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Chapter 4 Lexical- and

Chapter 4

Lexical- and Syntactic-Level Stylistic Analysis

Revision of Chapter 3: 1) Elision, mispronunciation, and substandard pronunciation 2) Sound patterning 3) Onomatopoeia 4) Metrical patterning Contents of this chapter: 1. Introduction 2. Lexical and syntactic deviation 2.1 Lexical deviation 2.2 Syntactic deviation 2.2.1 Wang Shouyuan’s discussion on syntactic deviations 2.2.2 Wang Zuoliang & Ding Wangdao’s discussion on syntactic deviations and literary writing 3. Syntactic overregularity 3.1 Repetition 3.2 Parallelism 3.3 Antithesis 3.4 Climax and anticlimax 3.5 Palindrome, Regression and Chiasmus 4. Leech & Short’s (2001) approach to lexical- and syntactic-level stylistic analysis 5. A Model for analyzing grammatical-level stylistic features 6. Suggested areas for further study 7. Summary


1. Introduction According to Thornborrow & Wareing (2000: 75-76), literariness of language, which is roughly equal to “literary style”, refers to foregrounding or saliency of grammatical structures, which is realized through the deviant use of language (i.e., deviation). In literary texts, the grammatical system of language is often exploited, experimented with, or in Mukarowsky’s words, made to “deviate” from other, more everyday, forms of language, and as a result creates interesting new patterns in form and in meaning. One way is through the use of non-conventional structures that seem to break the rules of grammar, i.e., deviant structures or marked structures. Another way in which literary language can deviate from other kinds of language use is by disrupting the usual order of words in a sentence, in other words, by making use of marked word order, which is representative of the use of marked theme. In this sense, deviant forms are marked forms, which contribute to the formation of literariness of language. However, the above view is incomplete. In light of Wang Shouyuan (2000: 11-22), foregrounding or saliency in literature is achieved not only through deviation but also through overregularity in grammatical structures. Thus, the stylistic analysis at the lexical and syntactic levels here is to embrace both deviation and overregularity. 2. Lexical and syntactic deviation Leech (2001/1969) identifies eight types of linguistic deviation, namely, lexical deviation, grammatical deviation, phonological deviation, graphological deviation, semantic deviation, dialectal deviation, deviation of register, and deviation of historical period. The first four types are classified by as surface-structure deviation while semantic deviation is referred to as deep-structure deviation (Wang Shouyuan, 2000: 21). As is known, phonological deviation has been discussed in the last chapter. In this chapter, we will focus on the first two types with the others to be dealt with in other chapters. And it should be pointed out that the term “syntactic” will be used instead of Leech’s “grammatical” as our discussion will be confined to syntax-level deviation. 2.1 Lexical deviation Lexical deviation in literature refers almost exclusively to neologisms or the coinage of new words. In the coinage of new words, the literary writer usually extends (rather than break) three major rules of word-formation: affixation, compounding and conversion (Wang Shouyuan, 2000: 45-50). Consider the following examples:
There was a balconyful of gentlemen. (Chesterton) We left the town refreshed and rehatted. (Fotherhill) The widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps (G. M. Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutschland) [= the sea which deprive (wives) of husbands, (parents) of children and (children) of fathers] It beggared all description. (Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra) He words me, girls, he words me that I should not Be noble to myself. (Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra)

In addition to the coinage of new words via the above mentioned three word-formation ways, there is another kind of lexical deviation, namely the deviant use of superlative forms. In literary

writing, the writer sometimes chooses to use the -est suffix to stand for the “the most + adj.” superlative form for some stylistic or rhetorical purposes. For example, in the following work, the deviant use of the superlative form helps to form the parallel structure running through the whole sentence:
It has the poorest millionaire, the littlest great men, the haughtiest beggars, the plainest beauties, the lowest skyscrapers, the dolefulest pleasures of any town I ever saw. (O. Henry)

