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Distinctive linguistic features of the major functional styles of English

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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.

4.5.1. 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, Fve.

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.

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.

Prevalence of active and finite verb forms.

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.

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.

4.5 ,2. 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, I'd.

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

Emphasis on intonation as a powerful semantic and styUstic 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,

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

Syntactical features

Use of simple short sentences.

Dialogues are usually of the question-answer type.

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. That 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.

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.

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 subtle shades of meaning, overtones and emotions.

Phonetic compression. 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.

Lexical features

Newspaper cliches and set phrases.

Terminological variety: scientific, sports, political, 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.

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.

4.5.4. The style of official documents

Morphological features

Adherence to the norm, sometimes outdated or even archaic, e. g. in legal documents.

Syntactical features

Use of long complex sentences with several types of coordination and subordination (up to 70 % of the text).

Use of passive and participial constructions, numerous connectives.

Use of objects, attributes and all sorts of modifiers in the identifying and explanatory function.

Extensive use of detached constructions and parenthesis.

Use of participle I and participle II as openers in the initial expository statement.

A general syntactical mode of combining several pronouncements into one sentence.

Information texts are based on standard normative syntax reasonably simplified.

Lexical features

Prevalence of stylistically neutral and bookish vocabulary.

Use of terminology, e. g. legal: acquittal, testimony, aggravated larceny; commercial: advance payment, insurance, wholesale, etc.

Use of proper names (names of enterprises, companies, etc.) and titles.

Abstraction of persons, e. g. use of party instead of the name. Officialese vocabulary: cliches, opening and conclusive phrases.

Conventional and archaic forms and words: kinsman, hereof, thereto, thereby, ilk.

Foreign words, especially Latin and French: status quo, force majeure, persona поп grata.

Abbreviations, contractions, conventional symbols: M. P. (member of Parliament), Ltd (limited), $, etc.

Use of words in their primary denotative meaning.

Absence of tropes, no evaluative and emotive colouring of vocabu­lary.

Seldom use of substitute words: it, one, that. Compositional features

Special compositional design: coded graphical layout, clear-cut sub­division of texts into units of information; logical arrangement of these units, order-of-priority organisation of content and informa­tion.

Conventional composition of treaties, agreements, protocols, etc.: division into two parts, a preamble and a main part.

Use of stereotyped, official phraseology.

Accurate use of punctuation.

Generally objective, concrete, unemotional and impersonal style of narration.

4.5.5. ScientificIacademic style Morphological features

Terminological word building and word-derivation: neologism formation by affixation and conversion.

Restricted use of finite verb forms.

Use of 'the author's we' instead of I.

Frequent use of impersonal constructions.

Syntactical features

Complete and standard syntactical mode of expression.

Syntactical precision to ensure the logical sequence of thought and argumentation.

Direct word order.

Use of lengthy sentences with subordinate clauses. Extensive use of participial, gerundial and infinitive complexes. Extensive use of adverbial and prepositional phrases. Frequent use of parenthesis introduced by a dash. Abundance of attributive groups with a descriptive function.

Preferential use of prepositional attributive groups instead of the descriptive of phrase.

Avoidance of ellipsis, even usually omitted conjunctions like 'that' and 'which'.

Prevalence of nominal constructions over the verbal ones to avoid time reference for the sake of generalisation.

Frequent use of passive and non-finite verb forms to achieve objectivity and impersonality.

Use of impersonal forms and sentences such as mention should be made, it can be inferred, assuming that, etc.

Lexical features

Extensive use of bookish words e. g. presume, infer, preconception, cognitive.

Abundance of scientific terminology and phraseology.

Use of words in their primary dictionary meaning, restricted use of connotative contextual meanings.

Use of numerous neologisms.

Abundance of proper names.

Restricted use of emotive colouring, interjections, expressive phraseology, phrasal verbs, colloquial vocabulary.

Seldom use of tropes, such as metaphor, hyperbole, simile, etc.

Compositional features

Types of texts compositionally depend on the scientific genre: mono­graph, article, presentation, thesis, dissertation, etc.

In scientific proper and technical texts e.g. mathematics: highly formalized text with the prevalence of formulae, tables, diagrams supplied with concise commentary phrases.

In humanitarian texts (history, philosophy): descriptive narration, supplied with argumentation and interpretation.

Logical and consistent narration, sequential presentation of material and facts.

Extensive use of citation, references and foot-notes.

Restricted use of expressive means and stylistic devices.

Extensive use of conventional set phrases at certain points to emphasise the logical character of the narration, e.g. as we have seen, in conclusion, finally, as mentioned above.

Use of digressions to debate or support a certain point,

Definite structural arrangement in a hierarchical order: introduction, chapters, paragraphs, conclusion.

Special set of connective phrases and words to sustain coherence and logic, such as consequently, on the contrary, likewise.

Extensive use of double conjunctions like as... as, either... or, both... and, etc.

Compositionally arranged sentence patterns: postulatory (at the beginning), argumentative (in the central part), formulative (in the conclusion).

Distinctive features described above by no means present an exhaustive nomenclature for each type. A careful study of each functional style requires investigation of the numerous types of texts of various genres that represent each style. That obviously cannot be done in the framework of this course. It is also one of the reasons why the style of literature has not been included in this description. It is hardly worthwhile trying to make any generalizations about the sphere of belles-lettres style, which includes such an array of genres whether in prose, or poetry, or drama, let alone the peculiar styles of separate authors.

Practice Section

1. What extralinguistic factors are involved in the notion of style? How do style and personal factors correlate? What styles exist in any national language?

2. What is the literary norm of a language? What does the term 'a norm variation' imply? How is each style characterised by the

. function it fulfils?

3. Comment on the sociolinguistic and stylistic factors that account for the use of regional, social, and occupational varieties of the language.

4. Compare the classifications of functional styles in English described in this chapter.

5. Identify the functional style in each of the texts given below and point out the distinctive features that testify to its specific character.

II has long been known that when exposed to light under suitable conditions of temperature and moisture, the green parts of plants use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen to it. These exchanges are the opposite of those, which occur in respiration. The process is called photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, carbohydrates are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water by the chloroplasts of plant cells in the presence of light. Oxygen is the product of the reaction. For each molecule of carbon dioxide used, one molecule of oxygen is released. A summary chemical equation for photosynthesis is:

6CO2 = 6H2O -► C6H12O6 + 6O2.

You was sharp, wasn't you, to catch me like that, eh? By Ga-ard, you had me fixed proper, proper you had. Darn me, you fixed me up proper - proper, you did.

I don't think no worse of you for it, no, darned if I do. Fine pluck in a woman's what I admire. That I do indeed.

Wefetfrom the start, we did. And, my word, you begin again quick the minute you see me, you did. Dam me, you was too sharp for me. A darn fine woman, puts up a darn good fight. Dam me if I could find a woman in all the darn States as could get me down like that. Wonderful fine woman you be, truth to say, at this minute. (Lawrence)

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