Discourse, stylistics and pragmatics are sub-fields of
linguistics that have attained independent statuses in the arts. With
the seeming differences between these fields, there exist a lot of
relationships that connect the three areas of study together. This study
is an attempt to examine the similarities in relationships between
discourse, pragmatics and stylistics in their interpretation of language
in communication. The methodology adopted is a descriptive/library
research. Findings from the study reveal that discourse, pragmatics and
stylistics are different but inter-related fields that share a lot of
relationships in language analysis even though their goals and methods
of analyzing language are different.
The concern of linguists before the advent of Discourse Analysis,
Pragmatics and Stylistics, was basically to study the structural pattern
and form of language without much regard for the context and other
features that shape meaning.According to Olateju (7), much later,
however,‘the attention of language scholars was shiftedfrom language
form to language function. Consequently, many scholars in humanities and
social sciences became keenly interested in the study of Discourse, Pragmatics and Stylistics’ (italics mine).
Discourse, Pragmatics and Stylistics are different but closely
related linguistic disciplines that are inseparable. There is as much
relationship between them as there are differences in their linguistic
approach to interpreting meaning. It is,sometimes, not easy to draw a
line of demarcation between Discourse, Pragmatics and Stylistics asthere
is hardly any exercise on Discourse without a bit of Pragmatic or
Stylistic input. However, Discourse is much broader in its analysis than
the other two disciplines.While Discourse is essentially communication;
Stylistics is concerned with the study of the pattern and style of what
is communicated; while Pragmatics examineswhat is being communicated
from the speaker-intended meaning. This study is an attemptto discuss
the intricate relationship between Discourse, Pragmatics and Stylistics
in order to examine the differentways they each approach linguistic
2.0. An Overview of Discourse
Discourse is a discipline that has no stable definition. This is because a lot of scholars have
given varied definitions to it based on their views of the subject
matter. The common definition is given by Stubbs. He describes Discourse
as ‘language above the sentence or above the clause’ (1). According to
Johnstone, it is ‘actual instances ofcommunication in the medium of
language’ (2). Discourse is meaning communicated far above what is said.
The study of Discourse is indeed the “study of many aspects of language
use (Fasold 65). Discourse is essentially the study of language in use.
The word 'discourse' is from the Latin 'discursus' which
denotes 'conversation, speech' (Taiwo 14).The term Discourse was first
used by Zellig Harris in a paper he presented in 1952.As a structural
linguist, he did not use Discourse in the sense that it is commonly used
today. He used it only as a sequence of utterances. It was in the late
1960s that scholars began to use the term as an approach to the study of
social interaction. (Taiwo 16). Discourse was fully developed in the
1970s as a critique of cognitive process in communication. It is based
on the notion that language needs a context to function properly. Thus,
‘it becomes very impossible to understand the linguistic items used in
discourse without a context’ (Ahmad 1).
Discourse is viewed as a social performance or a social action. It is
a relative social phenomenon that depends solely on a wide range of
disciplines, such as Psychology, Anthropology, Philosophy,
Anthropological Linguistics, Sociology, Cognitive and Social Psychology.
Fairclough corroborated this idea when he opines that ‘Discourse
constitutes the social. Three dimensions of the social are
distinguished- knowledge, social relations, and social identity-and
these correspond respectively to three major functions of language’(8).
When viewed from the linguistic perspective, ‘discourse is composed of a
wide range of disciplines, such as Stylistics, Pragmatics,
Conversational Analysis and Speech Act Theory’ (Ahmad 2).
