Stylistics: Meaning Behind The Words

A subfield of linguistics concerning the aesthetics of words.

Stylistics is a branch of linguistic study of style in language. It aims to clarify how readers understand and interact with the language of texts, and how readers are affected by texts when they read them.

Word stylistics was first attested in the Oxford English Dictionary only in 1882, meaning the science of the literary style, the study of stylistic features.

In 1909, Charles Bally proposed stylistics as a distinct academic discipline to complement Saussurean (another linguist) linguistics. For Bally, Saussure’s linguistics by itself could not fully describe the language of personal expression. However, according to many sources, it is implied that the father of literary stylistics is Spitzer (1887 – 1960). He began to analyze literary works from a stylistic point of view, and therefore, Spitzer is often considered the father of literary stylistics.

Stylistics is related to how a phrase is written to emphasize what is being conveyed and which literary devices, and rhetorics are employed. The usage of literary figures and techniques is a symbol of the writer’s skills.

Style can distinguish the work of individual authors, for example, Henry Lawson’s poems, as well as the work of a particular period, for example, Elizabethan drama, or of a particular text type. Examples of stylistic features are narrative viewpoint, the structure of stanzas, juxtaposition, nominalization, alliteration, metaphor, irony, euphemism, personification, and lexical choice.

There are many more examples of stylistic features and details. These are the basic pieces of information about the branch. However; knowing even basic terms like this may help improve oneself.