Blog

In literature

In literature, style is the way in which an author writes and/or tells a story. It’s what sets one author apart from another and creates the “voice” that audiences hear when they read. There are many important pieces that together make up a writer’s style; like tone, word choice, grammar, language, descriptive technique, and so on. Style is also what determines the mood of a piece of literature, so its importance is huge across all genres. Different types of literature need different styles, and different styles need different authors!
Truthfully, style can be hard to define because it varies so much from each piece of literature to the next. Two authors can write about the exact same thing, and yet the styles of the pieces could be nothing like each other because they would reflect the way each author writes. An author’s style might even change with each piece he writes. When it comes to style, what comes easy for one author might not work for another; what fits one genre may not fit for others at all; what thrills one group of readers may bore another. A reader might love a certain genre or subject, but dislike an author’s style, and vice versa. In fact, it’s not unusual to hear people say about a novel or a movie, “it was a good story, but I didn’t like the style.”
While there are specific types of styles of writing, this article will focus on style’s overall role in literature.

Stylistics is a branch of applied linguistics concerned with the study of style in texts, especially but not exclusively in literary works. Also called literary linguistics, stylistics focuses on the figures, tropes and other rhetorical devices to provide variety and a unique voice to writing.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

According to Katie Wales in “A Dictionary of Stylistics,” the goal of “most stylistics is not simply to describe the formal features of texts for their own sake, but in order to show their functional significance for the interpretation of the text; or in order to relate literary effects to linguistic ’causes’ where these are felt to be relevant.”
Stylistics is a branch of applied linguistics concerned with the study of style in texts, especially but not exclusively in literary works. Also called literary linguistics, stylistics focuses on the figures, tropes and other rhetorical devices to provide variety and a unique voice to writing.

According to Katie Wales in “A Dictionary of Stylistics,” the goal of “most stylistics is not simply to describe the formal features of texts for their own sake, but in order to show their functional significance for the interpretation of the text; or in order to relate literary effects to linguistic ’causes’ where these are felt to be relevant.”
Stylistics is a branch of applied linguistics concerned with the study of style in texts, especially but not exclusively in literary works. Also called literary linguistics, stylistics focuses on the figures, tropes and other rhetorical devices to provide variety and a unique voice to writing.

According to Katie Wales in “A Dictionary of Stylistics,” the goal of “most stylistics is not simply to describe the formal features of texts for their own sake, but in order to show their functional significance for the interpretation of the text; or in order to relate literary effects to linguistic ’causes’ where these are felt to be relevant.”
Style as Choice
While examining the concept stylistics, it is equally essential to give attention to the notion of choice. Choice is a very vital instrument of stylistics since it deals with the variations and the options that are available to an author. Since language provides its users with more than one choice in a given situation, there are different choices available to the writer in a given text. This then depends on the situation and genre the writer chooses in expressing thoughts and opinions. Traugott and Pratt (1980: 29 – 30) clarify the connection between language and choice as the characteristic choices exhibited in a text.

With the writer’s choice, there is a reflection of his ego and the social condition of his environment. In determining the appropriate choice of linguistic elements, two important choice planes are open to the writer: the paradigmatic and the syntagmatic. The paradigmatic axis is also referred to as the vertical or choice axis while the syntagmatic is the horizontal axis. The vertical axis gives a variety of choices between one item and other items; the writer then chooses the most appropriate word. Thus, the paradigmatic axis is able to account for the given fillers that occupy a particular slot while still maintaining the structure of the sentence. At the paradigmatic level, for example, a writer or speaker can choose between “start” and “commence”, “go” and “proceed.”
Style as Deviation
When an idea is presented in a way that is different from the expected way, then we say such a manner of carrying it out has deviated from the norm. The concept of style as deviation is based on the notion that there are rules, conventions and regulations that guide the different activities that must be executed. Thus, when these conventions are not complied with, there is deviation. Deviation in stylistics is concerned with the use of different styles from the expected norm of language use in a given genre of writing. It is a departure from what is taken as the common practice. Language deviation refers to an intentional selection or choice of language use outside of the range of normal language. Language is a system organized in an organic structure by rules and it provides all the rules for its use such as phonetic, grammatical, lexical, etc. Thus, any piece of writing or material that has intentionally jettisoned the rules of language in some way is said to have deviated. Stylistics helps to identify how and why a text has deviated. Trangott and Pratt (1980: 31) believe that the idea of style as deviance is favoured by the “generative frame of reference.” It is an old concept which stems from the work of such scholars as Jan Mukarovsky. Mukarovsky relates style to foregrounding and says that “the violation of the norm of the standard… is what makes possible the poetic utilization of language” (see Traugott and Pratt 1980: 31).

