Ал overview of functional style systems

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Ал overview of functional style systems

As has been mentioned before there are a great many classifications of language varieties that are called sublanguages, substyles, registers and functional styles that use various criteria for their definition and categorisation. The term generally accepted by most Russian scholars

Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles___________ I

is functional styles. It is also used in this course. A few classifications of the functional styles in modern English will be considered in thi chapter.

Books by I. R. Galperinon English Stylistics (1958, 1971, 1977) are among most acknowledged sources of stylistic research in this country.

Galperin distinguishes 5 functional styles and suggests their subdi­vision into substyles in modern English according to the following scheme:

1. The Belles-Lettres Style:

a) poetry;

b) emotive prose;

c) the language of the drama.

2. Publicist Style:

a) oratory and speeches;

b) the essay;

c) articles.

3. Newspaper Style:

a) brief news items;

b) headlines;

c) advertisements and announcements;

d) the editorial.


Scientific Prose Style.

5. The Style of Official documents:


a) business documents;

b) legal documents;

4.4. An overview of functional style systems

c) the language of diplomacy;

d) military documents.

Prof. Galperin differs from many other scholars in his views on functional styles because he includes in his classification only the written variety of the language. In his opinion style is the result of creative activity of the writer who consciously and deliberately selects language means that create style. Colloquial speech, according to him, by its very nature will not lend itself to careful selection of linguistic features and there is no stylistic intention expressed on the part of the speaker. At the same time his classification contains such varieties of publicist style as oratory and speeches. What he actually means is probably not so much the spoken variety of the language but spontaneous colloquial speech, a viewpoint which nevertheless seems to give ground for debate. As we pointed out in sections two and three of this chapter individual speech, oral variety included, is always marked by stylistic features that show the speaker's educational, social and professional background. Moreover we always assume some socially determined role and consciously choose appropriate language means to perform it and achieve the aim of communication.

Scholars' views vary on some other items of this classification. There is no unanimity about the belles-lettres style. In fact Galperin's position is not shared by the majority. This notion comes under criticism because it seems rather artificial especially in reference to modern prose. It is certainly true that many works of fiction may contain emotionally coloured passages of emotive writing that are marked by special image-creating devices, such as tropes and figures of speech. These are typically found in the author's narrative, lyrical digressions, expositions, descriptions of nature or reflections on the characters' emotional or mental state.

Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

At the same time many writers give an account of external events, social life and reproduce their characters' direct speech. Sometimes they quote extracts from legal documents, newspapers items, ad­vertisements, slogans, headlines, e. g. K. Vonnegut, J. Dos Passos, etc. which do not belong to belles-lettres style in its traditional meaning.

As a matter of fact, in modern works of fiction we may encounter practically any functional speech type imaginable. So most other clas­sifications do not distinguish the language of fiction as a separate style.

In 1960 the book «Stylistics of the English Language» by M. D. Kuz-netzand Y. M. Skrebnevappeared. The book was a kind of brief outline of stylistic problems. The styles and their varieties distinguished by these authors included:

1. Literary or Bookish Style:

a) publicist style;

b) scientific (technological) style;

c) official documents.

2. PVee («Colloquial») Style:

a) literary colloquial style;

b) familiar colloquial style.

As can be seen from this classification, both poetry and imaginative prose have not been included (as non-homogeneous objects) although the book is supplied with a chapter on versification.

Next comes the well-known work by I. V. Arnold«Stylistics of Modern English» (decoding stylistics) published in 1973 and revised in 1981. Some theses of this author have already been presented in this

4.4. An overview of functional style systems

chapter (i. e. those that concern the notions of norm, neutrality and function in their stylistic aspect). Speaking of functional styles, Arnold starts with the a kind of abstract notion termed 'neutral style'. It has no distinctive features and its function is to provide a standard background for the other styles. The other 'real' styles can be broadly divided into two groups according to the scholar's approach: different varieties of colloquial styles and several types of literary bookish styles.

1. Colloquial Styles:

a) literary colloquial;

b) familiar colloquial;

c) common colloquial.

2. Literary Bookish Styles:

a) scientific;

b) official documents;

c) publicist (newspaper);

d) oratorical;

e) poetic.

This system presents an accurate description of the many social and extralinguistic factors that influence the choice of specific language for a definite communicative purpose. At the same time the inclusion of neutral style in this classification seems rather odd since unlike the others it's non-existent in individual use and should probably be associated only with the structure of the language.