In the above example, the nonce word “littlest” refers to “least” while “dolefulest” means “most doleful”. 2.2 Syntactic deviation 2.2.1 Wang Shouyuan’s discussion on syntactic deviations Syntactic deviation refers to departures from normal surface grammar, which include a number of features such as deviant phrase structures, marked clause themes, deviant use of grammatical rules, and deviant sentence length. Deviant phrase structure In order to achieve certain communicative effects, literary writers may use phrases that are structurally deviant. For example,
Do not go gentle into that good night. (Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night) O What a noble mind is here o’erthrown! The courtier ’s, soldier ’s, scholar ’s, eye, tongue, sword. (W. Shakespeare, Hamlet) Marked clause theme The initial unit of a clause may be called its theme. The theme may be characterized as the communicative departure for the rest of the clause. In literary writing, the writer may place any element of a clause in the thematic position in order to achieve certain literary effect. The theme thus produced is unusual and is therefore called a “marked theme”. (Wang Shouyuan, 2000: 39-40) For instance,
The red-haired woman, smiling, waving to the disappearing shore. She left the maharajah; she left innumerable other lights o’ passing love in towns and cities and theatres and railway stations all over the world. But Melchior she did not leave. (A. Carter, Wise Children) Deviant use of grammatical rules In literary writing, the writer may choose to violate grammatical rules for some specific rhetorical or stylistic effects. Below are three types of such deliberate violations of grammatical rules. 1) The misuse of tense forms
you pays your money and you doesn’t take your choice. (e. e. cummings, why must itself up every of a park)

It is the poet’s daring violation of grammatical rule, signaling here that “you cannot get what

you like by paying money”: The strange phenomenon is signaled by the deviant language used to describe it, which is a case of iconicity, where the ungrammatical use signals the abnormal social phenomenon. 2) The omission of articles
There head falls forward, fatigued at evening, And dreams of home, Waving from window, spread of welcome, Kissing of wife under single sheet; But waking sees Bird-flocks nameless to him, through doorway voices Of new men making another love. (W. H. Auden, The Wanderer)

The elliptical use of articles here cues the homeless vagabonding life of the vagabond, implying that nothing is fixed for vagabonds. 3) The use of non-conventional sentence structures
The red-haired woman, smiling, waving to the disappearing shore. She left the maharajah; she left innumerable other lights o’ passing love in towns and cities and theatres and railway stations all over the world. But Melchior she did not leave. (A. Carter, Wise Children)

Sentences normally consist of a subject and a predicate, and the predicate normally contains a verb phrase. However, the first sentence here contains no main finite verb, and therefore should not occur as an independent unit, but looks as though it should be linked to another clause. Yet here it does occur on its own. Deviant sentence length In literary writing, the writer may choose to exploit super-long or super-short sentences for different stylistic purposes and effects, for example, the former for the expression of complex content while the latter for quick pace, which are cases of quantity iconicity. For the former case, consider the following three examples:
(1) Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. (Bertrand Russell, What I Have Lived for)

Of the 34 words in this sentence, the subject consists of 25, forming an unbalanced structure according to English diction in terms of a sentence, hence a sentence with too long and big a subject, or simply a marked subject or theme according to the functional perspective of sentence of functional grammar. As a matter of fact the deliberate choice of so long a subject is for the sake of producing a heavy feeling on the part of the reader in terms of the high degree of human anguish or agony.
(2) 在昨天、今天和明天之间,在父与子与孙之间,在山村二郎神担过的巨石与十七层的部长楼之间, 在海云的在天之灵与拴福大嫂新买的瓷碗之间,在李谷一的“洁白羽毛”和民国十八年咸菜汤之间,在肮


脏、混乱而又辛苦经营的交通食堂和外商承印的飞行时刻表之间,在秋文的目光、冬冬的执拗、四九年的 腰鼓,七六年的旅行,在小石头、张指导员、张书记、老张头和张副部长之间 ,分明有一种联系,有一座 充满光荣和陷阱的桥。 (王蒙《蝴蝶》 )

This is a sentence composed of two parts: a long adverbial consisting of seven parallel phrases and two parallel “verb + subject” structures. According to Li and Thompson (1981), Chinese is a topic- prominent language, in contrast with English that is a subject-prominent language. And in the light of Cao Fengfu (1995: 50), adverbial can act as topic. Based on such a theory, the abnormally long adverbial serves as the topic, the FIGURE, in this sentence. In other words, the semantic focus is placed on the long adverbial. Wang Yichuan (1997: 395) holds that such an excessively long topic, which is deliberately chosen and arranged by the author to take on the rich and complex main idea, helps to connect the past to the present and to delineate the complex feelings of the characters portrayed.

