Correlation of style, norm and function in the language

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Correlation of style, norm and function in the language

Any national language uses the notion of 'correct language' which involves conformity to the grammatical, lexical and phonetic stan­dards accepted as normative in this society. The favoured variety is usually a version of the standard written language, especially as encountered in literature or in the formal spoken language that most closely reflects literary style. It is presented in dictionaries, grammars and other official manuals. Those who speak and write in this way

4.2. Correlation of style, norm and function in the language

are said to be using language 'correctly', those who do not are said to be using it 'incorrectly'. Correct usage is associated with the notion of the linguistic norm. The norm is closely related to the system of the language as an abstract ideal system. The system provides and determines the general rules of usage of its elements, the norm is the actual use of these provisions by individual speakers under specific conditions of communication.

Individual use of the language implies a personal selection of linguistic means on all levels. When this use conforms to the general laws of the language this use will coincide with what is called the literary norm of the national language.

However the literary norm is not a homogeneous and calcified entity. It varies due to a number of factors, such as regional, social, situational, personal, etc.

The norm will be dictated by the social roles of the participants of communication, their age and family or other relations. An important role in the selection of this or that variety of the norm belongs to the purpose of the utterance, or its function. Informal language on a formal occasion is as inappropriate as formal language on an informal occasion. To say that a usage is appropriate is only to say that it is performing its function satisfactorily. We shall use different 'norms' speaking with elderly people and our peers, teachers and students, giving an interview or testimony in court. This brings us to the notion of the norm variation.

The prevailing public attitude is that certain forms of usage are "correct" and others — "incorrect". Teachers of English are supposed to know the difference between "right" and "wrong" in language. The real fact about usage in natural languages is that it is diverse

Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

and subject to change. Some scholars (R.I.McDavid) hold that "щ the usage of native speakers whatever is is right; but some usages are more appropriate than others, at least socially". What determines the appropriateness is the speakers' age, education, sophistication, social position (44, p. 20).

Others (J. Algeo) describe Standard English as current (neither old-fashioned nor faddishly new), widespread (not limited to a particular locale or group) and generally accepted (suggested instead of correct) (32, p. 23-24).

The norm of the language implies various realisations of the lan­guage structure that are sometimes called its subsystems, registers or J varieties.

I.V.Arnold presents these relations as a system of oppositions:

Structure : : norm : : individual use

National norm : : dialect

Neutral style : : colloquial style : : bookish style

Literary correct speech : : common colloquial

Functional styles are subsystems of the language and represent varieties of the norm of the national language. Their evolution and development has been determined by the specific factors of communication in various spheres of human activity. Each of them is characterised by its own parameters in vocabulary usage, syntactical expression, phraseology, etc.

The term 'functional style' reflects peculiar functions of the language in this or that type of communicative interaction. Proceeding from the generally acknowledged language functions Prof. I. V. Arnold

4.2. Correlation of style, norm and function in the language






  'Function/ Style intellectual communicative pragmatic emotive phatic aesthetic
oratorical + + + + +
colloquial + + + +
poetic + + +
publicist and newspaper + + +
  official + +
  scientific +

suggested a description ot tunctionai styles oasea on tne comoinauon of the linguistic functions they fulfil.

The table presents functional styles as a kind of hierarchy according to the number of functions fulfilled by each style, oratorical and scientific being almost complete opposites.

However not all texts have boundaries that are easy to identify in the use of distinctive language. For example, the oratorical style has a lot of common features with the publicist one, which in its turn is often comparable with the style of humanities, such as political science, history or philosophy.

The point of departure for discerning functional styles is the so-called neutral style that is stylistically non-marked and reflects the norms of the language. It serves as a kind of universal background for the expression of stylistically marked elements in texts of any functional type. It can be rarely observed in the individual use of the language and as Skrebnev remarked, perhaps, only handbooks for foreigners and primers could be qualified as stylistically neutral (47, p. 22).

__________ Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

4.3. Language varieties:

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