Publicistic Functional Style

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Publicistic Functional Style

This style became recognised as a separate one in the middle of the 18th century. It has three distinct sub-styles, each characterised by its own peculiar features. They are:

1) oratorical style

2) the style of essays

3) the style of articles

Publicistic style exists in two forms, written and oral. Essays and articles naturally belong to the former: speeches, oratories, radio and TV commentaries are traditionally shaped in an oral form.

a. Oratories and Speeches

The principal aim here is to inform and persuade the audience, to evoke a desired reaction on its part, to stimulate the listeners to some activity.

Being in oral representation it retains some peculiarities of standard oral speech such as direct address to the audience, use of contractions like I’ll, don’t, you’ve, etc., use of imperative mood, use of colloquialisms and second person of pronouns, etc.

Besides, pronunciation, intonation, speaker’s appearance, gestures, mimics are of considerable importance.

Speech and orations are delivered as monologues. Their vocabulary comprises a lot of literary, bookish words and the syntactical structure is logically ordered and paragraphed. Such structures are combined by subordinate and coordinative connectives.

To make the speech more comprehensible, emphatic, emotive the orator often uses repetitions of various kinds: anaphorical with parallel constructions, word and phrase repetitions, synonymical groups, etc. In fact, repetition proves to be one of the most typical syntactical stylistic devices in oratorical sub-style.

General balance and rhythm of the utterance help the listeners remember the major idea or ideas of the speech.

b. Essays

An essay is a limited prose composition on some definite, perhaps scientific or political or legal or economic or literary topic.

As a separate literary genre it came into being as early as in the 16th century (*all the dates are given in regard as to the English language). But most popular they became in the 18th century when essays was the principle literary genre dealing with political and social problems of the then England. Beginning with the 19th century it gradually turned into a genre of newspaper articles conveying different subjects from politics to sports.

An essay is not supposed to treat a problem thoroughly. It is rather an expression of the author’s personal approach to the problem discussed. Thus this sub-style mostly depends on the writer’s individuality.

c. Articles

The aim of a newspaper or magazine article is to interpret news, give comments on political, cultural, economic events of the day or to explain and convince the reader on something. The singleness of purpose determines the existence of a number of common principles characteristic for both this latter sub-styles and the newspaper functional style.


Newspaper Style

English newspaper dates back to the 17th century as the first English newspaper named “The News of the Present Week” appeared in 1622.

Newspaper deals with newspaper printed matter but not everything printed in newspapers automatically belongs to this style.

The main communicative aim here is to impart information. This is achieved by brief news items and communiqués, reports, articles, advertisements, announcements, obituaries, etc.

Though most of the vocabulary used in newspapers is neutral and common literary so that it could be understood by the majority of reader or by the target readers, there are some peculiarities in this respect.

Newspaper language is characterised by a rather ample use of economic and political terms as well as abstract words. Newspaper clichés and phraseology are often employed here.

Conciseness of forms and expressiveness being the major objectives of this style demand a great number of abbreviations, which can denote people’s posts, sometimes geograohical names, famous political figures, writers, etc:

Qbc – Quebec, JFK – John F. Kennedy, JC – Jesus Christ, GBS – George Bernard Shaw

Clipped forms are also characteristic:

H-bomb, Lib – Liberal party

As any newspaper is sensitive to everything new, neologisms frequently first come into being on its pages.

The basic peculiarities of the newspaper style can also be found in its syntactical structure. The syntax here may be complicated as the whole contents is sometimes conveyed in one or two sentences.

Among the most striking peculiarities is an extremely wide range of the headline patterns. The language of newspaper headlines has many times been the subject of a thorough scrutiny for linguists.

Here we may come across ellipsis, chiasmus, interrogation, rhetorical questions. Unusual are the semantic (functional) links between the headlines and the article text.

Of special importance is the graphical organisation of lines and letters in a headline. Punctuation marks, especially dash, are widely used. The language of this style presents a combination of different vocabulary strata. It’s extremely rich in stylistic means, both lexical and syntactical.


Belles-lettres Style

This style has three subdivisions or sub-styles:

1) style of poetry

2) style of emotive prose

3) style of drama

The function of belles-lettres style is twofold:

a) to inform and communicate facts and ideas to the reader

b) to affect the reader emotionally

As regard to the poetry the order should be reverse.

All the three sub-styles have quite a number of common features. But in spite of that each has individual characteristics as well.

The element of emotion is definitely higher in poetry where the author reveals his feelings directly. Unlike poetry the number of colloquial elements will be larger in drama where the oral type of language is widely employed since the form of plays is basically that of dialogs.

While observing this last feature one should also bear in mind that the functional styles not infrequently interact with one another and with colloquial speech on the other hand.

Emotive prose may amply use the elements from other functional styles, those of official documentation, scientific prose, publicistic speeches and newspapers. As far as colloquial speech is concerned, it remains an integral component of the belles-lettres style. It’s naturally used in plays, dialogues of stories, novels. Elements of colloquial speech, when used in fiction, help portray a character through his speech, but such elements are hardly possible in the author’s narrative proper.



1. Galperin I.R. Stylistics. – Moscow, 1991.

2. Skrebnev Yu.M. Fundamentals of English Stylistics. – Moscow, 1994.

3. Enkvist, N.E. Linguistic Stylistics. – The Hague, 1973.

4. Esser, J. English Linguistic Stylistics. – Tübingen, 1993.

5. Wales, K. A Dictionary of Stylistics. – London, 1990.

6. Арнольд И.В. Стилистика современного английского языка (Стилистика декодирования). – М., 1990.

7. Балли Ш. Французская стилистика. – М., 1961.

8. Стилистический энциклопедический словарь русского языка / Под ред. М.Н. Кожиной. – М., 2003.

Progress Check on Module V.

To pass this progress check, the student has to give answers to 10 questions. Each correct answer shall be evaluated in 10 points. The total of all correct answers shall then make 100 points.


1. Can you give the general notion of a functional style?

2. Can you name the principal formal features of the scientific prose style?

3. Can you give the sub-styles within the scientific prose style?

4. Can you name the principal formal features of the style of official documents?

5. Can you give the sub-styles within the style of official documents?

6. Can you name the principal formal features of the publicistic style?

7. Can you give the sub-styles within the publicistic style?

8. Can you name the principal formal features of the newspaper style?

9. Can you give the sub-styles within the newspaper style?

10. What are the principal formal features of the belle-lettres style?


Topics for Essays

1. Classification Of Functional Styles: A Comparative Study

2. Mixture Of Styles And Its Effects

3. Distinctive Linguistic Features of Functional Styles


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