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BBL 3207 Introduction. What happens when we read literature?

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Presentation on theme: "BBL 3207 Introduction. What happens when we read literature?"— Presentation transcript:

1 BBL 3207 Introduction

2 What happens when we read literature?

3 Enter in a secondary world of imagination See and hear through language Respond to its stimuli rather than seeing and hearing our actual surroundings Hypnotised, released from our own bodies

4 How is everyday language different from language in literature?

5 Ordinary language – makes an ordinary use of the possibilities of language design. – made up of many kinds of normative structures

6 Literary language – makes an extraordinary use of these possibilities  this makes the text more memorable – Particular linguistic patterning – Extends and modifies normative structures of language in unusual ways In reading a text, we create a perception of that text. The perception of a literary text is affected by language design, and by the relationship of the text to the literary tradition

7 Intuition of literary language Intuition – the recognition of meaningful patterns, occurs initially below the level of consciousness. We intuit knowledge of all sorts daily e.g. drive a car, hit a tennis ball In language, we perceive and create all kinds of complicated structures almost unthinkingly.

8 Intuition of literary language Our intuition of a literary text comes from the perception of the unusual patterns. The way to make our intuition more conscious is to make the linguistic structure of the text more conscious.

9 What seems to distinguish literary from non- literary usage may be the extent to which the phonological, grammatical and semantic features of the language are salient, or foregrounded in some way.

10 NORMAL PARADIGMABNORMAL PARADIGM we burn paperwe burn daylight we burn wood we burn oil we burn fuel The object of “burn” has to denote a concrete, combustible material or be a more general term for such materials. What does it mean by “burn daylight”? ‘burnt’  destroyed/used up Possible meaning = we are using up daylight (metaphor)

11 “we burn daylight” Consider the context: -Romeo and Juliet: Montagues gatecrashing Capulet ball (first meeting of R&J) -Reference to torches: burning is literal, daylight is metaphorical  a joke Combination of linguistic, contextual and general world knowledge  basis for inferring an appropriate interpretation

12 Meaning comes from text BUT we cannot get at that meaning just by doing linguistic analysis Linguistic features: – Constrain readers from inferring unreasonable meanings – Prompt them towards reasonable ones “we burn torches” – literally true Change situational context – daytime Change linguistic context i.e. article on fuel conservation

13 Four storeys have no windows left to smash But in the fifth a chipped sill buttresses Mother and daughter the last mistresses Of that black block condemned to stand, not crash. ~ Edwin Morgan, Glasgow Sonnets ~ The 1960 dream of high rise living soon turned into a nightmare. ~ the Observer (29 November 1995) ~

14 Four storeys have no windows left to smash But in the fifth a chipped sill buttresses Mother and daughter the last mistresses Of that black block condemned to stand, not crash. ~ Edwin Morgan, Glasgow Sonnets ~ The 1960 dream of high rise living soon turned into a nightmare. ~ the Observer (29 November 1995) ~ There is nothing grammatically unusual or “deviant” in the way the words of the sentence are put together. The grammatical structure seems to be much more challenging, and makes more demands on our interpretative processing of these lines

15 In literary texts, the grammatical system of the language is often exploited, experimented with, or made to “deviate from other, more everyday, forms of language, and as a result creates interesting new patterns in form and in meaning” (Mukarovsky 1970). One way that this happens is through the use of non- conventional structures that seem to break the rules of grammar.

16 The red-haired woman, smiling, waving to the disappearing shore. She left the maharajah; she left innumerable other lights o’ passing love in towns and cities and theatres and railway stations all over the world. But Melchior she did not leave. Sentences normally consist of a subject and a predicate, and that the predicate normally contains a verb phrase. However, the first sentence here contains no main finite verb, and therefore should not occur as an independent unit, but looks as though it should be linked to another clause. Yet here it does occur on its own.

17 Another way in which literary language can deviate from other kinds of language use is by disrupting the usual order of words in a sentence. GREEN: 1 Well, I will for refuge straight to Bristol Castle. 2 The Earl of Wiltshire is already there. BUSHY: 3 Thither will I with you; for little office 4 Will the hateful commoners perform for us, 5 Except like curs to tear us all to pieces. 6 Will you go along with us? BAGOT: 7 No I will to Ireland, to his majesty. 8 Farewell: if heart’s presages be not vain 9 We three here part that ne’er shall meet again. (Shakespeare’s Richard II) Which lines follow the usual structural pattern? Try rewrite the unusual lines according to the rules of modern English syntax.

