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Stylistics

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nihal demirkol azak

on 3 May 2016

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Transcript of Stylistics

What is Stylistics?
A brief history of stylistics
The study of style can be traced back to the literary scholarships of the
Greeks and Romans
in the fifth century BC in which ‘
RHETORIC
’ was the dominant art. Rhetoric was a set of rules and strategies which enable orators ‘to speak well’; in other words to use language that is fully decorated with all the figures and tropes to bring about changes in the feelings and opinions of the audience. The study of language variations was then emphasized by the emergence of modern linguistics in the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
In the 20th century
linguistic investigation to language split into three major areas:
FORMALISM
(Russian formalistic theory and later New Criticism),
STRUCTURALISM
(Bally’s expressive theory, Jakobsonian theory, affective theory) and
FUNCTIONALISM
(in the late 1960s - the discourse and contextual theories and Halliday’s systemic theory). The position of stylistics up to the late 60s has lived with a limitation in the treatments of texts as the concern was with the syntactic features only. Almost all the theories had been text-oriented approaches to literary texts.

In the late 60s, Michael Halliday developed a functionally based linguistic theory. He emphasized not only the structure of the language but also the social functions of discourse, the social dimensions and the use of language in context. The importance of the concept of ‘context’ springs out of two important disciplines: PRAGMATICS and DISCOURSE ANALYSIS.
Style as Choice
Although the painting depicts the fall of Icarus and its title refers to that event as well, in both cases Icarus's demise is backgrounded. In the painting the man ploughing is in the foreground. So it looks visually as if the painting is mainly about him. The ship is also more or less in the foreground. All we can see of Icarus is a small pair of legs, as he disappears into the sea near the ship. So it is clear that although in cultural terms the fall of Icarus is the most important thing, it is being portrayed in the painting as if it is less important than the man and the ship. In the title to the painting, 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus', the noun phrase 'the fall of Icarus' is embedded inside a prepositional phrase which in turn only acts as a modifier to the head noun 'Landscape'. So the title also puts the fall of Icarus in a more backgrounded position.



Stylistics
The discipline of STYLISTICS is simply defined as the study of style.
The idea of style implies that words on page might have been different, or differently arranged, without a corresponding difference in substance.
Another writer would have said it another way.

(Ohmann 1970: 264)
When a writer writes, he is constantly involved in making linguistic choices.
While making these choices the writer
FOREGROUNDS
some parts of the text
.
STYLE refers to the way in which language is used in a given context, by a given person, for a given purpose, and so on.

The basic principle in stylistics is that there must be
more than one way of doing or saying something
.
What is done or said is different from how it is done or said.

There are
many different ways of saying essentially the same thing
, and
the element of choice over how to say something
was the proper subject of study for stylistics.
FOREGROUNDING
The term 'FOREGROUNDING' is borrowed from
art criticism
, which distinguishes between the
foreground
and the
background
of a painting.
'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus' by Brueghel
It is this structuring in the painting also prompts Auden's interpretation. Moreover, the fact that the man is more in the foreground than the ship appears to determine the sequence in which Auden refers to them in the poem.
Apart from art, foregrounding is all around us "linguistically".

Shklovsky
claimed that
as things become familiar to us, we stop noticing them
. The function of art is
to make people look at the world from a new perspective
and
re-perceive what they have stopped noticing
.

Linguistic foregrounding in texts has to do with how particular parts of texts are made perceptually prominent. Every part of the text contributes to the whole, but some parts are foregrounded.

While writing a text a writer makes linguistic choices and while making these choices s/he foregrounds some parts of the text.

Foregrounding takes two main forms:

(a) Where the language allows a choice within rules and conventions, the writer
goes outside the choices available
. (
deviation
)

(b) Where the language allows a choice, the writer
denies himself the freedom to choose
. and
uses the same item repeatedly
. (
parallelism
)

(G. Leech. and M.H. Short, Style in Fiction, p. 49)


Deviation
” can be seen as “
unexpected irregularity
” while “
parallelism
” can be described as “
unexpected regularity
”.

