Course Project – Stylistics

  • Write a reading reflection notes of chapter one up to chapter 6 in: Simpson, P. (2004),  Stylistics, and Your notes should be clear considering the following components   (Final mark= 10)

* Write each chapter separately. The notes you took during the classes. Write a detailed description of some aspect of the chapters and the experience that you felt was particularly meaningful for you.

* A discussion of what you have personally learned. Also, discuss your plans for improving your learning experience of some aspects in the chapters. You should concentrate on the main points in the chapters. Finally, discuss how the information presented on those chapters are connected with your background knowledge of stylistics and how they improved your linguistic knowledge.

* Your notes should be written in around 750 words for the whole chapters.

*You will be given 10 days to complete the tasks.

* Use Times New Roman font – size 12.

* The paper should be double-spaced.

Unit 2, Sections A and B: Stylistics and levels of language Levels of language at work





ENG 380: Stylistics

Section A: Stylistics and levels of language





ENG 380: Stylistics

Shape and organize stylistics analysis (established)

Principles of methodology ( three Rs)

Basic categories, levels and units.

Stylistics is a new discipline







ENG 380: Stylistics

“Language in its broadest conceptualisation is not a disorganised mass of sounds and symbols, but is instead an intricate web of levels, layers and links” (Simpson 2004).

The levels of language are…


Dependent on one another

“They represent multiple and simultaneous linguistic operations in the planning and production of an utterance” (Simpson 2004)



Levels of language







ENG 380: Stylistics

phonology; phonetics: The sound of spoken language; the way words are pronounced.

graphology: The patterns of written language; the shape of language on the page.

morphology: The way words are constructed; words and their constituent structures.

syntax; grammar: The way words combine with other words to form phrases and sentences.

lexical analysis; lexicology: The words we use; the vocabulary of a language.

semantics: The meaning of words and sentences.

pragmatics; discourse analysis: The way words and sentences are used in everyday situations; the meaning of language in context.

Levels of Language (Simpson 2004)







ENG 380: Stylistics

That puppy’s knocking over those potplants!


Emphatic (!)

Phoneme /n/ in ‘knocking’

Distinguished from “rocking”, “mocking”

‘T’ in ‘That’ and ’potplants’

pronounced as glottal stop

phonetic environment: followed by /p/

‘R’ in ‘over’

Irish and American pronunciation: historic <r>

Australian and English pronunciation: no historic <r>

“-ing” in ‘knocking’

Pronunciation of “g” dropped in lower status accent and informal delivery style


Example sentence: Phonology







ENG 380: Stylistics

That puppy’s knocking over those potplants!


Roman alphabet


Font size

Font style: bold

Example sentence: Graphology







ENG 380: Stylistics

That puppy’s knocking over those potplants!


Three morpheme cluster in ‘potplants’

Root morpheme: pot

Root morpheme: plant

Suffix morpheme: -s

Root morphemes can stand alone as individual words, whereas prefixes and suffixes must be joined to words in order to have meaning


Example sentence: Morphology







ENG 380: Stylistics

That puppy’s knocking over those potplants!


Hierarchy of grammar: Morpheme–Word–Phrase–Clause–Sentence

Single clause in the indicative declarative mood

Clause constituents

Subject (‘That puppy’)

Predicator (‘’s knocking over’)

Complement (‘those potplants’)

Phrase structure of predicator

contracted auxiliary ‘[i]s’

main verb ‘knocking’

preposition ‘over’: extension of main verb makes the verb a phrasal verb

Example sentence: Syntax/Grammar







ENG 380: Stylistics

That puppy’s knocking over those potplants!


Grapheme ‘kn’ in ‘knocking’

Derived from Anglo-Saxon <cn>

In English, now pronounced /n/

In Dutch, double consonant pronunciation is retained

Example sentence: Lexicology







ENG 380: Stylistics

That puppy’s knocking over those potplants!


“A truth value specifies the conditions under which a particular sentence may be regarded as true or false” (Simpson 2004).


“a young canine animal” is responsible for the action

‘dog’ or ‘animal’ are also compatible with the sentence’s truth value

‘That’ and ‘those’


Expresses physical orientation (deixis)

‘That’/’those’ create a ‘distal’ deictic relationship: the speaker is far from the ‘puppy’ and ‘potplants’.

‘this’/‘these’ would create a ‘proximal’ relationship


Example sentence: Semantics







ENG 380: Stylistics

That puppy’s knocking over those potplants!



