistency, shaping of the argument and emotive appeal.

Though other scansions are certainly possible in the lines above, the most striking feature will remain their irregularity. Many lines can only roughly be called pentameters; Lines 16 and 17 are strictly hexameters; and lines 27 and 28 are tetrameters. In fact, the lines do not read like blank verse. The rhythm is not iambic in many areas, but trochaic, and indeed insistently dactylic in lines 9 and 10, 21 and 22 and 28. Line 27 is predominantly anapaestic, and line 3 could (just) be scanned: x x| / x| /| x x \| /| | /| x x | Of the| heavy| surf| of the North| Sea| | flurr| ying|.

Reflective or meditative verse is generally written in the iambic pentameter, and for good reason — the benefit of past examples, readers’ expectations, and because the iambic is the closest to everyday speech: flexible, unemphatic, expressing a wide range of social registers. Blank verse for the stage may be very irregular but this, predominantly, is a quiet poem, with the falling rhythms inducing a mood of reflection if not melancholy. What is being attempted? Suppose we set out the argument (refer to rhetorical and other analyses), tabbing and reverse tabbing as the reflections as they seem more or less private: {8} 1.

But, as you’d expect, 2. they are very impatient, the buildings, 3. having much in them of the heavy surf of the North Sea, 4. flurrying the grit, 5. lifting the pebbles, 6. flinging them with a hoarse roar against the aggregate they are composed of — the 7. cliffs higher of course, more 8. burdensome, 9. underwritten as it were with past days 10. overcast and glinting, 11. obdurate, 12. part of the silicate of tough lives, 13. distant and intricate as 14. the whirring bureaucrats 15.

Let in and settled with coffee in the concrete pallets, awaiting the post and the department meeting — 16. except that these do not know it, 17. at least do not seem to, being busy, 18. generally. 19. So perhaps it is only on those cloudless, almost vacuumed afternoons with tier upon tier of concrete like rib — bones packed above them, and 20. they light-headed 21. with the blue airiness spinning around, and 22. muzzy, a 23. neuralgia calling at random like 24. frail relations, a 25. phone ringing in a distant office they cannot get to, that 26. They become attentive, 27. or we do — 28. these divisions persisting, 29. indeed what we talk about, 30. we, constructing these webs of buildings which 31.

Caulked like great whales about us, are 32. always aware that some trick of the light or weather will dress them as friends, 33. pleading and flailing — and 34. fill with placid but unbearable melodies 35. us in deep hinterlands of incurved glass. The structure should now be clear. Where Eliot created new forms by stringing together unremarkable pentameters, {8} this poem attempts the reverse: to recast an irregular ode-like structure as pentameters. And not over-successfully: many of the rhythms seemed unduly confined. But once returned to the form of an eighteenth century Pindaric ode, however unfashionable today, the lines regain a structure and integrity.

Each starts with a marked stress and then tails away, a feature emphasized by the sound patterns. {9} Sound Patterning To these sound patterns we now turn, adapting the International Phonetic Alphabet to HTML restrictions: 1. But | as | you’d | expect | u | a | U | e e | b t | z | y d | ksp kt | 2. They | are | very | impatient | the | buildings | A | a(r) | e E | i A e | e | i i | th | – | v r | mp sh nt | th | b ld ngz | 3. Having | much | in | them | of | the | heavy | surf | of | the | North | Sea | a i | u | i | e | o | e | e | e(r) | o | e | aw | E | h v ng | m ch | n | th m | v | th | h v | s f | v | th | n th | s |.

4. flurrying | the | grit | u E i | e | i | fl r ng | th | gr t | 5. lifting | the | pebbles | i i | e | e | l ft ng | th | p b lz | 6. flinging | them | with | a | hoarse | roar | against | the | aggregate | they | are | composed | of | i i | e | i | e | aw | aw | e A | e | a E A | A | a(r) | o O | o | fl ng ng | th m | w th | – | h s | r | g nst | th | gr g t | th | – | k MP zd | v | 7. the | cliffs | higher | of | course | more | e | i | I e | o | aw | aw | th | kl fs | h | v | s | m | 8. burdensome | u(r) e e | b d ns m |

9.underwritten | as | it | were | with | past | days | u e i e | a | i | (e)r | i | a(r) | A | nd r t n | z | t | w | w | p st | d z | 10. overcast | and | glinting | O e(r) a(r) | a | i i | v k St | nd | gl NT ng | 11. obdurate | o U A | bd r t | 12. part | of | the | silicate | of | tough | lives | (a)r | o | e | i i A | o | u | I | p t | f | th | s l k t | v | t f | l vz | 13. distant | and | intricate | i a | a | i i e | d St NT | nd | NT r k t | 14. as | the | whirring | bureaucrats | a | e | e(r) i | U O a | z | th | w r ng | b r kr ts | 15.