Deviation and parallelism serve as ‘
attention-calling devices
’ and they constitute
an important textual strategy
for the development of images, themes and characters and for affecting a text’s interpretation. Foregrounding through deviation or parallelism can
occur at ANY linguistic level
.
On all these levels of language we have
a set of rules or expectations
regulating how the language is structured and used. If these rules and expectations are
broken
in some way, foregrounding occurs, which attracts
attention
and becomes more
memorable
.


[Stylistic analysis of a text] tells us about the ‘rules’ of language because it often explores texts where these rules are
bent
,
distended
or
stretched to breaking point
.

(Simpson,
Stylistics: A resource book for students
)

1. THE SOUNDS/LETTERS LEVEL:

1.1. Phonology (speech)

At phonological level, several devices (such as
alliteration, assonance, rhyme, metrical feet

and so on
) are used as a means of foregrounding especially in "poetry, advertising, newspaper headlines and political slogans" in order
to signify a certain atmosphere or mood and to create a certain effect on readers (audience)
.
The slogan for Ike Eisenhower
in the American presidential campaign of 1952.
The use of
rhyme
and
sound repetition
in the slogan is an example of ‘foregrounding through
parallelism
’.
These devices have a
cohesive effect
, since using identical sounds and rhyme tends to
tie words together
. They are employed for
emphasis
and
mnemonic effects
.
I Like Ike
Like politicians, advertisers want to catch our
attention
and have us
remember
their advertisements, as part of a strategy to get us to buy what they are advertising.

They often do this by being
unusual
,
breaking out
of the normal patterns of language.
"Persil washes whiter"
"Persil washes whiter"
In this advertisement
parallelism
is at the
phonological level
of language and has two dimensions.

Firstly, there is
rhythmic
(
metrical
) parallelism: each of the words consists of two syllables (stressed+unstressed)

Secondly, the initial consonant sounds of 'washes' and 'whiter' are the
same phoneme
, /w/. In other words, they
alliterate
.

Overall, the parallelism foregrounds the advertising slogan and also helps to make it
memorable
.

Metrical scheme, most simply put,
is an organized pattern of
strong and weak syllables.
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,

("The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Tennyson, 1854)

HALF
a league,
HALF
a league,
HALF
a league,
ON
ward,

(Stressed + Unstressed + Unstressed)
(Dactylic Tetrameter)

This metrical rhythmic structure of the line (dactylic tetrameter) makes you feel the horses and soldiers are
charging
towards the victory.
1.2. Graphology (writing)

At graphological level,the features like ‘
page size
,
line direction
,
regularity
,
angle
,
space design
,
direction of writing
,
the layout of the text on the page
,
shape
,
size and type of font
,
the use of capitalization
,
boldface
,
repetition of letters
,
abbreviations
,
acronyms
and so on’ can be used to foreground some parts of the text (graphic symbolism). Using graphological foregrounding aims at achieving an effective transmission of a message or a special effect on the reader.

40 – LOVE

middle aged
couple playing
ten nis
when the
game ends
and they
go home
the net
will still
be be
tween them
(Roger McGough, 1971)

In this poem, the poet employs a range of linguistic-stylistic devices to relay underlying conceptual
metaphor
:

A human relationship/the game of love is like a game of sport
’.

What is particularly marked about the poem is the way this conceptual metaphor is sustained by patterns of ‘
graphology
’.

The particular
spatial organization of tennis
, with it movement of the ball between players, is captured stylistically by the
break up of the text into two columns
, and this forces us to read the text as if we are watching a tennis game.

This graphological organization of the poem embodies not only the
emotional conflict that exists between the couple
.

The
net
which serves as the
physical barrier
in a tennis court symbolizes a
emotional barrier between the couple
.
2. THE GRAMMATICAL LEVEL (Morphology & Syntax)

Morphology
accounts for the building blocks of meaning inside words. Morphological foregrounding is an
intentional deviation from the ordinary formation, construction or application of words, or the repetition of the same morphological structures successively
.

Syntax
is the order of words and phrases in a sentence. If you change the word order you also change the meaning.
The use of incorrect grammar or syntactic rearrangement, and the repetition of the same grammatical structure over and over again
are examples of syntactic foregrounding.

