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Stylistic varieties of English. Genres, register.

S tyles are based on the sphere of human activities, art, science, everyday life.

R. Jakobson describes communicatio n like that:


There are 6 functions of language:

1. Referential function - corresponds to the factor of context and describes a situation, object or mental state. It refers to the reality.

2. Poetic function- focuses on message

3. Expressive (emotive, affective) – relates to the addresser (sender) and is best exemplified by interjections and other sound that add information about the addresser’s internal state (wow, what a view)

4. The conative function- focuses on the receiver and is best illustrated by vocatives and imperatives.

5. The phatic function- associated with the contact/channel (hmm, hello)

6. The metalingual/ metalinguistic reflexive function – is the use of language – code

According to Halliday, The language has functions like:

· Ideational (further divided into the experiential and logic)

· Interpersonal

· Textual

Functional styles (FS) are the subsystems of language, each subsystem having its own peculiar features in what concern vocabulary means, syntactical constructions, and even phonetics. The appearance and existence of FS is connected with the specific conditions of communication in different spheres of human life. FS differ not only by the possibility or impossibility of using some elements but also due to the frequency of their usage.

The classification of FS is a very complicated problem, that is why we will consider ideas of I.V.Arnold and I.R. Galperin, bearing in mind that Galperin treats functional styles as patterns of the written variety of language thus excluding colloquial FS. Both scholars agree that each FS can be recognized by one or more leading features. But Galperin pays more attention to the coordination of language means and stylistic devices whereas Arnold connects the specific features of each FS with its peculiarities in the sphere of communication.

According to Galperin: Functional Style is a system of coordinated, interrelated and inertconditioned language means intended to fulfill a specific function of communication and aiming at a definite effect in communication. It is the coordination of the language means and stylistic devices which shapes the distinctive features of each style and not the language means or stylistic devices themselves. Each style can be recognized by one or more leading features which are especially conspicuous. For instance the use of special terminology is a lexical characteristics of the style of scientific prose, and one by which it can easily be recognized.

Every functional style of language is marked by a specific use of language means, thus establishing its own norms which, however, are subordinated to the norm-invariant and which do not violate the general notion of the literary norm.

The authors of handbooks on different languages propose systems of styles based on a broad subdivision of all styles into 2 classes – literary and colloquial and their varieties. These generally include from three to five functional styles.

Galperin’s system of styles:

1. Belles-lettres style (poetry, emotive prose, drama); 2. Publicistic (oratory and speeches, essay, article); 3. Newspaper (brief news items, headlines, ads and announcements, editorials); 4. scientific; 5. official documents (business, legal, diplomacy, military)

Arnold’s system of styles:

1. Poetic; 2. Scientific; 3. Newspaper; 4. Colloquial.

In her last issue: 1. Colloquial styles (literary colloquial, familiar coll., common coll.) and 2. Literary bookish style (scientific, official documents, publicists, oratorical, poetic)

Classification of Functional Styles of the English Language

1. The Belles - Lettres Functional Styleform: written/oral - function: aesthetic-cognitive – domain: arts, literature – aim: to convey the author’s vision of life

2. Publicistic Functional Style - written/oral – conative, persuasive, informative – public opinion, values, ideology – inform, convince, influence

3. The Newspaper Functional Style – written – informative, persuasive, analytic – politics, culture, business – attract attention, inform, influence

4. The Scientific Style – written/oral – informative/referential – research, inventions – present results of research, support or refute other theories

5. The Official Documents Functional Style – written – informative/referential – law, diplomacy, government, business – avoid misunderstandings

6. Colloquial Style – oral/written – phatic, informative – everyday life – to socialize


Не знаю нужно ли это …(NEUTRAL STYLE:: COLLOQUIAL STYLE:: BOOKISH: The term “neutral style” is used mostly to denote the background for realizing stylistic peculiarities of stylistically colored elements. Neutral style is characterized by the absence of stylistic coloring and by the possibility to be used in any communicative situation. This style is deliberately simplified.

If neutral style serves any situation of communication colloquial style serves situations of spontaneous everyday communication (casual, non-formal). Bookish style corresponds to public speech (non-casual, formal). This division does not coincide with the division into spoken and written language because colloquial style can be used in fiction, bookish style represented for example by oratorical style exists in the oral form only.

Colloquial style is divided into upper colloquial, common colloquial and low colloquial. The latter two have their own peculiar features connected with region, gender, age of the speaker.

