T^jire treated are the main distinctive features of individual style.
The treatment of the selected elements brings up the problem of the norm. The notion of the norm mainly refers to the literary language and always presupposes a recognized or received s t a n d a r d. At the same time it likewise presupposes vacillations of the received standard.
In order to get a workable definition of the norm for the purposes set in this book and, particularly, in connection with the issue of individual style, it will be necessary to go a little bit deeper into the concept.
We shall begin with the following statement made by Academician L. V. Scherba:
"Very often when speaking of norms people forget about stylistic norms (emphasis added) which are no less, if not more, important than all others."1
This pronouncement clearly indicates that there is no universally accepted norm of the standard literary language, that there are different norms and that there exist special kinds of norm which are called stylistic norms. Indeed, it has long been acknowledged that the norms of the spoken and the written varieties of language differ in more than one respect (see p. 35). Likewise it is perfectly apparent that the norms of emotive prose and those of official language are heterogeneous. Even within what is called the belles-lettres style of language (see p. 33—34) we can observe different norms between, for instance, poetry and drama.
In this connection I. Vachek of the Prague School of Linguistics states that "it is necessary to reject the possibility of the existence of an abstract, universal norm which subordinates written and oral norms in any of the natural languages."2
The same view is expressed by M. A. K. Halliday who states:
"There is no single universally relevant norm, no one set of expectancies to which all instances may be referred."3
This point of view is not, however, to be taken literally. The fact that there are different norms for various types and styles of language does not exclude the possibility and even the necessity of arriving at some abstract notion of norm as an invariant, which should embrace all variants with their most typical properties. Each style of language will have its own invariant and variants (see p. 33—34), yet all styles will have their own invariant, that of the written variety of language. Both oral ^colloquial) and written (literary) varieties can also be integrated into an invariant of the standard (received) language.
The norm is regarded by some-linguists as "a regulator which controls a set of variants, the borders of variations and also admissible and inadmissible variants." (E. A. Makayev)
Here are some other definitions.
"The norm is an assemblage (a set) of stable (i.e. regularly used) means objectively existing in the language and systematically used."
"A certain conventionally singled out assemblage of realizations of language means recognized by the language community as a model.'" (Gukhman & Semenyuk)
"The norm is a linguistic abstraction, an idea thought up by linguists and existing only in their minds." (A. E. Darbyshire)
"There is, of course, no such thing as the norm to be found in actual usage. It is a concept which must be expressed by means of a formula, and it is a concept about that which is left of uses of language when all stylistic qualities have been taken away from them." (A. E. Darbyshire)
The last of the definitions elaborates the idea of the norm as something stripped of its stylistic qualities. This is not accidental. Many linguists hold the view that anything which can be labeled stylistic is already a deviation from the established norm (see a number of the definitions of 'style' given on page 11). They forget that regular deviations from the norm gradually establish themselves as variants of the norm; the more so because, as has been stated, 'deviations' of a genuinely stylistic character are not deviations1 but typified and foregrounded natural phenomena of language usage, though sometimes carried to the extreme.
So, finally, we can arrive at the conclusion that the norm presupposes the oneness of the multifarious. There is a conscious attitude to what is well-formed against what is ill-formed. Well-formness may be represented in a great number of concrete sentences allowing a considerable range of acceptability.
The norm, therefore, should be regarded as the invariant of the phonemic, morphological, lexical and syntactical patterns circulating in language-in-action at a given period of time. Variants of these patterns may sometimes diverge from the invariant but they never exceed the limits set by the invariant lest it should become unrecognizable or misleading. The development of any literary language shows that the variants will always center around the axis of the invariant forms. The variants, as the term itself suggests, will* never detach themselves from the invariant to such a degree as to claim entire independence. Yet, nevertheless, there is a tendency to estimate the value of individual style by the degree it violates the norms of the language.
