Characteristics of Conversational
Literary and Scientific Texts
The present chapter is concerned with the main features that
characterize the conversational, literary and scientific texts. The features
are mainly investigated from stylish point of view since each one of the
three genres has its own style. Among the stylistic features, focus is
mainly put on the grammatical stylistic features taking into consideration
the clause types used in a text with focus on the occurrence of CCs . One
of the objectives of this chapter is to show the similarities and
connections between conversational and literary genres with explanatory
examples and how these genres differ from the scientific one.
4.2 Language of Conversation
Language of Conversation is the most commonly used kind of
English . It is the variety which is more familiar to English – speaking
people than other varieties, it is used every day by all people speaking
English. The sort of English used in situational conversation is the least
artificial type . It is the least marked sort of situationally influenced
English , i.e. it is not restricted to certain or particular situation . It has no
comparable situational specificity . The language of conversation is the
most neutral kind of English . It is the variety which is primarily
distinguished through its phonology , vocabulary and looseness of syntax.
This variety has flexibility in choosing the vocabulary or the kind
of structure used ( Crystal and Davy , 1969 : 95-6 , 105) .
It is hardly possible to find a certain style in conversation because
it depends on situation . Some speech can be like writing ; political
speeches and lectures , which are written to be spoken , take the features
of the written language . On the other hand , we can write as we speak ;
this can happen in personal letters . Spoken idioms , are used by some
writers ( depending on situation ) ; the style they use is not the typical one
used in literary writing , So there is overlap between speech and writing
i.e. between features of formality and informality . Language of
conversation then can be influenced by writing . Socially – effective
speakers certainly have a style that is influenced by writing (Leech et al.,
1982:139 ; Nash , 1986 : 3-4 ; Short , 1996:83) .
In conversation, speakers may switch from one style to another ;
from the formal language to the less formal one according to situation
(Palmer , 1981 : 65) . Anyhow this overlap between written and spoken
language results in producing a shared area that shows a rather formal or
serious conversation .
4.2.1 Structure of Conversation
syntactically, conversation tends towards coordination rather than
subordination for clauses. Coordination simplifies planning of sentence
structure . Tag constructions like you know, isn’t it ? are examples of
loose coordination . The function of you know is to signal the
" monitoring role " of the speaker in relation to the message and , to some
extent , act as a pause filler ( Leech & Short , 1981 :162-3) Loose
sentences show easiness, relaxation and informality . The most common
type of complex sentences are those structures of Loose coordination, the
structures of trailing, sequencing (branching, not embedding). The
language of informal conversation is extremely loose (this is, of course,
the case of casual conversation). Parentheticals are a type of periodic
sentences, the opposite of loose sentences. The intruding material in the
periodic sentences come in the middle (parenthetical) (ibid: 228 -31).
Schuster (1965: 320-2) says that loose sentences typically come at
the end of the sentence and that they are common in conversation and
e.g. The real villain in the play was the doctor , as we found out in
the fourth act ( ibid : 322) . (the loose sentence here is a CC) .
CCs come initially , medially and finally and in all cases , they are
loosely related to the main clauses even when they come medially .
T1CCs are good examples of loose coordination: like you know , I mean
, you see , etc.
They are features of informal conversation and also serious
conversation . CCs then can be used in periodic sentences: (e.g. The
prices, as I have heard , have come down) as well as in loose sentences
(e.g. The prices have come down , as I have heard).
4.2.2 Features of Conversation
Conversation displays certain linguistic characteristics , Crystal
and Davy (1969:102-5) and Leech et al., (1982 : 136-9) list the following
1- Inexplicitness it is due to :
a) The extra information conveyed by body language and the
existence of immediate physical environment .
b) Shared knowledge of the participants .
c) The feedback from the hearer so that the message can be repeated
or clarified . Also the use of pronouns like : it , this , and that
reflects inexplicitness .
2- Lack of clear sentence boundaries : sentences are difficult
to delimit . Conversation is organized in a different way from writing .
3- Simple structure: sentences in conversation are often simple and
short . Speech is less complex than writing because of the short time to
produce and process it .
4- Normal non-fluency : This results from the unprepared nature
of speech and refers to hesitation phenomenon written language is
more fluent . most CCs are signs of normal non- fluency.
5- Monitoring and interaction features : Which appear in
speech because of its use in dialogue . They indicate the speaker’s
awareness of the addressee's presence . They include adverbials like
I mean , You know , which are CCs used as monitoring features .
6- Informality : The situations in which speech is used are less
formal than those in which writing is used .
There may be some overlap between characteristics of typical
speech and writing ; for example formal expressions may be used in
speech when prepared for a lecture and , , while a personal letter ( typical
writing ) may have monitoring features to appear less formal .Informality
is also due to the frequency of silence and hesitation .
Normal non-fluency in informal conversation is characterized by a
higher rate of errors which involve hesitation features of all kind and with
significant distributions . Hesitation is influenced by creative thinking –
the more one thinks of what to say , the more hesitation features appear .
Perfect fluency in conversation produces the wrong effect
psychologically ; one gets labelled a 'smooth talker' , for instance . So,
hesitation phenomenon is significant in conversation and it is acceptable .
