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JournalISSN: 0039-4238


About: Style is an academic journal. The journal publishes majorly in the area(s): Narrative & Narratology. It has an ISSN identifier of 0039-4238. Over the lifetime, 859 publication(s) have been published receiving 6830 citation(s).

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Journal Article
01 Apr 1996-Style
TL;DR: A sociolinguistic approach to the life story, which the author characterizes as a discourse unit crucial for the presentation of self in everyday life, is presented in this paper.
Abstract: Charlotte Linde. Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. xiv and 242 pp. $49.95 cloth. This book takes a broadly sociolinguistic approach to the life story, which the author characterizes as a discourse unit crucial for the presentation of self in everyday life. Life Stories is a richly innovative study, packed with insights into the way we use stories to create and maintain an identity over time. Like other groundbreaking works, the book outlines problems that warrant further investigation, sometimes raising as many questions as it resolves. Describing the life story as a social unit exchanged between people, an oral unit that can be contrasted with written autobiographies, and a discontinuous unit shaped through a series of tellings over an extended duration (4), Charlotte Linde goes on to offer a more precise definition of life stories: A life story consists of all the stories and associated discourse units, such as explanations and chronicles, and the connections between them, told by an individual during the course of his/her lifetime that satisfy the following two criteria: 1. The stories and associated discourse units contained in the life story have as their primary evaluation a point about the speaker, not a general point about the way the world is. 2. The stories and associated discourse units have extended reportability; that is, they are tellable and are told and retold over the course of a long period of time. (21) Linde's study focuses on life stories in which issues of profession play a preeminent role (53-57), but her more particular concern is the creation of coherence by tellers as well as listeners of such stories. For Linde, coherence is not only a property of texts, deriving from the way the parts of the text relate to the whole and from the way the text relates to other texts of its type, but also a "cooperative achievement" of the speaker and the addressee (12). In her account of how we build up coherent discourse units in telling the story of our lives, the author draws on a number of subfields within (socio)linguistics, including discourse analysis, the lexicogrammatical study of discourse cohesion initiated by M. A. K. Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan, and the ethnomethodological school of conversation analysis. As Life Stories proceeds, the book displays a special indebtedness to the method of narrative analysis developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by William Labov and Joshua Waletzky. Following an overview of the problems connected with the life story in chapter 1, chapter 2 ("What is a Life Story") spells out the technical definition of life stories quoted above and contrasts this discourse unit with other modes of self-presentation in other research contexts, including autobiography and biography, journals and diaries, and the life history in psychology and anthropology (37-50). In discussing extended reportability as a criterion for the life story, Linde makes the point that The reportability of a given event or sequence of events is not fixed; it depends not only on the nature of the events, but on the relation of the speaker and addressee(s), the amount of time that has passed between the event and the telling of the story, and the personal skills of the speaker as narrator. (22) Hence the life story is at once structurally and interpretively open; it is subject to expansion and contraction by the addition of new stories and the loss of old ones, and furthermore the reinterpretation of old stories continually produces new evaluations of self (31). Such considerations prompt Linde to pose a question that may already have occurred to the reader at this stage of the analysis: namely, "whether it is meaningful to treat as a unit an entity that is so fluid, and so subject to constant reinterpretation and revision, that it can never be completed" (35-36). Unfortunately, Linde fails to address this problem adequately here, using only the analogy of a cloud of butterflies to suggest that the life story, too, is a sort of composite entity (36). …