As we have already cited, G. Saintsbury considers that the real secret of style reveals itself in the breach or neglect of the rules that govern the structure of clauses, sentences, and paragraphs (see p. 15). This conception is aptly illustrated theoretically in the Theory of Deviance mentioned above (p. 15) and practically- in the works of certain modern poets like E. E. Cummings and others who try to break away entirely from the established and recognized invariants and variants of the given norm. They introduce various patterns
which are almost undecodable and consequently require special devices for grasping the messages.l -
Quite a different point of view is expressed by E. Sapir, who states:
"...the greatest — or shall we say the most satisfying — literary artists, the Shakespeare and Heinz, are those who have known subconsciously how to fit or trim the deeper intuition to the provincial accents of their daily speech. In them there is no effect of strain. Their personal intuition appears as a completed synthesis of the absolute art of intuition and the innate, specialized art-of the linguistic medium."2
This idea is common to many stylists who hold that real and genuine individuality of style will reveal itself not in the breach of the rules, in other words, not in deviating from the accepted norms, but in the peculiar treatment of them. However, it must be repeated that some deviations, if they are motivated, may occur here and there in the text. Moreover, let us repeat once more that through constant repetitions such deviations may become legitimate variants of the norm and establish themselves as members of the language system.
The problem of variants of the norm, or deviations from the norm of the literary language, has received widespread attention among linguists and is central to some of the major current controversies. It is the inadequacy of the concept 'norm' that causes the controversy. At every period in the development of a literary language there must be a tangible norm which first of all marks the difference between literary and non-literary language. Then there must be a clear-cut distinction between the invariant of the norm (as an abstraction) and its variants (in concrete texts). As will be seen later almost 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.
One of the most characteristic and essential properties of the norm is its flexibility. A too rigorous adherence to the norm brands the writer's language as pedantic, no matter whether it is a question of speech or writing. But on the other hand, neglect of the norm will always be regarded with suspicion as being an attempt to violate the established signals of the language code which safeguard and accelerate the process of communication. At the same time, a free handling of the norms may be regarded as a permissible application of the flexibility of the norm.
It must be acknowledged that to draw a line of demarcation between facts that illustrate the flexibility of the norm and those which show its violation is not so easy. The extremes are apparent, but border cases are blurred. Thus "footsteps on the sand of war" (E. E. Cummings) or "below a time" (see other examples on p. 162—163) are clearly violations of the accepted norms of word-building or word-combinations.
But "silent thunder", "the ors and ifs" and the like may from one point of view be regarded as a practical application of the principle of flexibility of the norm and from another—as a violation of the semantic and morphological norms of the English language. Variants interacting with the rigorous rules of usage may reveal the potentialities of the language for enrichment to a degree which no artificial coinage will ever be able to reach. This can be explained by the fact that semantic changes and particularly syntactical ones are rather slow in process and they reject any sudden imposition of innovations on the code already in action. There is, a constant process of gradual change taking place in the forms of language and their meaning at any given period in the development of the language. It is therefore most important to master the received standard of the given period in the language in order to comprehend the correspondence of this or that form to the recognized norm of the period.
Some people think that one has to possess what is called a "feeling for the language" in order to be able to understand the norm of the language and its possible variants. But this feeling is deeply rooted in the unconscious knowledge of the laws according to which a language functions, and even in its history, which explains much concerning the direction it has progressed. When the feeling of the norm, which grows with the knowledge of the laws of the language, is instilled in the mind, one begins to appreciate the beauty of justifiable fluctuations.
Paradoxical though it may seem, the norm can be grasped, nay, established, only when there are deviations from it. It is therefore best perceived in combination with something that breaks it. In this connection the following remarks made by L". V. Scherba are worth quoting:
"... in order to achieve a free command of a literary language, even one's own, one must read widely, giving preference to those writers who deviate but slightly from the norm."
"Needless to say, all deviations are to some extent normalized: not every existing deviation from the norm is good; at any rate, not in all circumstances. The feeling for what is permissible and what is not, and mainly—a feeling for the inner sense of these deviations (and senseless ones, as has been pointed out, are naturally bad), is developed through an extensive study of our great Russian literature in all its variety, but of course in its best examples."1 •" "
"I say justifiable or "motivated" because bad writers frequently make use of deviations from the norm which are not motivated or justified by the subject matter—that is why they are considered bad writers."2
While dealing with various C9nceptions of the term 'style', we must also mention a commonly accepted connotation of style as establishment of language. This understanding of style is upheld in some of the scientific papers on literary criticism. Language and style as embellishment are regarded as separate bodies. According to this idea language can easily dispense with style, because style here is likened to the trimming on a dress. Moreover, style as embellishment of language ^viewed as something that hinders understanding. It is, as it were,
Спорные вопросы русской грамматики.— “Русский язык в школе”. 1*' 1у39, № 1, с. 10. Ibid.