Crystal and Davy ( ibid : 130) say that the process of speaking is
accompanied by the process of thinking , one cannot talk and talk without
slowing down for remembering , arranging his thoughts and thinking of
what to say next . The speaker may also pause to cope with the change of
Extempore speech (= spoken without previous thought ) may have
hesitations , repetitions , and false starts . When one speaks , many factors
affect the spoken message and this depends on the linguistic memory
which recalls the substance of a speech by paraphrase , summary or recall
it word by word ( Leech , 1966 : 86 ) . The feature of normal non-fluency
in conversation justifies the use of CCs when speaking ,people often
interrupt their sentences with what are so called "parenthetical
expressions" and interrupters which are not part of the main idea of the
sentence but used by speakers to fill in the pauses while thinking of what
to say next [ CCs are a type of parenthetical expressions ]. People indicate
that these expressions are not part of the idea of the sentence by pausing
and dropping their voices before and after the expression . In writing they
use commas .In conversation , the speaker adopts some tactics and
strategies to cope with the changes of event , to think of what to say next ,
to attract listener’s attention and to explain what he says or comments on
it ( Choy , 1980 : 137) .
In writing the interruption of a sentence to insert a comment may
be a strategy to call attention to an aside which makes writing a little
informal . But interruption must not be used to an extent that leaves the
reader with no clear line of thought . Too much of the interrupted
movement in writing is not preferred ( Irmscher and Stover , 1985 : 119) .
In writing , it is desirable to ‘ tidy up ‘ the text by omitting temporisers
(tomporising phrases ) like : sort of , you know , you see , I mean , …
etc. and all asides that are characteristics of spoken language . One of
their functions is non-communicative but ' playing for time ' under the
pressure of extempore speech . You see , you know , I mean , sort of
are the most informal types of CCs ( Leech ,1966 : 87-8) .
Crystal and Davy (1969:106-113) add other features of
conversation to the previous ones :
Conversation has its phonological distinctiveness.It is characterized
by being fast .
On the grammatical level , it is characterized by the frequent use of
'interpolations' (interjectional clauses) like you see, you know
(which are CCs) , whose function is primarily to indicate that
attention is being maintained .They are grammatically optional and
their distribution is governed by semantic criteria they are
parenthetic compound sentences (loosely-coordinated) which are
common in serious conversation and significant in this variety as a
type of vocabulary .Conversation is characterized by the use of
short and loosely coordinated sentences ( or clauses) .Non-
response minor sentences are used as introductions or after
Conversation then is characterized by disjointness and looseness of
syntax which is due to the frequent use of loosely – Coordinated
sentences and minor ones .
The frequency of different grammatical modes of reference like the
" reported speech " . The reporting clauses are CCs .
Using personal pronouns ( You) against impersonal ones like (one)
which is formal . The use of impersonal pronouns and complex
sentences increases as the level of seriousness of conversation
4.2.3 Types of Conversation ( Styles of
In conversation , we fit language to situation (Leech et al.,
1982:163) . Conversation then varies in tenor according to situation
which is related , to an extent to the subject matter . Conversation ,
typically is informal . This means that there are other types of
conversation or styles of conversation . Palmer (1981 :63-4) says that
style in conversation can be intimate , familiar , plain or polite . Style , as
stated by Joos (Cited in Francis 1965 : 254-55) , can be frozen , formal ,
consultative , casual , and intimate .
1- The consultative style : unmarked , central type which is neither
formal nor informal . It is appropriate to be used with strangers . It
is a style whose major purpose is communication with minimum
social , emotional overtones . It is used in serious conversation .
2- The casual style : it is used in conversations between friends . It
uses the colloquial , slang language since it is not used to convey
serious information . It is characterized by frequent interpolation of
phrases like you know , I mean , which are CCs of informal type.
It is the style used commonly by students in schools and
universities but not in class . It is informal .
3- The intimate style : it is used by people who know each other very
well , people whose relationship is so close . The intimate style
emphasizes the close familiarity of the speakers . The parties of an
intimate conversation are usually a pair : a husband and a wife or
siblings . The intimate style is often spoken , not written but when
written , it is like the formal literary style used in letters . Palmer
(1981 : 64) points out that Joos considers these styles as degrees of
Joos isolates these 5 degrees of style which show gradation from slang
Tuner (1973 : 185-190) talks about the degrees of formality . He says
that the formal situation is the one that requires some ceremony .
A style that mediate between the rigid formal style and the vulgar
informal one is the familiar style that is used in an intimate situation
whose language is marked by :
a) Relaxed pronunciation
b) Less precise grammar than that of formal writing .
c) The use of first and second person pronouns .
Intimacy needs no special language because the deepest private needs
are universal . It accomparies politeness . Intimate means to be close and
familiar. Hazlitt (cited in Love and Payne, 1969: 53) points out that the
familiars style is marked by precision and purity of expression . The
familiar style rejects all unmeaning pomp , low phrases and loose
unconnected sliphshod allusions . It is the best word in common use . It is
the true idiom of language. It is not the coarse , vulgar , homely style
some people may think .
The subject matter also has some relevance to the degree of
formality in language but it is possible to be intimate with an audience yet
respectful to the subject using formal language . Conversely it is possible
to be flippant about a serious subject without coming closer to your
Ullmann (1971 : 141-2) says that the polite style is the formal
style which is the opposite of colloquial style .