let | in | and | settled | with | coffee | in | the | concrete | pallets | e | i | a | e ie | i | o E | i | e | o E | a e | l t | n | nd | s tl d | w th | k f | n | th | k Kr t | p l Ts | awaiting | the | post | and | the | department | meeting | e A i | e | O | a | e | E e | E i | w t ng | th | p St | nd | th | d p tm NT | m t ng | 16. except | that | these | do | not | know | it | e e | a | E | U | o | O | i | ks pt | th | th z | d | n t | n | t | 17. at | least | do | not | seem | to | being | busy | a | E | U | o | E | U | E i | i E | t | l St | d | n t | s m | t | b ng | b z >/td> | 18.

generally | e e a E | j nr l | 19. so | perhaps | it | is | only | on | those | cloudless | almost | vacuumed | afternoons | O | e(r) a | i | i | O | o | O | ou e | aw O | a U | a(r) e oo | s | p h ps | t | z | nl | n | th z | kl dl s | lm St | v k md | ft n nz | with | tier | upon | tier | of | concrete | like | rib | bones | packed | above | them | and | i | E e(r) | e o | E e(r) | o | o E | I | i | O | a | e u | e | a | w th | t | p n | t | v | k nkr t | l k | r b | b nz | p Kt | b v | th m | nd | 20. they | light | headed | A | I | e e | th | l t | h d d |

21.with | the | blue | airiness | spinning | around | and | i | e | U | (A)r i e | i i | e ou | a | w th | th | bl | r n s | sp n ng | r nd | nd | 22. muzzy | a | u E | e | m z | – | 23. neuralgia | calling | at | random | like | U a E a | aw i | a | a o | I | n r lj | k l ng | t | r nd m | l k | 24. frail | relations | a | A | e A e | e | fr l | r l zh nz | – | 25. phone | ringing | in | a | distant | office | they | cannot | get | to | that | O | i i | i | e | i a | o i | A | a o | e | oo | a | | f n | r ng ng | n | – | d St NT | f s | th | k n t | g t | t | th | |

26.they | become | attentive | A | E u | a e i | th | b k m | t NT v | 27. or | we | do | aw | E | oo | – | w | d | 28. these | divisions | persisting | E | i i e | e(r) i i | th z | d v zh nz | p s St ng | 29. indeed | what | we | talk | about | i E | o | E | aw | e ou | in d | wh t | w | t k | b t | 30. we | constructing | these | webs | of | buildings | which | E | o u i | E | e | o | i i | i | w | k nz str Kt ng | th z | w bs | v | b ld ngz | wh Ch | 31. caulked | like | great | whales | about | us | are | aw | I | A | A | e ou | u | a(r) | k kd | l k | gr t | w lz | b t | s | – |

32. always | aware | that | some | trick | of | the | light | or | weather | will | dress | them | as | friends | aw A | e (A)r | a | u | i | o | e | I | aw | e e(r) | i | e | e | a | e | lw z | w | th t | s m | tr k | v | th | l t | – | w th | w l | dr s | th m | z | Fr ndz | 33. pleading | and | flailing | E i | a | A i | pl d ng | nd | fl l ng | 34. will | fill | with | placid | but | unbearable | melodies | i | i | i | a i | u | u A(r) a e | e O E | f l | w th | PL s d | b t | n b r b l | m l d z | | 35.

us | in | deep | hinterlands | of | incurved | glass | u | i | E | i e a | o | i e(r) | a(r) | s | n | d p | h NT l ndz | v | nk v d | GL s | Sound in poetry is an immensely complicated and contentious subject. Of the seventeen different employments listed by Masson {10} we consider seven: 1. Structural emphasis All sections are structurally emphasized to some extent, but note the use (in decreasing hardness) of * plosive consonants in sections 1, 5, 6, 7, 10-13, 19, 28-50; 31 and 35. * fricative and aspirate consonants in sections 2, 3, 6, 7, 12, 19, 25, 28, 32, 35.

* liquid and nasal consonants in sections 3, 4, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 31-35. Also: * predominance of front vowels — in all sections but 6, 7, 11, 16, 17, 19 and 31. * predominance of vowels in intermediate positions — only sections 16 and 17 having several high vowels and section 3 low vowels. 2. Tagging of sections Note sections 1, 7, 13 and 15. 3. Indirect support of argument by related echoes * Widely used, most obviously in sections 3-7, 12-13, and 15. 4. Illustrative mime: mouth movements apes expression * Sections 2, 6, 11-13, 19, 31 and 35. 5. Illustrative painting * Sections 3-6, 10-13, 15, 19 and 33.

