WHAT IS STYLE AND STYLISTICS? What is meant by style is debatable because it is highly debatable if human beings are exactly alike. It is very difficult to arrive at a full description of style that is acceptable to all scholars. As such there are many definitions of the word style as there are scholars yet no consensus is reached among them on what style is. Chapman (1973) is of the view that style is the product of social situation i. e. of a common relationship between language users. He further said that style is not an ornament or virtue and is not confined to written language, or to literature or to any single aspect of language.
Language is human specific and used in society. No human language is fixed, uniform, or varying; all languages show internal variation. This variation sows the distinct feature of individuals or a group of people which is usually referred to as style. Style is popularly referred to as ‘dress’ of thought, as a person’s method of expressing his thought feelings and emotions, as the manner of speech or writing. (Samson:1996). From the definition above, one can deduce that style is the particular way in which an individual communicate his thoughts which distinguishes him from others.
Style can also be defined as the variation in an individual’s speech which is occasioned by the situation of use. (Yule: 1996) from the definition of style provided by Yule, style is described as the variations in language usage. In essence, style is conditioned by the manner in which an individual makes use of language Middleton is of the view that style refers to personal idiosyncrasy, the technique of exposition and Chatman says that style means manner – the manner in which the form executed or the content expressed.
From the definitions above, it can be deduced that style is unique to every individual or person and it is a product of the function of language as a means of communication. Thus, style can be described as the manner in which a writer addresses a matter. The way in which a writer writes which is also known as the writer’s style reveals the writer’s personality. A writer’s style is known by his choice of words, words patterns, graphological devices and major thematic pre- occupation. Style can also be defined as deviation from the norm.
This definition is based on the standard or value. When this is applied to language, we realize that members of a society have agreed to use language in a particular way and any other usage aside this is seen as a deviant. In this vein, style is seen as any use of language which goes contrary to this agreement. Language is understood to be a code. A writer’s style is often expressed by the grammatical clauses and structures he prefers as by his choice of words. A breach of the code may result in an ungrammatical sentence or a deviant.
The deviations which a writer is associated with are known as his style of writing. Style can also be described as the choices made in the process of writing. These choices are made consciously or unconsciously. The style of a writer is made manifest in his sentence form. For example, 1. The man died. 2. The man was murdered. 3. The man was assassinated. 4. The man gave up the ghost. From a cursory reading of the sentences written above, one can decipher that there is a difference in the attitude of the writer’s which is exhibited by their choice of words.
For example, killed is neutral while murdered and assassinated is criminal. Also, the writer’s choice of word is also conditioned by his occupation which M. A. K Halliday has provided three situational categories for which are: mode, tenor, and field. Style is also used synonymously with register. When a user directs his artwork towards a particular style, he is adopting a register which may be deliberate and with awareness of a recognised style, as when a barrister speaks in court. When the same barrister engages in family talk, he will use a different one.
A regular recurring of a register creates a style in the individual. Style is the particular way in which something is done. It is also the features which a work of art is known Linguistic is concerned with language as an observable phenomenon of human activity, both in its general principles and in the particular realizations which we call language. The linguistic study of different style with which human language is written is called stylistics. Linguistics and stylistics are complementary in the sense that we study the human language with a view to getting the meaning, style etc.
Stylistics is a discipline devoted to the study of style. It may be defined as the systematic, methodical or scientific study of style. The word scientific is significant here as it relates to linguistics which is the science that investigates or describes languages and how it works. Turner (1973) describes stylistics as: that part of linguistics which concentrates on variation in the use of language, often, but not exclusively with special attention to the most conscious and complex uses of language in literature.
Stylistics is the study of the uses of language in their various manifestations. The use of language in literature usually receives special attention in stylistics. Stylistics is interested in the analysis of the type and reason for choosing a given style in a language. It looks into how language is used grammatically, semantically, phonologically, morphologically and as discourse. Chapman (1973) defined stylistics as a part of sociolinguistics which in turn is the study of language in relation to society.
Stylistics is concerned with the identification of the distinctive features of a variety of the peculiarities or idiosyncrasies of an author through the principles of linguistics. The Stylisticians (practitioners of stylistics) uses the principles of linguistics to single out the feature of language which are restricted to particular social contexts, and he accounts for reason(s) why such features are used when and where they are used. Stylistics according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is “the study of style and the methods used in written language”.
Stylistics can be defined as the study of the varieties of language usage. Stylistics can also be defined as the analysis and description of the features of style in literary texts. Reference: Brown K. (2005). Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics. Oxford: Elsevier. Dare, S. A. (1991). “Some Approaches to the Study of Style. ” In Oyegoke, Lekan (Ed) Undergraduate Text in English Language and Literature. Ibadan: Paperback Publisher Limited. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Stylistics and Varieties of English.