Martin Joos ( cited in Francis 1965 : 258-59) says that two styles
which are written and formal are: the formal one of expository discourse
which is used in science and law (it is the conscious mode of language
and the standard language used in books) . The other formal written type
of style is the frozen style of literature .
Among functional varieties not depending on cultural levels
colloquial language ( varieties of speech ) may exist in different degrees
of familiarity or formality like familiar conversation , formal
conversation, familiar public address, colloquial conversation , scientific
and literary writing . (kierzek and Gibson , 1965 : 15-16). CCs have
informal as well as formal expressions (Quirk et al.,1985:1481) . The
informal CCs can be used in casual conversation or may be used in other
types of conversation depending on subject matter.
4.3 Formality in Comment Clauses
Language between the speaker and the addressee being formal or
informal depends on certain factors . One of these factors is the
relationship between the speaker and the addressee : if it is distant and
official the language is formal ; but when it is close and intimate the
language is informal . Formality has related scales which are politeness
and impersonality ; these also depend on the relationship between the
speaker and the addressee : when it is close , the language is personal and
impolite ; when it is distant and official , the language is polite and
impersonal (Leech et al., 1982 : 145 :146) .
This means that when the relationship between the speaker and the
addressee is close , the language is informal , impolite and personal . This
seems unacceptable because , as Yule (1996:68) argues , politeness is not
an abstract quality but it is governed by circumstances and for this
politeness as Turner (1973:189) suggests , can be separated from
formality within language since it is possible to have language which is
both polite and informal as in " I say , Jim , You wouldn’t have such a
thing as a spanner handy , would you ?" [I say , would you? are CCs ]
and conversely one can use very formal language to be cheeky . Yet there
is a relation between politeness and formality : polite language makes use
of language marked by a high degree of formality . It is not certain how
politeness should be fitted into the theory of linguistic variety . Politeness
is not an extra dimension of formality , but a function of language and its
polite intention (ibid) . Politeness , then does not always accompany
formality , it may accompany informality as in case of informal CCs like
You know , I mean which are used politely as downtoners .
CCs include formal and informal expressions. Some CCs are used
in formal serious conversational situations ; others are used in informal
But those used in formal conversation can be found in informal
conversation and vice versa because there is overlap and shared area
between the two versions . This is due to the idea of gradience and it
depends on situation .
Yule (1996 : 108) mentions that in refusing an invitation politely ,
we use expressions like you know , you see (which are informal CCs ) to
call for understanding in rather formal situation because if the participants
are close friends , there is no need to use such expressions . These CCs
are used in an informal situation as hesitation markers . So they are used
in both formal and informal situations . In the formal situation , they call
for understanding to show politeness which is a scale relating to
Leech and Svartvik (1994:150n) say that expressions like : it is
certain , it is likely are used in impersonal style (Impersonality is a scale
relating to formality ) and their alternatives for personal ones are : I’m
certain and I doubt which are informal expressions . All these
expressions are CCs .
Nash (1986: 118) says that I think is a formal expression of book-
style while Mathesius (1975:144) says that I think is used in colloquial
speech . Both are right because the matter depends on situation and
subject matter .
As is clear , CCs have a direct relation with formality through their
formal expressions and indirect one through hedges and downtoners
which accompany politeness .
4.3.1 Comment Clauses : Polite but not
Yule (1996 : 81-2) says that hesitation and prefaces are also found
as patterns associated with the "dispreferred second" in English ( they are
a series of optional elements) . Those which are comment clauses are the
ones that :
a: express doubt : I’m not sure , I don’t know .
b: express apology : I’m sorry .
c: appeal for understanding : you know , you see .
d: used as mitigators : sort of , kind of (kinda) .
e: hedge the negative : I guess not , not possible .
"Dispreferred - second patterns" are the expressions of refusal in a
situation of invitation , for instance . These patterns depend on the
closeness between participants ; the more closer they are , the less these
patterns appears .
As it seems , the expressions used in refusing an invitation an offer
or even those used to show disagreement to an opinion must be tactful
and softening , i.e. must show politeness .
These tactful expressions are used to show politeness in rather
formal conversational situations ; or even in informal ones . It seems
impolite to deny or contradict in a direct way what someone else says . It
is better to soften the denial . Some CCs do this job (Leech and Svartvik ,
e.g. English is a difficult language to learn .
- I’m afraid , I disagree with you : French is more difficult, I think.
e.g. The book is tremendously well written .
- yes , but there are some rather boring patches , don’t you think ?
On the grammatical level , Leech et al., (1982 : 147) say that
formality is represented by sentence complexity . This means that the
formal language is marked by complex sentences of subordinate clauses
while informal language is marked by simple and short sentences of
unlinked coordination or loose coordination which represent disjointneass
and looseness of syntax . This is the case with T1CCs .
Leech & Short (1981 : 313-314) say that politeness , generally ,
goes with formality ; with formal rather than colloquial vocabulary and
with syntax that tends towards rhetorical formalism . Politeness correlates
with formality though the two are , in principle , distinct . Both convey a
sense of distance : the formal style is associated with the distance of
serious public communication ; and the scale of politeness runs from
titles of respect like Sir , madam , etc .To be polite one should be indirect
. Other indicators (markers) of politeness are parentheticals and hedges ,
in this they agree with Yule (1996-109) . Such politeness is called
informal politeness (Crystal and Davy 1969:107) .