There is a relationship between Discourse, Discourse Analysis and
Critical Discourse Analysis as they could be described as a three-
in-one discipline mostly used interchangeably and sometimes, erroneously
especially by non-linguists. Discourse is not the same as Discourse
Analysis. While Discourse is communication, Discourse Analysis is a way
of analysing communication (Aziz n.pag). When the analysis of a
particular discourse aims at exposing the covert ideology embedded in
such a discourse, it can then be said to be at the domain of Critical
Discourse Analysis. To put it very simple, when Discourse Analysis
becomes more critical (when the hearer or reader uses all linguistic
features available to generate meaning of the unsaid in a manner that
exposes power and abuse of power, dominance, inequality and invested
ideologies), it becomes Critical Discourse Analysis.Generally speaking,
‘every discourse is structured by dominance and the dominant structures
are legitimated by the ideologies of powerful groups’ (Wodak and Meyer
Discourse Analysis basically ‘studies and examines how an addresser
structures his linguistic messages for the addressee and how the
addressee in turn uses some linguistic cues to interpret the messages’
(Brown and Yule in Taiwo 15).Social context plays a vital role in
generating meaning in a discourse. In fact, it determines the meaning
that is to be communicated. Similarly, certain contextual features
equally shape the language people use. These are: the interlocutors
themselves, their discourse roles and the physical environment of the
discourse, the worldview and cultural practices in the domain of the
discourse. Discourse Analysis considers language,used together with the
aforementioned features, to determine meaning. Discourse Analysis thus
generates data for analysis based on the observation and the intuition
of the language users. This is why Taiwo believes that a discourse
analyst can analyze virtually every conversation, like ‘(casual,
telephone, gossip, etc), speeches (campaigns, formal speeches delivered by political figures, etc), written discourse (novels, plays, news, written speeches, editorials, etc)’
(15). This observation by Taiwo above makes discourse analysis to
relate with other linguistic branches like Stylistics and Pragmatics
which examine meaning in these communication media. To understand this
relationship between discourse and these linguistic branches, it is
imperative to understand what stylistics and pragmatics are concerned
2.1 The Nature of Pragmatics
Adrian Akmajian conceives of pragmatics as a term that ‘covers the
study of language use, and in particular the study of linguistic
communication, in relation to language structure and context of
utterance.’ (361)When Charles Morris proposed his famous trichotomy of
syntax, semantics and pragmatics, he defined the last as ‘the study of
the relation of signs to interpreters’ (6). But he soon generalized this
to ‘the relation of signs to their users’ (29). What this implies is
that pragmatics interprets meaning from the angle of the speaker (i.e.
Norrick (4) conceives of pragmatics as the study of the
context-dependent aspects of meaning which are systematically abstracted
away from in the construction of logical form. In the semiotic
trichotomy developed by Morris, Carnap, and Peirce in the 1930’s, syntax
addresses the formal relations of signs to one another, semantics the
relation of signs to what they denote, and pragmatics the relation of
signs to their users and interpreters.
According to Wolfram and Norrick (2), even though its roots can be
traced back to early classical traditions of rhetoric and stylistics, to
Immanuel Kant’s conception of pragmatics as empirical and purposive and
to William James, who pointed out its practical nature, modern
pragmatics is a fairly recent discipline. Its inauguration as an
independent field of study within semiotics took place early in the 20th
Century by C. Morris, R. Carnap and ultimately C.S. Peirce. The classic
division between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics goes back to Morris,
who distinguished three separate “dimensions of semiosis” within his
science of signs.
There were and are differences of opinions on where exactly to draw
the line between semantics and pragmatics. Some thirty years elapsed
before pragmatics finally made its way into modern linguistics in the
late 1960s, when linguists began to explore the performance phenomena.
To this end, they adopted ideas developed and advanced by L.
Wittgenstein, G. Ryle, P. Strawson, J.L. Austin and other eminent
(ordinary or natural) language philosophers. It seems safe to claim that
the ensuing ‘pragmaticturn’was most notably induced by J.L. Austin,
J.R. Searle and H.P. Grice, who were interested in
utterancemeaningrather than sentence or word meaning, i.e. in studying
unique historical events created by actual speakers to perform
linguistic acts in actual situational contexts in order to accomplish
Other scientific movements that nourished pragmatics include
anthropology (B. Malinowski, P. Wegener, A. Gardiner), contextualism
(J.R. Firth), functionalism (K. Buhler, R. Jakobson, D. Hymes),
ethnomethodology (H. Garfinkel, E. Goffman, H. Sacks) and European
sociology (J. Habermas). Since the pragmatic turn, pragmatics has
developed more rapidly and diversely as a linguistic discipline. Since
the 1970s, the early Anglo-American framework of pragmatic-linguistic
study has been immensely expanded and enhanced by research in
Continental Europe and elsewhere. With historiographic hindsight, it can
be seen that the broadening, i.e. the interdisciplinary expansion, of
the field of pragmatics has been a cumulative process; the broader
conception of pragmatics chronologically (and causally) followed the
Despite its scientific acclaim, the notion of pragmaticsremains
somewhat enigmatic and is still difficult to define. This holds for its
readings in everyday discourse as well as in scholarly contexts.