One type of sublanguages suggested by Arnold in her classification— publicist or newspaper—fell under the criticism of Skrebnev who argues that the diversity of genres in newspapers is evident to any lay­man: along with the «leader» (or editorial) the newspaper page gives

Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

a column to political observers, some space is taken by sensational reports; newspapers are often full of lengthy essays on economics, law, morals, art, etc. Much space is also given to miscellaneous news items, local events; some papers publish sequences of stories or novels; and most papers sell their pages to advertising firms. This enumeration of newspaper genres could go on and on. Therefore, Skrebnev maintains, we can hardly speak of such functional style at all.

Of course Arnold is quite aware of the diversity of newspaper writings. However what she really means is the newspaper material specific of the newspaper only: political news, police reports, press reviews, editorials.

In a word, newspaper style should be spoken of only when the materials that serve to inform the reader are meant. Then we can speak of distinctive style— forming features including a special choice of words, abundance of international words, newspaper cliches and nonce words, etc.

It should be noted however that many scholars consider the language of the press as a separate style and some researchers even single out newspaper headlines as a functional style.

One of the relatively recent books on stylistics is the handbook by A. N. Morokhovskyand his co-authors O. P. Vorobyova, N. I. Lik-nosherst and Z. V. Timoshenko«Stylistics of the English language» published in Kiev in 1984. In the final chapter of the book «Stylistic Differentiation of Modern English» a concise but exhaustive review of factors that should be taken into account in treating the problem of functional styles is presented. The book suggests the following style classes:

4.4. An overview of functional style systems

Official business style.

Scientific-professional style.

Publicist style.

Literary colloquial style.

Familiar colloquial style.

Each style, according to Morokhovsky has a combination of distinctive features. Among them we find oppositions like 'artistic— non-artistic', 'presence of personality—absence of it', 'formal— informal situation', 'equal— unequal social status' (of the participants of communication), 'written or oral form'. Morokhovsky emphasizes that these five classes of what he calls «speech activity» are abstractions rather than realities, they can seldom be observed in their pure forms: mixing styles is the common practice.

On the whole Morokhovsky's concept is one of the few that at­tempt to differentiate and arrange the taxonomy of cardinal lin­guistic notions. According to Morokhovsky's approach language as a system includes types of thinking differentiating poetic and straightforward language, oral and written speech, and ultimate­ly, bookish and colloquial functional types of language. The next problem is stylistics of 'speech activity' connected with social stereo­types of speech behaviour. Morokhovsky defines this in the fol­lowing way: «Stereotypes of speech behaviour or functional styles of speech activity are norms for wide classes of texts or utter­ances, in which general social roles are embodied—poet, jour­nalist, manager, politician, scholar, teacher, father, mother, etc.» (15, p. 234).

The number of stereotypes (functional styles) is not unlimited but great enough. For example, texts in official business style may be

Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

administrative, juridical, military, commercial, diplomatic, etc. Stjn further differentiation deals with a division of texts into genres. Thus military texts (official style) comprise 'commands, reports, regulations, manuals, instructions'; diplomatic documents include 'notes, declarations, agreements, treaties', etc. In addition to all this we may speak of 'the individual style' with regard to any kind of text.

In the same year (1984) V. A. Maltzev published a smaller book on stylistics entitled «Essays on English Stylistics» in Minsk.

His theory is based on the broad division of lingual material into «informal» and «formal» varieties and adherence to Skrebnev's system of functional styles.

Prof. Skrebnev uses the term sublanguages in the meaning that is usually attributed to functional styles. The major difference in his use of this term is that he considers innumerable situational communicative products as sublanguages, including each speaker's idiolect. Each act of speech is a sublanguage. This makes the notion of functional style somewhat vague and difficult to define. At the same time Skrebnev recognizes the major opposition of 'formal' and 'informal' sphere of language use and suggests «a very rough and approximate gradation of subspheres and their respective sublanguages» (47, p. 200).

The formal sublanguages in Skrebnev's opinion belong exclusively to the written variety of lingual intercourse. He avoids the claim of inconsistency for including certain types of speeches into this sphere by arguing that texts of some of the types can be read aloud in public

His rough subdivision of formal styles includes:

4.4. An overview of functional style systems

a) private correspondence with a stranger;

b) business correspondence between representatives of commercial or other establishments;

c) diplomatic correspondence, international treaties;

d) legal documents (civil law—testaments, settlements; criminal law—verdicts, sentences);

e) personal documents (certificates, diplomas, etc.).