Yule (1996:59) says that the concept of politeness reflects the idea
of polite social behaviour or ‘etiquette’ within a culture . To be polite
means to be tactful , generous , modest and sympathetic towards others .
In an interaction , politeness is accomplished in situations of social
distance or closeness . When the participants are distant , their language is
polite but when they are close , their language is friendly and familiar .So
politeness is associated with the relative social distance or closeness .
Yule(ibid :106-9)adds that politeness facilitates interaction . Indirectness
is a form of politeness . Passive verb forms and impersonal forms , like
‘one’, minimize speaker’s personal involvement to show politeness which
accompanies impersonality and distancing . Hedges ( hints ) phenomena
in language are aspects of politeness , and pragmatics deals with the
linguistic politeness .
4.3.2 Comment Clauses as Markers of
Book - Style
Nash (1986 : 90-4) says that writing is seldom a matter of objective
facts without reference to personal attitudes and relationships . This
means that we can find signs of personality and attitude in formal writing
. Many writings represent a skilful or haphazard blending of speech style
(of informalities of conversation) and book style (of formal literature) .
Books style is a mixture of features of formal writing and features of
informal daily talk . Speech – style is characterized by using personal
pronouns like : I , we , you as in we know . It is also characterized by
general preference for non-modal assertions . Book-style is characterized
by avoidance of personal pronouns , using passive and post positive
forms like : There is not doubt , it is said , as is known and these are
CCs of formal type . Book style is also characterized by using modals as
you may have heard ( a formal CCs ) . It is also characterized by
reliance on a fine – graded vocabulary like think, feel, suppose, consider
, suspect .
Informal / familiar language brings the writer closer to the reader
while formal/conventional language sets him at distance in polite and
social conversation . Distancing , then reflects politeness . It is
represented by using passive and modals (ibid) .
Swan (1998 : 158) states that distacting is a strategy used to make a
speaker’s statements seem less direct , more ‘ distant’ and therefore more
polite . Expressions that show distancing are, so to speak , sort of , kind
of , the use of “ one” instead of I and the use of modals in general .
Yule (1996 : 106) agrees with Nash (1986:93) that distancing
reflects politeness and impersonality and it is represented by using
passives and modals and the avoidance of personal pronouns . Distancing
is used in formal style .
CCs , can be used as hedges mitigators (downtoners) and indicators
of indirectness (see 3.3) and all these devices show politeness .
CCs are characteristic of spoken language, used in conversation
Quirk et al ., (1985 : 1113) .
People , in general , think that all types of conversational language
are informal but this is not true . It is the conversational situation which is
characterized by either formal of informal , not conversational language .
Conversation may be formal ( serious) or informal ( familiar) and this
depends on the situation . It is wrong to say that all types of conversation
are informal .
CCs are characteristic of conversational language ( formal and
informal ) . Sometimes , there is an overlap : Quirk and Greenbaum
(1973a :378) say that T1CCs by first and second person subject like: I
think , I believe , you know , you see , give informality and warmth ; but
this is not always the case .
Leech and Svartvik (1994:139) use I think in a formal situation to
disagree to an opinion politely . Yule (1996 : 108) also uses you know ,
you see in formal situations to call for understanding when refusing an
To conclude, formality and its scales accompany nearly all CCs
depending on the situation and how CCs function because some CCs are
formal , others are informal ; some are active others are passive ; some
are personal others are impersonal (subjective , objective ) , some are
polite and distant , others are familiar and intimate . It is clear that CCs
are more polite than being formal stiff expressions . Formality and its.
scales : Politeness , impersonality , distancing and hedges , work together
Each has a strong relationship with the others . The use of one may
involve the use of the others .
The following CCs show formality and its scales :
a- The use of indirectness , i.e. the use of passive voice rather than the
active voice to show objectivity . e.g as is said , I am told .
b- The use of second-person (plural) and third person pronouns rather
than the first-person pronouns . The use of 'one' (e.g. one knows)
shows impersonality .
c- The use of modal assertions which show distacing and politeness.
e.g. as you may have heard .
d- The use of postpositive forms e.g. it is said .
e- The use of so to speak , kind of , sort of which shows distancing .
f- The use of complex sentence . e.g. as you may have heard ,
prices have come down .
The above usages are characteristics of book – style which is a
mixture of formal and informal features . They are the explicit forms that
show formality and impersonality . Politeness is expressed implicitly
4.4 Language of Literature
Traditionally, language of literature was considered the superior form
of language and literary texts were superior to spoken ones although this
variety occupies only a small area of the total map of language . The
language of literature is not the normal one of everyday usage . Literature
is the art that uses language not for communication only . It is not the
language used in conversation ; it is more complex and used with care .
There is no universal way to present speech in literature ; but the most
common mode is the direct speech which is set out by quotation marks
(Chapman , 1973 : 7,13-14) .
The word " literary " simply means belonging to writing since the
written material is written with care because when something is written
down , it is often a permanent record which everyone can see , check and
examine . So the writer is careful to be grammatically correct and to make
sentences effective and striking . Literary English is more careful than
colloquial English (Tregidgo , 1962 : XV) .
Literary language is a specialization of everyday discourse .
Literature has no tendency towards a clearly technical diction . It makes
common forms of language function more effectively than they do in
ordinary life (Lee , 1966 : 38) .