“aspects of communication that lie beyond the organisation of sentences” (Simpson 2004)


domain of reference includes pragmatic, ideological, social and cognitive elements

What are the potential contexts and participant roles? (the puppy sentence)

In a living room, the speaker is addressing the owner of the puppy and the potplants

Infers a “call to action” rather than a response requiring only a verbal agreement

Since the speaker is far away from the puppy and potplants, can infer that there is someone else potentially closer to the potplants who can take action

The speaker is forthright

A less forthright speaker: ‘Sorry, but I think you might want to keep an eye on that puppy . . .’

Indirection serves a politeness function. Politeness is overridden in this ‘urgent’ situation

Consider other potential contexts and participant roles

Example sentence: Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis







ENG 380: Stylistics

A stylistic analysis can start at any level of language

The interaction between levels of language is important

Interaction between levels is important: one level may complement, parallel or even collide with another level.

Example: Margaret Atwood’s Poem

playing off the level of grammar against the level of graphology.









ENG 380: Stylistics

Section B: Levels of language at work: an example from poetry





ENG 380: Stylistics





Levels of language








ENG 380: Stylistics


Removed standard punctuation

Removed capitalization


Neologisms (invented words): ‘sunly’, ‘moonly’, ‘unbe’

Colorful treatment of adjectives and adverbs


Mathematical symmetry in stanzaic organization

Repetition – Key words, phrasal patterns

Constituent clauses connected grammatically to the first word, “love”


’love is more thicker than forget’, e e cummings







ENG 380: Stylistics

Adjectives of gradability

Ascribe qualities to entities, objects and concepts

Test gradability by intensifying word “very”

Classifying adjectives

Fixed qualities relative to the noun they describe. E.g. former manager – strategic weapons

Adjectives types







ENG 380: Stylistics

Exploits gradability of adjectives

Extend or modify the degree or intensity (e.g. ‘very’)

Comparing concepts

Comparative relationships: ’more’ or ‘-er’

Superlative relationships: ’most’ or ‘-est’

Equal relationships: ‘as…as’

Inferior relationships: ‘less’

Defies grammatical rules

‘more’ and ‘-er’ used together is technically ungrammatical


Adjectives in ‘love is more thicker’







ENG 380: Stylistics

Narrows scope of reference by adding material after the adjective


The pilot was conscious

The pilot was conscious of his responsibility


Another example

Mary is now much better at Maths

Intensifier: much

Adjective: better

Scope: at math








ENG 380: Stylistics

Initially foregrounded because of grammatical deviance, these phrases move into the background through repetition allowing other phrases to become foregrounded.

“more thicker” instead of “thicker”

“most mad” instead of “maddest”

“less bigger” instead of “less big”








Internal Foregrounding in ‘love is more thicker’







ENG 380: Stylistics





“most + 1-syllable”










Adjectives: ‘Love is more thicker…’

Describing abstract concepts with adjectives used for liquids and solids

Adverbs: ‘more seldom than a wave is wet’, ‘more frequent than to fail’

adverbs of time-relationship in main slot in the adjective phrase

communicate negative time relationships; convolutes meaning of phrases

Logical tautologies: ‘than all the sea which only is deeper than the sea’

Saying the same thing twice (replicating the basic premises of the proposition)






Other stylistic features in ‘love is more thicker’







ENG 380: Stylistics

Lexical antonyms: ‘thicker’/‘thinner’, ‘never’/‘always’, ‘sunly’/‘moonly’

Words of opposite meaning

Establishes cohesion in a text









ENG 380: Stylistics

Stylistic choices are a communicative force

“The individual stylistic tactics used in the poem, replicated so vigorously and with such consistency, all drive towards the conclusion that love is, well, incomparable” (Simpson 2004).

“Buried in the semantics of the poem is its central enigma, acted out in the very contradictions ascribed to the poem’s central theme, the experience of love” (Simpson 2004).

Stylistic analysis should be precise

“Much of the internal dynamic of cummings’s poem is sustained by the subversion of simple and everyday patterns of language, and it is the distortion of these commonplace routines of speech and writing that deliver the main stylistic impact” (Simpson 2004).

“…it is an important part of the stylistic endeavour that its methods probe the conventional structures of language as much as the deviant or the distorted” (Simpson 2004).

Stylistic analysis should be retrievable

“Finally, I hope this importance of making the analysis retrievable to other students of style, by showing how not just one level, but multiple levels of language organisation simultaneously participate, some in harmony and some in conflict, in creating the stylistic fabric of a poem” (Simpson 2004).



Stylistic Conclusions







ENG 380: Stylistics

Simpson, P. (2004). Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415644969 (print edition).












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