Deviation may occur at any level of language description e.g. phonological, graphological, syntactic, lexico-semantic, etc. At the graphological level, for example, we may see capital letters where they are not supposed to be. At the syntactic level, subject and verb may not agree in number. Or the normal order of the clause elements may not be observed e.g. Adjunct may come before the subject. At the lexico-semantic level, words that should not go together may be deliberately brought together. e.g. “dangerous safety,” “open secret.”Style as Conformity
Style as conformity can be seen as the first available option for a writer to express himself. This is so because virtually all possible fields that a written material can belong to have been established. Any style that is distinct is so as a result of deviation. In fact, it is on the notion of “style as conformity” that the idea of “style as choice” operates and then results in or brings out the possibility of style as deviation. That is, a writer needs, first of all, to decide whether to conform to the established style or to deviate. It is not in all situations that a writer enjoys flexibility to deviate. Style as conformity is often “strictly enforced” in certain fields or circumstances. This is often in academic/educational field as regard students’ research projects. It is also found so in some professional writings, where a considerable conformity to the established format or diction is expected for a text to earn acceptability.

One major weakness of conformity to the established style is that it clips creativity. But the moment a text accommodates or injects some creativity in the style, it becomes marked as deviation from the norm.

Style as Period or Time
Style may also relate to time/period. This is so because language is dynamic – it is always changing. This becomes obvious when we look at the stages in the development of the English language e.g. Old English, Middle English and Modern English. When we look at a script in Old English now, it will seem as if it were written in a different language because of the differences in syntax, vocabulary, spelling, etc. Even within the so-called Modern English, there are variations. The type of English we use today is different from Shakespearean English in many ways. So, since language changes along time axis, style is also expected to vary along the same axis. The study of language along time axis is termed diachronic linguistics. You may compare diachronic linguistics with synchronic linguistics which deals with the study of language at a particular time/period. The style of any given period has recognizably predominant features that make such a period distinct. A period usually dictates the style employed by the writers. For example, Shakespeare and his contemporaries used a particular style of writing i.e. writing in verses. It was not until Herik Ibsen came up with plays in the prose form that the previous style was abandoned. Similarly, the Victorian, Elizabethan, Renaissance and even the modern periods all have peculiar styles different from another. In a nutshell, the noticeable convention and pattern of language use that inform the urge of a particular period, make the style of that period.

Style as Situation
Usually, language is used according to situation or circumstance. It is the context that determines language choice in speaking or writing. Certain words are appropriate for certain occasions, while some are considered taboo, vulgar or abominable.

Consequently, a given situation has a great influence on the choice made at every level of language description. The concept of register further buttresses this point. For example, registers as aspect of style tend to be associated with particular groups of people or sometimes specific situations of use (Journalese, Legalese, Liturgese, Baby talk, the language of Sport Commentaries), the language of criminals –argot, the languages of the courtroom, the classroom, etc.) We shall say more about register, later in this course
Examples of Style
Rather than merely sharing information, style lets an author share his content in the way that he wants. For example, say an author needs to describe a situation where he witnessed a girl picking a flower:
She picked a red rose from the ground.

Scarlet was the rose that she plucked from the earth.

From the ground she delicately plucked the ruby rose, cradling it in her hands as if it were a priceless jewel.