Writers of literature often create special effects by writing in ways
which borrow characteristics associated with speech . The following
example (cited in Short , 1996 : 91) is from the beginning of a novel
where the narrator is apparently involving himself in a conversation with
the reader :
" You must go back with me to the autumn of 1897 . My father ,
as you know , was sort of gentleman farmer "
(Ann Bronte, ' The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' , Ch.1 ).
The direct address to the reader and the monitoring phrase as you
know (which is a CC ) suggests a conversation between intimates and
helps the reader to feel close to the narrator . The most obvious examples
of written language ( the literary one) which try to imitate the spoken
language are when novels and plays present talk between their characters.
But novelistic and dramatistic conversations are not exactly like real
speech because when speech is written it becomes bound to some of the
'orderliness' of written language ( ibid) .
As is clear , CCs like as you know , which is a monitoring phrase in
conversation , can be used in literary works , as in the novel above , this
is due to connections between literary and conversational varieties .
4.4.1 General Features of Literary
It is difficult to find specific , ultimate criteria that characterize literary
style in language . It is a central problem to distinguish between linguistic
regularity , (which in itself is of no interest to literary studies) and other
types of regularities ( Halliday , 1981 : 324). The following are the most
general features of literary language considering whether CCs are related
to such features :
1- Consciousness of Syntax : syntax, an area of difference
between literature and conversation, is more conscious in literature
being a written language . Writer's style is expressed by the choice
of words and grammatical clauses and structures he prefers . An
important feature of literary style is that the writer masters the
language below the surface level and claims the right of
performance beyond the natural competence . This needs careful
planning because the role of language of literature is not mainly to
be informative but to have a special kind of attitude towards
language in general (Chapman , 1973:33-4) This means that the
writer may use the language of conversation in his writings but
with more consciousness . He may use it but with a different
framework (by using imagination and other literary devices ) in
order not to appear just informative . CCs when used in literary
works are used consciously and on purpose .
2- Emotional Outlet : literary language , especially that of
poetry is marked by the use of intimacy ; the poet often deals with
feelings of intimacy (friendliness) but we often do not know the
poet because the (I) and (you) in the poem do not refer to the poet
and the reader respectively . Intimacy does not make poetic
language to be like the casual , homely style though the (I) in the
poem may speak with intimacy to the (you) (Turner , 1973 : 191)
CCs , on the other hand express feelings and emotions of the
speaker towards his speech and towards the hearer. Feelings of
happiness , sadness as in I'm happy to say , I'm afraid and of
frankness and honesty as in to be frank (honest) with you can be
expressed explicitly by CCs . The following lines are taken from a
poem . They have a CC :
I almost love you .
But would have cast , I know
The stones of silence
I am the artful Voyeur
(Seamus Heaney," Punishment" , cited in
Furniss and Bath , 1996 : 253)
3- Conversational Feature : Literary works , like novels and
plays , typically have talks (conversations) between characters .
Drama is the most literary genre which is based on character – to –
character conversation (Short , 1996 : 168) . But the dramatic
dialogue is not like casual conversation . Conversation in drama is
designed to be overheard . Casual conversation has the normal
non-fluency features which are not found in drama because a
dialogue in drama is written and in writing , normal non-fluency
features are omitted , even when the work is written to be spoken .
But when normal non-fluency features are found in drama , they
have meaningful functions (ibid :174) .
CCs , being normal non-fluency features, when used in literary
works , certainly have meaningful and pragmatic functions . An example
from a play having a CC :
Kig : All hail , sweet madam and fair time of day .
Princess : "Fair " in "all hail " is foul , as I conceive
(Love's Labour's Lost , Act V , Scene 2
cited in Chatman , 1971 : 144)
Features of normal non-fluency of ordinary conversation are less
used in fictional speech and when used , they give an impression of the
character's reactions to an embarrassing situation . Features of normal
non- fluency may indicate something about speaker's character or state of
mind ; frequency of hesitation may be a sign of nervousness and
tentativeness. They have a communicative purpose . Anyhow the ideal
conversation , not the causal one , has many parallels in fiction (Leech
and Short , 1981 :161-166) . This means that CCs can be used in fiction
on purpose to give impression about the character's personality and
character's emotions and attitudes .An example of fictional literary work
shows the use of CCs :
Piffs : are you virgo intacta ?
Lamb : I beg your pardon ?
Piffs : are you virgo intacta \?
Lamb : Oh , I say , that's rather embarrassing , I mean
(Harold Pinter ' Applicant ' Cited in short , 1996:235) .
4- Loose Structure: Not surprisingly , the loose structure,
which is a characteristic of conversation is a characteristic of literary
style which aims at natural simplicity and directness rather than
rhetorical effect . Generally , the natural style used in writing English
prose is one that combines between anticipatory (periodic) and trailing
(loose) elements to achieve a balance between art and nature (Leech and
Short , 1981 : 228-230) . Some CCs are loose , others are periodic ;
some CCs are both loose and periodic only by changing their places .
The periodic are often used medially while loose ones are often used
finally in position . Anyway CCs are markers of looseness and
5- Contextually Bound : Literature , like conversation , is
debatable whether it should be called a domain because of the wide
variety of language which is possible in literature (or conversation).