“I kissed thee ere I killed thee”
“I kissed thee ere I killed thee”

(Shakespeare , Othello,
Act V, scene iii)

“I kissed thee ere I killed thee”
-
syntactical
It is syntactically parallel because it consists of two clauses which have the same grammatical structure (subject-verb-object), joined by the subordinating conjunction 'ere'.
I kissed thee ere I killed thee
[S P O] cj [S P O]

Subject (“I”) and object (“thee”) are repeated.

-
morphological
Both verbs consist of two morphemes, the second of which is a past tense marker.
kiss--ed kill--ed
root--suffix root--suffix

-
phonological

/ kıst / / kıld /
There is phonological parallelism through alliteration (the repeated word-initial /k / and the similarity of word-final / d / and / t / ) and assonance (the repeated / ı / vowel). Further both words have one syllable.

-
graphological
The only graphological difference between the words lies in the use of double 's' and double 'l' in 'kissed' and 'killed' respectively. Even here there is parallelism due to doubling.

This parallel linguistic pattern in the line makes it foregrounded and therefore important in terms of interpretation. This parallelism leads us to 'invent' a
meaning relationship
between the two verbs (‘kissed’ and ‘killed’).

Parallel structures
prompt readers to infer
parallel meanings
between those structures. Here they make the readers see the two halves of the line as
opposed
to each other and in particular 'kissed' as opposed to 'killed'. ‘Kissed’ is related to the love theme in Othello and ‘killed’ to its theme of hate or jealousy. It may be noted that 'kissed' and 'killed' are not considered antonyms in the language code;
the relationship of antonymy is attributed to them by the poetic context through the use of parallelism
.
3. THE LEVEL OF MEANING
3.1. Semantics (word+sentence meaning)

Semantic foregrounding describes relations that are logically inconsistent or paradoxical in some way:
Converting a word from one class to another
,
the misuse of words
(malapropism),
less predictable collocations
,
the use of synonyms
,
antonyms
,
polysemy
(foot of a leg/the stairs),
homonymy
(chase = to pursue and chase = to ornament metal),
puns
,
repetition of words
(such as ‘anaphora’ -sentences or verses begin with the same word- or ‘epiphora’ - the repetition of a word or words at the end of successive verses),
hyperbole
,
understatement
,
paradox
,
personification
,
euphemism
,
oxymoron
,
circumlocution
(e.g., father of my children),
the use of figurative meaning
,
simile
,
metaphor
,
irony
,
tautology
(a statement that is necessarily true – ‘He is brave or he is not brave’) and so on.

Semantic foregrounding through deviation or parallelism may prompt the reader to
look beyond the dictionary definition
of the words in order to interpret the sentences.

‘A Grief Ago’
The title of Dylan Thomas’s poem ‘A Grief Ago’ (1936)
is an example of
semantic deviation
. The
collocation
of ‘grief’ with ‘ago’ is rare in English. The adverb ‘ago’ frequently collocates with expressions of time, as in ‘a week ago’, and not with emotions like ‘grief’.
Semantically
the choice is
odd
: 'grief' is not a TIME word, but an EMOTION word.

If we compare carefully Thomas's choice to the normal paradigm, the set of choices which are normal, we can see how the word 'grief'
takes on new meaning
in this linguistic context. First of all, the semantic oddity suggests that in this poem ‘
time is being measured in terms of emotion
’. And, indeed, one of the things we could say of Thomas here is that he has captured a fact about
the nature of how human beings perceive the world
.
Our perception of time does change according to how we feel
. So, we often say that when we are happy time goes fast, and that when we are sad time goes slowly.

We can also see a similar semantic foregrounding here:
In the TV show ‘Seinfeld’
semantic foregrounding
through
parallelism
is used as a device for humor. Here the character ‘Elaine’ repeats the word ‘sick’ twice but they are ‘
homonyms
’. In the first sentence it means ‘illness’ but in second sentence it means ‘weary/tired’. This kind of
lexical humor
attracts our attention and makes us look up different meanings of words.
pity this busy monster, manunkind,
not. Progress is a comfortable disease;
e.e. cummings

The word ‘
manunkind
’ is
lexically foregrounded
as a result of the fact that it has been invented by cummings in this text (
nonce word
). We can compare it with ‘
mankind
’. The
disruption
of the normal word by adding the prefix ‘
un-
’ helps us to see the ‘
kind
’ in ‘mankind’ as related to the concept of ‘
kindness
’. Hence, in this poem, mankind appears to be intrinsically
unkind
.