Nonetheless, when people refer to attitudes and modes of behaviour as
pragmatic, they mean that they have a factual kind of orientation in
common. People who act pragmatically or take a pragmatic perspective
generally have a preference for a practical, matter of fact and
realistic rather than a theoretical, speculative and idealistic way of
approaching imminent problems and handling everyday affairs. To put it
differently, they share a concrete, situation-dependent approach geared
to action and usage rather than an abstract, situation-independent and
system-related point of view. To assume a pragmatic stance in everyday
social encounters as well as in political, historical and related kinds
of discourse, means to handle the related affairs in a goal-directed and
object-directed, common-sense and down to earth kind of way. Such an
understanding of pragmaticsas an attitude in non-scientific discourse
has obviously left its traces on the scientific definitions of the term.
By and large, one can say that in semiotics and philosophy,
‘pragmaticscharacterizes those theoretical and methodological approaches
that are oriented toward use and context rather than toward some
system, and that they regard use and context as creating a high degree
of analytical surplus’ (Wolfram and Norrick 2).
While essentially the same is true for linguistics in general, there
is no commonly accepted definition of pragmaticsin linguistics which
would refer to a single, unified and homogeneous field of study. In
contemporary linguistics, scholars can identify a narrow and a broad way
of delineating pragmatics (of which the former is sometimes allocated
to an “Anglo-American” and the latter to a “Continental [European]”
tradition of pragmatics, (Huang xi). According to the narrow view,
Wolfram and Norrick (2) observe that pragmatics is understood as ‘the
systematic investigation of what and how people mean when they use
language as a vehicle of action in a particular context and with a
particular goal in mind.’ Thus, the context-dependency of utterance
meaning is the central component of more narrowly defined accounts of
pragmatics, which focus on a few key issues that can be juxtaposed with
related issues in other modules of language theory such as grammar and
semantics. Those issues include ‘indexicality/deixis (versus anaphora),
presuppositions, implicatures (versus entailments) and speech acts
(versus types of sentences), to name only the most conspicuous topics’
(Wolfram and Norrick 4).
According to Wolfram and Norrick (4), in a much broader point of
view, pragmatics is ‘the scientific study of all aspects of linguistic
behaviour. In particular, pragmatics includes patterns of linguistic
actions, language functions, types of inferences, principles of
communication, frames of knowledge, attitude and belief, as well as
organizational principles of text and discourse’. Wolfram (3) summarizes
the thrust of pragmatics as ‘a discipline which deals with
meaning-in-context, which for analytical purposes can be viewed from
different perspectives (that of the speaker, the recipient, the analyst,
etc.). It bridges the gap between the system side of language and the
use side, and relates both of them at the same time.’
Many considerations come to mind when trying to examine the scope of
pragmatics. First is the definition of pragmatics by Yule which has a
four dimensional approach. He sees pragmatics as ‘the study of speaker
meaning, contextual meaning, how more gets communicated than is said,
and the study of the expression of relative distance.’(3) By this
definition, he has accounted in a way for the scope of this discipline.
According to Osisanwo (26), the second definition has to do with our own
views of the scope of pragmatics which include:
- The message being communicated
- The participants involved in the message
- The knowledge of the world which they share
- The deductions to be made from the text on the basis of the context
- The implications of what is said or what is left unsaid
- The impact of the non-verbal aspect of interaction on meaning.