Bookish style embraces scientific, official, publicistic (newspaper), oratorical, and poetic styles).

Newspaper style

Genres: brief news items, press reports, articles, editorials, announcements

Aim: to impart information; to influence public opinion on political and other matters


· specific word order, 5-wh-pattern rule (who-what-why-where-when)

· headlines are concise; they may indicate the topic or intrigue the reader

· eclectic vocabulary: special political and economic terms, phrasal verbs, neologisms, non-term political vocabulary, newspaper clichés, abbreviations

Headline language:

· elliptical and compressed

· word choice often results in an exaggeration of the meaning; short rhyming words are preferred

· contain noun-phrases with no verbs (under pressure from boss)

· noun-strings

· various verb changes

· Present tenses instead of continuous or perfect forms

· Infinitive refers to future

· Auxiliary verbs are dropped in the passive form

· Articles are dropped

· VOCABULARY: a dominant characteristic is brevity, puns in questions

Newspaper style is a system of interrelated lexical, phraseological and grammatical means which is perceived by the community speaking the language as a separate unity that basically serves the purpose of informing and instructing the reader.

To attract the reader’s attention specific headlines, space ordering, a large proportion of dates, personal names of countries and individuals are used. Since the primary function of newspaper style is to impart information, only printed matter serving this purpose comes under newspaper style proper.

Oratorical style

The oratorical style is the oral subdivision of the publicistic style. Direct contact with listeners permits a combination of the syntactical, lexical and phonetic peculiarities of both the written and spoken varieties of language. The typical features of this style are: direct address to the audience; sometimes contractions; the use of colloquial words. The SDs employed in the oratorical style are determined by the conditions of communication. As the audience rely only on memory, the speaker often resorts to repetitions to enable his listeners to follow him and to retain the main points of his speech. The speaker often use simile and metaphor, but these are generally traditional, because genuine SDs may be difficult to grasp. Questions are more frequent because they promote closer contact with the audience. The change of intonation breaks the monotony of the intonation pattern and revives the attention of the of the listeners.

Aim: inform, convince, influence


· a wide use of phonetic expressive means (stress, intonation, pitch, pauses)

· special use of pronoun (I, you, we, they)

· cultural and historical allusions

· direct address to the audience (dear friends, ladies and gentlemen)

The style of advertising

· AIDA formula: attention, interest, desire, action

· Alliteration, rhyme, rhythm

· Endorsement

· Appeal to national or common values

· Visual images + verbal images

· Graphon which helps to attract attention

· Jingles and slogans

Essays and articles

The essay is rather a series of personal and witty comments than a finished argument or a conclusive examination of the matter. This literary genre has definite linguistic traits which shape the essay as a variety of publicist style. The most characteristic language features of the essay are:

1. brevity of expression;

2. the use of the first person singular;

3. a rather expanded use of connectives;

4. the abundant use of emotive words;

5. the use of similes and sustained metaphors.


· Essay can be biographical, philosophical, social

· Rather a series of personal and witty comments, than a finished and deep investigation

· No deep examination of the subject, only touches upon the surface

The language of journalistic articles is defined by the character of newspaper, magazine, as well as subjects chosen. Literary reviews stand closer to essays.

§ Features common with the style of scientific prose (terms) and emotive prose

§ Coherent and logical syntactical structure, expanded system of connections and careful paragraphing, the use of terms

Academic/Scientific style

Genres: articles, brochures, monographs and other scientific and academic publications/lectures, presentations at conferences

Aim: is to prove a hypothesis; to create new concepts, to disclose the internal laws of existence, development, relations between different phenomena


· Logical sequence of utterances with clear indication of interrelations and interdependence

· Logic coherence of ideas expressed

· Use of terms specific to each given branch of science

· Direct referential and primary logical meaning of the general vocabulary

· Like official documents, scientific documents require explicitness

· Prepositive noun groups used as adjectives (anti-aircraft)

· Developed and varied systems of connectors (firstly, secondly)

· Objective, precise, unemotional, devoid of any individuality, striving for the most generalizes form of expression

· Sentence-patterns (3 types: postulatory, argumentative, formulative)

· Quotations and references

· Foot-notes, digressive in character

· Impersonality, frequent use of passive constructions

· Emotive and evaluative words are not characteristic, but possible in polemic passages

· (not obligatory) metaphors and similes are sometimes used to stress the logic, emotionally-colored words

· Pluralis modestial (“we” instead “I”)


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