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Modern English Drama Characteristics | English Summary
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Open to the public NR; S Library Headquarters. Open to the public Boer War Contingent Memorial Library. May not be open to the public Lending restrictions apply. Book English The University of Melbourne. The metalingual function also dominates in word- or language plays like puns as these are making use of the witty and satirical possibilities of language This function only applies to the relationship between the internal communication system of the dramatis personae and the external communication system of the audience The fact that the characters in a shakespearean drama are talking blank verse is not appreciated as poetry by their dialogue partners but only by the audience.
In those cases, however, where the poetical function of an utterance is explicitly or implicitly emphasized in the internal communication system the utterance in question is assigned a metalingual function as well As has been pointed out before 33 , a dramatic figure is portrayed by what it says and how it says it. Accordingly, the correspondence of the language a character uses and his or her position in society has been considered important from the antiquity to the 18th century.
When we look at how a figure is characterized by means of its utterances, we have to consider whether this verbal self-presentation is implicit or explicit, or, in other words, whether a figure voluntarily or involuntarily characterises itself A character can explicitly and consciously outline a picture of itself.
However, information conveyed in this way is not objective and should be evaluated as a rather subjectively coloured self-presentation. On the other hand, a figure can reveal its true character involuntarily and unconsciously, for example through the style of language it uses - does the character speak standard English or some dialect or other subcode and thus show itself as the member of a particular social level?
Does he ignore what the others say or does he interrupt the others? Does the character frequently turn to monological speech? All of these points would indicate a certain degree of egocentricity on the part of the figure in question. The audience has to be able to follow the course of the drama and is not normally inclined to do so for more than three hours. That is why conciseness, clarity and coherence are the principles that shape the conception of a drama and the structuring of speech As a result a character's utterances are mostly restricted to the really essential things.
This economy of speech based on the selection of representative aspects undertaken by the playwright is an outstanding characteristic of dramatic language The relationship between what a character says and the action is thus a strictly functional one - "[A character in a play] is limited in his or her utterances to what bears on the play as a whole, keeps it moving" In other words, apart from the mere informative function a character's utterances often simultaneously represent actions and imply stage directions They are able to cause changes in the dramatic situation 40 - dramatic dialogue can thus be defined as spoken action This idea of language as action is called speech act theory.
However, speech does not necessarily have to be related to the action. The banter of servants and clowns in Shakespeare's plays or Beckett's dialogues for instance are examples of conversation for conversation's sake that do not bring about any changes in the dramatic situation Referred to as "Pfister" in the following.
Platz-Waury Dramatic language deviates from everyday language. Language in drama is represented as direct speech. The expressive function.
Contemporary British Drama, 1970-1990: Essays from Modern Drama
F J Florian Janner Author. Add to cart. Contents I. Introduction II. Language in drama Is represented as direct speech III. The poetic function IV. Characterisation by means of language V. Dramatic language and action Bibliography I. Introduction Language has a key position in drama as it is, like in real life, the most important means of communication on stage. The artistic character of dramatic language The artificial or artistic character of dramatic language becomes obvious in its deviations from everyday language as well as from the language used in other literary forms.
Dramatic language deviates from everyday language Language in drama is represented as spoken language or, in other words, as speech. Dramatic language differs from language in other literary genres There are several features that dramatic language shares with the language used in other literary genres.
Language in drama Is represented as spoken language It is only in exceptional cases that language appears on the stage in writing, for example when banners or signboards are used Language in drama is represented as direct speech "All literature is made up of words," but the things that are said in plays, which "are made up of spoken words" 12 , are conveyed directly without being mediated or filtered by means of a narrator - unlike in the communication system of the novel The functions of dramatic language Dramatic utterances are polyfunctional: they can have several functions at the same time, both in the internal and the external communication system.
The referential function The spoken word in drama functions as a means of representing objects like humans, things or events that are talked about The expressive function Characters are brought to life by their choice of words and style. The appellative function The more a speaker tries to influence his or her dialogue partner, the stronger the appellative or conative function of dramatic language will be The phatic function The phatic function of language is associated with the channel between speaker and listener and is designed to create and maintain the contact between both.