265 citations

Journal Article
01 Dec 1998-Style
TL;DR: In this paper, Brinton's ground-breaking new book is a meticulously researched study of Old English and Middle English (OE, ME) "mystery features"-items that have hitherto resisted grammatical and semantic categorization.
Abstract: Laurel J. Brinton. Pragmatic Markers in English: Grammaticalization and Discourse Functions. Topics in English Linguistics 19. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996. xvi + 412 pp. $124.45 cloth. Laurel Brinton's ground-breaking new book is a meticulously researched study of Old English and Middle English (OE, ME) "mystery features"-items that have hitherto resisted grammatical and semantic categorization. Brinton proposes to analyze these quite diverse particles and phrases as pragmatic markers, thereby linking them with accounts of similar items in purely oral discourse which, since Deborah Schiffrin's seminal study Discourse Markers (1987), have been at the center of recent research in discourse analysis. Brinton, as a historical linguist, is one of the few scholars currently applying discourse-analytical methodology to OE and ME texts. This area of research has now acquired the name "historical pragmatics" and is being practised most prominently in Finland by Nils Erik Enkvist and the Helsinki School (Matti Rissanen, Irma Taavitsainen, Anneli Meurman-Solin, Terttu Nevalainen-the producers of the invaluable Helsinki Corpus of English historical texts) and by Brita Warvik at Turku (Abo). What makes this highly specialized linguistic study a suitable object for a review in Style? Brinton's results, I argue, should be popularized among narratologists concerned with medieval texts since they repeatedly recur to narratological parameters. Many of Brinton's insights suggest that the pragmatic markers on which she concentrates relate to the discourse structure of episodic narrative (such as I myself have characterized it in Towards a 'Natural' Narratology). Brinton's results are therefore apt to feed back into narratological research, just as her own discourse model (based on the episode structure of oral discourse and on grounding features) can be usefully supplemented with more particularly narratological factors. After an extensive review of recent research on mystery features in chapter 1, Brinton's second chapter is concerned with establishing the concept of "pragmatic markers," and provides a great number of definitions of the term as well as describing a variety of functions for pragmatic markers such as they have been proposed in the linguistic literature. Pragmatic markers, for instance, relate an utterance to preceding context or introduce "level shifts" and new "moves" (structural functions), serve as response signals, facilitate speaker interaction, and help to process oral messages and to provide for conversational continuity (30-31). They are characterized by their preponderant use in oral discourse, their high frequency of occurrence, their predominantly (though not exclusively) initial clause position and their optional use. Pragmatic markers operate multifunctionally both on the local and the global levels of discourse (31-35). In chapters 3 to 8 Brinton analyzes seven selected pragmatic markers and follows their diachronic development (if applicable) from OE to ME to PresentDay English. These selected markers are (1) the intensive construction gan ("And ryght anon the wympel gan she fynde"-Chaucer, Legend of Good Women 819, qtd. 68); (2) the discourse particle anon; (3) the OE episode-boundary marker gelamp (Hit a gelamp [ ... aet[ ... 1), a construction that, in ME, is replaced with (4) it befel; (5) the syntactic preposing of whan-clauses; (6) the OE mystery particle hwaet (familiar from the first line of Beowulf); and (7) the ME first-person epistemic parenthetical I gesse, which, as a narratorial intervention, has particular narratological relevance. This narratological relevance is confirmed further by Brinton's summary of grounding as an important textual feature (44-50). The term "grounding" has been coined in discourse analysis to refer to the foregrounding and backgrounding functions of linguistic or textual elements. Linguistic research on grounding has brought to light the consistent foregrounding of plot-line clauses in narrative texts, and it has also pointed to a graded scale of foregrounding features (thus allowing for a maximal foregrounding of episode beginnings and less prominent foregrounding for ordinary action clauses). …

