Stylistic stratification of the English vocabulary 1. The problem of vocabulary classification and binary oppositions in stylistics. 2. Stylistic layers and groups of the English vocabulary (Galperin). 3. Standard English: definition and peculiar features. 4. Stylistic synonyms. 5. Stylistic reference and emotional colouring. 6. Stylistic functions of different layers and groups of the English vocabulary.
The problem of vocabulary classification • Some linguists deny the possibility of working out a systematic classification of the English vocabulary. Problems (Skrebnev): 1. The word stock of any natural language is highly heterogeneous; 2. Words cannot be analysed as isolated units; 3. Polysemy and polyfunctionality of words (one word can be placed in several lexical classes). • Other scholars think that the word stock can be represented as a system in which different aspects of words may be singled out as interdependent.
BINARY OPPOSITIONS IN STYLISTICS Stylistically unmarked/ neutral/ unlimited/ nonrestricted words (common in all spheres of communication) Stylistically marked/ limited/ restricted (limited in their usage by circumstances, communicative situation, people’s age, education, social background)
STYLISTICALLY MARKED WORDS Literary vocabulary (bookish/ learned) Colloquial vocabulary (spoken English)
STYLISTIC CLASSIFICATION OF THE ENGLISH VOCABULARY (GALPERIN) On the basis of these oppositions I. Galperin singles out 3 major layers of the English vocabulary: • Literary words (markedly bookish, stable layer used mostly in written forms of communication): a) Special literary (e. g. to respond); b) Common literary (e. g. to reply). • (Stylistically) neutral words ( e. g. to answer); • Colloquial words (spoken, unstable layer): a) Common colloquial (e. g. to answer/ talk back); b) Special colloquial (e. g. [Am. E. ] to sass sb).
Stylistic groups of the English vocabulary • Archaic words E. g. Nay, we question you not…although hark ye – I say, hark in your ear – my name is Pavillon (W. Scott) • Poetic words E. g. O blithe new-comer! I have heard, / I hear thee and rejoice. O Cuckoo! Shall I call thee bird, / Or but a wandering voice? (W. Wordsworth) • Terms (e. g. acrostic, fluid dynamics, nanotechnologies) • Foreign words (+barbarisms – not entirely assimilated) ( e. g. bon mot, ad infinitum) E. g. The little boy…had a famous appetite, and consumed schinken, and braten, and kartoffeln, and cranberry jam…with a gallantry that did honour to his nation (W. Thackeray)
Stylistic groups of the English vocabulary • Dialectal words E. g. A language so local, so phonetically condensed, permissive of slur that it is inseparable in his mind…from its peculiar landscapes; its combes (лощины) and bartons (фермы-усадьбы), leats ( «балочки» ) and linhays ( «мызы» ). (J. Fowles) • Professional words (replace some official terms of a profession) E. g. Frank soon picked up all the technicalities… A “bull”…was one who bought in anticipation of a higher price to come; and if he was “loaded” up with a “line” of stocks he was said to be “long” (T. Dreiser “Financier”). E. g. DOLLY [Cinema] a flat structure with wheels for moving heavy loads or for supporting a film camera
Stylistic groups of the English vocabulary • Jargon words (characteristic of social or professional groups) E. g. NARK – someone who secretly informs the police about a criminal’s activities. • Slang E. g. Where’s the grub? Stalone has a great bod! I’m sick of this mickey-mouse job! Do you want another brew, dude? My trip to New York was a freebie. He wants to buy a beemer when he makes more money. • Nonce-words (e. g. netiquette, netizen, netspeak)
Standard English: definition Standard English comprises stylistically neutral words, common literary and common colloquial vocabulary. Stylistically unmarked: A, THE; AT, ON…(PREPOSITIONS); I, YOU, HE…, THIS, THERE… (PRONOUNS); GO, COME, MAKE, TAKE…; MAN, WOMAN, BOY, GIRL, SUN, SKY…; WHITE, BLACK…; BIG, SMALL… Common literary: DEVELOP, ACTIVITY, CONFIDENT… ESTABLISH, NEGOTIATE, Common colloquial: HAVE A BREAK, MAKE UP ONE’S MIND; KID; CRAZY…