The second sentence ‘
progress is a comfortable disease
’ is deviant semantically because (i) progress is not a disease (according to the general schematic perception) and (ii) diseases are not normally thought of as comfortable. From these deviations we can deduce that (i) the speaker does not approve of progress and (ii) progress is to be regarded superficially good; it will be disadvantageous in the long run.

Also the negative construction of the first sentence ‘
pity .... not
’ is
unusual
in modern English and therefore deviant grammatically. We notice this deviant feature for the first time when we reach the word ‘not’. Hence the ‘
negation
’ is foregrounded. The first line is grammatically complete at first sight, and so when we read on to the second line and discover that ‘not’ belongs to the first sentence, this makes ‘not’ foregrounded. Cummings’s
negative attitude to humanity
in the poem is thus
doubly stressed
.

3.2. Pragmatics (meaning in context)

Pragmatics is
the study of meaning in ‘context’
. We can use the same sentence in different contexts to have very different meanings.

The notion of ‘context’ is subdivided into three:

Physical context
:
This is
the actual setting or environment
in which interaction takes place, whether it is in the workplace, at home or in a publicly accessible area.

Personal context
:
This refers to
the social and personal relationships of the participants
to one another.

Cognitive context
:
This refers to
the shared and background knowledge
held by participants in interaction. Cognitive context, which is susceptible to change as interaction progresses, also extends to a speaker’s past experience, cultural knowledge and world-view.

Apart from ‘context’, there is the notion of ‘
participant identity
’ we should take into account for the study of meaning at pragmatic level. We have three types of ‘participant identities’:


master identities

: these are our
more permanent
identities such as ‘age, sex or social class’.


situated identities

: these are
less permanent
identities such as ‘professor and student’.


discourse identities

: these are ephemeral identities
created by the verbal activities
that we engage in; for example, in many social situations, apologizing is a self-threatening act, whereby we put ourselves in the position of the powerless discourse participant.

- Schema Theory
- The Principle of Cooperation
- Speech Act Theory
- Turn Taking Principle
- Politeness and Impoliteness Theories


We know a multitude of things about the world and how it works, and we use this knowledge when we try to understand what other people say or do.
These are
background assumptions about the world and stored in our brains as packages, or schemas
.

3.2.1. Schema theory
There is a
congruity/match
between our general assumptions about ‘lessons at school’ and the first picture; but what we see in the second picture (from the film “Dead Poets Society”)
goes against our general assumptions
about what a lesson must be like. Our general assumptions (cognitive context)
get updated
from time to time by means of real life experiences, our observations or what we learn through fiction.
A speaker’s
knowledge of what to say, when and where to say it, and how to say it
is called ‘
communicative competence
’ (Hymes 1972). Communicative competence is the skill involved in
matching an utterance to the context of use
; you should choose suitable ‘strategy’ for the context. In other words, you should know when to be familiar and when to be formal, when to be direct and when to be indirect, or simply when to talk and when to keep quiet. Speakers use different strategies (tactics) in different circumstances (context).

In terms of communicative competence if any kind of
incongruity/mismatch
occurs between ‘
context-identity-utterance
’, it violates general expectations about the relationship of ‘language use’ to context. Writers use this
incongruity
productively to create special effects - by writing in a way that disrupts the conventional expectations related to ‘the contexts, identities and the strategies the characters adopt’. Where things occur which go against these expected norms/schemas, they become
foregrounded
. This kind of foregrounding in talk is called ‘
odd talk
’.

A Serious Man
‘A Serious Man’ is a 2009 dark comedy written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Set in Minnesota in 1967, it is the story of an ordinary man’s search for a solution or meaning. Its main character is Larry Gopnik.
Larry is a professor at a university. He is married to Judith.
One evening his wife Judith says she wants a divorce. She informs him that she has a lover called Sy Abelman.
After this conversation between husband and wife, one night ‘the lover’ comes to visit ‘the husband’.
Larry:
Sy.

Sy:
Good to see you, LARRY

Larry:
I'll get Judith.

