LANGUAGE IN LITERATURE
PROGRAMME OF STUDY: B.A ENGLISH
LECTURER’S NAME: DR. MOHAMMAD EWAN BIN AWANG
TITLE: How The Study Of Stylistics / Language In Literature Can Help Improve One’s English Language
NAME MATRIC NO.
NUR FARINA AZIZAN 190227
NUR AISHA MOHAMMED ROSLI 188877
RACHAEL RANDHAWA A/P KULDIP SINGH 187690
DAYANG ANIZA BINTI ABANG JUNAIDI 188271
WANG YUEYUAN ES02164
NURUL AFREENA BINTI ROSDI 188281
LIU TIAN XIN ES02095
The word literature is derived from the Latin word which generally defined as ‘written works’, especially for the works that contain an artistic merit. However, in current modern world, literature is not restricted to only written texts; literature nowadays can also be voiced. Short stories, poems, plays, sermons, movies and even music falls under the same literary group. The precise meaning is hard to define since it is constantly changing and evolving, aside from differing opinions different authors. Literature is very important to mankind as it can represent the tradition and also culture of the language and its people. Studies of literature focus on the literary work of respective language which take in many forms such poetry, short stories, drama, journalism, and many more. Literary works provide some kind of outline of human civilization; they are more than just a cultural or historical artifact as they can serve as an outline to a new world of experience. Literature can also function as a way for English learners to improve their use and knowledge about the language and also culture. The study of language in literature or stylistics is a subdivision of study of English language and literature holds a role in improving English language capabilities; stylistic studying is a part of language learning. In Malaysia, English is a core syllabus and learning literature is the subsequent discipline. Learning literature requires its discipline to study the book deeply, familiarizing themselves with the essential elements of literature such as setting, theme, plot, and characters. The styles in literature is a way for the author to represent their individual voices. When a student reads a literary work from an author and looks at the piece of another author, they can make out that the two-works composed have individual styles. To have this ability to differentiate the two styles requires the knowledge in English language not only in vocabulary, but also in its branch such as semantics, pragmatics, syntax, and phonology.
There are many ways how the study of language in literature can help improve one’s English. One of the ways is through improving one’s English language skills. This is because when one applies the stylistic knowledge to analyse and critic a certain piece or a literary work, one ought to first master the knowledge of the English language. This in return requires us to search on ways to improve ourselves in the depths of the knowledge of the English language which necessitates one to read more, hence, improving one’s vocabulary both voluntarily and involuntarily and heightens the mental lexicon. Moreover, one needs to be able to have a good comprehend of the language in relationship to grammar and tenses in order to be able to analyse and critic a literary text, therefore it helps such a peson to be competent users of the English language and therefore able to apply any sort of linguistic knowledge in analysing and criticising a piece.
For instance, an example of a piece that shows much deviation in phonological as well as mispronunciation and spelling error in a grammatical sense is the Dickens, Oliver Twis where it writes about the depiction of Gamfield;
‘That’s acause they damped the straw afore they lit it in the chimbley to make ’em come down again,’ said Gamfield; ‘that’s all smoke, and no blaze; vereas smoke ain’t o’ no use at all in making a boy come down, for it only sinds him to sleep, and that’s wot he likes. Boys is wery obstinit, and wery lazy, Gen’l’men, and there’s nothink like a good hot blaze to make ’em come down vith a run. It’s humane too, gen’l’men, acause, even if they’ve stuck in the chimbley, roasting their feet makes ’em struggle to hextricate theirselves.’There is a high probability that one who does not have the knowledge of language in literature may seem to interpret the text above as too many spelling errors or seemingly in an odd structure but however with the knowledge of language in literature, one is able to understand that the persona expresses his/her writing using deviations to foreground important structures in their work. This means the knowledge of grammar and tenses are important elements for us to hold strong to. Thus, the study of language in literature can help improve one’s English language is through improving one’s English language skills.
Secondly, the study of stylistics can improve one’s critical thinking skill. According to Langer (1997), literature have the power to make students gain thoughtful understanding and starts to “rethink”. Since literary works always contain meanings that are above and beyond the contextual meaning, students have to apply higher order thinking skills such as conceptualizing, applying, analysing, synthesizing and evaluating in order to construct logical reasoning. For example, one of the famous taught poems in school by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken has an ambiguous meaning. Even Frost said himself that the poem was “very tricky”. At a glance, the poem seems like a typical poem where the persona has come to a major fork and he must decide which path to take. However, this poem is more complex than it seems. Rich with metaphors, the poem allows the readers to think about the decisions that they make and how they can affect their life, whether they should go with the mainstream or alone. It requires the students to analyse the poem thoroughly by examining the basic subject of the poem, the context of the poem, the form of the poem and raising important questions from the poem. This helps the students to evoke their prior knowledge of life and literature and combine that knowledge with their understandings of the poem (the words and structures, themes and characters, events and conflicts) in order to infer the entire text. Subsequently, the students will be able to form their own opinion, judgement and belief. When reading a literary piece, people will become deeply engaged to the story and the characters as literature “stimulates the imaginations” (Gillespie, 1994). Their attachment to the story and characters will unconsciously push them to explore and inspect the text for analysis purpose, comparison or other critical examination. Hence, they will actively use their high order critical thinking skills to evaluate and understand a subject or content better.
Finally, by learning the study of stylistics or language in literature, they are driven to act as both linguists and literary critics simultaneously. For example, one might be asked to compare the description of a character in a literary text. They might include their opinion and knowledge from English language class or literature class to express the comparison. A very refreshing and meaningful interpretation of the literary text that are seen from various angle of thinking can be made. It all depends on how they see the text. It is definitely different when someone who do not have the knowledge of language and literature and when one who can join the linguistics field and literary field together and use their linguistics opinion and literary analysis to interpret a literary text very well. They might just read a literary text and just could not understand anything and make an interpretation bluntly without the knowledge. Therefore, by making the students practise on how to express their idea and their opinion about the text learnt will make them confident to talk about the literary text by using English.
In conclusion, the study of stylistics or language in literature does improve one’s English language in terms of one’s language skills, critical thinking skills and drive to act as both linguist and literary critic. The study of language in literature revolves around the various ways writers select words as well as sentence structure and how they make use of the choice to be put into their work to portray moods, images and meanings which can be viewed from numerous angles. Due to this, one who reads a literary work would need to increase their level of perception of both their English competency and the literary work itself. In understanding the usage of English that shapes the storyline and the meaning of the literary work, one would remember new difficult words or sentences with a figurative sense better. It is because one is able to make connection of the unfamiliar literary language to what they have learned and analysed. In addition to that, they can use it in their daily lives if it is suitable. Thus, we believe that one who studies stylistics or language in literature does not only experience and enjoy the complexity of the art, but learn to improve their English language in the matter of their language skills, critical thinking skills and drive to act as both linguist and literary critic in the process as well.
Langer, Judith A. “Literacy issues in focus: Literacy acquisition through literature.” Journal of Adolescent ; Adult Literacy 40.8 (1997): 606-614.
Gillespie, Tim. “Why literature matters.” The English Journal83.8 (1994): 16-21.
Khattak M. I. et al. “The Role of Stylistics in Interpreting Literature.” City University Research Journal. Vol. 02, No. 01, January 2012, Article 11.
How the study of stylistics can help improve one’s English Language. Study Mode Research, 2014.