OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
(taken from "Методичні вказівки до семінарських та
практичних занять зі стилістики англійської мови для студентів IV курсу”
(Видання 2) . Уклад. Воробйова О.П., Бойцан Л.Ф., Ганецька Л.В. та інш. - К.:
Вид. центр КНЛУ, 2001. - С. 8-11.)
The main unit of the morphological level is a morpheme – the smallest meaningful unit
which can be singled out in a word. There are two types of morphemes: root morphemes and affix ones. Morphology chiefly deals with forms, functions and
meanings of affix morphemes.
morphemes in English are subdivided into word-building and form-building
morphemes. In the latter case affixation may be: 1) synthetical (boys, lived,
comes, going); 2) analytical (has invited, is invited, does not invite); 3)
based on the alteration of the root vowel (write-wrote); 4) suppletive
There are few language (or
paradigmatic) synonyms among English morphemes and only some of them form
stylistic oppositions, e.g, he lives – he
does live. Come! – Do come! Don’t forget – Don’t you forget. This scarcity
of morphological EM which is predetermined by the analytical character of the
English language is compensated by a great variety of SD.
Morphological SD as a deliberate
shift in the fixed distribution of morphemes can be creted by means of: a) the
violation of the usual combinability of morphemes within a word, e.g. the
plural of uncountable nouns (sands,
waters, times), or the Continuous forms of the verbs of sense perception (to be seeing, to be knowing, to be feeling);
b) the violation of the contextual distribution of morphemes, which is called
1.1. SD BASED ON THE USE OF NOUNS
The invariant grammatical meaning of
the noun, that of substance, is realized through grammatical categories of
number, case definiteness/ indefiniteness which can be used for stylistic
Such SD may be based on a) repeating
the same words in a syntactical construction, e.g. women are women, or b) using metaphorically nouns which belong to
different lexico-grammatical classes, e.g. He
is a devil with the women (S.Barstow).
In the opposition of singular :: plural the latter is a marked member, and, accordingly, the
possibilities of its stylistic use are greater. Nevertheless, singular forms
can also acquire stylistic meaning, e.g. to
shoot dark, to hunt pig. The formant ‘s’
as the marker of the category of possessiveness constantly widens the sphere of
its usage and its combinability. It frequently combines with inanimate and
abstract nouns, e.g. kitchen’s work, the
plan’s failure. Sometimes it refers to a word group or a sentence, e.g. The blonde I had been dancing with’s name
was Bemice Crabs or Krebs (J. Salinger). As a result, the opposition N1 of
N2 :: N2’s N1 loses its stylistic character.
1.2. SD BASED ON THE USE OF ARTICLES
Articles which form the nucleus of
the category of definiteness / indefiniteness in modern English may be regarded
as analytical formants that might impact to the noun a stylistic coloring.
There are two ways of achieving a
stylistic effect through the usage or non-usage of articles:
1) the violation of usual combinability
of the definite and indefinite articles with proper names and the nouns
denoting unique objects (sun, moon, sky,
earth). The indefinite article with proper names might acquire evaluative
meaning. While the definite article indicates a temporary or permanent quality
of the person in question. Names of unique objects while used with the
indefinite article acquire the meaning "one of many”;
2) the transposition of the meaning of an
article in context. In this case the objects or phenomena are introduced by the
narrator as if they are familiar to the reader. This device is sometimes called
in medias res (the beginning from the middle).
1.3. SD BASED ON THE USE OF ADJECTIVES
In contrast with nouns, adjectives have only
one grammatical category, that of comparison. The violation of morphemic
combinability in adjectives which express different degree of comparison are
typical of advertising techniques, e.g. the
most Italian car. The meaning of comparison can be also expressed lexically
through equonisms, e.g. senior – junior,
and adjectives with the –ish suffix, e.g. mannish,
womanish, which are occasional words which sound less categoric.
1.4. SD BASED ON THE USE OF PRONOUNS
Being very abstract, pronouns in contrast with
nouns and adjectives are rarely used stylistically, which makes their stylistic
usage especially expressive.
Pronouns may acquire stylistic value if they
denote persons or objects that have not been named or introduced but are still
represented as familiar. This device, in media res plunges the reader into the
midst of events, making the author’s
narrative more intimate (see E. Hemingway’s stories Now I Lay Me and In Another Country).