Osisanwo went ahead to state that the goals of pragmatics can be
understood if we frame the following questions bearing in mind that
pragmatics has been said to be the study of language in use in a
particular context or situation.
- How do utterances convey meaning?
- What are the roles of context in encoding and decoding messages in an utterance?
- How do interlocutors respond to messages and meaning?
- What are the causes of wrong message encoding?
- What are the causes of wrong message decoding?
From the above points, if there are the goals of pragmatics, then the
goals should be to explain how utterances convey meaning in context,
how meaning is decoded from utterances in context and in particular
situation, how context contributes to the encoding and decoding of
meaning, how speakers and hearers of utterance perceive them, how
speakers say one thing and mean something else, and how deductions are
made in context with respect to what meaning has been encoded in
particular utterance. The next section will examine stylistics as a
branch of linguistics.
2.2 What is Stylistics?
Scholars have attempted to define stylistics from their own
perspectives. Crystal (34) opines that ‘stylistics is the study of
aesthetic use of language in all the scopes of linguistics.’ Contrary to
this definition by Crystal of stylistics to be of ‘all linguistic
domains’ is Short, who asserts that ‘Stylistics is an approach to the
analysis of (literary) texts using linguistic descriptions’ (1). Short
views stylistics as the scrutiny of fictitious texts in accordance with
linguistic guidelines; he therefore limits the scope of stylistics to
literary text neglecting the non-literary aspect of it. To Freeman,
‘stylistics is a sub-discipline which started in the second half of the
20th Century. It can be seen as a logical extension of moves within
literary criticism early in the 20th century to concentrate on study
texts, rather than authors’ (1). Leech and Short say ‘stylistics is
simply defined as the (linguistic) study of style; it is rarely
undertaken for its own sake, simply as an exercise in describing what
use is made of language’. (13) They believe style is studied basically
to explain something and in general, literary stylistics has, or
implicitly or explicitly, the goal of explaining the relation between
language and artistic function.
Short and Candlin are of the view that ‘stylistics is a
linguistic approach to the study of the literary texts. It thus,
embodies one essential part of the general course – Philosophy; that of
combining language and literary study’ (183). Widdowson defines
stylistics ‘as the study of literary discourse from a linguistic
orientation.’ (3) He takes the view that what distinguishes stylistics
from literary criticism on the one hand is that it is a means of linking
the two. He also proposes that stylistics occupies the middle-ground
between linguistics and literary criticism and its function is to
mediate between the two. In this role, its concern necessarily overlaps
with those in terms of expediency and effect.
The above definitions show that it is not an easy task in giving a
universally acceptable definition to the discipline called stylistics.
However, it is generally agreed among linguists that stylistics is the
study of style. This idea of defining style becomes another challenging
task because style means a lot of things to different people. The
definition of style as an addition can be further sub-grouped according
to which effect of the addition is stressed in each definition. Bally,
like many other rhetoricians, has explicitly expressed that style is a
dry and scholarly recapitulation of facts. To him, stylistics studies
‘…the effective value of the features of organized language and the
reciprocal action or the expressive features that together form the
system of the means of expression of a language.’ (53)
Bally (54) emphasizes that language is a set of means of
expression which are simultaneous with thought. He distinguishes between
internal stylistics, which studies the balance and the contrast of
effective versus intellectual element within the same language, and
external or comparative stylistics which compares such features of
language with those of another. He stresses that style is a definite
emotional effect achieved by linguistic means in a text. Style,
therefore, stretches without breaking.
Enkvist (10) distinguishes among three points of view in
defining style. According to him, style can be defined from the point of
view of the writer where he/she attempts to penetrate and reveal the
inner form of his/her subjects. Secondly, there are definitions which
deal with the characteristics of the text itself, attempting the
analysis of style entirely in terms of objective investigation of
textual features. Thirdly, he gives a definition based on impressions of
the readers. Enkvist further asserts that a thorough definition of
style must take into consideration stylistic analyses that are
operationally concrete and based on linguistic features.
