BBL 3207





What is literature?

·  Literature, as an art, is surely to arouse “the excitement of emotion for the purpose of immediate pleasure, through the medium of beauty” (Coleridge 365).

·  In what way is language in the literature different from language used in everyday communication?

For example:

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
William Wordsworth

What is ‘literariness’

•  Russian Formalists – “defamiliarisation”: deviating from and distorting “practical language”.

•  Mukarovsky – “the function of poetic language consists in the maximum of foregrounding of the utterance”

–  “foregrounding” à opposite of “automatisation” (related to defamiliarisation i.e. to estrange something is to foreground it)

–  Stylistic devices to compel attention

–  Tung (2007): “verbal artfulness” - proper choice and good arrangement of all linguistic components (phonological, morphological, syntactical, semantic, and pragmatic).


•  the deautomatization of an act; the more an act is automatized, the less it is consciously executed; the more it is foregrounded, the more completely conscious does it become.

•  may occur due to deviational or parallelistic (syntagmatic – repetition of the same element) nature of the poem.

Devices of Foregrounding

•  Outside literature, language tends to be automatized; its structures and meanings are used routinely.

•  Within literature, however, this is opposed by devices which thwart the automatism with which language is read, processed, or understood.

•  Generally, two such devices may be distinguished, deviation and parallelism.

•  Foregrounding is realized by linguistic deviation and linguistic parallelism.


Deviation Parallelism

Figure 1 The Realization of Foregrounding (Leech)


•  A phenomenon when a set of rules or expectations are broken in some way. Such as when this font has just changed. This deviation from expectation produces the effect of foregrounding, which attracts attention and aids memorability.

•  Result: some degree of surprise in the reader, and his / her attention is thereby drawn to the form of the text itself (rather than to its content).

Examples of Deviation

e. g: neologism - “monomyth”, “quark” (Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake)

live metaphor - “The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.”
(Carl Sandburg’s the Fog)

ungrammatical sentences - he sang his didn't he

danced his did

(Cumming’s anyone lived in a pretty how town)

oxymoron - “Beautiful tyrant”

“Honourable villain”

(Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)

•  8 types of deviation:

1.  lexical deviation

2.  grammatical deviation

3.  phonological deviation

4.  graphological deviation

5.  semantic deviation

6.  dialectal deviation

7.  deviation of register

8.  deviation of historical period.


A rhetorical device characterised by overregularity or repetitive


e.g: rhyme, assonance, alliteration, meter, semantic symmetry,

or antistrophe.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn....
T. S. Eliot's “Ash-Wednesday”

I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.

Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”


Deviation Overregularity

Phonology Graphology lexicon Grammar Meaning

Realization Form Semantics


Figure 2 The Realization of Foregrounding

Levels of Analysis

•  If we want to examine language in a given text, there are different aspects of language structure which need separate consideration.


Levels of language / Areas of Language Study
The sound of language; how words are pronounced / Phonology, phonetics
The patterns and the shape of written language / Graphology
The way words are constructed / Morphology
The way words combine with other words / Grammar
The words used / Vocabulary
The meaning of words and sentences / Semantics
The way words and sentences are used in everyday situations / Pragmatics

1. The sound level

•  Phonemes

•  Rhyme

•  Rhythm

•  Alliteration

•  Assonance

•  Consonance


A phoneme is the smallest phonetic unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinction in meaning. In other words, phonemes are sounds that differentiate one word from another (e.g. /hat/ vs. /hot/ or /mat/).


•  the repetition of identical sound combination of words.

•  usually placed at the end of the corresponding lines in verse.


|Humpty |Dumpty |sat on a |wall

|Humpty |Dumpty |had a great |fall

|All the king’s |horses and |all the king’s |men

|Couldn’t put |Humpty to|gether a|gain

Types of rhyme

1.  Full rhyme

2.  Incomplete rhyme

3.  Assonance

4.  Consonance

Full rhyme

·  Sometimes known as perfect, true or exact rhyme.