There are more choices of language in conversation and literature than
in other domains . Language and situation are mutually determining ; the
language can define the domain : for example an argument as in
conversation or a poem as in literature (Leech et al., 1982 :151) . Most
CCs are bound to context of situation . You know for example has
more than one complex function depending on situation .
4.4.2 Connections between Conversational
Language and Literary Language
Chapaman ( 1973:33-9 , 74 , 88) states that inspite of all physical
differences ( like consciousness of grammar) between speech in ordinary
conversation and literary writing , there are specific connections between
the two and shared characteristics that characterize both conversational
and literary texts . A good example to prove this is the broadcasting
which produces formalized speech to be read loudly as the literary
reading of a poem. Conversely , familiar letters incorporate spoken
features of colloquial register . Nevertheless , literary texts , in general ,
demand more skill and more planning . For this , literary text were
traditionally considered as the superior form of language . Yet drama is a
literary text but designed to be spoken by different voices before auditors.
So , there are connections between literary and conversational language.
The following are some of these connections which support the use of
CCs in literary texts :
1- Like in speech , the literary language the poet uses for instance is
also used for communication purpose. The poet aims to
communicate his thoughts through speech or writing and in both
cases he must use the items available in his speech community . He
selects the items that are understood by other people . The following
poem uses CCs :
I condemn none
But can't find any in the present age
Fit for my poem ( that is for my new one ) ;
So , as I said , I'll take my friend Don Juan
(Cited in Furniss and Bath , 1996 : 202) .
2- Literary features , especially of poetry , like conversational features
they are phonological and not graphological . A poem , for example
is understood better when it is heard , not when it is read . Stress ,
which is a function of speech cannot be neglected when reading
poetry . It is necessary to feel the rhythm . CCs , being characteristic
of spoken language for they have their own intonation , are clearer
in speech especially in reading poetry than in writing :
Few months of life has he in store ,
As he to you will tell.
For still the more he works , the more
Do his weak ankles swell .
(WordsWorth , ' Simon Lee ' Cited in Chapman , 1973 :
3- In both conversational and literary languages we can find a
juxtaposition of usually separated linguistic features. Both have
flexibility and freedom in choosing vocabulary .It is easy to move
from style to style in both . In conversation speakers may travel from
formal to informal according to situation . This also can be seen in
literary works . An example from a play having a CC:
Sweet Mistress , where as I love you nothing at all ,
Regarding your substance and richesse chief of all,
For your personage , beauty , demeanour and wit ,
I commend me unto you never a whit .
Sorry to hear report of your good welfare ,
For ( as I hear say ) such your conditions are ,
( Nicholas Udall , " Ralph Roister Doister " Act 3, scene four , cited in
Knowles (1987: 177-8) )
4- There is a frequent need to express speech by a literary character ,
Novels and plays contain dialogues which may have some words
with difficult pronunciation . Such words might be read with
difficulty unless when they are written in phonetic transcription , but
this might not be preferred by the majority of readers . However ,
there are good examples of dialogues which show how graphological
and phonological systems work together brilliantly ; Dickens (Cited
in Chapman , 1973 : 40) does his best with Sarah Gamp's special
brand of cockney :
" We never know wot's written in each other's hearts ,
and if we had glass winders there , we'd need to keep
the shetters up , some on us , I do assure you !
(Martin Chuzzlewit ,Ch.29)
I do assure you is a CC.
Once again , the language of literature is not far from the
conversations of daily speech . We can find figurative expressions alive
in daily usage and as Bloomfield says : " the poetic metaphor is an
outgrowth of the uses of ordinary languages" . Since language of
literature constitutes a style of language, any grammar must be able to
suit the usages of literary writers .Conversely, the writers must be open to
the judgment of the grammar.
5- Another feature of speech, which is found in the language of literature,
especially that of poetry, is silence which is apparently negative but
actually very important. Silence in speech may be brief pauses or
longer ones. The latter units do not always correspond to the syntactic
structure of a sentence in traditional grammar. These pauses of
different durations of which participants of a conversation are not
aware, change and affect meaning . CCs are often preceded and
followed by pauses.
Spencer and Gregory (1970:75)say that literary language used
especially in drama and much verse is written with spoken words in mind
and particular linguistic features cannot be fully accounted for without
Anyhow, Francis(1965:25-57)points out that mixing of styles can be
used within formal literary style.
An example(of mixing of styles)which shows the connection between
language of literature(of poetry, for instance) and language of
conversation is the following example:
I'll soon be 'ome. you mustn't fret.
My feet's improvin',as I told you of
We're out in rest now. Never fear.
(VRACH By crumbs, but that was near)
(Wilfred Owen, `The letter' cited in Chapman , 1973:37)
6- Another connection between conversational and literary language
is that both of them represent what people really do with linguistic
knowledge they have about the language they use. In other words
both represent(parole):in non-literature parole is speech and in
literature , parole is the literary text. Thus speech is parallel to
literary texts (Fowler,1971: 68-70).
Both conversation and literature are closely related to situation,
both are contextually bound . Literature , like conversation , is not
confined to any aspect of human experience , nor does it exclude any
(within a given langue , any parole could be incorporated into the
literature using that langue ). Literature contains a great deal of "common
core " which would cause no surprise in any situation
No register can be excluded from the total concern of literature
(ibid:49).Language of literatures is not far from the conventions of daily
speech and it is amenable to same methods of investigation . On the other
hand, figurative expressions are alive in daily usage because, as
Bloomfield says, poetic metaphor is an outgrowth of ordinary language .
