I really am in need of someone helping me in a topic of stylistics I am required to write. It is about foregrounding. My subject is to find out what the following terms mean: irradiation, semantic...

I really am in need of someone helping me in a topic of stylistics I am required to write.

It is about foregrounding. My subject is to find out what the following terms mean: irradiation, semantic field, coupling, convergence, defeated expectancy.

I have been searching a lot for an authoritative source on the Internet but can't find any. I REALLY would appreciate any help.

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Foregrounding is a component of Russian Formalism literary theory and criticism. Foregrounding is the process by which language in literature is made to be prominent, noticeable, part of the "foreground" of the image created by the poet or author (Formalists focused their early attention on poets). To help clarify this concept, think of what the foreground in a painting, photograph or a film is: the foreground is the portion of the painting, picture or film scene that is closest to audience, or in literature, closest to the reader.

In literature, linguistic devices manipulate words to bring prominent one to the closest attention of the reader. Two means of doing this are parallelism and deviation. Parallelism structures sentences and thoughts so the parts of the linguistic structure directly or inversely mirror each other (inverted parallelism is called a chiasmus). Deviation is the application of other rhetorical devices to alter the form or order of words, as Shakespeare often does, by applying such devices as enallage, the deliberate misuse of grammar, or anastrophe, the deliberate misplacement of an adjective. These types of rhetorical schemes deviate from normal use and word order thereby foregrounding an element of text.

The term ‘foregrounding’ refers to specific linguistic devices, i.e., deviation and parallelism, that are used in literary texts in a functional and condensed way. These devices enhance the meaning potential of the text, while also providing the reader with the possibility of aesthetic experience. (Willie Van Peer)

The terms irradiation, semantic field, coupling, convergence (also called accumulation), defeated expectancy are part of the literary analysis system called Decoding Stylistics (DS). DS is an eclectic approach to analyzing literature that borrows from divergent fields like psychology, information theory and statistics and employs theories from such disciplines as linguistics, literary criticism and art history, as described and explained by the Russian educational website cross-kpk.ru:

Irradiation: While words that are foregrounded are those that are given prominence, irradiated words are words that remain in the background yet spread an influencing color over the whole. An example might be a subtle motif of red color or diagonal lines.

Semantic field: A device for identifying thematic and compositional cohesion. Analyzing for semantic field shows how this cohesion (of theme and composition) is achieved through such devices of linguistic repetition, synonymous repetition and semantic affinity. These express themselves in such things as lexico-semantic variants and associations developed through lexical units that are seemingly unrelated.

Coupling: The affinity of similar structural elements throughout the text. Coupling also identifies elements of cohesion. It allows for decoding ideas, their interactions and their place in compositional cohesion and integrity.

Convergence: The accumulation of devices to reinforce an idea by gathering many iterations into one proximal area of the text. Convergence can support and promote the same idea, emotion or motive. The convergence and close succession of repetitions forms a powerful technique through which redundancy emphasizes an author's objective.

Defeated Expectancy: The failure of a text to meet predictability and expectation in such elements as chronological order, linguistic consistency or paradox-free logic. Defeated expectancy is when the author delivers his point by failing to honor predictability and expectation on any text level from text structure to language use to word structure (for example, adding coined words) to punctuation norms (for example, leaving out quotation marks from dialogue).

Read the study guide:
Linguistic Criticism - Poetry

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