18 GREEN: 1 Well, I will for refuge straight to Bristol Castle. 2 The Earl of Wiltshire is already there. BUSHY: 3 Thither will I with you; for little office 4 Will the hateful commoners perform for us, 5 Except like curs to tear us all to pieces. 6 Will you go along with us? BAGOT: 7 No I will to Ireland, to his majesty. 8 Farewell: if heart’s presages be not vain 9 We three here part that ne’er shall meet again. (Shakespeare’s Richard II) Lines which follow the usual structural pattern: these are 2 and 6. The others, lines 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9, all contain some disruption to normal syntactic organization. Line 7 follows the normal structure, but like 1 and 3, seems to be missing the main lexical verb.

19 Well, I will for refuge straight to Bristol Castle. Well, I will (go) straight to Bristol Castle for refuge. Thither will I with you; for little office Will the hateful commoners perform for us, Except like curs to tear us all to pieces. I will (go) thither with you, for the hateful commoners will perform little office for us except to tear us all to pieces like curs. Farewell: if heart’s presages be not vain We three here part that ne’er shall meet again. Farewell, if heart’s presages be not vain, we three part here that shall ne’er meet again

20 Levels of analysis Phonology; phonetics Graphology Morphology Syntax;grammar Lexical Pragmatics; discourse analysis

21 Levels of language Language is not merely a mass of sounds and symbols, but is instead an intricate web of levels, layers and links. Levels of Language 1Phonology; Phonetics: The sound of spoken language; the way words are pronounced 2GraphologyThe patterns of written language; the shape of language on the page 3MorphologyThe way words are constructed; words and their constituent structures 4Syntax; grammarThe way words combine with other words to form phrases and sentences 5Lexical analysis; lexicology The words we use; the vocabulary of a language 6SemanticsThe meaning of words and sentences 7Pragmatics; discourse analysis The way words and sentences are used in everyday situations; the meaning of language in context.

22 Phonological Level Spoken language physically consists of distinctive speech sounds (phonemes) strung together to make up words. Phonemes are sounds which distinguish one word from another (e.g. /bet/ vs. /pet/ or /bit/) and linguists indicate phonemic transcriptions of speech by enclosing the transcription in slash brackets (/). This level of language is often called the phonemic or phonological level.

23 Graphological Level Written English does not have sounds. It has a set of alphabetical symbols which we conventionally associate with the (phonemes) of English, sometimes in a one-to-one fashion, or sometimes in spelling combinations (e.g: the two- letter combination ‘sh-’ is used to represent one phoneme /S/, as at the beginning of the word ‘shin’ (/Sin/). The written equivalent to the phonemic or phonological level in speech is usually called graphology.

24 Grammatical Level Grammar - positioning and grouping of the elements that go to make up sentences i.e. the order in which words and phrases come in the sentence. If you change the grammar you also change the meaning. (1) Girls like cats. (2) Cats like girls. Sentence (2) below uses exactly the same words as sentence (1) but the different syntax results in radically different meanings.

25 Morphological level Grammatical relations in languages can also be controlled by adding grammar-indicating elements onto the words themselves i.e. ‘adding endings to words’ This sort of grammatical structuring is usually called morphology. ‘cats’ is composed of two morphemes CAT + PLURAL  ‘cat’ + ‘-s’

26 Lexical Level One aspect of meaning is word-meaning (lexis). Changing the ‘d’ or /d/ in ‘dogs’ or /dogz/ to ‘c’ or /k/ changes the word and hence the meaning, in this case dramatically. The different words refer to completely different referents However, it is also possible to change the word without changing the referent, although other aspects of meaning may get changed (e.g. the connotations). ‘dogs’  ‘pooch’ the referent stays the same but the canine connotations are much more offhand and down-market. ‘dog’ to ‘domesticated canid’ ??

27 Pragmatics level Pragmatics is the study of meaning in context. The same sentence used in different contexts may have very different pragmatic significances. The favourite animal for boys is the dog. Girls like cats. Now, imagine a conversation between two teenage boys: A. Cats are stupid. What use is a cat? B. Girls like cats.

28 Practice In the next slide you will find a poem by Stephen Crane. Work out which choice that you think Crane actually made, and to work out why you think your choice is preferable, taking into account the effects at different linguistic levels that one choice or another has in relation to the rest of the poem.

29 (Stephen Crane) I stoodon upon in a highplace mountain hill And saw, below many devils Running, leaping Andliving indulging carousing in sin. One looked up, grinning, And said“Comrade! Brother!” “Join us!” “Help me!”

30 (Stephen Crane) I stoodupona highplace And saw, below many devils Running, leaping Andcarousingin sin. One looked up, grinning, And said“Comrade! Brother!”


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