Language of literature, as the one of conversation, is closely related to
Parole, for this poets and authors have some freedom in applying
grammars of language ( ibid : 74-5 ) .
4.4.3 Field -Tenor- Mode: three-
Spencer and Gregory (1970:73)set out the theoretical foundations
of a method for studying literary style. They urge a lexical ,grammatical
and contextual meaning and pay attention to phonic and graphic
substance in literary texts. The literary text here is placed according to
categories of field of discourse ,mode of discourse and tenor of discourse.
They argue that the literary language, like the ordinary language, is
mutually contextual. They(ibid:77)say that grammar(morphology and
syntax) dominates the description of form which promises for the
analysis of style. Grammar deals with those places where there is a choice
between passive or active, positive or negative and so on. Even in spoken
language, the choice of a certain intonation pattern rather than another
makes an utterance different in meaning than being accompanied by
another intonation pattern. Intonation changes meaning ,so it is a matter
of choice .Intonation is an aspect of form. They(idid:82) say the text's
style may be intuitively determined and judged ; but the grammatical
description does not only support the intuitive judgement but fixes the
stylistic features of the text. So judgment of style is primary and its
analysis is secondary. They(ibid:84-5) talk in detail about the three
dimensions that place a style(a literary style) saying that the literary text
may include all possible fields of discourse. Concerning the mode, the
literary text, especially in case of drama and even novels which contain
bits of dialogues, of course, is written to be presented orally and on hope
to be read as if it is spoken or overheard. Even the poet is conscious of
certain features of spoken language.
This supports the view that there is a strong relationship between
literary texts and conversational texts. To be precise, most literary texts,
of all types :poetic, dramatic and fictional may, contain conversational
bits, but not with the exact features of spontaneous spoken language.
The tenor of discourse is concerned with the degree of formality . The
term "style" itself may stand for tenor by some writers. This degree of
formality depends on the situation and the speaker/hearer or writer/reader
relationship. Tenor is determined by certain features in the language used
by the writer or speaker .In novels first-person narrative inclines the
language to be further informal than does the third-person narrative. In
plays and novels, tenor in dialogues reflects the relationship-tied between
characters since tenor is bound to situation .
The three dimensions are inter-related. The subject matter
determines the mode to an extent. And the mode is accompanied by tenor
and vice versa(ibid:86).
4.5 Language of Science
Science is a series of theories and hypotheses . It is a supermyth . It
is the facts about nature and natural phenomena stated by scientists.
Science and technology have the effects on the use of language . Since
science is the facts about the universe, it is objective and fixed . For this ,
the language of science is rigorous and has no ambiguity ; it operates in a
fixed manner and it has nothing to do with opinions or attitudes of human
individuality . The scientists not involved in what he says . He is serious
and his attitude here is timid , law – abiding and uncreative . The choices
he makes are of a particular register . The language of science is un-
exciting but safe , conforming , solemn and respectable . The writer
(scientist) here is the negative user of language ( Darbyshire , 1971 : 127-
Turner (1973:181-4) says that scientific language is timeless and its
meaning is minimal rather than referential . Scientific language is
technical since it has its own vocabulary . Technical language is the
language of specialists who are addressing other specialist ; it is a
language which has become a part of a general language . It is the
language of simple sentence structure but complex word formation . Most
of its words are of Latin origin .
Since science is ' invariant to all observers, ' it is impersonal , the
pronouns are not used . Scientific language is a style using passive
constructions and impersonality . It is a language with a third – person
style . Impersonality of modern science rests not only on the frequent use
of passives but also on the frequent use of abstract nouns formed from
adjectives and verbs because the use of nouns omits the subjects . The
passive voice is favoured for impersonality and it proved to have a more
important use . The active is not preferred because the cases of scientific
phenomena observed are unknown , so it is an embarrassment to find a
subject for an active sentence (ibid ) .
In the language of science, scientists encourage the use of simple
sentence structure but complex word formation. Science cultivates an
insulation of its vocabulary from the associations of common use . Its
vocabulary items are not those of common use . Each science has its own
vocabulary (ibid: 184) . Anyhow , simple , homely , everyday words are a
part of the vocabulary of formal English (Kierzek and Gibson , 1965:24).
Waddell (1969 : 66-78) says that the language of science is several
sizes larger than everyday speech , it is dressier , more dignified and of
formal style which any society requires for official academic and
ceremonial purposes .
The language of science and technology is dry , technical and
impersonal . It is designed to report and explain dispassionately the
composition and behaviour of matter under various conditions . It is
scarcely suitable for any other purpose involving human feelings and
activities . It is the language of nature , of natural (pure) sciences whose
common element is the rigid impersonality , like the language of law and
government . Impersonal style in writing makes all men equal on paper .
It is a kind of a lowest common denominator of style . It reveals no
personality and gives nobody away it is utterly safe . The language of
science is known for its complex words that seem official and important
The language of science is characterized by precision exactness
and impersonal objectivity . Its grammar is marked by the use of nouns .