137 citations

Journal Article
01 Jul 1998-Style
TL;DR: Short as discussed by the authors discusses the relationship between linguistics and literary studies and argues that a focus on linguistic mechanism paid no attention to literary considerations; and that stylistics involved the use of technical jargon, which was supposedly disagreeable to students.
Abstract: Mick Short. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose. London: Longman, 1996. xvi + 399 pp. Stylistics has been a productive interdiscipline between linguistics and literary studies for around thirty years now. Controversial at first, attacked by the entrenched litcrit establishment, it became more theoretically sophisticated and diverse as it engaged with changes in the dominant models of linguistic theory: a brief liaison with transformational-generative grammar, a longer relationship with the functional grammar of M. A. K. Halliday and his associates, and a very fertile and developmental relationship with the increasingly powerful and insightful discipline of linguistic pragmatics. And as stylistics has responded to changes in linguistic theory, it has also been alert to the teachings of other intellectual movements: Russian Formalism, French Structuralism, Poststructuralism, etc. Original theorists such as Barthes, Bakhtin, Genette, and Foucault have become standard references in contemporary stylistics. An increasing range of topics and a growth of theoretical sophistication has been one aspect of the maturing of stylistics; another, the basic task of consolidating the practice of textual analysis. The original claim for of linguistic stylistics was that it provided a highly illuminating way of doing textual analysis. The original objections to this claim were (a) that a focus on linguistic mechanism paid no attention to literary considerations; and (b) that stylistics involved the use of technical jargon, which was supposedly disagreeable to students. Stylistics has effectively disposed of these criticisms. Most practitioners are happy for their investigations of texts to be framed by traditional literary categories such as point of view, metrical structure, and metaphor; and where the range of literary concepts has been extended by ideas from linguistics and related fields, e.g. foregrounding or the application of pragmatic analysis to dialogue, these extensions are now well established. As far as 'jargon' is concerned, it has long been realized that a little linguistic method goes a long way. Students do not need to learn an extensive technical terminology in order to say something meaningful about a poem or a prose extract. Certain very powerful linguistic-pragmatic concepts, once learned, provide critics and students with an analytic tool which gives rewarding results with simple application: I am thinking of concepts such as transitivity, modality, deixis, implicature, and register. And it is satisfying to record that such methodologies have now been comfortably absorbed into stylistic education for generations of students of literature. The book under review is an excellent instance of successful assimilation of linguistic method into literary studies via the stylistics interface. Its author, Mick Short, is an experienced teacher and writer in the pedagogics of stylistics; he and his colleague Geoffrey Leech at the University of Lancaster have produced a number of highly useful, very practical, books in literary stylistics, notably Leech's A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry (1969) and the coauthored Style in Fiction (1981). All three books are addressed to student readers; all are theoretically and methodologically eclectic (though there is a constant interest in foregrounding); all are rich in textual analysis and exemplification. The three books contribute strongly to the basic original aim of stylistics, to deploy linguistics in textual analysis, and they do so not as mechanical exercises, but always with a keen sense of literary relevance. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose is an introduction, for newcomers to stylistics, to how "the language of literary texts acts as the basis for our understanding and responses when we read" (xi). It provides analytic tools which will allow the literature student to come to an understanding of literary processes in the activity of describing and discussing texts: describing texts is an exploration, not only of objective structures of language, but at the same time of our experiences in reading them. …

137 citations

Journal Article
01 Apr 2004-Style
TL;DR: Schiappa as mentioned in this paper argues for a social constructivist and pragmatist definition of definition, one that will escape what he sees as a "metaphysical absolutism" that implies a potentially dangerous ideology.
Abstract: Edward Schiappa, Defining Reality: Definitions and the Politics of Meaning Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2003 xvi + 213 pp $6000 cloth; $2500 paper Every author who writes about definitions faces the temptation to refer to Alice's conversation with Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking-Glass "The question is," says Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things" "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master-that's all" While Edward Schiappa does not refer to this passage in his book, it is clear that he stands foursquare with Humpty Dumpty Defining Reality brings social-constructivist theory to bear on the process of defining terms After introducing his own constructivist and pragmatist theory of definition, Schiappa proceeds to analyze the history of several legal controversies that hinge on definition These include "legal death," "rape," "wetlands," "art," and "human person" Then he proceeds to examine how controversies about definitions set technical, personal, and public meanings at odds with each other His conclusion argues for a social constructivist and pragmatist definition of definition, one that will escape what he sees as a "metaphysical absolutism" that "implies a potentially dangerous ideology" (178) Schiappa begins his introduction by distinguishing two kinds of definitions: the "fact of essence" which purports to state what something is and a "fact of usage" which describes how a word is used-this being the lexical or "dictionary" definition (5) Schiappa immediately dismisses both forms of definitions precisely because each claims to state a fact, that is, a proposition that describes a state of affairs from a neutral or objective standpoint Schiappa, on the contrary, argues that definitions should be considered as "ought propositions" rather than as "is propositions" (10) Definitions, he says, are "rhetorically induced" (29) The author then describes how meaning is acquired and defining is learned While Schiappa cites several modern linguists as his sources, this section (and some others) seems to borrow from the old general semantics developed by Alfred Korzybski and popularized by S I Hayakawa in his Language in Thought and Action, now in its fifth, and much revised, edition Many of Schiappa's metaphors derive from general semantics: the ladder of abstraction, reality as a territory of which language is a map, etc He concludes this part of the book by claiming that formal and informal definitions "can be understood as persuasion aimed at shared understanding and denotative conformity" (31) Schiappa then turns to his case studies to illustrate his constructivist view of definitions Schiappa says that definitions become problematic in the context of some controversy A definitional gap occurs when one encounters an unfamiliar word Checking the word in a dictionary usually resolves the matter A definitional rupture, on the other hand, occurs when the very process of defining becomes problematic (8-10) Schiappa's first example of a definitional rupture is "death" Schiappa analyzes how "brain death" is dissociated from the conventional meaning of death, cardiorespiratory failure Schiappa points out that defining "death" did not become a problem until the development of medical procedures for organ transplants "Brain death," or irreversible coma, is a desirable definition because it allows the "harvesting" of organs that are still viable Cardiorespiratory failure usually renders other organs unusable for transplants Schiappa says that the argument for a practical and useful definition ought to be conducted ethically, but he rules out of court any argument from ethics When a person's organs can be harvested is ultimately a case of "practical utility," Schiappa only says the discussion should be ethical, that is, it should not be about real definitions because they, according to Schiappa, are "ethically suspect" (48) …

