Text Typology: Genre & Stylistics’ Specifications

The theoretical course designed by Prof. Dr. Ivan A. Bekhta is part of the university curriculum programme:

Objectives and competences
This is an introduction to Text Typology in the domain of its major concepts – Genre and Stylistics – and modern trends. The lectures in this course represent a newly emerging field of scholarship in Europe (national schools), North America and Australia (Sydney School): text typology via the perspectives of genre and stylistics specifications. For familiar views with traditional conceptions of genre, the nowaday approach to genre requires extensive explanation. Current reconceptualizations of genre can enlarge our understanding of how it is and why it is that we produce the kinds of discourse/text across the range of situations in which the diversity of culture realizes itself within a society.).

In order to successfully participate in in-class discussions and to follow the lectures, the student should take the introductory linguistic courses: phonology, lexicology, syntax, stylistics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, discourse linguistics.

Content (Syllabus outline)
The course is devoted to the study of text typology and its specific properties with the focus on the M.A.K. Halliday’s theory of language (FSL) and the R. Hassan’s genre model. Concepts such as genre in the literary theory and linguistics and in the frame of modern methodological approaches related to it; the communication role of language, context with special focus on situation and cultural context; discourse; text, contextual and communicative semantics, and text structures; cohesion; rhetorical structure and rhetorical units, etc. The course is primarily interested in the study of semantic structure of text and the role of relation between the rhetorical units and the semantic structure. Main source of data to work on is a tagged corpus.

1. Beaugrande, R. de (1980): Text, Discourse and Process: Toward a Multi-disciplinary Science of Texts. – London: Longman, 1980. – 351 p.
2. Beaugrande, R. de (1994): "Text linguistics" // The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, ed. R. E. Asher. – Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1994. – P. 4573-4578.
3. Beaugrande, R. de (1997): New Foundations for a Science of Text and Discourse: Cognition, Communication, and the Freedom of Access to Knowledge and Society. – Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1997. – 670 p.
4. Beaugrande, R. & W. Dressier. Introduction to Text Linguistics. – L.: Longman, 1981. – 270 p.
5. Biber, D. (1989): "A typology of English texts" // Linguistics, 1989. – P. 27, 3-43.
6. Biber, D. & E. Finegan (1986): "An initial typology of English text types", Corpus Linguistics //, ed. J. Aarts & W. Meijs. – Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1989. – P. 19-46.
7. Brown, G. & G. Yule (1983): Discourse Analysis. – Cambridge: CUP, 1983. – 304 p.
8. Chandler Daniel. An Introduction to Genre Theory //http://yunus.hacettepe.edu.tr /~cem/ AKE337_files/GenreTheoryPack.pdf
9. Danes, F. (1974): "Functional sentence perspective and the organization of the text", Papers on Functional Sentence Perspective, ed. F. Danes. – The Hague: Mouton, 1974. – P. 106-128.
10. Dijk, T. A. van (1977): Text and Context: Explorations in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Discourse. – London: Longman, 1977. – P. 93-129.
11. Enkvist, N. E. (1991): "Discourse strategies and discourse types", Functional and Systemic Linguistics: Approaches and Uses, ed. E. Ventola. – Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991. – P. 3-22.
12. Grice, H. P. (1975): "Logic and Conversation", Speech Acts // ed. P. Cole & J. L. Morgan. – New York: Academic Press, 1975. – P. 41-58.
13. Sinclair, J. (ed.) (1995): Collins Cobuild English Dictionary. – London: Harper Collins, 1995. –
14. Halliday, M. A. K., Hassan, R., 1989: Language, Context and Text: Aspects of Language in a social–semiotic perspective. – Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989. – P. 51-118.
15. Halliday, M. A. K. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. – L.: Edward Arnold, 1985. – 387 p.

Attending lectures, a term written paper (synopsis – 15 pages → margins: 14 Times New Roman, 1,5 interval, top →2.2 cm x bottom →2 cm x left →2,7 cm x right →1,7 cm; reference literature list 25 entries), oral examination, participation in in-class discussions.
Credit Questionnaire’s Topics

1. Basic issues relating to the study of text varieties and their general role in language and society
This lecture concentrates on the notion of genre and the process of genre typology of text variants and their analysis. We also focus primarily on the register perspective in this course, because it can be used to describe any text excerpt from any variety. However, the methodological techniques used for register analyses are also (most suitably) applicable to the genre and style perspectives.