Most sections are closely patterned in consonants. Those which aren’t (and therefore need attention if consistency is to be maintained) are perhaps 8, 9, 14, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 27. Originally the poem was cast in the form of irregular pentameters. But if this is set aside in favour of the 35 sections listed above, how are these sections to be linked in a self-evident and pleasing form? A little is accomplished by alliteration: * f in sections 3 to 7. * s and t in sections 12 to 15 * w in sections 29 to 32 And also by the predominance of front and intermediate level vowels, but these do not amount to much.

Certainly we do not find that the overall shaping of the poem emphasizes the argument or content. Sociolinguistics Language is not a neutral medium but comes with the contexts, ideologies and social intentions of its speakers written in. Words are living entities, things which are constantly being employed and only half taken over: carrying opinions, assertions, beliefs, information, emotions and intentions of others, which we partially accept and modify. In this sense speech is dialogic, has an internal polemic, and Bakhtin’s insights into the multi-layered nature of language (heteroglossia) can be extended to poetry.

{11} Much of Postmodernist writing tries to be very unliterary, incorporating the raw material of everyday speech and writing into its creations. This poem seems rather different, a somewhat remote tone and elevated diction applying throughout. Let us see what’s achieved by grouping under the various inflections of the speaking voice. * urgently confidential But, as you’d expect, cliffs higher, of course, that they become attentive or we do * obsessively repetitious flurrying the grit, lifting the pebbles, flinging them…

Burdensome, underwritten… overcast and glinting, obdurate * over-clever silicate of tough lives distant and intricate constructing these webs of buildings distracted and/or light-headed except that these do not know it at least do not seem to with the blue airiness spinning around calling at random like frail relations * melancholic and/or reflective some trick of the light or weather will dress them as friends pleading and flailing and fill with placid but unbearable melodies.

The exercise hardly provides revelation. Heteroglossia is an interweaving of voices, moreover, not shifts of tone or reference. And yet there is something very odd about the opening line. Why should we expect the buildings to be very impatient?

This is more than the orator’s trick of attracting attention, since the animate nature of buildings and their constituents is referred to throughout the poem. To be more exact, the attitude of the inhabitants — observers, bureaucrats, architects — to the buildings is developed by the poem, and is paralleled by the tone. But why the confidential and repetitious attitude at the beginning.

Why should we be buttonholed in this manner? Why the But, which seems to point to an earlier conversation, and the urgency with which that earlier conversation is being refuted or covered up? Because the blame for something is being shifted to the buildings.

What error has been committed we do not know, but in mitigation we are shown the effect of the buildings on other inhabitants. Or perhaps we are. In fact the whirring bureaucrats seem to grow out of the fabric of buildings, and we do not really know if the we, constructing these webs of buildings is meant literally or metaphorically. The poem’s title suggests literally, but perhaps these constructions are only of the mind: sections 17, 20-29, 32 and 34 refer to attitudes rather than actions, and there is an ethereal or otherworldly atmosphere to the later section of the poem.

So we return to heteroglossia, which is not simply borrowed voices, but involves an internal polemic, {12} that private dialogue we conduct between our private thoughts and their acceptable public expression. The dialogue is surely here between the brute physicality of a nature made overpoweringly real and the fail brevity of human lives. That physicality is threatening and unnerving. If the we of the later section of the poem is indeed architects then that physicality is harnessed to practical ends. If the constructing is purely mental then the treatment is through attitudes, mindsets, philosophies.

But in neither case does it emasculate the energy of the physical world. Architects may leave monuments behind them, but they are also imprisoned in those monuments (us in deep hinterlands) and hearing all the time the homesick voice of their constituents. Conclusions: Suggested Improvements The greatest difficulty lies in the poem’s structure. An pentameter form has been used to give a superficial unity, but this wrenches the rhythm, obscures the sound patterns and does nothing for the argument. If recast in sections defined by rhythm and sound pattern the form is too irregular to have artistic autonomy.

A return could be made to the eighteenth century Pindaric ode in strict metre and rhyme, but would require extensive and skilful rewriting, and probably appear artificial. A prose poem might be the answer, but the rhythms would need to be more fluid and subtly syncopated. Otherwise, blank verse should be attempted, and the metre adjusted accordingly. The internal polemic is a valuable dimension of the poem, but more could be done to make the voices distinct. http://www. textetc. com/criticism/stylistics. html1. On StylisticsIs cognitive stylistics the future of stylistics?

To answer this question in the essay that follows, I will briefly discuss Elena Semino and Jonathan Culpeper’s Cognitive Stylistics (2003), Paul Simpson’s Stylistics (2004), and a recent essay by Michael Burke (2005). However, because questions are like trains – one may hide another – any discussion of the future of stylistics raises intractable questions about stylistics itself. French students of stylistics, for example, will come across definitions of the discipline like the following. According to Brigitte Buffard-Moret, “si les definitions de … [la stylistique] – que certains refusent de considerer comme une scien

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