As you can see, there are many ways to share the same basic information. An author can give a short and simple sentence. Or, he could use more descriptive words and a poetic sentence structure, like in #2, with phrases like “scarlet was the rose” instead of “the rose was red.

In another example, let’s say the writer is now assigned the job of describing that same rose in a short poem.

These poems use two different styles to describe the same thing: a rose. The poem on the left rhymes and has a simpler, more direct style with easy vocabulary. The poem on the right, however is more descriptive and expressive—more “poetic”—and that’s because of tone and word choice. The first poem describes the rose in a basic way, while the second seems to express the author’s understanding of a rose. For instance, the author chooses more specific colors, like “emerald” and “scarlet” instead of “green” and “red,” and describes the rose by relating it to other things, like “smooth velvet.” The style of the first poem would be great from young readers, while the second is definitely targeting an adult audience. That’s because, as you can see, some of the language of the second poem would be too difficult for young readers to understand.

Importance of Style
Style is what distinguishes one author from the next. If everyone used the same style, it would impossible for any writer or piece of literature to truly stand out. While style has a role in all types of literature, its role in works of fiction is what’s discussed most often. That’s because style is an essential, defining thing for fiction authors—so stories have been and will be retold over and over, but it’s an author’s style that can make a work truly stand out and change the way a reader thinks about what literature. In fact, it’s really impossible to imagine what literature would be like without any style.

Examples of Style in Literature
Example 1
As shown above, fairy tales are great examples of how the same story can be told in very different ways. Since they have been retold over and over for centuries, the style of their telling changes from one speaker or author to the next. Let’s take the classic fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood.” Here is a selection from the original written version of tale by Charles Perrault:
Little Red Riding Hood set out immediately to go to her grandmother, who lived in another village. As she was going through the wood, she met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he dared not, because of some woodcutters working nearby in the forest. He asked her where she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and talk to a wolf, said to him, “I am going to see my grandmother and carry her a cake and a little pot of butter from my mother.”
Now, here is a selection from the version found in Grimm’s Fairy Tales:
The grandmother lived out in the wood, half a league from the village, and just as Little Red Riding Hood entered the wood, a wolf met her. Red Riding Hood did not know what a wicked creature he was, and was not at all afraid of him.

‘Good day, Little Red Riding Hood,’ said he.’Thank you kindly, wolf.”Whither away so early, Little Red Riding Hood?”To my grandmother’s.”What have you got in your apron?”Cake and wine; yesterday was baking-day, so poor sick grandmother is to have something good, to make her stronger.’
These two versions of the same part of the story are very different from each other. They both give the same overall information, but the Perrault’s version is shorter and less detailed, with very little dialogue. Actually, Perrault’s story ends after Red Riding Hood is eaten, while the Brothers Grimm’s story continues—it’s several times as long and includes more imagery, more dialogue, and even more characters. The point of Perrault’s story was to teach a lesson, while the point of the story found in Grimm’s Fairy Tales was more for entertainment—so; each author developed his own style based on his purpose.

Example 2
Some authors and works remain famous in literature because of their completely unique or even unusual styles. For instance, everybody knows the works of Dr. Seuss. From How the Grinch Stole Christmas to The Cat in the Hat to One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss’s quirky, one-of-a-kind stories and poems are household names, and that’s because of his style. Here’s a classic example of Dr. Seuss’s work:
“I know some good games we could play,”Said the cat.”I know some new tricks,”Said the Cat in the Hat.”A lot of good tricks.I will show them to you.Your motherWill not mind at all if I do.”
Like in this passage from The Cat and the Hat, Dr. Seuss uses unusual sentence structures and fun-sounding rhyme schemes to make his stories silly and memorable, and it works. He also includes all kinds of strange vocabulary in his stories, sometimes even making up words and creatures to fit his rhymes, whereas other authors would simply change their vocabulary to follow sounds.