alien to language and therefore needs to be excluded from the observations of language scholars. That is why almost all contemporary books on grammar and general linguistics avoid problems of style or, at most, touch upon them in passing. The notion of style as embellishment presupposes the use of bare language forms deprived of any stylistic devices, of any expressive means deliberately employed. In this connect ion Middleton Murry writes:
"The notion that style is applied ornament had its origin, no doubt, in the tradition of the school of rhetoric in Europe, and in its place in their teaching. The conception was not so monstrous as it is today. For the old professors of rhetoric were exclusively engaged in instructing their pupils how to expound an argument or arrange a pleading. Their classification "of rhetorical devices was undoubtedly formal and extravagant... The conception of style as applied ornament ... is the most popular of all delusions about style."1
The notion of style as embellishment of language is completely erroneous. No matter how style is treated, it is the product of a writer's deliberate intention to frame his ideas in such a manner as will add something important, something indispensable in order to secure an adequate realization of his ideas. To call style embellishment is the same thing as to strip it of its very essence, that is, to render unnecessary those elements which secure the manifold application of the language units.
No doubt there are utterances which contain all kinds of unmotivated stylistic means. Moreover, there are writers whose style abounds in such utterances. But they are either those who, admiring the form, use it at the expense of the matter, or those who, by experimenting with the potentialities of language means, try to find new ways of rendering their ideas. In both cases the reader is faced with difficulties in decoding the message and this greatly hinders understanding.
A very popular notion of style among teachers of language is that style is t e с h n i q u e of expression. In this sense style is generally difined as the ability to write clearly, correctly and in a manner calculated to interest the reader. Though the last requirement is not among the indispensable, it is still found in many practical manuals of style, most of which can be lumped together under the title "Composition and Style". This is a purely utilitarian point of view of the issue in question. If this were true, style could be taught. Style in this sense of expression studies4he normalized forms of the language. The teaching process aims at lucidity of expression. It sets up a number of rules as to how to speak and write well and generally discards all kinds of deviations as being violations of the norm. The norm in these works is treated as something self-sustained and, to a very great extent, inflexible.
The utilitarian approach to the problem is also felt in the following statement by E. J. Dunsany, an Irish dramatist and writer of short stories:
"When you can with difficulty write anything clearly, simply, and
emphatically, then, provided that the difficulty is not apparent to the reader, that is style. When you can do it easily, that is genius."
V. 'G. Belinsky also distinguished two aspects of style, making a hard and fast distinction between the technical and the creative power of any utterance.
'To. language merits belong correctness, clearness and fluency," he states, "qualities which can be achieved by any talentless writer by means of labour and routine."
"But style (слог) — is talent itself, the very thought."1
Almost the same point of view is held both by A. N. Gvozdev and F. L. Lucas. Gvozdev states that "Stylistics has a practical value, teaching students to master the language, working out a conscious approach to language"2 and Lucas declares that the aims of a course in style are: a) to teach to write and speak well, b) to improve the style of the writer, and c) to show him means of improving his ability to express his ideas.3
It is important to note that what we call the practical approach to the problem of style should by no means be regarded as something erroneous. The practical side of the problem can hardly be over-estimated. But should it be called style? The ability to write clearly and emphatically can and should be taught. This is the domain of grammar, which today rules out the laws and means of composition. The notion of style cannot be reduced to the merely practical aspect because in such a case a theoretical background for practical „aims cannot be worked out. Moreover, stylistics as a branch of linguistics demands investigation into the nature of such language means as add aesthetic value to the utterance.
Just as the interrelation between lexicology and lexicography is accepted to be that of theory and practice, so theoretical and practical stylistics should be regarded as two interdependent branches of linguistic science. Each of these branches may develop its own approach and methods of investigation of linguistic data.
