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Linguistic Analysis of Dahl and Blyton

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Linguistic Analysis of Dahl and Blyton Literary Review When looking at the critical and theoretical work that has been written on the subject of children's literature, one finds that there is a surprising dearth in the amount of material written on the importance of linguistics. The challenge was not to select which linguistic theory would best apply, but rather to find any theory that would have significance to the interpretation of children's literature. In order to complete this analysis, therefore, I found it most constructive to work with two texts. The first, Generative Grammars and the Concept of Literary Style by Richard Ohmann, is a text which gives a comprehensive overview of the ways in which linguistics can be used to determine the way style is constructed in a literary text. The second, The Reader in the Book by Aidan Chambers, is a text on literary criticism in children's literature which discusses the importance of style in the critique of a piece of children's literature. It is by examining the arguments of the latter that one is able to effectively apply the theories of the former in order to analyse the linguistic differences between the two children's texts, and determine the implications of such differences. ...read more.


In both cases, these openings could be transformed from a collection of two simple sentences to a longer complex sentence, neither could be simplified further without detracting from the meaning conveyed. Thus, the use of the simple sentence has been a deliberate stylistic choice for both writers. The sentences are short and simple and to the point. They have a rhythm as engaging as verse, and they convey meaning in simple, compact packages. The reason for this is self-evident: the writing was aimed at young children whose attention would be better caught by an undemanding linguistic style. Writing for adults, no doubt the authors would have employed more complex structures. There is, however, a clear difference between the two selections; namely, that Blyton has used more signifiers: the cottage is little, the country is deep, and the story takes place once upon a time. Dahl has not done this; his writing is plain and to the point. In terms of the information conveyed, very little is added by Blyton's signifiers, however, in terms of the style, there is a difference. Blyton is employing a style common to oral story-tellers which is lyrical, but also slightly patronizing. ...read more.


The attitudes the writers take, particularly in relation to his/her readers, has led to them making specific stylistic decisions, manifest in the grammar and syntax of their writing. The second is the analysis of sound, and particularly of rhythm. As shown above, both writers have adopted a style of prose which composes of short, simple sentences which lend a staccato and rhythmic nature to the writing. Thus, the sentence structures they have chosen can be shown to contribute to the sound which makes their style suited to their childish readers. The final approach is the statistical study of grammatical features. By indicating the optional transitions of a sentence or phrase (i.e. the addition or deletion of an adjective, the compounding of clauses, the replacement of proper nouns with pronouns, etc.), generative grammaticism can indicate where certain grammatical features have been favoured over others, thus contributing to the overall style of the piece. Blyton's heavier use of adjectives than Dahl was the example of this above. It seems, then, that an application of Ohmann's theory can put a linguistic approach to stylistics on firmer ground. In applying his theory to children's literature, we saw that certain grammatical decisions led to styles of writing which helped determine their reception by their child audiences. ...read more.

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