With this in mind, Enkvist (12) defines the style of a text to be the
‘aggregate of the textual probability of its linguistic item.’ This
definition, however, looks at “contextual probability” as being central
to every text and such includes an autonomous reference to a relevant
norm conditioned by past experience. Thus, Enkvist’s view holds the idea
that phonological, grammatical and lexical items constitute contextual
probabilities that are integral to the study of style. He, however,
fails to recognize pragmatics which is more of a “contextual
probability” while the former set constitutes probability that all have
to do with the total option available in language use.
According to Wales, ‘style refers to the perceived manner
of expression in writing or speaking’ (373). In this case, the style of
writing can be radical, tragic, comic, etc., depending on the ultimate
intentions of the writer. In the above definition, style enables the
writer to express his/her feelings to the outer world; because
literature is not written in a vacuum, there must be a message a writer
has in mind to pass across, the way the writer uses language to convey
his/her message to the world is referred to as the style of the writer.
To buttress this definition, Malie as cited in Lawal says ‘the style of
an author has a consistency due to the habitual nature of the writing
process and this consistency can be determined, measured and used to
determine consanguinity between an unknown and a set of authenticated
Stylistics is a term that is mostly associated with the literary
genre but modern linguistic exercises have clearly shown that there is
much of stylistic analysis to be done on non-literary texts as is done
on literary texts. A literary genre can be seen as style characteristics
that is collectively recognized and agreed upon. Some of the aspects of
literary stylistics include the use of dialogue, the description of
scenes, the use of active and passive voice and the distribution of
sentence length (Ahmad 2).
Stylistics primarily attempts to explain the principles that informed
the choices made by communicators which clearly manifests in their use
of language. This is skillfully unraveled by the reader or writer by
studying the style of the initiator of the communication (writer or
speaker). Style on its own is aptly described by Lucas as ‘the effective
use of language, especially in prose, whether to make statements or to
rouse emotions. It involves first of all the power to put fact with
clarity and brevity’ (9).
One major concern of stylistics is the investigation into the
continuous and consistent appearance of certain structures, items and
elements in a speech utterance or in a given text. Thus, when a text is
replete with some certain recurring predominant words or expressions, a
stylistician becomes more interested in his investigation. Stylistics is
particularly important because it enhances and maximizes our enjoyment
of a text.
The relevance of stylistics can never be over emphasized. It is a
technique used to explicate both linguistic and non-linguistic text by
objectively defining what an author does in his use of language. A
stylistic analysis of a text in most cases reveals the good and or the
bad qualities of a writing or speech.
Stylistics, like Discourse, is multidisciplinary in nature, even
though it has its own focus. It draws insights from disciplines such as
Literature, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and so on. As earlier
explained, Stylistics, majorly, is the study of the style of a text. It
looks at style
in so many dimensions. They include:
Style as Choice: This considers style as a choice
the speaker or writer makes in a text that ultimately makes his
utterance or text to stand out. It becomes the responsibility of the
stylistician to identify such a style in his (stylistician) analysis.
Style as Situation: A style could be adopted by a
speaker or writer based on the situation in question. A text comes to
life through the context or situation. This could be physical,
socio-cultural or pragmatic.
Style as Deviation:
What does not conform to a certain standard could be a style to a
writer or speaker. This is mostly noticed in poetry where the poet has
the poetic license to deviate from an acceptable norm to use language in
a way that pleases him.
Style as Time/ Era: This has to do with time
relevance of a style. It deals with whether a particular style is in
vogue or obsolete; whether it is ancient or modern. It is the task of
the stylistician to point this out.
Style as the Individual: There are specific features
that are associated with a particular speaker or writer due to his
choice of style. That becomes his ideolets. A speaker or writer stands
recognized basically due to his style.