Sy:
No, actually LARRY, I'm here to see you,
if I might...Such a thing. Such a thing.

Larry:
Shall we go in the...

Sy:
You know, LARRY-how we handle ourselves,
in this situation-it's so important.

Larry:
Uh-huh.

Sy:
Absolutely. Judith told me that she broke the news to you. She said you were very adult.

Larry:
Did she?

Sy:
Absolutely. The respect she has for you.

Larry:
Yes?

Sy:
Do you drink wine? Because this is an incredible bottle. This is not Mogen David, Larry. This is a wine. A bordeaux.

Larry:
You know, Sy-
Sy:
Open it-let it breathe. Ten minutes. Letting it breathe, so important.

Larry:
Thanks, Sy, but I'm not-

Sy:
Listen, I insist! No reason for discomforting. I'll be uncomfortable if you don't take it. These are signs and tokens, LARRY.

Larry:
I'm just-I'm not ungrateful, I'm, I just don't know a lot about wine and, given our respective, you know-

Sy:
It's okay. It's okay. Laryy. We’re gonna be fine.



This conversation is
odd
just from the beginning because of
the personal context
between them: It is a talk between
a husband
and
his wife’s lover
. According to our general assumptions (cognitive context), in such a situation
we expect the husband to be angry with the lover
(he may shout at him; he may use coarse language or he may even use physical violence) and
we expect the lover to be more passive
in the conversation. In terms of their
situated identities
(husband and lover),
Larry must be more powerful
and
Sy must be in a powerless position
. However we see just the opposite. There appears an
incongruity between our cognitive context and the strategy they use in their conversation
. Sy dominates the conversation just from the beginning by taking the control of the subject. Larry tries to comment and become an active participant but again he is interrupted by Sy. The attempts of Larry to explain, to give his thanks, and to apologize and his use of repetitions lead him to the position of the powerless discoursive participant. In spite of their situated identities,
the discourse identities
they create during the conversation show that
Sy is the powerful participant
in the conversation. In other words there is
an incongruity between situated identities and discourse identities
, and the strategy they use is shaped by this incongruity, which makes the conversation an ‘
odd talk
’.
A Serious Man
Presupposition
‘Presuppositions’ are
micro assumptions
held by
particular sentences in texts.
presupposition
“Have you stopped beating your husband?”

presupposes that the person addressed has a husband and she has been beating her husband.

Some fictional texts, particularly comic and absurd works, assume
some ‘facts’ or ‘presuppositions’ that are at odds with our normal general assumptions
.


"Applicant" by Harold Pinter
[An office. Lamb, a young man, eager, cheerful, enthusiastic, is striding nervously, alone. The door opens. Miss Piffs comes in.]

Piffs: Ah, good morning.
Lamb: Oh, good morning, miss.
Piffs: Are you Mr. Lamb?
Lamb: That’s right.
Piffs:
(studying a piece of paper)
Yes. You’re applying for this vacant post, aren’t you?
Lamb: I am actually, yes.

Our schematic knowledge for job interviews is activated. Until now there is nothing abnormal or deviated; but it quickly becomes a interrogation session.
Piffs:
Are you a good mixer?
Lamb:
Well, you’ve have touched on quite an interesting point there –
Piffs:
Do you suffer from eczema, listlessness or falling coat?
Lamb:
Er...
Piffs:
Are you virgo intacta?
Lamb:
I beg your pardon?
Piffs:
Are you virgo intacta?
Lamb:
Oh, I say, that’s rather embarrassing. I mean – in front of a lady –
Piffs:
Are you virgo intacta?
Lamb:
Yes, I am, actually. I’ll make no secret of it.
Piffs:
Have you always been virgo intacta?
Lamb:
Oh yes, always. Always.

