stylistic analysis 1


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Stylistic Analysis Guide -Part 1
GENRE
CONTEXT
AUDIENCE
EFFECTS
METHODS
PURPOSE
means ‘type’ or ‘kind’. What might surprise you is that an analysis at the level of a text’s
genre
interestingandsubtlepointsthat can achieve the highest marks.A
generictext
is one that followsthe
genreconventions
of a text are the first thing noticed about a text and it is this which makes
Steve Campsall (rev. 20/03/2009) STYLISTIC ANALYSIS GUIDEPt 1
brings with it many marks! If you think
communicate an idea to someone elsein the form of a text, either written or spoken. You should now be able to gather
why context is so very centralto languagestudy and how revealing it can be.
is a text considered in its real-world context of use and from this you will see that all discourse is to
contextbound
All of your analyses should be at the level of discourse. If they are not,
Thereare
aspects to context that mustalways be central to your consideration: the
,i.e. that
(i.e. of its speaker or writer and the circumstances in which itarose); and
context of reception and interpretation
The word
context
Steve Campsall (rev. 20/03/2009) STYLISTIC ANALYSIS GUIDEPt 1
It’s an important realisation that when language is used, there are often two levels of ‘purpose’. There will
alwaysbe a particular
localpurpose
–this is one that applies
at the point a particular use oflanguageoccurs
;
but textsare usually
coherent
and
unified
examples of
social discourse
, so an individual local effect will always
in some way be contributingto
the overall purpose
of the text.Discussing both of these aspects often provides
of the key stylistic
It might help to imagine a situation from your own life where an effective
style
is important. You need to convince
your mother that you just
must
goon thato-h s-o-oc-o-o-l overseasschool tripwith your best friend. You will
clearly need to select your
style
of languagewith care. Your
purpose
will be to create a style that will persuadea
particular
audience
in a certain social
context
–your mother
. Such a style will show close attentionhas been paid to:
language choices (i.e. aspects of
lexis
and
grammar
–see part twoof this guidefor more on these);
tone
–which will help suggestthe writer’s
attitude
and
mood
(these are called the
prosodic
or
suprasegmental
’features of languageand are those that are related tosuch aspects as
rhythm
intonation
,
stress
pace
, etc.).
In speech, the body and facial ‘language’ used (these are called the
paralinguisticfeatures
of communication).
There is an important –but subtle –aspect of meaning that would become quickly apparent if you were
to analysesuch a conversation. This is theway the
socialcontext
(i.e. the place, time, relationships,
etc.) ofthe communication acts toinfer or suggestmeaning
beyond the literal content
(i.e. the
denotation
) of the words chosen.
This
inferred
level of interpretation arisesbecause the
semanticvalue
of certain words and phrases
altersaccording to
context
. Some meaningswill be influencedby
who
isdoing the speakingas well as
where
,
why
and
when
they speak; meaning can also be affected by the
relationships
of the
participants in the
discourse
, the
sharedknowledge
each hasof similar situations, the
expectations
of
each participant, and so on.Language and the creation of meaning is a complex human function.
Steve Campsall (rev. 20/03/2009) STYLISTIC ANALYSIS GUIDEPt 1
This
inferred
level of meaning is properly referred to as
pragmatic meaning
.It is the ‘extra’ meaning
that arises owing to the
social force
of the utterance rather than merely its
semantic
value –the
literal
sentence meaning
. Pragmatics comes to the fore whenever people interact. Terms such as lexis,
semantic value, pragmatics and others are all covered in depth in the second part of this guide.
Imagine this part of the above imaginary conversation:
You
: But if you won’t give me the money,m-u-u-u-m, I’ll have to work extra hours to pay for it…’
The‘force’ intended here (i.e. the
pragmaticvalue
) isalong the lines of:
I’ll then not have so much time to do my
schoolworkso,by refusing to pay for my trip to the US, you will be directly contributing to my poor school results–
and ruining my future prospects...
You cansee how this subtle level of inference is entirely dependent upon the
socialcontext
–and especially the social relationships –that existsat the timethe conversation occurs.
In this instance, the
pragmaticvalue
isproduced by a use of
irony
contained within theutterance–a sense
of therebeing a meaning
in addition to and different from the literal
: a meaning with an‘
ironicedge’
‘DISCOURSE’
Now, thinkabout this: if the aboveconversation with your mother was
transcribed
and used in an English Language
lesson, it might well be analysed
not simply for its semanticvalue
,but probably much more profitably as an example
ofwhat could be called
‘early 21
st
century, middle-class, parent-son/daughter social discourse’.
Can you thinkwhy?
Can you also recognise that certain
linguisticfeatures
of the discoursewould suggest, not just
the meanings being
created
, but also such subtle aspects of the discourse as:
the
relationship
between the participants; the
power differentials
that existbetween them; their
linguistic
competence
… and much more.
If you looked at such an example of similar discourse in class today, as you analysed and considered itcarefully,
certainof thewords and phrases would seemto ‘stand out’from the textmore than others; it’s worth thinking
that they have a kind of ‘linguistic glow’ around them. It is
these
words and phrases, as well as aspects of the
structure
of the whole text that would reveal much rich detailin a
textual
or
discourseanalysis
THE ‘OVERVIEW’ or ‘BIG PICTURE’
An effectivestylistic analysisessayis best begun by developing a succinct
overview
of the text under analysis, one
that providesa succinct sense of the text’s
bigpicture
. Thisprovides a real sense that you have thought about the
text as a whole (which is important):
Before you can properly analyse the
style
of anytext, you will need to have first gain a clear sense of its
big
picture
. This means gaining a ‘rounded appreciation’of it and its social circumstance, i.e. as an example ofa
particular type of
discourse
An essaythat opens with a succinct overviewand provides an idea of the text’s ‘big picture’–focused, of course,
through the requirements of the exam question –sets an
authoritativetone
GENRE
CONTEXT
AUDIENCE
EFFECTS
METHODS
PURPOSE

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