Functional Styles of the English Language
Functional styles (FS) are the subsystems of language, each subsystem having its own peculiar features in what concern vocabulary means, syntactical constructions, and even phonetics. The appearance and existence of FS is connected with the specific conditions of communication in different spheres of human life. FS differ not only by the possibility or impossibility of using some elements but also due to the frequency of their usage. For example, some terms can appear in the colloquial style but the possibility of its appearance is quite different form the possibility to meet it in an example of scientific style.
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Thus, for example in the 17th century it was considered that not all words can be used in poetry, and that a separate poetic style exists. Later, in the 19th century romanticism rejected the norms of poetic style and introduced new vocabulary to poetry. The development of each style is predetermined by the changes in the norms of standard English. It is also greatly influenced by changing social conditions, the progress of science and the development of cultural life.
Every functional style of language is marked by a specific use of language means, thus establishing its own norms which, however, are subordinated to the norm-invariant and which do not violate the general notion of the literary norm. The writers of the given period in the development of the literary language contribute greatly to establishing the system of norms of their period. It is worth noting that the investigations of language norms at a given period are to great extent maintained on works of men of letters. Selection, or deliberate choice of language, and the ways the chosen elements are treated are the main distinctive features of individual style.
Individual style is a unique combination of language units, expressive means and stylistic devices peculiar to a given writer, which makes that writer's works or even utterances easily recognizable. (Galperin, p.17) Naturally, the individual style of a writer will never be entirely independent of the literary norms and canons of the given period. But the adaptations of these canons will always be peculiar and therefore distinguishable. Individual style is based on a thorough knowledge of the contemporary language and allows certain justifiable deviations from the rigorous norms. Individual style requires to be studied in a course of stylistics in so far as it makes use of the potentialities of language means, whatever the characters of these potentialities may be.
All men of letters have a peculiar individual manner of using language means to achieve the effect they desire. Writers choose language means deliberately. This process should be distinguished from language peculiarities which appear in everyday speech of this or that particular individual (idiolect).
NEUTRAL STYLE :: COLLOQUIAL STYLE :: BOOKISH STYLE
The term “neutral style” is used mostly to denote the background for realizing stylistic peculiarities of stylistically colored elements. Neutral style is characterized by the absence of stylistic coloring and by the possibility to be used in any communicative situation. This style is deliberately simplified.
If neutral style serves any situation of communication colloquial style serves situations of spontaneous everyday communication (casual, non-formal). Bookish style corresponds to public speech (non-casual, formal). This division does not coincide with the division into spoken and written language because colloquial style can be used in fiction,...