Studying literary and everyday style in English

Authored by: Dan McIntyre , Hazel Price

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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Stylistics is often defined as the linguistic study of style in language; but what does this mean in practice? The first point to note is that style arises from motivated choice (motivated in the sense of there being a range of linguistic options from which to choose rather than that choice necessarily being a conscious one). It is only when we have such a choice that it is possible for a style to emerge. As an example of what this means, consider this statement from the American actor Clint Eastwood, made in response to an interviewer’s suggestion that the Republican 2016 US presidential candidate, Donald Trump, had been trying to emulate Eastwood’s tough-guy persona:

Maybe. But he’s onto something, because secretly everybody’s getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. That’s the kiss-ass generation we’re in right now. We’re really in a pussy generation.

(Clint Eastwood, quoted in Hainey 2016)

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