: Stylistics of English Language. Seminar exercises and tasks . ( ..)


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Seminar 5: publicist style: essays and oratory

1. Group presentation ―Specifics of oratory style‖; ―Foregrounding and its main types‖

2. Stylistics theory:

Publicist style and its specific features.

Main functions and traits of an essay.

Oratory style as a unique genre of the publicist style.

- Types, functions and devices of foregrounding and its usage in publicist style.

3. Practical exercises:

Detailed stylistic analysis of the famous speech of Martin Luther

King ―I have a dream‖ according to the analysis scheme.

Try to count all metaphors in the text of M.L. Kings speech ―I have a dream‖. Give a brief analysis of each metaphor (tenor, vehicle, ground, types of discourses present).

Foregrounding practice.

4. Homework: Make a thorough comparison of two prominent

speeches of American rhetoric: Martin Luther Kings ―I have a dream‖ and Barack Obamas ―Yes. We. Can‖. The classic stylistic analysis scheme including stylistic analysis, beauty of language (tropes, lexis, syntax) should be accomplished with such important aspects as tactics of influencing the audience, extralinguistic context

historical background, results of both speeches and their impact on the future.

Exercise 1: Scheme of extended stylistic analysis:

1. Start by responding to the text. Dont comment on features that are missing unless there is a significant comment to make. Dont try to include everything, comment on the most significant aspects of the text. Read the text carefully, think, brainstorm and decide on the best order for your points. You are aiming for an essay that is well ordered and clear. Is there a sense of your own voice, originality or a personal response? Your essay should not be vague, but firmly rooted in close textual examination. Always include concise quotations as evidence. Show your specialist linguistic and literary terms. Dont be repetititive.

2. Define the genre of an analyzed text. Are there recognizable genre conventions, or does the writer break such conventions? What effect is produced by these means? This might be a significant point to make early in your analysis.

3. What is the text about? Analyze the content, the topic, the


4. Find out the authors intention, the purpose of the text: to

entertain, persuade, instruct, advise, inform. This might affect the language. For example, if it seeks to persuade the text may use emotive, connotative language, and make value judgements. If it is informative, concrete nouns and factual adjectives might dominate the text. If it is instructive, imperative verbs are very likely. A story may have intensifiers and the nouns may be heavily modified. An argumentative text may have tentative modals. Remember that a text may have more than one intention.

5. In connection with the previous point, regard the authorial voice. How conscious are you of the author? What is the perspective first, second or third person? Is the tone conversational or confessional? Does the writer create a persona? Is s/he subjective or objective? What does the author foreground?

6. What is the audience the text is aimed at? Age, sex, level of education, specialist market? How does the intended audience affect the language and how much knowledge is assumed? What other values/attitudes of the reader are assumed? What is the language register used and why this one?

7. Form and structure. Analyze the headlines, fonts, italics, bold, punctuation and deviations from the orthodox. But dont spend too long on this, more attention should be paid to the inner structure and logical architecture of the text. How is the content organized? Is it chronological? Does it have flashbacks? Is there a logical development of argument (if, so, therefore, thus, because)? Is there a juxtaposition of ideas? How is the text introduced and concluded?

8. Style, stylistic devices and inner form. Formal, colloquial, use of dialect, standard, non-standard. What characterizes the lexis (Latinate, verbose, taciturn, field specific, laconic)? What about the syntax, are the sentences simple or complex, or is there an unusual word order? Is there dialogue, monologue or reported speech? Are nouns pre/post modified? Is the tone ironic, humorous, sad angry, patronizing? Is the tone consistent or does it shift? Does the text make use of shocking, taboo language? Are there any rhetorical devices? Active or passive voice? Metaphors and other literary techniques? More stylistic devices (alliteration, assonance, imagery, simile, rhyme, pararhyme, personification) and the purpose of their use? Does the textual structure include textual cohesion, reiteration, ellipsis, substitution, collocation or deviant collocation?

9. Techniques of argumentation in the text: Persuasion, political tract, sermon, advertisement. Is there evidence of bias, or does the writer make concessions to the other side of the argument? Does the writer anticipate the other side of the argument? Is there a plea to or sense of camaraderie with the audience? Are there balanced two part sentences and use of semi-colons? Is there a more sophisticated lexis?

10. Your own opinion on the subject and the text, other additional comments.

Exercise 2: Task on foregrounding make up three small texts of 10 lines using one type of foregrounding in each.

Exercise 3: Essay and foregrounding practice:

There are three types of foregrounding: coupling, convergence and effect of defeated expectancy.

Convergence supposes a number of various devices gathered in a piece of text (phrase, sentence, extract etc.) to produce a special effect.

Example: Doomsday is near; die all, die merrily. (Shakespeare)

This brief remark of only 7 words contains:

- Alliteration,

- Rhythm,

- Oxymoron,

- Repetition.

All these devices are collected to produce the strong emotional effect, express vividly the state of mind of the speaking person, his rage and urge for


Coupling means similar elements in similar positions used to connect ideas or a special effect throughout the text (phrase, sentence, passage etc). Example: Obamas speech Yes. We. Can(available in the yellow book) The slogan is repeated throughout the entire speech connecting passages, ideas and intensifying (=foregrounding) the main message. It is an example of coupling on the level of macro-context. All parallel constructions (esp. anaphora) could be classic examples of coupling.

Effect of defeated expectancy


1) Talk all you like about automatic ovens and electric dishwashers, there is nothing you can have around the house as useful as a husband (Ph. McGinley Sixpence in Her Shoe).

In this case husband is introduced in the same range as ovens and dishwashes which is unexpected and produces humorous effect.

2) If I were a dead leaf

If I were a swift cloud

(9 lines starting with if)

Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!

I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! (Ode, by Shelley)

Here we observe the violation of rhythm in the last line (although in previous lines of the poem the author keeps going with well-established classical iambic rhythm). This is also a syntactic form of defeated expectancy, as after pursuing 9 lines starting with ―if‖, we suddenly break the established rhythm and observe a totally different beginning ―Oh‖, as well as the exclamation phrases which hadnt occurred before.

All these types of foregrounding can work on different levels:

- on the level of micro-context (phrase or sentence)

- on the level of macroand mega-contexts (plot)

The task is to make up an essay using all three types of foregrounding on different levels.

A good example could serve an evaluative article, humorous story or an essay containing a detective story. First, you can use convergence and coupling to produce the atmosphere of intensive stress and strain and afterwards introduce the special ending which a reader cant predict. But actually there is a great variety of other texts which your imagination may give birth to.

30 lines minimum

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