2. Different perspectives on text varieties: register, genre, style
This lecture deals with the key terms of genre typology – register – genre – style. The two perspectives (genre and register) differ in their interpretation – that is, in the underlying reasons for the observed linguistic patterns. The systematic linguistic patterns associated with the register perspective exist because linguistic variation is functional; linguistic features are used frequently in a register when they are required by the situational characteristics of the register. In contrast, the linguistic patterns associated with styles are not functional. Styles are normally distinguished for the texts within a register or genre. The most common application of this concept is to describe systematic variation within the register/genre of different functional styles.

3. Register, genre and style in linguistic research
This lecture concentrates on the following aspects of basic terms focused on genre typology of various texts. The terms register, genre, and style have been central to previous investigations of discourse, but they have been used in many different ways. Our treatment in the present book builds on this previous research, but it does not attempt to reconcile all previous definitions of these terms. As you read other studies, it is important to be aware that there is no general consensus concerning the use of register and related terms such as genre and style.

4. The situational characteristics of registers and genres
This lecture is devoted to the situational characteristics of registers and genre, the complex interpretative units in text typology. We defined a register as a language variety associated with both a particular situation of use and with pervasive linguistic features that serve important functions within that situation of use. Here we focus on the “situation,” that is, on how to describe characteristics related to the situation of use, or what we call situational characteristics. These characteristics include the physical context, such as the actual time and place, but also many other considerations. In summary, different cultures have different ways of dividing up the range of activities that are performed using language. The “same” genre/register in two cultures can actually be characterized by important differences in purpose or other situational characteristics. Therefore, the first step in conducting an analysis is to identify and describe the situational characteristics of the genre/ register.

5. A framework for situational analysis
During this lecture we learn that some studies focus exclusively on a single register. In these cases, the researcher relies on their intuitions and previous experience with other registers to identify the distinctive characteristics of the target register. This is not a recommended practice, because intuitions about “normal” behavior are often not reliable. Thus, the analysis of register characteristics (situational and linguistic) generally centres on the comparison of two or more registers. Particular situational characteristics will be more or less important, depending on the registers that are being compared. For example, conversation and e-mail messages are similar in many respects: both are produced by a person addressing another person, often dealing with personal/social topics, and both are typically interactive, where the second person responds to the first. One of the main differences between the two registers is the physical mode: speech versus electronically conveyed writing.

6. Situational characteristics of registers and genres
This lecture concentrates on the reasoning since text varieties can be compared with respect to so many different situational characteristics; it is useful to have a general framework to apply in any analysis (for either the register or genre perspective). Some characteristics will not be relevant for some comparisons, but applying the framework can help you think through the full set of situational characteristics that need to be considered. The major situational characteristics that are relevant for describing and comparing registers and genres are (participants, relations among participants, channels, production circumstances, settings, communicative purposes, and topic). These characteristics are important in the course of proper development of the analysis.

7. Text typology: genre and stylistic orientation
This lecture is devoted to comprehension of the complex object of text typology. Text typology is concerned with the identification of the criteria leading to the classification (typology) of texts (or text types, text classes, styles, genres). It is possible to approach texts as either theoretical linguistic constructs (text typology), or as concrete ´psychological realities´ (text classification). The latter approach is based on the intuition possessed by every language user which is acquired through his/her practical experience with the production of texts and which represents a component of his/her communicative (stylistic) competence. One of the most important criteria is based on the study of the ways that dominating communicative functions of texts determine the choice of expressive means of language; e.g., in appeals, warnings, public notices the conative function dominates, in congratulations or expressions of sympathy it is the phatic function, in research reports the representational function, in advertising the persuasive function, etc (K. Bühler, R. Jacobson).

8. Analyzing linguistic features and their functions
The lecture concentrates on the idea of linguistic description which is central to the analysis of text varieties from the three perspectives. For the register and style perspectives, the focus is on identification of the pervasive lexico-grammatical features that are especially prevalent in the variety. The key difference between the two perspectives is in the interpretation of observed differences: associated functionally with the situational context in the case of register analysis, or associated with aesthetic effects achieved by particular authors/speakers in the case of style analysis. The genre perspective differs from these other two in the focus of the linguistic analysis itself, describing the conventional devices or rhetorical organizations used to structure complete texts from a variety. Multidimensional patterns of register variation.
Comparing multiple registers: register analyses are always comparative: register features are defined as linguistic characteristics that occur more frequently in the target register than in other comparison registers.