(3) As the Tonnerres had increased, their settlement had been added to, until the clearing at the foot of the town hill was a chaos of lean-tos, wooden packing cases, warped lumber, discarded car tyres, ramshackle chicken coops, tangled stands of barbed wire and rusty tin cans. (Margaret Laurence, The Loons)

As for the expression of quick pace via short sentences, consider the following example:
Move. Walk. Run. Hide. Steal and move on. (Toni Morrison, Beloved) (挪。走。跑。躲。偷。然后不停地前进。 (潘岳 雷格译《宠儿》 ))

2.2.2 Wang Zuoliang & Ding Wangdao’s discussion on syntactic deviations and literary writing Frequently used syntactic deviations What follows are six types of frequently used syntactic deviation: a. Use of different auxiliary verbs for expressing different concepts of time:
He done gone. (=He has recently gone.) He bin gone. (=He has been gone a long time.)

b. Omission of link verbs:
She hungry. (=She’s hungry.) I leaving. (=I’m leaving.) That where he is. (=That’s where he is.)

c. Use of ain’t and hain’t for a negative meaning:
You ain’t answered my question. We ain’t askin’ you to go out alone.

d. Inconsistency of person and number in the present tense:


Has I talk wild? It don’t make no difference. That’s what I wants to know.

e. Use of double- or even multi-negative to express the negative meaning:
I don’t know nothing. Nobody never did nothing. I hain’t seen no fog.

f. Use of statement to express question, or the use of question in the subordinate clause:
He left? Where the white cat is? I want to know where did he go? Syntactic deviation and literary writing Syntactic deviation has at least the following stylistic functions in literary writing: 1) Deviations used for demonstrating the social attributes of characters One’s social status, living place, and self-cultivation have to do with his or her choice of language. Conversely, one’s language reflects his or her social status, living place and self-cultivation. Since the 19th century, the literary writer has started to imitate the various deviant phenomena in real language so as to make the characters more lifelike, more credible, such as the use of deviation by Charles Dickens in his novel Bleak House. 2) Deviations used for depicting character The literary writer tends to make use of language styles for depicting the characters’ personality such as the use of deviation by D. H. Lawrence in his novel Sons and Lovers. 3) Degrees of deviation corresponding to different social status The different degrees of deviation can be used by the literary writer to reveal the characters’ different social status, as is illustrated in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 4) Other functions of syntactic deviation Syntactic deviation is also used in literary writing for sarcasm, satire, emphasis as well as for arriving at a comic effect. 3. Syntactic overregularity This part is mainly based on Wang Shouyuan (2000: 131-144). 3.1 Repetition The term repetition is restricted to mean the case of exact copying of a certain previous unit in a text, such as a word, phrase or even a sentence (Leech, 2001/1969). Repetition is divided into the following two types: immediate repetition and intermittent repetition. Consider the following examples:
“Would you please please please please please please please stop talking.” (Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants)


“Stop it. Stop it. Stop it,” the woman cried. (Ernest Hemingway, Life of Francis Macomber) There she stretched, growing warmer and warmer, sleepier and sleepier. (Eudora Welty, A Piece of News) I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine; and, I believe, Dorothy, you’ll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife. (Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer) [Compare: I love everything that’s old: friends, times, manners….] With his faith, we will be able to work together; to play together; to struggle together; to go to jail together; to stand up for freedom together knowing that we will be free one day. (Martin Luther King) [Compare: With this faith, we will be able to work, to play, to struggle, to … together.]

As is shown from the above examples, we can see that repetition is used for stress, as is the case in all the above examples, as well as for cohesion and coherence, as is in the last two examples. 3.2 Parallelism Parallelism means exact repetition in equivalent positions. It differs from simple repetition in that the identity does not extend to absolute duplication. In other words, Repetition is the exact copying or absolute duplication of a certain element while parallelism builds up an identity in linguistic structures. Parallelism can be divided into large-scale parallelism and small-scale parallelism. The former type means the kind which consists of more than two juxtaposed units. For example,
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. (F. Bacon, Of Studies)

Small-scale parallelism is the case which consists of only two juxtaposed units. For instance,
O, my luve is like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June; O, my luve is like the melodie That’s sweetly play’d in tune. (R. Burns, A Red Red Rose)

Large-scale parallelism is equivalent to Paibi in Chinese, while small-scale parallelism is of little stylistic effect in Chinese with no Chinese counterpart. 3.3 Antithesis Antithesis, a special type of small-scale parallelism, is the deliberate arrangement of contrasting words or ideas in balanced structural forms to achieve force and emphasis (Feng Cuihua, 1995). Compare it with Duiou and Duizhao in Chinese. Consider the following examples:
To err is human, to forgive divine. Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures. Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. (W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar) Thou that sow in tears shall reap in joy. (Holy Bible, Psalms 126: 5) When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out at the window.


