24. Poetry deals with primal and conventional things - the hunger for bread, the love of woman, the love of children, the desire for immortal life. If men really had new sentiments, poetry could not deal with them. If, let us say, a man felt a bitter craving to eat brass fenders or mahogany tables, poetry could not express him. If a man, instead of falling in love with a woman, fell in love with a fossil or a sea anemone poetry could not express him. Poetry can only express what is original in one sense -the sense in which we speak of original sin. It is original not in the paltry sense of being new, but in the deeper sense of being old; it is original in the sense that it deals with origins. (G. K. Ch.)
25. His dinner arrived, a plenteous platter of food - but no plate. He glanced at his neighbors. Evidently plates were an affectation frowned upon in the Oasis cafe.
Taking up a tarnished knife and fork, he pushed aside the underbrush of onions and came face to face with his steak.
First impressions are important, and Bob Eden knew at once that this was no meek, complacent opponent that confronted him. The steak looked back at him with an air of defiance that was amply justified by what followed. After a few moments of unsuccessful battling, he summoned the sheik. "How about a steel knife?" inquired Bob.
"Only got three and they're all in use," the waiter replied.
Bob Eden resumed the battle, his elbows held close, his muscles swelling. With set teeth and grim face he bore down and cut deep. There was a terrible screech as his knife skidded along the platter, and to his horror he saw the steak rise from its bed of gravy and onions and fly from him. It travelled the grimy counter for a second then dropped on to the knees of the girl and thence to the floor.
Eden turned to meet her blue eyes filled with laughter.
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said. "I thought it was a steak, and it seems to be a lap dog." (D. B.)
CHAPTER III. SYNTACTICAL LEVEL
Main Characteristics of the Sentence. Syntactical SDs. Sentence Length. One-Word Sentences. Sentence Structure. Punctuation. Arrangement of Sentence Members. Rhetorical Question. Types of Repetition. Parallel Constructions. Chiasmus. Inversion. Suspense. Detachment. Completeness of Sentence Structure. Ellipsis. One-Member Sentences. Apokoinu Constructions. Break. Types of Connection. Polysyndeton. Asyndeton. Attachment
Stylistic study of the syntax begins with the study of the length and the structure of a sentence. It appears, the length of any language unit is a very important factor in information exchange, for the human brain can receive and transmit information only if the latter is punctuated by pauses.
Theoretically speaking a sentence can be of any length, as there are no linguistic limitations for its growth, so even monstrous constructions of several hundred words each, technically should be viewed as sentences.
Indeed, psychologically, no reader is prepared to perceive as a syntactical whole those sentences in which the punctuation mark of a full stop comes after the 124th word (Joyce Carol Oates. Expensive People), or 128th word (E. Hemingway. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber), or 256th word (T. Pynchon. The Crying of Lot 49), or 631 st word (N. Mailer. Why Are We in Vietnam ?), or even after 45 whole pages of the text (J. Joyce. Ulysses).
Unable to specify the upper limit of sentence length we definitely know its lower mark to be one word. One-word sentences possess a very strong emphatic impact, for their only word obtains both the word-and the sentence-stress. The word constituting a sentence also obtains its own sentence-intonation which, too, helps to foreground the content. Cf.: "They could keep the Minden Street Shop going until they got the notice to quit; which mightn't be for two years. Or they could wait and see what kind of alternative premises were offered. If the site was good. - If. Or. And, quite inevitably, borrowing money." (J.Br.) As you see, even synsemantic conjunctions, receiving the status of sentences are noticeably promoted in their semantic and expressive value.
Abrupt changes from short sentences to long ones and then back again, create a very strong effect of tension and suspense for they serve to arrange a nervous, uneven, ragged rhythm of the utterance.
There is no direct or immediate correlation between the length and the structure of a sentence: short sentences may be structurally complicated, while the long ones, on the contrary, may have only one subject-predicate pair. Cf.: "Through the windows of the drag-store Eighth street looked extremely animated with families trooping toward the center of the town, flags aslant in children's hands, mother and pa in holiday attire and sweating freely, with patriarchal automobiles of neighbouring farmers full of starched youngsters and draped with bunting." (J.R.) Almost 50 words of this sentence cluster around one subject-predicate centre "Eighth street looked animated".
At the same time very short sentences may boast of two and more clauses, i.e. may be complex, as we observe in the following cases: "He promised he'd come if the cops leave." (J.B.) "Their father who was the poorest man in town kept turning to the same jokes when he was treated to a beer or two." (A. S.) Still, most often, bigger lengths go together with complex structures.
Not only the clarity and understandability of the sentence but also its expressiveness depend on the position of clauses, constituting it. So, if a sentence opens with the main clause, which is followed by dependent units, such a structure is called loose, is less emphatic and is highly characteristic of informal writing and conversation. Periodic sentences, on the contrary, open with subordinate clauses, absolute and participial constructions, the main clause being withheld until the end. Such structures are known for their emphasis and are used mainly in creative prose. Similar structuring of the beginning of the sentence and its end produces balanced sentences known for stressing the logic and reasoning of the content and thus preferred in publicist writing.
A word leaving the dictionary to become a member of the sentence normally loses its polysemy and actualizes only one of its meanings in the context. The same is true about the syntactical valency: a member of the sentence fulfils one syntactical function. There are cases, though, when syntactical ambivalence is preserved by certain members of a sentence which fact creates semantic ambiguity for it allows at least two different readings of the sentence. In the now famous quotation from N. Chomsky "The shooting of the hunters..." the second part may be regarded both as an attribute ("whose shooting" = who was shooting) and as аи object ("whose shooting" = who was shot). Another sentence, composed by Yu. Apresyan to prove the effectiveness of transformational procedures, shows a much bigger syntactical ambivalence, for practically each of its members can be viewed as playing more than one syntactical role, which brings the total number of possible readings of the sentence to 32 semantic variants. Here it is: "Приглашение рабочих бригад вызвало осуждение товарища Иванова".
Sometimes syntactical ambivalence, like the play on words on the lexical level, is intentional and is used to achieve a humorous effect. Cf.: "Do you expect me to sleep with you in the room?" (B.Sh.) Depending on the function of "with you" the sentence may be read "to sleep with you! in the room" (and not in the field, or in the garden) or "to sleep with you in the room" (and not alone, or with my mother). The solution lies with the reader and is explicated in oral communication by the corresponding pausation and intonation. To convey them in the written form of speech order of words and punctuation are used.
The possibilities of intonation are much richer than those of punctuation. Indeed, intonation alone may create, add, change, reverse both the logical and the emotional information of an utterance. Punctuation is much poorer and it is used not alone, but emphasizing and substantiating the lexical and syntactical meanings of sentence-components. Points of exclamation and of interrogation, dots, dashes help to specify the meaning of the written sentence which in oral speech would be conveyed by the intonation. It is not only the emphatic types of punctuation listed above that may serve as an additional source of information, but also more conventional commas, semicolons and full stops. E.g.: "What's your name?" "John Lewis." "Mine's Liza. Watkin." (K.K.) The full stop between the name and the surname shows there was a pause between them and the surname came as a response to the reaction (surprise, amusement, roused interest) of John Lewis at such an informal self-introduction.