 
VI. Examples of Style in Pop Culture
Example 1
Sometimes, two artists with very different styles can tell the same story. For instance, in 2012 two movies came out that each told a version of a well-known story, but the two were basically opposites of each other. Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror are both adaptations of the classic fairy tale Snow White. But, while Mirror Mirror is a light-hearted comedy adventure for families, Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark fantasy adventure that would terrify a young viewer. Their trailers capture how vastly different two versions of one story can be:
Mirror, Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman
Now you can see that if it weren’t for the name Snow White, you would likely not know that these two films had any relation to each other. While one artist chose to focus on love and humor, the other chose to focus on the battle of good versus evil and intense human emotions.

Example 2
The famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet is perhaps literature’s most famous love story. However, since Shakespeare’s works are difficult to read, people may write them off as boring. But, changing the style of the way a story is shared can make it appealing and interesting for people who may not like the original. In the film Romeo + Juliet, the director tells the story in a hip, modern setting with relatable characters:
While the film tells the exact same story as the original Romeo and Juliet, even using the exact same language, its rough, flashy style is fresh and relevant for today’s audiences. Here, Verona, Italy is replaced with Verona Beach, California; instead of swords and robes, the actors bear guns and tattoos.

 
VII. Conclusion
In conclusion, style is has a central role in every piece of literature, from prose to poetry. It gives both the author and his text a voice, allowing works of all genres and topics to be shared and expressed in ways that are memorable, intriguing, and different. If all authors and genres followed the same style, the world of literature would be a dull, unchanging place!
Stylistics, a yoking of style and linguistics, is a discipline which has been approached
from many perspectives. Its meaning varies, based on the theory that is adopted. When
we carry out the different activities that are connected to our area of business, either in
spoken or written forms, we often use devices of thought and the rules of language, but
there are variations so as to change meanings or say the same thing in different ways.

This is what the concept of style is based upon: the use of language in different ways, all for the purpose of achieving a common goal – to negotiate meanings.

Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts in regard to their linguistic and tonal style. As a discipline, it linksliterary criticism to linguistics. It does not function as an autonomous domain on its own, but it can be applied to an understanding of literature and journalism as well as linguistics. Sources of study in stylistics may range from canonical works of writing to popular texts, and from advertising copy to news, non-fiction, and popular culture, as well as to political and religious discourse.

Stylistics as a conceptual discipline may attempt to establish principles capable of explaining particular choices made by individuals and social groups in their use of language, such as in the literary production and reception of genre, the study of folk art, in the study of spoken dialects and registers, and can be applied to areas such as discourse analysis as well as literary criticism.

Common features of style include the use of dialogue, including regional accents and individual dialects (or ideolects), the use of grammar, such as the observation of active voice and passive voice, the distribution of sentence lengths, the use of particular language registers, and so on. In addition, stylistics is a distinctive term that may be used to determine the connections between the form and effects within a particular variety of language. Therefore, stylistics looks at what is ‘going on’ within the language; what the linguistic associations are that the style of language reveals.

The term “STYLE” originated from the Latin “stilus” which means a pen used by the Romans for writing on wax, tablets. In the course of time it developed several meanings, each one applied to a specific study of language elements and their use in speech.

Prof. Galperin defines INDIVIDUAL STYLE as a unique combination of language units, expressive means and stylistic peculiar to a given writer, which makes that writer’s works or even utterances easily recognizable.

Saussure’s disciple Charles Bally modeled his ideas of style on a structural conception of language and started that branch of general linguistics which is sometimes called linguostylistics.

Style has also been defined as the description and analysis of the variability forms of linguistic items in actual language use. Leech (1969: 14) quotes Aristotle as saying that “the most effective means of achieving both clarity and diction and a certain dignity is the use of altered from of words.”
Stylistics is also defined as a study of the different styles that are present in either a given utterance or a written text or document. The consistent appearance of certain structures, items and elements in a speech, an utterance or in a given text is one of the major concerns of Stylistics. Stylistics requires the use of traditional levels of linguistic description such as sounds, form, structure and meaning. It then follows that the consistent appearance of certain structures, items and elements in speech utterances or in a given text is one of the major concerns of stylistics. Linguistic Stylistic studies is concerned with the varieties of language and the exploration of some of the formal linguistic features which characterize them. The essence and the usefulness of stylistics is that it enables the immediate understanding of utterances and texts, thereby maximizing our enjoyment of the texts.