I had walked into that reading room a happy healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck. (Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat) Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. (John F. Kennedy, The Inaugural Address) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the era of incredulity; it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)

Antithesis is frequently used in public speech, prose writing, proverbs, wise sayings, etc. It is used for profundity of judgment, for humor, for satire as well as for emphasis. 3.4 Climax and anticlimax Climax, a word derived from the Greek word for “ladder”, implies the progression of thought at a uniform or almost uniform rate of significance or intensity, like the steps of a ladder ascending evenly (Feng Cuihua, 1995: 81). It is widely employed by speakers and writers in persuasive speech or writing. It is extremely effective in stirring up feelings and emotions, or in driving home a point. For example,
I came, I saw, I conquered. (Julius Caesar) It was the ruin of the family, the uprooting of morals, the destruction of Germany . (William Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage) … We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground…. (Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address) Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. (F. Bacon, Of Studies) Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. (ibid.) 这诗怎么样?有辱骂, 有恐吓, 还有无聊的攻击; 其实是大可不必的。 (鲁迅 《辱骂和恐吓决不是战斗》 )

Anti-climax, the opposite of climax, is a device that involves stating one’s thoughts in a descending order of significance or intensity, from strong to weak, from weighty to light or frivolous. It is often used to ridicule or satirize. The device is based on the principle that the lower the thought decreases in importance, the higher the force of the ridicule or satire. The effect can range from humorous to devastating. For example,
The duty of a soldier is to defend the country and peel potatoes. When George the Fourth was still reigning over the privacies of Windsor, when the Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister, and Mr Vincy was mayor of the old corporation in Middlemarch, Mrs Casaubon, born Dorothea Brooke, had taken her wedding journey to Rome. (George Eliot, Middlemarch) 他父亲留下的一份家产就这么变小,变做没有,而且现在负了债。 (茅盾《春蚕》 )

We hold that climax and anticlimax is of an iconic sequence, which is rooted in the natural order in life: birth 1 → growth 2 → adult 3 → declining 4 → death 5, with climax imitating the stages from one to three while anticlimax miming the stages from three to five. Thus the order of importance or force in language mirrors the order of things in the natural world or the world

perceived by human beings. 3.5 Palindrome, Regression and Chiasmus 3.5.1 Palindrome Palindrome is a figure of speech in which a word, phrase, sentence or discourse reads or spells the same forward or backward. (See The New Encyclopaedia Britannica) The schematic representation is as follows: “A + B + N + B + A” or “A + B + N → N + B + A”. For example, pop, deed, level, Klim milk, Reeb beer. Below are some more examples:
上海自来水来自海上。 南海护卫舰卫护海南。 Madam, I’m Adam. (Adam) Able was I ere I saw Elba. (Napoleon) You can cage a swallow, can’t you? But you can’t swallow a ca ge, can you? 画上荷花和尚画 书临汉帖翰林书。

3.5.2 Regression Regression refers to the repetitive use of a word, sentence, or discourse in an inverted order within a context. Regression is basically a structural figure, whose schematic representation is as follows: A + B → B + A. For example,
We eat to live, not live to eat. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” — that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. (John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn) Heavy is my heart, Dark are thine eyes. Thou and I must part Ere the sun rise. Ere the sun rise Thou and I must part. Dark are thine eyes, Heavy is my heart. (M. Coleridge, Slowly) 说是寂寞的秋的清愁, 说是辽远的海的相思。 假如有人问我的烦扰, 我不敢说出你的名字。 我不敢说出你的名字 假如有人问我的烦扰。 说是辽远的海的相思, 说是寂寞的秋的清愁。 (戴望舒《烦扰》 )


你站在桥上看风景, 看风景人在楼上看你。 明月装饰了你的窗子, 你装饰了别人的梦。 (卞之琳《断章》 ) 他,爱宠她。 她,爱他宠。 (上海周大福项链广告) The regressive structures for the last two examples are respectively “你……风景/风景……你/装饰……你/ 你……装饰” and “他……她/她……他”.