The term 'style' is widely used in literature to signify literary genre. Thus, we speak of classical style or the style of classicism, realistic style, the style of romanticism and so on. The use of the word 'style' has sometimes been carried to unreasonable lengths, thus blurring the terminological aspect of the word. It is applied to various kinds of literary works: the fable, novel, ballad, story, etc. The term is also used to denote the way the plot is dealt with, the arrangement of the parts of literary composition to form the whole,4he place and the role of the author in describing and depicting events.
It is suggested in this work that the term * style' be used to refer to purely linguistic facts, thus avoiding the possible ambiguity in its application. After all the origin of the word 'style' is a justification for the suggestion. However, we are fully aware of the fact that such a pro-
position will be regarded as an encroachment on the rights of literature to have its own terms in spite of the fact that they are the same as terms in linguistics.
Now let us pass to the discussion of an issue the importance of which has to be kept clearly in mind throughout the study of stylistics, that is the dichotomy of language and s p e e с h or, to phrase the issue differently, language- as -a-s у stem and language-in-action. It deserves at least a cursory discussion here not only because the issue has received a good deal of attention in recent publications on linguistic matters, but also because, as will be seen later, many stylistic devices stand out against the background of the distinctive features of these two above-mentioned notions. The simplicity of the issue is to some extent deceptive. On the surface it seems that language-in-action takes the signs of language-as-a-system and arranges them to convey the intended message. But the fact is that the signs of the latter undergo such transformations in the former that sometimes they assume a new quality imposing new signification on the signs of the language code. There is compelling evidence in favour of the theory which demands that the two notions should be regarded in their unity, allowing, however, that each of them be subjected to isolated observation.
Language-as-a-system may figuratively be depicted as an exploiter of language-in-action. All rules and patterns of language which are collected and classified in works on grammar, phonetics, lexicology and stylistics first appear in language-in-action, whence they are generalized and framed as rules and patterns of language-as-a-system.
It is important here to call attention to the process of formation of scientific notions. Whenever we notice a phenomenon that can be singled out from a mass of language facts we give it a name, thus abstracting the properties of the phenomenon. The phenomena then being collected and classified are hallowed into the ranks of the units of language-as-a-system. It must be pointed out that most observations of the nature and functioning of language units have been made on material presented by the written variety of language. It is due to the fixation of speech in writing that scholars of language began to disintegrate the continuous flow of speech and subject the functioning of its components to analysis.
So it is with stylistic devices. Being born in speech they have gradually become recognized as certain patterned structures: phonetic, morphological, lexical, phraseological and syntactical, and duly taken away from their mother, Speech, and made independent members of the family, Language.
The same concerns the issue of functional styles of language. Once they have been recognized as independent, more or less closed subsystems of the standard literary language, they should be regarded not as styles of speech but as styles of language, inasmuch as they can be patterned as to the kinds of interrelation between the component parts in each of the styles. Moreover, these functional styles have been subjected to various classifications, which fact shows that the phenomena now belong to the domain of language-as-a-system.
However, it must constantly be born in mind that the units which belong to this domain are abstract in their nature. Functional styles re merely models deprived of material substance, schemes which can be materialized in language forms. When materialized in language forms they 'become practical realizations of abstract schemes and signify the variants of the corresponding invariants of the models.
This relatively new science, stylistics, will be profitable to those who have a sound linguistic background. The expressive means of English and the stylistic devices used in the literary language can only be understood (and made use of) when a thorough knowledge of the language-as-a-system, i.e. of the phonetic, grammatical and lexical data of the given language, has been attained.
It goes without saying that the more observant the student is, the easier it will be for him to appreciate the peculiar usage of the language media.
Justification for bringing this problem up is that some language scholars frighten students out of studying stylistics on the ground that this subject may effectively be studied only on the basis of a perfect command of the language. Such scholars, aware of the variables and unknowns, usually try in their teaching to sidestep anything that may threaten well-established theories concerning the laws of language. Alertness to 'the facts of language-in-action should be inherent, but it can be developed to a degree necessary for an aesthetic evaluation of the works of men-of-letters. And for this purpose it is first of all necessary to get a clear idea of what constitutes the notions ' expressive means' and 'stylistic devices'.