. ., ..

Stylistic and Pragmatic aspects of literary and colloquial vocabulary in the literary text


English language is divided into three main layers: the literary layer, the neutral layer and the colloquial layer. The literary and the colloquial layers contain a number of subgroups each of which has a property it shares with all the subgroups within the layer. This common property, which unites the different groups of words within the layer, may be called its aspect. The aspect of the literary layer is its markedly bookish character. This makes the layer more or less stable. The aspect of the colloquial layer of words is its lively spoken character.

The aspect of the neutral layer is its universal character. That means it is unrestricted in its use. It can be employed in all styles of language and in all spheres of human activity [1].

The literary layer of words consists of groups accepted as legitimate members of the English vocabulary. They have no local or dialectal character.

The colloquial layer of words as qualified in most English or American dictionaries is not infrequently limited to a definite language community or confined to a special locality where it circulates.

The literary vocabulary consists of the following groups of words:

1. common literary; 2. terms and learned words; 3. poetic words; 4. archaic words; 5. barbarisms and foreign words; 6. literary coinages including nonce-words.

The colloquial vocabulary falls into the following groups: 1. common colloquial words; 2. slang; 3. jargonisms; 4. professional words; 5. dialectal words; 6. vulgar words; 7. colloquial coinages.

Consider the following examples:

child (neutral)  kid (colloq.)  infant (bookish, official)  offspring (bookish, scientific);

father (neutral)  daddy (colloq.)  male parent / ancestor (formal);

leave / go away (neutral)  be off / get out / get away / get lost (colloq., or familiar-colloq.)  retire / withdraw (bookish);

continue (neutral)  go on / carry on (colloq.)  proceed (bookish, formal);

begin / start (neutral)  get going /get started / Come on! (colloq.)  commence (formal).

Still the extremes remain antagonistic and therefore are often used to bring about a collision of manners of speech for special stylistic purposes. The differences in the stylistic aspects of words may occur the whole of an utterance [2].

In this example from Funnys First Play (Shaw), the differences between the common literary and common colloquial vocabulary is clear seen.

DORA: Oh, Ive let it out. Have I?(contemplating Juggins approvingly as he places a chair for her between the table and the sideboard). But hes the right sort: I can see that (buttonholing him). You wont let out downstairs, old man, will you?

JUGGINS: The family can on my absolute discretion.

Besides the standard, literary-colloquial speech, there is also a non-standard, or substandard, speech style, mostly represented by a special vocabulary. Such is the familiar-colloquial style used in very free, friendly, informal situations of communication between close friends, members of one family, etc. Here we find emotionally colored words, low-colloquial vocabulary and slang words. This style admits also of the use of rude and vulgar vocabulary, including expletives (obscene words / four-letter words / swear words): rot / trash / stuff (= smth. bad); the cats pyjamas (= just the right / suitable thing); bread-basket (= stomach); tipsy / under the influence / under the table / has had a drop (= drunk); cute /great! (Am.) (= very good); wet blanket(= uninteresting person); hot stuff! (= smth. extremely good); Youre damn right (= quite right).

Within the English formal language the following styles are distinguished: the style of official documents, the scientific prose style, the publicistic style, the newspaper style, the belle-lettres style. Each style is characterized by a number of individual features which can be classified as leading or subordinate, constant or changing, obligatory or optional, essential or transitory. Each style can be subdivided into a number of sub styles [3]. The latter present varieties of the root style and have much in common with it. The root styles fall into the following substyles: 1) The style of official documents: business documents, diplomatic documents, legal documents, military documents. 2) The scientific prose style: the humanities, the exact sciences. 3) The publicistic style: speeches (oratory), essays, articles. 4) The newspaper style: newspaper headlines, brief news items, advertisements. 5) The belle-lettres style: poetry proper, emotive prose, drama. By these examples you can point out stylistic differences within the groups of synonyms. They are the followings: face visage mug deadpan; nose snout beak nasal cavity; I think I gather I presume I take it I guess it me thinks; boy youth lad young male person youngster teenager; lass girl maiden wench young female person; nonsense absurdity rot trash; legs pins lower extremities; Silence, please! Stop talking! Shut your trap! friend comrade pal buddy acquaintance;
Hurry up! Move on! Hasten your step!

From the viewpoint of language users intentions, their choices from the total pool of resources and the effects upon other participants, the legitimacy of the pragmatic perspective for stylistically oriented study can hardly be denied.



1. I.R.Galperin. Stylistics. Moscow High school, 1977. 72-74 pp.

2. .. . ., 1959

3. Antrushina G.B., Afanasyeva O.B., Morozova N.N. English Lexicology. M., 2000