Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles of English



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Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles of English



A description of five major functional styles given in this section is based on their most distinctive features on each level of the language structure: pnonetical (where possible), morphological, syntactical, lexical and compositional. A peculiar combination of these features and special emphasis on some of them creates the paradigm of what is called a scientific or publicist text, a legal or other official document, colloquial or formal speech.

Literary colloquial style

Phonetic features

Standard pronunciation in compliance with the national norm, enunciation.

Phonetic compression of frequently used forms, e.g. it's, don't, I've.


Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

Omission of unaccented elements due to the quick tempo, e. g. you know him ?

Morphological features

Use of regular morphological features, with interception of evaluative suffixes e. g. deary, doggie, duckie.

Prevalence of active and finite verb forms.

Syntactical features

Use of simple sentences with a number of participial and infinitive constructions and numerous parentheses.

Syntactically correct utterances compliant with the literary norm.

Use of various types of syntactical compression, simplicity of syntac­tical connection.

Use of grammar forms for emphatic purposes, e. g. progressive verb forms to express emotions of irritation, anger etc.

Decomposition and ellipsis of sentences in a dialogue (easily recon­structed from the context).

Use of special colloquial phrases, e.g. that friend of yours. Lexical features

Wide range of vocabulary strata in accordance with the register of communication and participants' roles: formal and informal, neutral and bookish, terms and foreign words.


4.5. Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles

Basic stock of communicative vocabulary—stylistically neutral.

Use of socially accepted contracted forms and abbreviations, e. g. fridge for refrigerator, ice for ice-cream, TV for television, CD for compact disk, etc.

Use of etiquette language and conversational formulas, such as nice to see you, my pleasure, on behalf of, etc.

Extensive use of intensifiers and gap-fillers, e. g. absolutely, definitely, awfully, kind of, so to speak, I mean, if I may say so.

Use of interjections and exclamations, e. g. Dear me, My God, Goodness, well, why, now, oh.

Extensive use of phrasal verbs let sb down, put up with, stand sb up.

Use of words of indefinite meaning like thing, stuff.

Avoidance of slang, vulgarisms, dialect words, jargon.

Use of phraseological expressions, idioms and figures of speech.

Compositional features

Can be used in written and spoken varieties: dialogue, monologue, personal letters, diaries, essays, articles, etc.

Prepared types of texts may have thought out and logical composi­tion, to a certain extent determined by conventional forms (letters, Presentations, articles, interviews).

Spontaneous types have a loose structure, relative coherence and uniformity of form and content.


Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

Familiar colloquial style

Represented in spoken variety.

Phonetic features

Casual and often careless pronunciation, use of deviant forms, e. g, gonna instead of going to, whatcha instead of what do you, dunno instead of don't know.

Use of reduced and contracted forms, e.g. you're, they've, Pd.

Omission of unaccented elements due to quick tempo, e.g. you hear me?

Emphasis on intonation as a powerful semantic and stylistic instru­ment capable to render subtle nuances of thought and feeling.

Use of onomatopoeic words, e.g. whoosh, hush, stop yodelling, yum, yak.

Morphological features

Use of evaluative suffixes, nonce words formed on morphological and phonetic analogy with other nominal words: e.g. baldish, mawkish, moody, hanky-panky, helter-skelter, plates of meet (feet), okeydoke.

Syntactical features

Use of simple short sentences.

Dialogues are usually of the question-answer type.


4.5. Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles

Use of echo questions, parallel structures, repetitions of various kinds.

In complex sentences asyndetic coordination is the norm.

Coordination is used more often than subordination, repeated use of conjunction and is a sign of spontaneity rather than an expressive device.

Extensive use of ellipsis, including the subject of the sentence e. g. Can't say anything.

Extensive use of syntactic tautology, e. g. 77га/ girl, she was something else!

Abundance of gap-fillers and parenthetical elements, such as sure, indeed, to be more exact, okay, well.

Lexical features

Combination of neutral, familiar and low colloquial vocabulary, including slang, vulgar and taboo words.

Extensive use of words of general meaning, specified in meaning by the situation guy, job, get, do, fix, affair.

Limited vocabulary resources, use of the same word in different meanings it may not possess, e. g. 'some' meaning good: some guy! some game! 'nice' meaning impressive, fascinating, high quality: nice music.

Abundance of specific colloquial interjections: boy, wow, hey, there, ahoy.


Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

Use of hyperbole, epithets, evaluative vocabulary, trite metaphors and simile, e.g. if you say it once more I'll kill you, as old as the hills horrid, awesome, etc.

Tautological substitution of personal pronouns and names by other nouns, e. g. you-baby, Johnny-boy.

Mixture of curse words and euphemisms, e. g. damn, dash, darned, shoot.

Extensive use of collocations and phrasal verbs instead of neutral and literary equivalents: e. g. to turn in instead of to go to bed.

Compositional features

Use of deviant language on all levels.

Strong emotional colouring.

Loose syntactical organisation of an utterance.

Frequently little coherence or adherence to the topic.

No special compositional patterns.

4.5.3. Publicist (media) style

Phonetic features (in oratory)

Standard pronunciation, wide use of prosody as a means of conveying the sut ; shades of meaning, overtones and emotions.

Phonetic compression.


4.5. Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles

Morphological features

Frequent use of non-finite verb forms, such as gerund, participle, infinitive.

Use of non-perfect verb forms.

Omission of articles, link verbs, auxiliaries, pronouns, especially in headlines and news items.

Syntactical features

Frequent use of rhetorical questions and interrogatives in oratory speech.

In headlines: use of impersonal sentences, elliptical constructions, interrogative sentences, infinitive complexes and attributive groups.

In news items and articles: news items comprise one or two, rarely three, sentences.

Absence of complex coordination with chain of subordinate clauses and a number of conjunctions.

Prepositional phrases are used much more than synonymous gerundial phrases.

Absence of exclamatory sentences, break-in-the narrative, other expressively charged constructions.

Articles demonstrate more syntactical organisation and logical ar­rangement of sentences.


Chapter 4. The Theory of Functional Styles

Lexical features

Newspaper cliches and set phrases.

Terminological variety: scientific, sports, poUtical, technical, etc. •

Abbreviations and acronyms.

Numerous proper names, toponyms, anthroponyms, names of enter­prises, institutions, international words, dates and figures.

Abstract notion words, elevated and bookish words.

In headlines: frequent use of pun, violated phraseology, vivid stylistic devices.

In oratory speech: words of elevated and bookish character, colloquial words and phrases, frequent use of such stylistic devices as metaphor, alliteration, allusion, irony, etc.

Use of conventional forms of address and trite phases.

Compositional features

Text arrangement is marked by precision, logic and expressive power.

Carefully selected vocabulary.

Variety of topics.

Wide use of quotations, direct speech and represented speech.

Use of parallel constructions throughout the text.


4.5. Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles

In oratory: simplicity of structural expression, clarity of message, argumentative power.

In headlines: use of devices to arrest attention: rhyme, pun, puzzle, high degree of compression, graphical means.

In news items and articles: strict arrangement of titles and subtitles, emphasis on the headline.

Careful subdivision into paragraphs, clearly defined position of the sections of an article: the most important information is carried in the opening paragraph; often in the first sentence.



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