9. Genre, Text Typology and Modern Literature
Unlike the other arts, literature is situated in a much vaster unified ‘domaine sémiotique’ comprising all of those elements identified by M. Bakhtin as ‘speech genres’. For Hegel it was only literature that had genres in the strict sense, being the only art form. Other categories for other arts remain largely empirical and descriptive. This would go some way to explaining the minor role played by genre theory in the areas of the musical, visual and plastic arts. Turning to the question of the challenge to genre categories in modern art forms, it might be said that modern art is to be defined – and certainly is by many commentators – by its eschewing of the very substance. For literature, this void need not mean an unproblematic turn to genre. For Roland Barthes the abeyance of the expressive is indexical of the proliferating force of textuality – a force which ruins genres as much as it does books in their purported unity. This is why Culler suggests that, genre fiction might only be allowed to designate a residue. Culler’s account, taxonomic categories become mere ‘artifices of description’. This absence of method – which loss is another way of describing the Barthesian pleasure of the text – leaves one with an artefact that sits uneasily or does not sit at all with even residual or artificial taxonomy. For Culler this shortfall means that ‘our most crucial and tantalising experiences of literature [are] located at the interstices of genres, in this region of non-genre literature’.

10. Text Pragmatics: Speech Acts vs. Text Acts
Text pragmatics studies how sequences of speech acts are evaluated on the basis of higher order expectations about the text, and how these sequences of coherent microtexts contribute to the global coherence of a larger text (Ferrara 1985). Text act: the predominant illocutionay force of sequences of speech acts must be recognized. Context focus. No theory of modes of discourse is rigid in its categorization, multiple views of reality and multiple types (Kinneavy 1980). Pure narration, description, exposition and argumentation hardly occur. A particular genre may make use of several modes of presentation. Text type focus or contextual focus refers to text type at the macro level, the dominant function of a text type in a text. Two-level typology of text types and communicative functions: at the macrolevel of discourse, text type may be assumed to precede the level of text-strategic choices, thus affecting the whole strategy of the text; the choice of microlevel text type has to do with the textualization process, which is determined by the text producer's text strategy. Text types employed in a particular text (or genre) need not agree with its contextual focus (A. Troosbor). An argumentative text-type focus may be realized through narration, instructions may take the form of description, etc. There is interaction between communicative purspose and rhetorical purpose (text type).

11. Genre: Language and Context
This lecture deals with genre definitions. Genres are abstract, socially recognized ways of using language. Genre analysis is based on two central assumptions: that the features of a similar group of texts depend on the social context of their creation and use, and that those features can be described in a way that relates a text to others like it and to the choices and constraints acting on text producers. Language is seen as embedded in (and constitutive of) social realities, since it is through recurrent use and typification of conventionalized forms that individuals develop relationships, establish communities, and get things done. So genre theorists locate participant relationships at the heart of language use and assume that every successful text will display the writer's awareness of its context and the readers which form part of that context. Genres are then, "the effects of the action of individual social agents acting both within the bounds of their history and the constraints of particular contexts, and with a knowledge of existing generic types" (Kress, 1989).

12. Foundations for Typologies of Texts
If we want to group certain objects into classes, these classes into larger classes, and if such a procedure somehow makes sense, scientifically speaking, it is important that we try to make explicit the criteria underlying such classifications. Similarly, we have to know which methodological, theoretical, and empirical procedures are basic for a formal classification of texts as different TYPES (T. van Dijk), This problem is relevant for both linguistics and poetics. Moreover, the other social sciences dealing with verbal behaviour and textual interaction, e.g., social psychology, content analysis, and cultural anthropology, will also be interested in such differentiations in the domains of study. Before we proceed to a discussion of these linguistic and literary issues, let us return to the problem of types and of typologies in general. The main use of the notion `type' is made within philosophy, mathematical logic, and the social sciences. Since the rather narrow framework of this paper does not allow a complete historical or systematic review of the extant literature, we shall restrict ourselves to some general aspects and to some main ideas on the subject. The simplest typologies in literature are those given by DEFINITION. They are always based on METRICAL structures, which realize a priori schemata of phonological or graphemic organization. Thus a sonnet, for example, may be considered as a subtype (or subgenre) of poetic texts defined exclusively by the rules of metrical theory. Optional transformations of the structures generated either yield acceptable varieties (when they are conventionalized) or remain on the level of idiosyncratic style (idiolect).