·  The stressed vowels and all following consonants and vowels are identical, but the consonants preceding the rhyming vowels are different e.g. chain, drain; soul, mole.

Incomplete rhyme

•  Also known as half-rhymes, which are not exact repetitions but are close enough to resonate e.g. supper, blubber; sane, maintain; dangerous, hostages.


•  Repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences

•  vowel rhymes, rhyme on the final vowel sound, but the final consonance sound is different, e.g. flesh, fresh, press (“e”); wine, life (“i”); head, said (“e”); tries, side (“i”);

•  Hear the mellow wedding bells. (Poe)

•  And murmuring of innumerable bees (Tennyson)

•  The crumbling thunder of seas (Stevenson)


•  The repetition of two or more consonants using different vowels within words.

•  Consonant rhymes, rhyme on the final consonant sound but the final vowel sound is different, e.g. blank, think (“nk”); man, wind (“n”); wants, cards (“a”); aim, brim (“m”); work, hurt (“r”); flung, long; tale, tool

–  And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain (Poe)

–  Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile / Whether jew or gentile I rank top percentile. (Hip-hop music)


•  The regular periodic beat.

•  “a unit which is usually larger than the syllable, and which contains one stressed syllable, marking the recurrent beat, and optionally, a number of unstressed syllables” (Leech, 1969: 105).

•  Rhythm is related to the regularity of alternating patterns.

•  It may involve a succession of weak and strong stress; long and short; high and low and other contrasting segments of utterance. Rhythm can occur in prose as well as in verse.


•  Meter is a type of rhythm of accented and unaccented syllables organized into feet, aka patterns.

•  It is determined by the character and number of syllables in a line. Meter is also dependent on the way the syllables are accented.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

(Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18”)

•  The above line consists of ten syllables that show a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables: 1st syllable unstressed, 2nd syllable stressed, 3rd syllable unstressed…. 10th syllable. The unstressed syllable is underlined while the stressed syllable is in bold (Cumming 2006).

Foot – stress patterning

•  A foot is made up of a pair of unstressed and stressed syllables. Thus, the above line altogether contains five feet (see below):

1 2 3 4 5
Shall I..|.. compare |.. thee to..|.. a sum..|.. mer’s day?

5 types of foot

Iamb (Iambic) / Unstressed + Stressed / Two Syllables / "To be or not to be" (Shakespeare’s Hamlet)
Trochee (Trochaic) / Stressed + Unstressed / Two Syllables / "Doule, doule, toil and trouble." (Shakespeare’s Macbeth)
Spondee (Spondaic) / Stressed + Stressed / Two Syllables / “heartbreak”
Anapest (Anapestic) / Unstressed + Unstressed + Stressed / Three Syllables / "I arise and unbuild it again" (Shelley's Cloud)
Dactyl (Dactylic / Stressed + Unstressed + Unstressed / Three Syllables / openly

Meter depends on the type of foot and the number of feet in a line. Below are the types of meter and the line length:

Monometer / One Foot
Dimeter / Two Feet
Trimeter / Three Feet
Tetrameter / Four Feet
Pentameter / Five Feet
Hexameter / Six Feet
Heptameter / Seven Feet
Octameter / Eight Feet

1 2 3 4 5
Shall I..|.. compare |.. thee to..|.. a sum..|.. mer’s day?


•  The repetition of two or more consonants using different vowels within words.

•  Consonant rhymes, rhyme on the final consonant sound but the final vowel sound is different, e.g. blank, think (“nk”); man, wind (“n”); wants, cards (“a”); aim, brim (“m”); work, hurt (“r”); flung, long; tale, tool

–  And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain (Poe)

–  Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile / Whether jew or gentile I rank top percentile. (Hip-hop music)


•  a word that imitates the sound it represents

•  Example:
splash, wow, gush, kerplunk

•  Examples: Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard, / He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred; Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, ringing clear; / Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance! Were they deaf that they did not hear?

("The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes)

2. The Graphological Level

•  Design, layout, spelling and lettering

•  The typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect

she loves me

she loves me not

she loves

she loves me


she loves


- Emmet Williams

3. The Grammatical Level

•  Grammar itself is also composed of a number of levels.

