Functional-Stylistic Peculiarities of Modern English Biographical Prose (on the Basis of Five Biographies of Oscar Wilde)

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  • Topic: Oscar Wilde, William Wilde, Jane Wilde
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  • Published : October 16, 2011
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When people speak about style they usually consider texts of verbal art [cf. 14] and it is believed that on the whole only masters of style deserve special investigation and of course masters of style are usually those who are writing artistic texts. But as is absolutely clear any text is characterized by a certain style [4], and it doesn't matter whether it is good or bad because even if the person is writing in a neutral way [17;18] all the same it is the stylistic peculiarity of his text [7]. For this reason it is significant to take a broader view of stylistic investigations and not to confine oneself in one's studies to texts of verbal art only [44]. Functional stylistics is a discipline which creates the foundation for considering the style of all texts, not neсessarily the literary ones [23; 24]. According to functional-stylistic investigations carried out at the English department of the philological faculty of Moscow state university, in any developed literary language there are five basic functional styles: the colloquial one which comes first and which is ontologically the primary one and then the four other styles, such as: journalistic, artistic, scientific and official [35; 36; 37]. These styles of course have some common features, the neutral basis without which they would not be just styles of one literary language but simply separate languages, probably within the broader system [3; 12; 26]. But as they all share the same neutral vocabulary, the same and basic grammatical peculiarities and syntactic characteristics, they of course belong to one language, and should be treated as the realizations of the general system and the sub-systems within the system of the language [9; 11; 42]. But whatever the possible general characteristics of the styles may be, there are some distinct features which are typical of each particular style only [21]. Conversational style is characterized by neutrality and relative simplicity, while with the other styles there is a distinction connected with the basic function of language this or that style fulfils [19, 20]. With the scientific style and the official style there is a tendency to express some specialized meanings, either connected with the nature of science in general or with the official relations between people, the social regulations which exist in society and for this reason the exactness and concreteness of utterances is of great importance in these two styles [22]. To achieve it people use either terminology or formal words or expressions, and the main aim here is to avoid ambiguity and to render the complicated meaning which will be interpreted in one and clear way [32; 33]. That's the nature of the intellective function, which texts belonging to these two styles are supposed to render. With the other two styles the situation is diametrically opposite. Journalists are believed to be trying to be objective, but on the whole the main function of this style as well as of artistic style is the function of impact, the esthetic function [11; 22]. These two styles are aimed at giving the emotional commentary concerning the world around or the imaginary representation of some events whether real or fictive. Here I mean the journalistic style and artistic style correspondingly. In these texts ambiguity is very welcome, however unambiguous sometimes the journalists or professional writers try to sound. For this reason the more expressivity they adduce, the more metaphors they try to use, the better for the general impression the text produces upon the reader [21]. That is why all kind of inherently connotative units, metaphorical expressions, complicated figures of speech are quite natural in journalistic and artistic texts in contrast to texts belonging to science or to the official style. That is the basic difference between the four styles I have mentioned and they all are collectively opposed to the colloquial conversational...
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