Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Must-Read

Or perhaps a must-peruse/must-reference. I have not and probably never will read in its entirety the excellent Dictionary of Stylistics by Katie Wales. When I first heard of it, it didn't sound particularly interesting or useful, as stylistics is not one of my principal interests. But despite having perhaps more stylistics-related terms than a general linguistics glossary might, the volume is more a dictionary of linguistics, and a most thorough one at that. It is the result of Wales' "becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the proliferation of terms that has inevitably accompanied the development of stylistics and other disciplines of relevance to textual analysis since the 1960s" (vii). The result was that she sat down and wrote up a dictionary of terms, and is currently working on the third edition.

To give just a small sample, and in honor of the title of the book, let me post the definition/explanation of stylistics that Wales gives (this from the first edition, as I don't yet have the second):

The study of style; yet just as style can be viewed in several ways, so there are several different stylistic approaches. . . . Stylistics in the twentieth century replaces and expands on the earlier study of elocutio in rhetoric.
One can then go on to look up the entries on style and elocutio in rhetoric as well. Don't you just love dictionaries, categorizations, definitions? I live for such books that give me structure, framework, lists. And that puts me in good, or at least heady, company.

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