(Harold Pinter, ‘Applicant’)

When Miss Piffs asks Lamb whether he suffers from eczema or listlessness, she is
asking him about his medical condition
, even if our general knowledge about interviews indicates that these questions are
not appropriate to ask
in an interview. But the
question about falling coat
is significantly different because it is normally
related to animals
, not human beings. Moreover, after Lamb
admits to being a virgin
, Miss Piffs asks
whether has always been

virgo intacta
’. This question apparently
presupposes that being a virgin is a state you can switch in and out of, like being a member of the local society
. Miss Piffs’s presuppositions thus
clash with ours
in a dramatic way. One of the major mechanism in text which contributes to
the sense of absurdity
is the
clash between Miss Piffs’s general and pressuppositional assumptions and ours
. These presupposional clashes also part of the mechanism by which we interpret this sort of text. We can see how it explores
how society tends to treat men and women differently
with respect to the sexual matters. It is still more common to ask the sort of questions Miss Piffs asks in relation to women than men.
3.2.2. Principle of Cooperation

Paul Grice suggests that conversation is based on
a shared principle of cooperation
.

A basic underlying assumption
we make when we speak to one another is that we are trying to cooperate with one another to construct meaningful conversations
. In other words, we try to contribute meaningful, productive utterances to further the conversation.

This principle consists of
a series of maxims
.

The Maxims of Conversation


Quantity
• Make your contribution as informative as required. (Don’t say too much or too little.)
• Don’t make your contribution more informative than is required.

Quality
• Do not say what you believe to be false.
• Do not say that for which you lack evidence.

Relation
• Be relevant. (Stay on topic.)

Manner
• Avoid obscurity of expression.
• Avoid ambiguity.
• Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).
• Be orderly.

If these maxims are followed, they are said to be observed; the
non-observance
of the maxims is a ‘
conversational deviation
’ and therefore it is ‘
foregrounded
’.

By clearly and obviously
flouting a maxim
, you can ‘
imply
’ something beyond what you say. Grice called it ‘
implicature
’.
Example 1

A: I hear you went to the theater last night; what play did you see?

B: Well, I watched a number of people stand on the stage in Elizabethan costumes uttering series of sentences which corresponded closely with the script of
Twelfth Night
.

* B flouts the
maxim of quantity
because B’s answer contains
an excessive number of words
although it doesn’t say anything more than “I saw a performance of Twelfth Night”. The
implicature
here is that the performers were doing a miserably bad job of acting.

Example 2

A: What qualities does John have for this position?
B: (Looking at his CV) John has a nice handwriting.

* B flouts
the maxim of relation
. It
implies
that John is not qualified for the job.

Example 3

Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
Hamlet: Words, words, words.

* Hamlet flouts
the maxim of quantity
as he gives an answer we and Polonius already know. He
implies
that he wants to be left alone.

3.2.3. Speech Act Theory

Austin in his seminal work ‘
How to do things with words
’ (1962) first recognized that when we speak we don’t just make statements about the world or convey information from one person to another.
We can also DO things with words
.

Speech acts, like other acts, can change the world. They have
effects on people
and, in turn,
make them do things
. I can ‘
frighten
’ others by threatening them with a knife. I can make them ‘
feel loved
’ by sending them flowers or telling them how much I think of them. I can get them to ‘
open the door
’ by standing next to it with my arms full of groceries or by saying ‘Could you open the door please?’.

Speech acts can be analyzed on three levels:

Locutionary act
– what is ‘actually said’
Illocutionary act
– what is ‘meant’ by what is said
Perlocutionary act
– which is the ‘effect on the hearers’ of what was said and what was meant.

Example:

"Give me an apple."

Locutionary act
: the utterance itself.
Illocutionary act
: request, command.
Perlocutionary act
: “Hearer ‘gives’ speaker an apple” or “Hearer ‘doesn’t give’ speaker an apple”.

Felicity Conditions
According to Austin, a speech act should
meet some ‘conditions’ to be successful
. These conditions are called ‘felicity conditions’:

- Conventional
procedure
must be executed
correctly
and
completely
-
Speaker
must be
appropriate
-
Circumstances
must be
right
- The person must have the
essential feelings and intentions
.

Here we can give Austin’s ‘
example of marriage
’:

“This conventional procedure (marriage) involves two parties, who are not hindered from marrying for any reason, presenting themselves before an authorized person (minister of religion or registrar), in an authorized place (place of worship or registry place), at an approved time (certain days or times are excluded) accompanied by a minimum of two witnesses. The marriage is not legal unless certain declarations are made and unless certain words have been spoken”.