A particular stylistic effect may be created
due to the usage of archaic (thee, thou,
thy) or low colloquial forms of pronouns. While archaic forms make the
speech sound official, solemn, or poetical, low colloquial forms usually render
some speech characteristics. Pronouns can also undergo various contextual
1) when we
is used instead of I (I → we
a) Pluralis Auctoris ("editorial we”), when the author speaks on
behalf of a certain group, party, or class;
b) Pluralis Majestatis, when we
is used as a symbol of royal power;
c) Pluralis Modestial, when we
is used as a means of involving the reader or listener into the author’s
thoughts. It is typical of oral or written scientific prose;
d) when we is employed to impart to the utterance a jocular unceremonious
→ one transposition which gives an utterance a more general, impersonal
3) I → you transposition which
frequently occurs in reported speech and some descriptions;
4) I → he/she transposition that
takes place when:
a) the speaker tells
his/her life story as an onlooker;
b) the speaker addresses
himself/herself as an interlocuter;
c) the speaker
overstresses his/her relevance;
d) the speaker laughs
away what is said about him/her by the others;
5) you → we ("clinical we”)
transposition, which conveys a patronizing attitude of the senior superior to
the junior/inferior. It can also create a humorous effect.
1.5. SD BASED ON THE USE OF ADVERBS
Adverbs as one of the means of communicating
intensity may be:
a) stylistically neutral, typical of
both written and oral speech (exceedingly,
quite, too, utterly);
b) stylistically marked, typical of
oral speech only (awfully, terribly,
latter are close to intensifying particles.
Formal differentiation of suffix and
non-suffix adverbs in Modern English is supported by their stylistic usage. The
use of non-suffix adverbs is typical of the oral form of speech. In
belles-lettres style they can become SD which impart greater vividness and
expressiveness to the personage’s speech. Both types of adverbs may be found in
the publicistic style.
1.6. SD BASED ON THE USE OF VERBS
existing diversity of verb categories, forms and constructions makes this part
of speech the richest one as to its
stylistic possibilities. The stylistic potential of the verb finds its obvious
manifestations in the use of aspect, tense, voice, and mood forms.
Verb aspect forms have a lot
of synonyms which allow diverse synonymous substitutions. Present, Past and
Future Continuous forms, being more emotional than Indefinite ones, are
frequently used instead of the latter to emphasize the emotional tension of the
utterance or to impart politeness to it.
The interchange of verb tense
forms (past with historic present or present with past or future) in the
narrative makes the events, actions and situations described more vivid.
Passive constructions which
might have a greater emotional charge than active ones, because of their
implicit agent, can make a literary text more expressive.
Impersonality accounts for either
expressive or habitual use of passive constructions in those texts (mostly
scientific papers) which are characterized by impartiality of judgment and
objectiveness. Passive forms are also wide spread in colloquial speech, in the
publicistic and official styles.
The category of mood, due to
its modality, the expression of the speaker’s attitude to the events and
phenomena described, also enjoys a great stylistic potential. While considering
the stylistic usage of the imperative mood, it is important to take into
account: social factors (age, social
status, educational background, relations between the interlocutors) and
different attitudinal overtones (categoric,
pressing, mild, affectionate, threatening, ironical). These shades of meaning
are chiefly rendered by means of intonation, but they can be also stressed by
syntax (please, kindly, will you? the use
of you to intensify the harshness of tone).
Imperative mood forms in a literary
text, especially in its title, are used to create an illusion of the author’s
or the narrator’s immediate contract with the reader. Such forms are also
frequent in the publicistic, oratorical, and newspaper texts.
Semantics of the subjunctive mood
forms which express wish, supposition, possibility, and unreality predetermine
the use of these forms in all the styles of Modern English.
Thus, the synthetical forms of the
subjunctive mood which were looked upon as obsolete have gained currency
especially in American English. Such forms impart to literary texts colloquial
connotations. In the publicistic style do
is preferred to the analytical form with should
which is regarded as more formal.
Subjective emotional evaluation may
be also conveyed by means of the "emotional should” or the "would + infinitive” construction, which
expresses supposition or the repetition of actions, e.g. "Why should I be ashamed of myself? – asked Gabriel” (J.Joyce); Now that there was something to be seen for
his money, he had been coming down once, twice, even three times, a week and
would mouse about among the debris for hours … And he would stand before them
for minutes together (J.Galsworthy).