Monday, February 1, 2016

Literary Genres and Devices

What is literary language like? In what way is the language used for esthetic purposes different from the language used with representative function? Ordinary language and literary language are two ways in which the same system of communication is used. They both use the same code (the same phonological, morphological, syntactical and lexical systems).
For example, Antonio Machado evokes, in a literary manner, the memory of a woman in three lines:
Only your white silhouette
Like a white spark
In my dark night!
We can imagine the same situation described using normal speech: “I suddenly think about you at night.” Or “When I am sad, memories of you make me feel better.”
Therefore, it seems that the particularity of the literary language lies in its form, that is, in the relation established between the content itself, and the way it is expressed. The connotative meaning of the message makes the receiver fix their attention not only in the signified (the content), but mainly in the way it is expressed (the signifier or the expression). Stylistic devices make the message acquire esthetic value.
However, using figures of speech or an esthetic device doesn’t guarantee that the final work will be literary, because figurative speech is characteristic to colloquial or familial speech, too. For example, parents talk to their baby using emotional didactic devices: rhetoric questions (Who’s the cutest baby?), metaphors (my doll), hyperbole (you’re a lion!), etc.
A writer uses an intricate code in which the esthetic function is predominant. He selects and combines sounds, words, phrases (the expression) that match the object (the content), determining the reader to pay attention to both aspects.
The linguistic devices used in the intricate code that we know as the literary language are related to the three levels of the language: phonetic, lexico-semantic and syntactic. These devices play an essential role in the structure of a literary work, but it is extremely important to be familiar with them when it comes to analyzing and understanding a literary text.

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