If a speech act
fulfills all the above stated conditions
the act is ‘
successful
’, or ‘
happy
’ as Austin preferred,
otherwise
the act is rendered ‘
unsuccessful
’, or ‘
unhappy
’. If a speech act violates the conditions there occurs a foregrounding, which affects the interpretation of the text.

In the following scene from
N. F. Simpson’s play “One Way Pendulum” (1959)
, a
courtroom
has been hastily assembled
inside a domestic living room
to facilitate Mr. Groomkirby’s ‘swearing in’ ceremony:

[The Usher enters followed by Mr. Groomkirby, whom he directs into the witness box. Mr. Groomkirby takes the oath.]

Mr. Groomkirby:
(holding up a copy of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’) I swear, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Judge:
You understand, do you, that you are now on oath?

Mr. Groomkirby:
I do, m’lord.

According the ‘felicity conditions’ you
cannot use a domestic living room as a courtroom
. Furthermore, there are established procedures for ritualized activities such as ‘the swearing-in of witnesses’.
The use of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” clearly ‘violates the felicity conditions’
which govern this ritual. The felicity conditions for legal proceedings proscribe the swearing in of a witness by anything other than “a designated religious text”.
What operates in the discourse world inside the play is at odds with the world outside the play.
This
incongruity
between inside and outside worlds leads to foregrounding, which attracts the attention to legal procedures and enables us to look at them from a different perspective.

In indirect speech acts the speaker
communicates
to the hearer
more than he actually says
. Indirectness is a widely used
conversational strategy
. People tend to use indirect speech acts mainly in connection with
politeness
. They also use indirect strategies when they want to make their speech
more interesting
or when they want to
increase the force of the message
communicated.

However, indirect speech acts may lead to
misunderstandings
in communication. These kinds of misunderstandings occur, for example, when one speaker might take an utterance as an assertion while another understands it to be a request or when the hearer takes a figurative meaning as literal meaning, or when the hearer cannot understand sarcasm.

Indirect Speech Acts
Leonard:
Hey, Penny. How was work?
Penny:
Great! I hope I'll be a waitress for the Cheesecake Factory for my whole life.
Sheldon:
Was that sarcasm?
Penny:
No!
Sheldon:
Was that sarcasm?
Penny:
Yes!
Sheldon:
Was that sarcasm?
Leonard:
Stop it!
Sheldon Cooper has a genius for science but he has difficulty in social face-to-face communication. He cannot understand or use sarcasm or any indirect speech act. This is the essence of humor in this show.
3.2.4. Turn taking


Individuals involved in a conversation take turns while speaking.

Turn-taking refers to
the process by which people in a conversation decide who is to speak next
.
It depends on context, identity, cultural factors and subtle cues.

Conversation is both ordered and orderly and responsive to ‘
rules
’ that are being observed by participants. The ‘
system
’ or ‘systematics’ for talk regulation is composed of
two components
:
(a) a turn-allocational component
(b) a turn-constructional component


The turn-allocational component
’ regulates the changeover of turns. In general, turn change proceeds smoothly: one participant talks, stops, the next participant talks, stops, and so on.


The turn-constructional component
’ regulates variables like the size or length and linguistic texture of a turn.

The foregrounded features such as ‘
the use of turn-lapses, pauses, gaps, interruptions, overlaps and so on
’ bring significant elements of meaning which can
condition the content and function of what is ‘said’ or meant
by a speaker’s speech. For instance, where a dramatic character is consistently interrupted and the opportunity to speak is consistently denied to one or other character, and no counter-bid to speak is successful, the interrupted speaker can be interpreted as the less powerful participant. Consistent turn-lapses on the part of a targeted other who is addressed by a speaker can signal indifference, boredom, hostility, the desire to be left in peace, opting out, etc. and import negative tones into the interaction.
Hamza Ağa:
Ama…
Nurudil:
Artık boş yere laf anlatmış olursunuz.
Hamza Ağa:
Hep…
Nurudil:
Hep bu sözler boşuna… Hiçbir yararı yok.
Hamza Ağa:
Beni…
Nurudil:
Ben buna kesin karar verdim.
Hamza Ağa:
Eey…
Nurudil:
Böyle işte, baba kararı beni zorla bir erkeğe veremez artık!
Hamza Ağa:
Hele…
Nurudil:
Hele, boşuna gayret ediyorsunuz.
Hamza Ağa:
Bu…
Nurudil:
Bu zora gönlüm izin vermez, vermiyor.
Hamza Ağa:
Kendi…
Nurudil:
Kendimi kuyuya atarım da istemediğim adama varmam.
(Ahmet Vefik Paşa, Zoraki Tabip)

