STYLISTICS OF SEQUENCES
The subject matter of this branch is the stylistic value of syntagmatic
chains (linear combinations). The stylistics of sequences (or syntagmatic
stylistics) treats of the functions of co-occurrence of identical, different,
or contrastive (opposite) linguistic units. By 'units' are meant discrete
constituents at any level. But then, what exactly should be understood by
'co-occurrence'? What is felt as co-occurring, and what cases of co-
occurrence produce no particular stylistic effect? The answer depends on
what level or plane we are talking about.
Thus, the interaction of utterances (sentences) may be felt over a
considerable distance. The novel An American Tragedy by Theodore
Dreiser begins with the sentence "Dusk — of a summer night." The same
sentence recurs at the end of the second volume of the novel: it is the
opening statement of the epilogue. An attentive reader will inevitably
recall the beginning of the book as soon as he comes to its conclusion.
In opposition to recurring utterances, phonetic units (sounds and
sound combinations) are felt as co-occurring only within more or less short
sequences: alliteration (see below) is noticeable in words adjacent or close
to one another; rhyme is perceived if acoustically similar elements are
separated by a few lines of verse, no more: if the distance is too great, our
memory does not retain the impression of the first element, and the effect
of phonetic similarity does not occur. It must not be lost sight of that the
average reader (listener) pays much more attention to the sense of speech
acts than their phonetic aspect.
As in the first part, here, too, the treatment of stylistic problems is
arranged according to the structural levels (from the phonemic upwards).
Semasiology concludes the discussion.