The concepts of style and stylistic variation in language are based on the general notion that within the language system, the content can be encoded in more than one linguistic form. Thus, it is possible for it to operate at all linguistic levels such as phonological, lexical and syntactic. Therefore, style may be regarded as a choice of linguistic means, as deviation from the norms of language use, as recurrent features of linguistic forms and as comparisons. Stylistics deals with a wide range of language varieties and styles that that are possible in creating different texts, whether spoken or written, monologue or dialogue, formal or informal, scientific or religious etc.

Again, stylistics is concerned with the study of the language of literature or the study of the language habits of particular authors and their writing patterns. From the foregoing, stylistics can be said to be the techniques of explication which allows us to define objectively what an author has done, (linguistic or non-linguistic), in his use of language.

The main aim of stylistics is to enable us understand the intent of the author in the manner the information has been passed across by the author or writer. Therefore, stylistics is concerned with the examination of grammar, lexis, semantics as well as phonological properties and discursive devices. Stylistics is more interested in the significance of function that the chosen style fulfils.

The analysis of literary style goes back to the study of classical rhetoric, though modern stylistics has its roots inRussian Formalism and the related Prague Schoolof the early twentieth century.

In 1909, Charles Bally’sTraité de stylistique française had proposed stylistics as a distinct academic discipline to complement Saussureanlinguistics. For Bally, Saussure’s linguistics by itself couldn’t fully describe the language of personal expression. Bally’s programme fitted well with the aims of the Prague School.

Taking forward the ideas of the Russian Formalists, the Prague School built on the concept of foregrounding, where it is assumed that poetic language is considered to stand apart from non-literary background language, by means of deviation (from the norms of everyday language) or parallelism. According to the Prague School, however, this background language isn’t constant, and the relationship between poetic and everyday language is therefore always shifting.

Roman Jakobsonhad been an active member of the Russian Formalists and the Prague School, before emigrating to America in the 1940s. He brought together Russian Formalism and AmericanNew Criticismin hisClosing Statement at a conference on stylistics at Indiana Universityin 1958. Published asLinguistics and Poetics in 1960, Jakobson’s lecture is often credited with being the first coherent formulation of stylistics, and his argument was that the study of poetic language should be a sub-branch of linguistics.10 The poetic function was one of six general functions of languagehe described in the lecture.

Michael Halliday is an important figure in the development of British stylistics. His 1971 study Linguistic Function and Literary Style: An Inquiry into the Language of William Golding’s The Inheritors is a key essay. One of Halliday’s contributions has been the use of the term register to explain the connections between language and its context. For Halliday register is distinct from dialect. Dialect refers to the habitual language of a particular user in a specific geographical or social context. Register describes the choices made by the user, choices which depend on three variables: field (“what the participants… are actually engaged in doing”, for instance, discussing a specific subject or topic), tenor (who is taking part in the exchange) and mode (the use to which the language is being put).

Fowler comments that different fields produce different language, most obviously at the level of vocabulary(Fowler. 1996, 192) The linguist David Crystal points out that Halliday’s ‘tenor’ stands as a roughly equivalent term for ‘style’, which is a more specific alternative used by linguists to avoid ambiguity. (Crystal. 1985, 292) Halliday’s third category, mode, is what he refers to as the symbolic organisation of the situation. Downes recognises two distinct aspects within the category of mode and suggests that not only does it describe the relation to the medium: written, spoken, and so on, but also describes the genre of the text. (Downes. 1998, 316) Halliday refers to genre as pre-coded language, language that has not simply been used before, but that predetermines the selection of textual meanings. The linguist William Downes makes the point that the principal characteristic of register, no matter how peculiar or diverse, is that it is obvious and immediately recognizable. (Downes. 1998, 309)

x

Hi!
I'm Gloria!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out