The informal colloquial sphere includes all types of colloquial language—literary, non-literary, vulgar, ungrammatical, social di­alects, the vernacular of the underworld, etc. This cannot be inven­toried because of its unlimited varieties.

Of course formal and informal spheres do not exist in severely separated worlds.

The user of the first speech type is fully aware of his social responsibil­ity. He knows the requirements he has to meet and the conventions he must observe. But the same person may change his lingual behaviour with the change of the environment or situation. Sometimes he is forced to abide by laws that are very different from those he regularly uses: speaking with children, making a speech before parliament or during an electoral campaign.

The first type of speech—'formal'—comprises the varieties that are used in spheres of official communication, science, technol­ogy, poetry and fiction, newspaper texts, oratory, etc. It's ob­vious that many of these varieties can be further subdivided in­to smaller classes or sublanguages. For example, in the sphere °f science and technology almost each science has a metalan-

Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

guage of its own. The language of computer technology, e.g., i% not so limited to the technological sphere as at the time of its beginnings—'to be computer-friendly' has given rise to many other coinages like 'media-friendly', 'market-friendly', 'environmentally friendly', etc.

In the informal type of speech we shan't find so many varieties as in the formal one, but it is used by a much greater number of people. The first and most important informal variety is colloquial style. This is the language used by educated people in informal situations. These people may resort to jargon or slang or even vulgar language to express their negative attitude to somebody or something.

Uneducated people speak «popular» or ungrammatical language, be it English or Russian.

There is also a problem of dialects that would require special con­sideration that cannot be done within this course. Dialects are not really «ungrammatical» types of a national language, some scholars hold, but a different language with its own laws. How­ever it may have been true in the last century but not now. And what Skrebnev writes on this problem seems to be argumentative enough.

«Dialects are current in the countryside; cities are nearly untouched by them. In the 19th century England some of the aristocracy were not ashamed of using their local dialects. Nowadays owing to the sound media (radio, cinema and TV) non-standard English in Britain is nearly, as in this country, a sure sign of cultural inferiority, e.g. the status of Cockney.» (47, p. 198).

4.4. An overview of functional style systems__________

In his classification of functional styles of modern English that he calls language varieties the famous British linguist D. Crystalsuggests the following subdivision of these styles: regional, social, occupational, restricted and individual. (33, 34)

Regional varietiesof English reflect the geographical origin of the language used by the speaker. Lancashire variety, Canadian English, Cockney, etc.

Social variationstestify to the speaker's family, education, social status background: upper class and non-upper class, a political activist, a member of the proletariat, a Times reader, etc.

Occupational stylespresent quite a big group that includes the following types:

a) religious English;

b) scientific English;

c) legal English;

d) plain (official) English;

e) political English;

f) news media English further subdivided into:

• newsreporting;

• journalistics;

• broadcasting;

• sportscommentary;

• advertising.

Restricted Englishincludes very tightly constrained uses of language when little or no linguistic variation is permitted. In these cases

Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

special rules are created by man to be consciously learned and used. These rules control everything that can be said. According to Crystal restricted varieties appear both in domestic and occupational spheres and include the following types:

a) knitwrite in books on knitting;

b) cookwrite in recipe books;

c) congratulatory messages;

d) newspaper announcements;

e) newspaper headlines;

f) sportscasting scores;

g) airspeak, the language of air traffic control;

h) emergencyspeak, the language for the emergency services; i) e-mail variety, etc.

Individual variationinvolves types of speech that arise from the speak­er's personal differences meaning such features as physique, interests, personality, experience and so on. Each individual has a different idiolect, a variety of the language that is as personally distinctive as a fingerprint. A particular blend of social and geographical backgrounds may produce a distinctive accent or dialect. Educational history, oc- I cupational experience, personal skills and tastes, hobbies or literary preferences will foster the use of habitual words and turns of phrase, or certain kinds of grammatical construction.

Also noticeable will be favourite discourse practices—a tendency to develop points in an argument in a certain way, or an inclination for certain kinds of metaphor. Some people are 'good conversational-


4.5. Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles

ists', 'good story-tellers', 'good letter-writers', 'good speech-makers'. What actually makes them so is the subject of stylistic research.

There are also a number of cases where individuality in the use of English—a personal style—is considered to be a matter of particular importance and worthy of study in its own right. Such is the study of the individual style of a writer or poet: Shakespeare's style, Faulkner's style, and the like.

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