George Mc. Knight “English Words and Their Background” • 25% of actual linguistic performance is fulfilled by 9 words: AND, BE, HAVE, IT, OF, THE, TO, WILL, YOU • These 9 words plus 34 other words form 50% of what we hear and say: ABOUT, ALL, AS, AT, BUT, CAN, COME, DAY, DEAR, FOUR, GET, GO, HEAR, HER, IF, IN, ME, MUCH, NOT, ONE, SAY, SHE, SO, THAT, THESE, THEY, THIS, THOUGH, TIME, WITH, WRITE, YOUR
Peculiar features of Standard English (I. Galperin) • SE makes up the largest and the most stable part of the English vocabulary; • SE provides the majority of the vocabulary in any connected text; • Most of the words are of Anglo-Saxon origin and monosyllabic E. g. earth < O. E. eorðe; day < O. E. dœg; find < O. E. findan • Words are highly polysemantic;
Peculiar features of Standard English • The words of SE serve as a source of polysemy and synonymy, tend to develop new meanings: E. g. BLOW – 1) (of the wind or current of air) to be moving: A strong wind was blowing. … 7) to melt or cause sth to melt with too strong an electric current : A fuse has blown. … 11) to spoil or fail to use an opportunity: I’ve completely blown my diet with that piece of chocolate cake. … 13) (sl esp US) to leave a place suddenly: Let’s blow!
Peculiar features of Standard English • In a group of synonyms the synonymic dominant always belongs to SE and is stylistically neutral: E. g. infant – CHILD – kid – brat • Words of SE are usually emotionally neutral: E. g. MUG – 1) [direct meaning, neutral] a fairly large cup for drinking from, usu with straight sides and no saucer (a coffee mug); 2) [figurative meaning, derogative or jocular] someone’s face (What an ugly mug!)
Standard English SE constitutes the foundation of the lexico-semantic system of the English language. Special literary and Special colloquial vocabularies are dependent on it and cannot be explained and understood without the knowledge of SE. That is why SE is taught all over the world, although it may be considered a kind of abstraction: Randolph Quirk (“The Use of English”): “We have seen that standard English is basically ideal, a mode of expression that we seek when we wish to communicate beyond our immediate community… As an ideal, it cannot be perfectly realised…In fact, however, any of us can read a newspaper printed in Leeds, San Francisco or Delhi without difficulty and often even without realising that there are differences at all. ”
Synonyms. Types of synonyms SYNONYMS – two or more words of the same language belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical denotative meanings, interchangeable at least in some contexts without any considerable alteration in denotative meaning, but differing in phonemic shape, morphemic composition, shades of meaning, connotations, stylistic reference, valency, idiomatic use. Lexicologists single out: • Absolute synonyms; • Emotional-evaluative synonyms; • Ideographic synonyms; • Contextual synonyms, etc
Stylistic synonyms are synonyms that differ in their stylistic reference, which implies the use of words in different spheres and forms of communication (especially WRITTEN and ORAL forms). • Words belonging to literary vocabulary tend to be used in written forms of communication; • Words belonging to common and special colloquial vocabulary – in oral/spoken forms of communication.
Stylistic synonyms Common literary • infant • insane • emerge • to be astonished Neutral (synonymic dominant) • child • mad • appear • to be surprised Common colloquial • kid • crazy • turn/show up • to be struck
Emotional colouring and stylistic reference represent two different aspects of words, although these aspects are interdependent. Standard English words are emotionally neutral. Special literary: • Terms, neologisms, some archaisms – emotionally neutral; • Poetic words – emotionally coloured; • Foreign words, barbarisms – neutral or emotionally coloured Special colloquial: • Dialectal, professional words – neutral; • Slang, jargon and vulgar words – emotionally coloured
Emotional colouring and stylistic reference In connected texts, both written and oral, any word of the language system may acquire emotional colouring and become “emotionally charged/ loaded”: E. g.