Stylistic neutrality and stylistic colouring
Speaking of the notion of style and stylistic colouring we cannot avoid the problem of the norm and neutrality and stylistic colouring in contrast to it.
Most scholars abroad and in this country giving definitions of style come to the conclusion that style may be defined as deviation from the lingual norm. It means that what is stylistically conspicuous, stylistically relevant or stylistically coloured is a departure from the norm of a given national language. (G. Leech, M. Riffaterre, M. Halliday, R. Jacobson and others).
There are authors who object to the use of the word "norm" for various reasons. Thus Y. M. Skrebnev argues that since we acknowledge the existence of a variety of sublanguages within a national language we should also acknowledge that each of them has a norm of its own. So the sentence "I haven't ever done anything" (or "I don't know anything") as juxtaposed to the sentence "I ain't never done nothing" ("I don't know nothing") is not the norm itself but merely conforms to the literary norm.
The second sentence ("I ain't never done nothing") most certainly deviates from the literary norm (from standard English) but if fully conforms to the requirements of the uncultivated part of the English speaking population who merely have their own conception
of the norm. So Skrebnev claims there are as many norms as there are sublanguages. Each language is subject to its own norm. To reject this would mean admitting abnormality of everything that is not neutral. Only ABC-books and texts for foreigners would be considered "normal". Everything that has style, everything that demonstrates peculiarities of whatever kind would be considered abnormal, including works by Dickens, Twain, О'Henry, Galsworthy and so on (47, pp. 21-22).
For all its challenging and defiant character this argument seems to contain a grain of truth and it does stand to reason that what we often call "the norm" in terms of stylistics would be more appropriate to call "neutrality".
Since style is the specificity of a sublanguage it is self-evident that non-specific units of it do not participate in the formation of its style; units belonging to all the sublanguages are stylistically neutral. Thus we observe an opposition of stylistically coloured specific elements to stylistically neutral non-specific elements.
The stylistic colouring is nothing but the knowledge where, in what particular type of communication, the unit in question is current. On hearing for instance the above-cited utterance "I don't know nothing" ("I ain't never done nothing") we compare it with what we know about standard and non-standard forms of English and this will permit us to pass judgement on what we have heard or read.
Professor Howard M. Mims of Cleveland State University did an accurate study of grammatical deviations found in American English that he terms vernacular (non-standard) variants (44). He made a list of 20 grammatical forms which he calls relatively common and some
of them are so frequent in every-day speech that you hardly register them as deviations from the norm, e.g. They ready to go instead of They areready to go; Joyce has fifty cent in her bank account instead of Joyce has fifty cents in her bank account; My brother, he's a doctor instead of My brother is a doctor, He don't know nothing instead of He doesn't know anything.
The majority of the words are neutral. Stylistically coloured words-bookish, solemn, poetic, official or colloquial, rustic, dialectal, vulgar - have each a kind of label on them showing where the unit was "manufactured", where it generally belongs.
Within the stylistically coloured words there is another opposition between formal vocabulary and informal vocabulary.
These terms have many synonyms offered by different authors. Roman Jacobson described this opposition as casual and non-casual, other terminologies name them as bookish and colloquial or formal and informal, correct and common.
Stylistically coloured words are limited to specific conditions of communication. If you isolate a stylistically coloured word it will still preserve its label or "trade-mark" and have the flavour of poetic or artistic colouring.
You're sure to recognise words like decease, attire, decline (a proposal) as bookish and distinguish die, clothes, refuse as neutral while such units as snuff it, rags (togs), turn down will immediately strike you as colloquial or informal.
In surveying the units commonly called neutral can we assert that they only denote without connoting? That is not completely true.
If we take stylistically neutral words separately, we may call them neutral without doubt. But occasionally in a certain context, in a specific distribution one of many implicit meanings of a word we normally consider neutral may prevail. Specific distribution may also create unexpected additional colouring of a generally neutral word. Such stylistic connotation is called occasional.
Stylistic connotations may be inherent or adherent. Stylistically coloured words possess inherent stylistic connotations. Stylistically neutral words will have only adherent (occasional) stylistic connotations acquired in a certain context.
A luxury hotel for dogs is to be opened at Lima, Peru a city of 30.000 dogs. The. furry guests will have separate hygienic kennels, top medical care and high standard cuisine,including the best bones.(Mailer)
Two examples from this passage demonstrate how both stylistically marked and neutral words may change their colouring due to the context:
cuisine-> inherently formal (bookish, high-flown);
-> adherent connotation in the context - lowered/humorous; bones-> stylistically neutral;
-> adherent connotation in the context - elevated/humorous.
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