In this play the
interruptions
lead to a
comic incongruity
between Hamza Ağa’s
master identity and discourse identity
in terms of power relations. Nurudil, who does not want to marry, does not allow her father to talk. Although Hamza Ağa is in a superior position in terms of age, social class and sex, he is put in the position of the powerless discourse participant. Since his daughter’s turns are longer and she controls the topic, she becomes the powerful discourse participant.
3.2.5. Politeness and Impoliteness Theories

Central to the Brown and Levinson notion of politeness phenomena, is the concept of ‘face’. It consists of two related aspects, called ‘positive and negative face’:

Positive face

refers to the desire that person’s self image should be
appreciated and approved
of by others,
the wish to be liked.

Negative face

refers to any speaker’s basic
wish to preserve personal space, the right to non-distraction, speaker’s freedom of action and freedom from imposition.

However, speakers often perform acts which may be said to ‘threaten’ the face of the others, and these acts are called

face threatening acts
’ (FTA).

Impoliteness Strategies
Jonathan Culpeper calls these ‘face threatening acts’ ‘
impoliteness strategies
’ and he divides them into
five groups
:

1.
Bald on record impoliteness
- The face threatening act is performed in a direct and clear way.
2.
Positive impoliteness
– the use of strategies designed to damage the addressee’s positive face wants, the desire to be appreciated or approved of.
3.
Negative impoliteness
- the use of strategies designed to damage the addressee’s negative face wants, the desire not to be impeded.
4.
Sarcasm or mock politeness
- the use of politeness strategies that are obviously insincere.
5.
Withhold politeness
- the absence of politeness.

The solution
to avoid ‘face threatening acts’
as much as possible would be to perform the FTA using ‘
indirect strategies
’ [
mitigate
] instead of direct strategies.


Suppose that you ate a cookie and you didn’t like it. What would you say to the person who cooked it?

You could say:

"It could have been better." Indirect (mitigated)
"It does not taste good."
"It tastes bad."
"It is awful."

or
Direct
If you don’t obey the politeness strategies (especially when we expect them) and if you prefer to use impoliteness strategies, your acts are ‘foregrounded’. In literature through ‘face threatening acts’ (impoliteness strategies) used in a text we infer character traits or infer some situational reasons for their behavior. This is as true in fictional dialogue as it is in real world interaction. Indeed,
language
is clearly not only a tool of communication, but
a technique for forging and protecting or threatening and damaging interpersonal relationships, and for establishing or challenging power relations
.
"The Birthday Party" by Harold Pinter
In ‘The Birthday Party’, Meg and Petey run a boarding house in an English seaside town and their only guest is
Stanley
, a retired musician in his thirties. One day
two unknown visitors
called
Goldberg and McCann
come to the boarding house. Their arrival initiates
a struggle for power between Stanley and these two men
. Tension in the play increases along with the power Goldberg and McCann exercise over Stanley. In their power struggle their quest for domination leads to
verbal attacks in the form of ‘impoliteness’
.
[This scene is from the end of the play. Goldberg and McCann are making promises. Stanley is silent.]

Goldberg:
We’ll watch over you.
McCann:
Advise you.
Goldberg:
Give you proper care and treatment.
[...]
Goldberg:
We’ll make a man of you.
[...]
Goldberg:
You’ll be re-orientated.
McCann:
You’ll be rich.
Goldberg:
You’ll be adjusted.
McCann:
You’ll be our pride and joy.
[...]
McCann:
You’ll be a success. (BP, 92-93)

In this scene they promise Stanley that they will take care of him and make a new man out of him. These
promises
are in fact ‘
threats
’ to Stanley’s ‘
negative face
’ because he is
not free to act
by himself. Goldberg and McCann have taken him under their
total control
. From now on Stanley is a puppet in their hands. The impolite strategy they use reflects their powerful status.
Nihal Demirkol Azak
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