132 citations

Journal Article
01 Dec 2005-Style
TL;DR: Simpson's Stylistics as mentioned in this paper is a resource book for students focusing on stylistics and levels of language, with a focus on style as choice and style-as-choice.
Abstract: Paul Simpson. Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students. Routledge English Language Introductions. New York: Routledge, 2004. xiv + 247 pp. $99.95 cloth; $29.95 paper. Paul Simpson is a productive researcher in and an experienced teacher of stylistics. His third book for Routledge, Stylistics, provides a comprehensive overview of the subject in a clear, entertaining, insightful, and innovative way. Like other books in the Routledge English Language Introduction series, edited by Peter Stockwell, Simpson's Stylistics has a flexible "two-dimensional" structure, built horizontally around four self-contained sections centering on one topic-A introduction, B development, C exploration, and D extension-as well as vertically progressing from one topic to another. The book has twelve topics or strands: 1) What is stylistics? 2) Stylistics and levels of language, 3) Grammar and style, 4) Rhythm and metre, 5) Narrative stylistics, 6) Style as choice, 7) Style and point of view, 8) Represented speech and thought, 9) Dialogue and discourse, 10) Cognitive stylistics, 11) Metaphor and metonymy, and 12) Stylistics and verbal humour. The topics develop from section A to section D, giving rise to altogether 46 selfcontained units (topic or strand 12 does not have sections B or C). The A units are comprehensive and concise introductions to the topics concerned; B units are either illustrative expansions of the model introduced in A, or surveys of important research developments in the relevant area; C units are practical activities for students to try out and apply what they have learned from A and B; and finally, D units offer a wide-ranging selection of relevant readings by other famous stylisticians. In accordance with the "two-dimensional" structure, the book has two tables of contents, with "Contents" followed by "Contents Cross-Referenced." The former goes along the vertical dimension, progressing from section A (1-12) to section D (1-12), and the latter is primarily concerned with the horizontal dimension, progressing from Al-Bl-Cl-Dl to A 12-Dl 2. The reader can follow either table of contents. Or, for an alternative, the reader can go directly to a certain topic and read horizontally, for instance, starting from A10 ("Cognitive stylistics") to BlO ("Developments in cognitive stylistics"), to ClO ("Cognitive stylistics at work"), and then to DlO ("Cognitive stylistics" [by Margaret Freeman]). While the vertical reading takes the reader comprehensively through the broad field of study, the horizontal reading across the four stages enables the reader to build gradually on the knowledge gained in a specific area. The coexistence of and interaction between the vertical and horizontal dimensions make the book more dynamic, leave the reader more freedom of choice, hence helping bring the reader's initiative into fuller play. This flexible structure and the freedom it offers to readers seem to be partly influenced by computer technology, by the more flexible reading possible on screen. It shows that the limitations associated with the linearity of printed words may be to a certain extent overcome by a structuring that has more than one dimension. This two-dimensional structure has, however, one drawback. As we all know, "style as choice" is a key concept in stylistics and naturally Simpson makes it the subject of strand 6. But as each strand has to be more or less self-contained, this strand focuses on the system of transitivity, an area that "emphasises the concept of style as choice" (22). …

112 citations

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