3.1 Discourse, Pragmatics and Stylistics: What Relationship?
Even though discourse, stylistics and pragmatics have attained the
statuses of independent disciplines, there are relationships between the
three areas of studies. These relationships are examined below:
1. For one thing, they are all a sub-branch or sub-field of
linguistics which comes under the level of meaning (semantics,
pragmatics, stylistics and discourse analysis). Other levels of
linguistics are those of sound (phonetics and phonology) and form
(morphology and syntax)
2. Also, they are all inter-disciplinary areas of study. Stylistics,
like Discourse and Pragmatics, is multidisciplinary in nature, even
though it has its own focus. It draws insights from disciplines such as
Literature, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and so on. In the same
vein, the scientific movements that nourished pragmatics include
anthropology (B. Malinowski, P. Wegener, A. Gardiner), contextualism
(J.R. Firth), functionalism (K. Buhler, R. Jakobson, D. Hymes),
ethnomethodology (H. Garfinkel, E. Goffman, H. Sacks) and European
sociology (J. Habermas). As a matter of fact, it is the relationship
between pragmatics and sociology that gave birth to the sub-field of
socio-pragmatics. Discourse, similarly, is a relative social phenomenon
that depends solely on a wide range of disciplines, such as Psychology,
Anthropology, Philosophy, Anthropological Linguistics, Sociology,
Cognitive and Social Psychology.
3. It is difficult to give a universally accepted definition of these
disciplines. Despite its scientific acclaim, the notion of
pragmaticsremains somewhat enigmatic and is still difficult to define.
This holds for its readings in everyday discourse as well as in
scholarly contexts. Pragmatics may be defined from a purely linguistic
or non-linguistic angle which makes it complex to pin-point the exact
meaning of the term. The sentences below explain this idea:
(i). Pragmatics is a linguistic discipline. (ii). This study is a
pragmatic analysis of Adichie’s text. (iii). Nigerian leaders need to be
pragmatic rather than leave things to chance.
Discourse and Stylistics as linguistic disciplines have also eluded
scholars as it is complex to give a universally acceptable definition of
the two fields.
4. They all focus on the interpretation of meaning in communication.
This means that they share similarities in their focus. Discourse
analysis picks up from where stylistics stops. The tasking questions
discourse often asks are: What makes the speaker or writer use language
the way he or she does? How does the hearer or reader interpret what the
speaker or writer says or writes? Of course, this is where discourse
shares a common boundary with Pragmatics. Indeed, ‘the speaker or writer
has total control of the choice of words to use but he or she certainly
does not have control of the meaning the listener or speaker would
derive from what is said or written’ (Aziz n.pag).
Osisanwo notes that ‘since both of them (discourse and pragmatics)
deal with human interactions through language, they should be seen as
cousins or linguistic relations’ (5). According to Brown and Yule (26),
‘in discourse analysis as in pragmatics we are concerned with what
people using language are doing, and accounting for the linguistic
features in the discourse as the means employed in what they are doing.’
Discourse and Stylistics are two linguistic disciplines that are
analyzed using different methods and tools. The text is the object of
analysis for both the discourse analyst and the stylistician. One
noticeable difference however is the manner in which they approach their
analysis. ‘In discourse, there is the concern for language in use in
social contexts, and in particular with interaction or dialogue between
speakers. In essence, the discourse analyst is concerned with what
language is used for and not the formal properties of a language.’
5. Context is key to the interpretation of meaning in discourse,
stylistics and pragmatics. The three subfields of linguistics take into
considerations the role of context in interpreting discourse or
communication in language. This includes all the kinds of context
available in linguistics such as physical, psychological, socio-cultural
6. There are certain linguistic terms that are synonymous to, or cut
across for the discourse analyst, the stylistician and the pragmatist.
Some of these include:
Text: In Discourse, text simply means any instance
of language in use. This comprises not only written language but also
spoken language. A text could be as small as a word or sentence and
could also be as large as a paragraph (Aziz n. pag). A text could
equally be a whole chapter, a news item or a conversation. For a piece
to be qualified as a text, Halliday and Hassan believe, it must form a
‘unified whole’ (1). When that happens, it can then be regarded as a
A text is meant to have a texture. Texture, as used here, is the
parameter that distinguishes a text from something that is not a text.
Information in a text flows within and among sentences through the
interplay of coherence and cohesion.