13. Genre Matters: Register Studies in the Broader Context of Linguistics
It is possible to consider linguistics as comprising two major subfields: the study of language structure (e.g., phonology, morphology, grammar) and the study of language use, how people acquire language and what they actually do with the structural resources of a language. The study of language use is intimately connected to the study of linguistic variation. All human languages exhibit linguistic variation: related linguistic structures that express similar meanings. In large part, the study of language use is the study of linguistic variation, investigating the question of why a speaker uses one set of linguistic forms rather than another at any given time and place. Studying registers, genres text typology – is one of four major approaches that attempt to explain the patterns of linguistic variation. These approaches each focus on a different major non-structural factor: (1) information packaging, (2) historical time, (3) demographic characteristics of the speaker, and (4) the situational context and communicative purpose. In the first approach, often studied in the subfields of pragmatics or functional linguistics, the analyst investigates the informational properties of text elements, such as “given” or “new” informational status, “focus,” “topic,” and the preference to place “heavy” constituents at the end of a clause in English.
Michel Foucault describes the tendency toward classification in terms of ‘the history of the order imposed on things...of that which for a given culture is both dispersed and related, therefore to be distinguished by kinds and to be collected together into identities’ (Foucault, 1970). The manner in which Aristotle’s Poetics establishes the problematic of exemplarity, then, remains a pressing question for genre theory today. For, the correlative of exemplarity is exemption or exclusion – the exorbitant or extraordinary to be policed by a logic and pedagogy of conformity, as Aristotle clearly believes.

14. Written registers, genres, and styles
In this lecture we turn our attention to three commonly encountered general written registers – newspaper writing, academic prose, and fiction. A fundamental difference between the spoken registers and written registers concerns time for planning and revising. Unlike speech, however, writing allows you to sit and think about what you want to say, look over what you have written, and revise it. These characteristics have important consequences for the language of written registers generally. But writers can also choose to use their planning and revising time to create very different kinds of texts, and this chapter also illustrates some of the variation that exists among different written registers.
One major situational characteristic shared by many written registers is a primary focus on communicating information rather than on developing a personal relationship. Of course, there are few uncontestable “facts,” and so most communication – in writing or speech – reflects some ideological perspective. Further, it is possible in writing to be interpersonal, and registers like personal letters or e-mail messages can be focused more on sharing personal feelings and attitudes than conveying information. But for many general written registers, readers and writers usually do not expect to share any personal connections with the author. In fact, you may never even know the name of a person who wrote a newspaper article if there is no by-line, and even if you do see a by-line, it is unlikely that you know that person. Similarly, that writer does not know you. The focus is on communicating information about the story, rather than revealing personal details about the author or attempting to learn about the personal lives of readers.

15. Historical evolution of registers, genres, and styles
We have already approached the analysis of registers from a synchronic perspective, considering the situational and linguistic characteristics of present-day varieties. These same techniques can be applied to registers from earlier historical periods. In many cases, these analyses show that a register has changed over time in some of its typical linguistic characteristics. Such changes reflect changes in the situational context of the register, like a shift in communicative purpose, a shift in the audience targeted by the register, or even changing attitudes about good style. In some cases, these changes can be so extreme that it is reasonable to ask whether the earlier variety actually represents the same register as the modern variety. We consider case studies illustrating these various kinds of change. We begin with a discussion of the fictional novel, showing how it has been recognizable as the same general register over the past four centuries. At the same time, there are some notable linguistic changes that distinguish typical novels in the eighteenth century from their modern-day equivalents. Our second case study considers changes in scientific research articles. Finally, we take up the topic of how historical change in the use of particular linguistic features is mediated by register factors.

16. Registers and genres in electronic communication
New technology and new registers. E-mail. Instant message. Blog. Cell phone. Text message. It is hard to believe that in the early 1980s, these words meant nothing to most people, and even in the early 1990s, many people were only beginning to be aware of them. You may use a computer and cell phone almost every day, but a few decades ago the only people to use computers were computer programmers, and phones were always connected to walls. Then, as the technology became affordable and accessible, communication via electronic means increased tremendously. With this fast growth and wide use, anyone interested in register variation will wonder how language is used in these new registers. In the last chapter, we described historical register change and some case studies where registers evolved gradually over time. We describe case studies of registers that emerged much more suddenly, becoming established in only a few years following the growth of computers, the internet, and cell-phone technology. The three registers described here are similar in that they rely on electronic means for conveying a message, as opposed to speech or conventional printed writing. To limit the situational variation, we have chosen registers that include interaction between individuals, but there are other specific situational differences among them. We begin with the form of electronic communication which was the first to become widely used – e-mail. We compare it to conversation and academic prose, to contrast the newer electronic register with the more prototypical forms of speech and writing. We then present investigations of two more recently developed electronic registers, e-forum postings and text messages, showing their similarities and differences with e-mail and other longer-established registers.

P.S. For any additional information on the course feel free to contact the lecturer – ivanbekhta@yahoo.co.uk

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