Adverbials (including CCs ) are very rare . The passive is common in the
language of science . It is , as Palmer (1981:159) says , a characteristic of
reports where the reporter avoids reference to himself deliberately .This
language cannot deal vividly with feelings , temper , opinion , or
personality; style here is not the man (ibid) .
Klaus ( 1969:52-60) assures that the language of science describes
the deliberate use of language . Its style is conscious processes to achieve
specific purpose and calculated effects of separate identity independent
from the writer or his purposes .
Prose style of scientific discourse prefers plainness and precision
rather than ornatness and eloquence . Scientific style is rigorous , constant
, pure and short ( when men deliver so many things with equal number of
words )(ibid) .
The scientific prose is a way of speaking with naked , natural , of
positive expressions and clear senses . It has no metaphors ; emphasis is
put on the idea , not on feeling and imagination as in literature. Scientific
style is illustrative and explanatory , not imaginative . It disdains the
ambiguity of metaphor and prefers precise and unambiguous definition .
It is marked by the use of third person pronouns .(ibid)
Lee (1966 : 38) says that scientific language is a specialization of
every day discourse . Science tends to specialize linguistically by
excluding certain everyday forms and functions and inventing its own
The formal language used in pure science differs from the formal
language used in literature ; the first is cold , impersonal (objective) and
characterized by distant relation with the reader since it is the most
formal variety while the language of literature has warmth , strength and
beauty ; it is the finest formal language , because it is personal in nature
( Kierzek and Gibson , 1965: 14-5 , 17) .
Short (1996 : 85-6) points out that the language of science has its
specialist lexis and that the language of science is inaccessible to the
ordinary reader , i.e. the ordinary reader is unable to know the real
meaning of scientific vocabulary . Scientific style variation is not
restricted to lexical level of language but also there is a tendency in the
language of science to use passive sentence constructions . the personal
aspect of the action is avoided . The description is objective , not
The language of science is called a jargon by some writers . Eyre
(1979 : 121-122) suggests that sciences develop a special vocabulary of
their own which partitioners use and understand and which
incomprehensible are incomprehensible to others who are outside this
particular circle . This is a jargon where lexis (words , and phrases ) are
But , the language of science requires clarity which is the most
important thing since the language of science is basically written. "High –
style" is not needed here but clear writing is needed. To be clear is to be
simple and to avoid ambiguity so simplicity accompanies clarity.
Simplicity is not that simple; it is an art. It is a powerful device – simple
words and simple style is preferred in scientific language. It must be
suitable for everybody laymen or educated and science students because
science concerns everybody (Gilman,1961: 12 – 13, 38 -45).
CCs are not suitable to be used in scientific texts because, being
hedges, they cause ambiguity.
Thornborrow and Wareing (1998: 92) point out most formal English
words are derived from Latin and Greek (this is the case with scientific
terms). Word length is also closely connected to how formal a word is.
Formal register is suitable for pure sciences and legal documents.
4.5.1 Features of Scientific Language
A scientific variety is often characterized by :
1- Objectivity: language of facts and rules .
2- Technicality : language of technical vocabulary most of Latin origin.
3- Impersonality : language of passive sentences , no personal
pronouns used .
4- Clarity and Simplicity : simple sentence structure but complex
word formation .
5- It has no place for feelings (not expressive). It reports and
explains facts dispassionately .
6- To sum up the above features : it is of stiff formality .
CCs cannot be found in pure science texts for several reasons :
1- CCs reflect speaker's attitude and since so they are personal and
subjective , a characteristic which is not found in scientific texts at
all , for being objective and impersonal ( Eyre , 1979 : 116) . CCs
are communicative devices and communication is effective , as
Tregidgo (1962) : 111-114) says, when personal style is used.
Expressing attitudes involves personality and subjectivity.
2- CCs can be found in varieties of social relations which are non-
technical . CCs cannot be found in scientific language because it is
a technical language while CCs have communicative function
(Halliday et al., 1964 : 91) .
3- CCs reflect speaker's attitude and this attitude, as Eyre (1979 : 10)
says , colours the emotion . This means that CCs carry emotions
which have nothing to do with scientific language .
4- The third person is frequent in pure science texts and this gives text
stiffness and makes it look dreary, cold and distant this third
person is rare in CCs whose subject is mainly the speakers (I) or
the hearer (you ) ( ibid : 114) .
5- CCs are used in complex sentences (subordinate and coordinate
clauses ) which are rare in scientific language which requires
clarity accompanied by simplicity . Scientific language prefers
simple sentences which show clarity.
It is possible to find connections between the language of literature
and the language of conversation for many aspects . But it is hard to find
such connections between the language of conversation and the language
of pure (natural) sciences because , from the researcher's point of view ,
the language of conversation , being the variety of everyday life , has its
own style , its vocabulary which convey and affect our feelings , attitudes
and opinions . This is the case with writers , authors and poets whose
writings and literary products are affected by conversational language to a
certain degree because language of literature , unlike language of science,
has some flexibility .
The language of science, being the language of facts and rules , has
nothing to do with feelings , attitudes and opinions . It is stiff, rigid and
has its own objective rules. For this, the language of pure sciences does
not have a connection with the language of conversation or permit
conversational expressions like CCs to be inserted with in its vocabulary.
CCs are characteristic of conversational language with the possibility of
finding them in literary language but not in scientific language of natural
sciences like chemistry, physics, geology, etc.