3.5.3 Chiasmus Chiasmus is a device that consists of two balanced statements, the second of which reverses the order of the words in the first, with or without a repetition of words. Like regression, chiasmus is basically a structural figure, whose schematic representation is as follows: G(rammatical) S(tructure) A + GSB → GSB + GSA. For example,
He was an angel on the surface, but at heart a knave. [NP + PP → PP + NP] Renown’d for conquest, and in council skilled. (Joseph Addison, The Campaign) [Past Participle + PP → PP + Past Participle] He went out and in came she. [Pron + Verb + Adv → Adv + Verb + Pron] 畏莲色之如脸,愿衣香兮胜荷。 (王勃《采莲赋》 )[Plant + Man → Man + Plant]

4. Leech & Short’s (2001) approach to lexical- and syntactic-level stylistic analysis Leech & Short (2001/1981: 74-82) discuss the lexical- and syntactic-level stylistic features by dealing with the following lexical and grammatical categories for stylistic analysis: (1) lexical categories, including general consideration, nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs; (2) grammatical categories, including sentence types, sentence complexity, clause types, clause structure, noun phrases, verb phrases, other phrase types, word classes, and general types of grammatical construction. The discussion is followed up by the analysis of three literary examples in light of the above two types of categories (Leech & Short, 2001/1981: 82-118). 5. A Model for analyzing grammatical-level stylistic features According to Thornborrow & Wareing (2000: 79), a grammatical analysis of literary language can enhance our understanding of a text and our pleasure in reading. There are various ways that we should be able to approach the analysis of grammatical structures in literary texts, both poetry and prose. Depending on the kind of text we are dealing with, some of the following procedures may be appropriate for approaching the grammatical analysis of literary language: 1) where there seems to be foregrounding on the level of lexis, which chiefly refers to the discussion of lexical deviation; 2) where there is foregrounding on the level of word order and syntax, including the discussion of deviant and overregular syntactic structures; 3) again on the grammatical level, where one can look for combinations and patterns in the

use of different types of phrases, which may contribute to a more literary usage of language; 4) in all cases, one should try to identify the more “deviant”, “marked” or literary structures, as compared with more “everyday”, non-literary usage of language, and thus be able to say more the structural patterning in a text. 6. Suggested areas for further study The following topics are possible areas for further research: (1) other foregrounded stylistic features at the lexical and syntactic levels than those discussed in this chapter, i.e., other possible types of lexical and syntactic deviation and overregularity; (2) the role of lexical- and syntactic-level stylistic devices in literary writing; (3) the translation of source language lexicaland syntactic-level stylistic features into target language. 7. Summary 1) Lexical and syntactic deviation 2) Syntactic overregularity 3) A Model for analyzing grammar-level stylistic features 4) Another approach to stylistic analysis at the lexical and syntactic levels 5) Suggested areas for further study Exercises: 1. Analyze the lexical- and syntactic-level stylistic features of a piece of literary or non-literary writing. 2. Search for and investigate into other foregrounded stylistic features at the lexical and syntactic levels than those discussed in this chapter. 3. What role do the lexical- and syntactic-level stylistic devices play for literary writing? 4. Discuss how to render into the target language lexical- and syntactic-level stylistic features in translation. 5. Translate the following poem into Chinese paying attention to the use of parallelism and rhyme:
See a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity on the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour. (William Blake, Auguries of Innocence)

References for further reading Feng Cuihua. A Handbook of English Rhetorical Devices. Beijing: Foreign Language Research and Teaching Press, 1995. Ju Yumei. English Stylistics. Qingdao: Qingdao University of Ocean Press, 1999. Leech, G. N. A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. Beijing: Beijing Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2001. Leech, G. N. & M. H. Short. Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose. Beijing: Beijing Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2001. Li, C. N. & S. A. Thompson. Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar. Berkeley:

University of California Press, 1981. 曹逢甫. 主题在汉语中的功能研究——迈向语段分析的第一步. 谢天蔚译. 北京: 语文出版 社, 1995. 王一川. 修辞论美学. 长春: 东北师范大学出版社, 1997.