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Foregrounding in E. E. Cummings' "your little voice":

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Khent Marl Ballon

on 21 October 2015

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Transcript of Foregrounding in E. E. Cummings' "your little voice":

1. What are the foregrounded parts in the poem “your little voice” by E. E. Cummings?


At what linguistic level do deviations occur?
a. graphological
b. lexical
c. grammatical
d. semantic


How do the foregrounded portions of the text relate together and contribute to the interpretation of the poem as a whole?

Background of the Study
Susan O. Dangan, Khent Marl L. Ballon & Almira Joy D. Bagsic
Foregrounding in E. E. Cummings' "your little voice":
A Stylistic Analysis

a term borrowed from art criticism.
a technique for ‘making strange in language.
a method of ‘defamiliarization’ in textual composition.
a practice of making something stand out from the surrounding word.
Research Design
Descriptive-qualitative research employing the
Practical Stylistics Approach

Data Selection Procedure
Library resources, website references, and Internet-based articles were used.

The selection of the subject text used in this study was made possible through comparing different literary texts of different authors in terms of aesthetic properties present in their texts.

With close attention to the literary styles, the researchers found E. E. Cumming’s poetic style to be really unusual.In this regard, the researchers found his work to be a good piece for analysis using the said approach.

The Process of Interpretation

1. Examining, identifying, and noting down the foregrounded parts found in the poem “your little voice” by E.E. Cummings.

2. Frequency count

3. Describing the identified deviations in the poem as to what linguistic level they occur: graphological, lexical, grammatical, or semantic.

4. Showing how the foregrounded portions of the text relate together and contribute to the interpretation of the poem as a whole. and exposing how the poet makes use of all those component parts to convey to his readers the message of his poem.
All the poetic lines in the poem are foregrounded due to Cummings choices that fall outside the language system.

The deviations in the poem occur at graphological, lexical, grammatical, and semantic level.

3. The linguistic deviations in the poem that lead to foregrounding are encompassing with each other. There is a cohesion among them that contributes to the interpretation of the poem as a whole. The linguistic deviations occur simultaneously and cohesively through the cohesive elements such as synonymy and conjunction. By acting as links between themselves, all these items confer a cohesive strength on the poem and make it function as a unified whole.

4. The linguistic deviations work significantly to reveal that the poem “your little voice” is about Cummings and his sentiments towards a girl.
The poem is wholly foregrounded as a result of Cummings choice to deviate from the linguistic norms and normal conventions of language use. All poetic lines in the poem exhibit a sense of absurdity and irregularity which made difficult to understand.

2. The foregrounded parts of the poem are linguistically deviant: graphologically, lexically, grammatically, and semantically.

3. The foregrounded portions of the text relate together through the cohesive elements such as synonymy and conjunction, and through the simultaneous occurrence of linguistic deviations.

4. The poem “your little voice” is about Cummings and his sentiments towards a girl. The poem in its entirety explains the persistent and strong desire of the poet for the addressee.

5. Cummings uses foregrounding in his poem as a technique in presenting his unique vision of telling an experience about a girl who is so much attached to him.

6. The previous analysis of E. E. Cummings’ poem ‘your little voice’ shows how one can make use of stylistics to uphold an interpretation of a poem, and how stylistics can also highlight elements of a poem that one might otherwise miss.

7. By using a systematic analytical technique like stylistics, ensures that a given interpretation is explicit, objective and grounded in facts.
rejection of the rules of capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure
the instances where Cummings capitalizes words are instances where he puts greater emphasis on meaning
The absence of punctuations is also highly noticeable in the poem. Their importance in sentence construction is neglected by Cummings to highlight the uninterruptible movement and transition of actions in his poem.
Cummings combines words and phrases which are semantically incompatible, so that in combination they can have no conceivable literal reference to reality.
He combines what is kept separate in the code and separates what is combined in the code.
The use of metaphorical expressions is also exercised by Cummings in his poem. Though absurd in the normal conventions of language use, he makes use of them to present his unique vision of narrating an experience.
English teachers should employ stylistic approach in teaching literature since it is eminently suitable for study and analysis of literary works. It clearly explicates literary effects through linguistic analysis.Thus, linguistic skills of the students would be enhanced. This approach in teaching literature would enable them to develop and improve the students’ abilities in understanding and interpreting literary pieces. Additionally, through using this approach, they would be able to develop among their learners the higher order thinking skills in meaning-making.
A comparative stylistic analysis is also suggested to compare and contrast the poem under study with other poems of E. E. Cummings to find out whether his poems have the same themes, styles and aesthetic properties. Additionally, by conducting this study, other researchers would be able to find out more discoveries about language that would also have great importance to both ESL and EFL teachers and learners.

Above all, it is highly recommended that literary pieces of other poets and writers, not only poems but also prose literature be subject to analysis. This would give the researchers a better understanding and appreciation on how language and literature work together and that how language is utilized in literature by poets and writers.
It is also recommended that students should employ critical thinking in reading literary texts in order to formulate questions that will be useful in discovering the meaning embedded by the poets in their literary works. Students are further recommended to develop appreciative values to understand the significance of literary works. Since stylistic analysis requisites knowledge and awareness about language including grammar, students are recommended to study and familiarize them.

Other researchers are further recommended to replicate the study to measure the objectiveness of the interpretations made in this study.
“I get
drunk on jealousy
But you'll come back each time you leave
Cause darling
I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream

- “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

exploring language and more specifically, exploring creativity in language use.

It tells us about the rules of language because it often explores texts where those rules are bent, distended or stretched to breaking point.

anomalous use of indentions and margins
seemingly odd appearance of the poem
some lines are aligned left, others are highly indented to the right which makes the appearance of the poem looking disordered
strange use of capitalization
invention of a new word which is termed as neologism
utilization of the the verbs to stress the shifting of the mood in the poem – from vigorous and lively emotions to sentimental, weak and sad one
the main verbs were also significant to the interpretation as they tell the time of action in the poem
Cummings practice of enjambment and excessive use of line breaks contribute to the arousal of reader’s interest.
The omission of grammatical Subject, Predicator, and Complement which leads to sentence fragmentation also leads to deviation.
However, Cummings intends this to create an arrest and release effect in his poetry. Readers are suspended of the additional information and supplied as they continue on reading.
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