Stylistic (Pragmatic) Meaning.

A speech community is not a monolithic herd of people who use all words in the same way and with the same feelings.

Stylistics is a domain where meaning assumes paramount importance, because it is applied not only to words, word-combinations, sentences, but also to the manner of expression into which the matter is cast. When a twofold application of meaning is apparent a SD can be realized.

In stylistics it is important to discriminate shades or nuances of meaning in order to adequately comprehend the idea of a passage or a complete work. Here meaning is also viewed as a category which is able to acquire meanings imposed on the words by the context. That is why they are called contextual meanings.

The choice of words for creating the necessary effect is based on the fact that besides the logical or denotative meaning words may have different connotations:




This additional meaning in words can be either fixed in the dictionary or brought out in the context. It is connected with the discourse/the act of communication, its participants and circumstances.

a) Expressive connotation in words depends on their unusual use. It can be the transferred meaning, the unexpected combination of words, the use of intensifiers – anything that aims at increasing the impact of the message. Expressiveness can be understood as a kind of intensification of an utterance or of a part of it depending on the position of its means that manifest this category and what these means are.

Expressiveness can be achieved by lexical and by syntactical means:

e.g. Mr. Smith was an extremely unpleasant person.

Why should I sweat about the place collecting dogs – of whatever nationality – for young Tuppy? (Wodehouse) (a reference to an Irish spaniel).

b) Emotive component is connected with the expression of feelings: pleasure, uneasiness, surprise, distress. Emotive meaning is an intensifying derivative meaning. Emotiveness is what reveals the emotions of a writer/speaker. The emotive elements of language are designed to awaken co-experience in the mind of a reader/listener. Emotiveness is an integral part of expressiveness.

e.g. He looked dreadfully pitiful [Maugham]. (sympathetic)

Isn’t she cute! (positive, excitement, admiration).

It must be noted that emotional emphasis frequently overlaps with a logical one.

The meaning is 'emotive' if it is used to express a personal feeling, say, the feeling that something is beautiful or ugly, pleasant or unpleasant. Emotive meaning is a kind of factual meaning.

Expressiveness is a broader notion than emotiveness and is by no means to be reduced to the latter. Emotiveness is an integral part of expressiveness and, as a matter of fact, occupies a predomi­nant position in the category of expressiveness.

The distinction here can be made between the spoken word and written text, spoken language having a possibly greater ‘emotive’ function by emphasizing aspects of the language in its pronunciation. For example, in English stressed or unstressed words can produce a variety of meanings. Consider the sentence ‘I never promised you a rose garden’ (the title of the autobiographical novel by Joanne Greenberg, which was written under the pen name of Hannah Green. 1964). This has a multitude of connotations depending on how the line is spoken. For example:

I never promised you a rose garden

I never promised you a rose garden

I never promised you a rose garden

I never promised you a rose garden

I never promised you a rose garden

I never promised you a rose garden.

c) Evaluative quality of a word expresses favorable or unfavorable attitude to the thing described.

e.g. The voice of young Bingo polluted the air (Wodehouse).

The evaluative meaning of a word (or phrase) may be positive(meliorative, laudatory), negative(pejorative, derogatory) or neutral (indifferent).

The evaluative meanings of a word can diverge widely, even when the word has no or hardly any established conceptual meaning. Thus the word god has a strong meliorative meaning for theists and a strong pejorative meaning for antitheists. Words such as good, right, nice and excellent, which are used to express a positive evaluation or emotion itself, are typically meliorative, may acquire a pejorative meaning due to the context, when the speaker does not like the situation.

Stylisic connotation in a word depends on its habitual use in one of the functional styles.

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