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Publicistic Style




 

The term "publicistic" serves for many kinds of oratorial activities, that is why this intonational style is often called "oratorial". It is a very broad label because there is a great deal of overlap between academic, publicistic and declamatory style when the basic aim of the speaker is to extend persuasive and emotional influence on the listeners and, of course, volitional and de-siderative information is predominant in the texts. But in publicistic speeches it is achieved not only through argumentation as in the academic style or imagery as in the declamatory style, but through all sorts of direct oratorial performances. These performances are designed to entertain the public thus accomplishing the purpose of imposing the speaker's ideas on listeners.

This is especially noticeable in public political speeches of some politicians whose appeals to the nation are overloaded with all sorts of oratorial tricks and characterized by various contrasts in all prosodic features to produce a complex vocal effect, thus making addresses more effective.

So publicistic style is commonly called by phonostylists volitional and desiderative.Its manifestation can be heard in political, judicial, oratorial speeches, in sermons, parliamentary debates, at congresses, meetings, press conferences and so on. We will admit here, however, that this style will be outlined here very briefly, since would-be teachers of English will not use it actively in their teaching experience and need it only for comprehension.

It has long been believed that oratorial skills need special training. Therefore special schools of public speech makers, of professional training were established throughout the centuries and all over the world. It is evident, of course, that intonation has always been of primary importance there and surely needed accurate training and exaggeration to achieve excessive emotional colouring. The use of prosodic contrasts makes the speaker sometimes go to extremes and become needlessly dramatic.

Another important feature of publicistic style speeches is that they are never spontaneous. It is generally accepted that any professional talk is a "voyage", and it should be charted, but it is strongly advisable not to use notes during the speech performance because they destroy the listener's interest and the ideas, suggestions and illustrations of the speaker will not come drifting to the audience. Thus it should be borne in mind that a publicistic speech is mostly always written but rehearsed and read aloud, cultivating, however, the apparent spontaneity to avoid the impression of complete preparedness.



As was stated above, the purpose 6f oratorial exercises is to stimulate, inspire the listeners, to arouse enthusiasm in them; so the kinesic accompaniment — facial expressions, bodily movements, gestures — is extremely important and assists to achieve the task, to put heart into the talking. On the other hand, the proper response of the audience inspires the speaker and stimulates him for an ever more successful talk.

One would always expect a political and judicial speech to be

given in a forceful and lively manner because the effects of failing to be convincing is likely to be severe for speakers, politicians and judges especially. Consequently they use a great variety of generally accepted for this register grammatical constructions, lexical means and intonation patterns, which identify texts as belonging to this type of speech.

These features are absolutely predictable because they are markers of this style. For example, a very notable and common stylistic feature used here is parallelism — the repetition of syntactical, lexical and prosodic structures.

Basically political speeches, addresses of Governments tend to be very formal, so a great number of "high-flown" phrases, set expressions are common to this type of the style as is seen from an imaginary political speech taken as a model from the Advanced English Course:

The time has almost come, ladies and gentlemen, when the Government must ask you — the electors of Great Britain — to renew its mandate. It is as a member of the Government that / stand before you this evening, and the task I have set myself is to review many things which the Government has achieved since the last General Election and to outline the path which we hope to follow in the future, when, as I am confident will be the case, you return us to office with an even greater parliamentary majority.

No one will deny that what we have been able to do in the past five years is especially striking in view of the crisis which we inherited from the previous Government. With wages and prices spiralling upwards; with a record trade deficit of hundreds of millions of pounds, and with the pound sterling afflicted by the evaporation of international confidence the country was then on the brink of financial disaster and economic collapse...

It should be noted here, however, that in publicistic speeches of other kind — speeches of famous writers, public figures, peace fighters and so on there may be deviations from formality and a contrast is often to be seen between the highly formal and rather ordinary and in some instances even colloquial language, when various illustrations, examples, comparisons, jokes, quotations are produced. So a good speaker is aware of a proper balance between intelligibility, pronounceabiliiy, relative dignity, formality and informality.

Having outlined briefly the spheres of the publicistic style manifestation we would like to concentrate now on the phonos-

tylistic characteristics of a publicistic speech. Recent research in this field allows us to generalize certain prosodic configurations as applied to this register. These results are presented in Table 10 (p. 225).

Now, following the general scheme of a style description, we would like to describe the results of the opposition of a publicistic intonational style text and an academic lecture. We have chosen a lecture for the comparison because there are certain similarities and overlaps between these registers. The results of the opposition show that the differences which exist between these two types of public speaking are more striking than the similarities.

Public oratorial speeches are so removed from everyday informational narratives and so vividly marked on the grammatical, lexical and prosodic levels that are immediately recognized by listeners and labelled as oratorial skills and exercises.

As there is a very strong concern on the part of the speaker about the effects achieved by his speech on the listener, the former uses all kinds of oratorial performances which on the prosodic level are characterized by the incomparable variations and contrasts within the systems of pitch loudness, tempo and timbre accompanied by kinesic components.

These prosodic contrasts, very expressive facial mimics and gestures identify certain oral texts as belonging to publicistic intonational style.

It is undoubtedly clear that volitional .and emotional function of intonation is predominant in this register against the background of other functions.

As any publicistic speech is fully prepared and even rehearsed, it usually goes smoothly and with ease, without hesitation devices. It is marked by its dignified slowness, careful articulation and impressive resonance on the most important communicative centres and properly rhythmically organized. Of course, it is not always uniformly so. Occasionally a speaker may drift from the register and sound less formal or even chatty or needlessly dramatic. On such occasions the speaker tries to entertain the public and the speech is characterized by markers of declamatory, academic, informational or conversational styles. There are speakers who confess to a fierce prejudice against the discourse in a particular style only. They usually vary the registers thus achieving certain influential results. A certain amount of style variations is a must when we perform within publicistic discourse.





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