Cohesion and Coherence: Coherence concerns with
sense in a text. That is to say that when a text makes sense to a reader
or a hearer, it is said to be coherent (Osisanwoin Ogunsiji 48).
Cohesion on the other hand is a Latin word for “striking together”
(Stern in Ogunsiji 48). It is a term in Discourse that relates to how
texts are held together lexically and grammatically as a whole. A text
without cohesion is only a disjointed speech which may not generate any
meaning.There is an obvious presence of coherence in the following
conversation between two interlocutors:
Speaker A: Honey the phone is ringing
Speaker B: I’min the bathroom
Speaker A: ok
The discourse above can be interpreted vis- a- vis the social conventions of interaction which include:
Speaker A requests speaker B to perform an action.
Speaker B gives the reason why he cannot comply.
Speaker A understands and (inexplicitly) proceeds to perform the action.
It is discovered that there are no cohesive ties in the above
discourse but the needed cues to identify coherence are conventional
structures of interaction, and this is a shared understanding by the
interlocutors.That is the crux of coherence in discourse.
Context: Context is a set of facts that surrounds a
particular situation. Viewed from the angle of linguistics, context
means everything that surrounds the production and reception of a piece
of communication.According to van Dijk,“context is subjective mental
model of communicative situation” (npn).Communication is better
understood in context. Taiwo corroborates this fact in his explanation
of context and its features which include:
the physical situation in which the communication takes place, the
interactants or interlocutors, the knowledge of the communicators of
their cultural norms and expected behaviour, and the expressions that
precede and follow a particular expression. All these features of
context help language speakers to interpret meaning appropriately(19).
Discourse dwells so much on the context of language use in social
setting.It should be noted that discourse, pragmatics and stylistics
belong to functional linguistics. According to Osisonwo (5), ‘a number
of features are common to discourse analysis and pragmatics. These
include speech acts, context, inference, presupposition and implicature,
but with slightly different goals and levels of emphasis.’
7. Similarly, since discourse is broader than stylistics and
pragmatics, the two sub-fields thus, become an approach or tool of
analysis in discourse. As such, they become intertwined, sharing
concepts and boundaries in linguistic analysis. However, where
stylistics and pragmatics cannot thread, discourse has traversed. This
makes it possible to find such aspects of analysis in all the fields
Graphological Features whichis concerned with the
physical appearance of a text. The primary focus here is foregrounding.
That is an act of bringing to fore, certain words to give them
prominence. This can be identified by looking at words in italics,
capital letters, bold letters, words that are underlined, and so on. The
use of punctuation marks can equally create stylistic effects. It is
the task of the stylistician to explore and give description of these
graphological features in a text.
Syntactic Features:The focus here is on sentence
types and the effect they create in a text. A text may contain a
combination of simple, complex, compound and compound complex sentences
or just simple sentences. Aspects of ellipsis, parataxis, hypotaxis,
right and left- branching sentences are equally considered significant
here (Ogunsiji 11).For example, a dislocation in syntax of a text could
mean the dislocation in human thoughts. James Joyce’s novels are replete
with this style.
Lexico- Semantic Features:
Here, attention is specially given to words. This is because words
may be used by the speaker or writer to produce connotative, denotative,
associative, collocative, affective, thematic, idiomatic and even
stylistic meanings. The discourse analysts, pragmatists and
stylisticians watch out for the various meanings conveyed by the use of
8. Lastly, the text is the subject of analysis for the discourse,
stylistic and pragmatic analysts. However, the text must be interpreted
as communicative utterances for the pragmatists.
Discourse, Pragmatics and Stylistics are linguistic disciplines that
analyze text in an attempt to establish meaning in
communication.Although, it is a complexendeavour in trying to draw a
demarcating line between these disciplines, it is still possible to
speculate the limit to which the scope of one field can cover over
another due to their concerns or goals. These sub-branch of linguistics
share similarities even though they approach the analysis of language
use with different,but similar, methods.One thing that is common
Discourse, Pragmatics and Stylistics is that theyhave the text as the
object of analysis.
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