Sentences: composed of one or more clauses

(or "simple sentences").

Clauses: composed of one or more phrases.

Phrases: composed of one or more words.



•  Word class:

–  noun (N),

–  verb (V),

–  adjective (A)

–  adverb (Adv).

•  Sentence structure:

–  Single – a sentence with only one verb group

–  Compound – sentences / clauses linked simply (and, but)

–  Complex – sentences where subordinate clauses are bound together by more complex connectives and punctuation

•  Consider the sentence,

•  'The audience might like the play but I hate it'.

•  Using round brackets to indicate the phrases and square brackets to indicate the clauses, we can show the sentence's structure as follows:

•  [ ( The audience) ( might like ) ( the play ) ] [ but ( I ) ( hate ) ( it ) ]

•  The sentence thus consists of two coordinated clauses (ie two simple sentences joined together as one sentence). In the first clause each constituent phrase consists of two words, and in the second clause each phrase consists of one word.

•  Identifying elements of simple sentences à functions of words and phrases in sentences: subject, predicate, object, complement, adverbial

Predicators / consist of verb phrases (e.g. 'ate', 'had been eating', 'is', 'was being') which can be used to express tense and aspect)
function as the centre of English sentences and clauses, around which everything else revolves they express actions (e.g. 'hit'), processes (e.g. 'changed', 'decided') and linking relations (e.g. 'is', 'seemed') they are the most obligatory of English sentence constituents Note that we use the term 'predicator' to be able to distinguish the form-property (VP: verb/verb phrase) from its function in the sentence so that this difference can parallel those for the other SPOCA elements (see below)
Examples Mary loves John (transitive predicator), John had been running (intransitive predicator), John seems quiet (linking predicator)
Subjects / consist of noun phrases (NPs) (e.g. 'a student', 'John')
function as the topic of the sentence, and the 'doer' of any action expressed by a dynamic predicator and normally come before that predicator subjects are the next most obligatory element after predicators
Examples Mary loves John, The exhausted student had been running, John seems quiet
Objects / consist of noun phrases (NPs)
function as the 'receiver' of any action expressed by a dynamic predicator, where relevant and normally come immediately after that predicator
objects are obligatory with transitive predicators (but do not occur with intransitive or linking predicators)
Examples Mary loves John, The exhausted student had eaten all his food, Mary has the biggest ice cream
Complements / consist of noun phrases (e.g. 'a student') or adjective phrases (e.g. 'very happy') and normally come immediately after a linking predicator (when they are subject complements) or an object (if they are object complements) Complements are obligatory with linking predicators
function as
the specification of some attribute or role of the subject (usually) or the object (sometimes) of the sentence
Examples John is a student, The exhausted student is ill, Mary made her mother very angry
Adverbials / consist of adverb phrases (AdvPs: e.g. 'soon', 'then' 'very quickly', prepositional phrases (PPs: e.g. 'up the road', 'in a minute' or noun phrases (e.g. 'last Tuesday', 'the day before last')
function as
the specification of a condition related to the predicator (e.g. when, where or how the predicator process occurred)
adverbs are the most optional of the SPOCA elements and can normally occur in more positions than the other SPOCA elements, though the most normal position for most adverbials is at the ends of clauses
Examples Then John walked up the road, The exhausted student became ill last Thursday, Next Mary stupidly made her mother very angry on her wedding anniversary

Words and Tropes: Transference of Meaning

Figures of speech: a literary device involving unusual use of language, often to associate or compare distinct things.

Types of figures of speech:

·  Scheme: (Greek schēma, form, shape) involves a deviation from the ordinary pattern or arrangement of words

·  Trope: (Greek tropein, to turn) involves a deviation from the ordinary and principal signification or meaning of a word. Metaphor, metonymy, personification, simile, and synecdoche are sometimes referred to as the principal tropes.

Both types of figures involve transference:

·  Trope—transference of meaning