Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Address and the Use of Its Potential in Shakespeare's Plays. (Linguistics)

Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Address and the Use of Its Potential in Shakespeare's Plays. (Linguistics)

Article excerpt

One can hardly find a topic which has not been studied with respect to Shakespeare's plays. In this paper address will be studied as a form of the phatic use of English, (1) the artistic exploitation of which has not appeared as an object of investigation in current publications. (2) Highlighting the relevant observations in a few known literary and linguistic studies of Shakespeare's plays (Ribner 1960; Charney 1961; Jones 1971; Doran 1976; Wilson 1977 and others), the author of the present paper has published on the phatic use of English in Shakespeare's plays (Drazdauskiene 1984, 1986, 1992a: 42-52; 1992b). Her discovery has been that the phatic use of English is widely used in Shakespeare's plays, is integrated in the development of the dramatic conflict and is stylistically balanced with the highly emotionally charged language. Without this concept, some scholars found it difficult to identify anything general in the method of the composition of at least the opening scenes in Shakespeare's plays (Wilson 1977: 6). The author of the present paper has found that all the scenes in Shakespeare's plays follow the pattern of conventional verbal usage at the beginning and the end of speech acts, which represents the phatic use of language, man's most human and subtle mode of expression. Shakespeare employs the phatic use of English as a mode of realism, but he also charges it with dramatic meaning by the subtle variation of the flexible components in conventional verbal units. This has a bearing on the use of address in Shakespeare's plays and will be considered further.

What is customarily emphasised in studies of Shakespeare's language are the author's experiments with the English language as well as the variety and originality of his usage (cf. Colman 1974; Doran 1976; Ewbank 1994). The phatic use of English is such a use of this language which tends to patterns and standardised expression, which again has been little investigated with respect to Shakespeare's plays (cf. Drazdauskiene 1992a: 49-52; 1992b). The author of the present paper has found that lexico-grammatical patterns in the phatic use of English in Shakespeare's plays include standard forms or otherwise fixed models of address, various formulae of etiquette, very frequent throughout the texts of the plays (e.g., I pray you. Prithee ... I beseech ... What's you grace 's will/pleasure? etc.) stereotyped patterns of requests for permission to speak (e.g., A word with you. One word more. Let me ask you/have audience ... etc.), stereotyped check on verbal contact (e.g., Dost thou attend? Dost hear? Do you hear ... I charge thee that you attend me etc.), and acknowledgement as well as the appreciation of speech. The latter two kinds of expression are least stereotyped in Shakespeare, e.g., This tune goes manly. Sir, you speak nobly 'Tis nobly spoken. Well said. 'Tis well said again etc. However fixed, all the patterned utterances in the phatic use of English, including even the filling-in question How now?, are charged with emotion in Shakespeare's plays and reflect the tension of the respective contexts. They are therefore semantically, stylistically and artistically integrated in the plays. But the point is that address belongs to the patterned modes of expression. To explain how this comes to be, address as a form of the phatic use of language has to be defined.

Address represents the use of nouns, pronouns, substantivised adjectives and their equivalents to name the subjects and objects to whom speech is directed (cf.: Akhmanova 1966: 276). In the conception of Buhler, Jakobson and Akhmanova, the speech event integrates the conative function or the orientation towards the addressee (Buhler 1934: 28-32; Jakobson 1960: 355-357; Akhmanova et. al. 1966: 167). Since Jakobson considered that the purest expression of the conative function is the vocative and the imperative (1960: 355), address becomes a relevant verbal factor here. But the validity of the conative function has been argued by Halliday (1976: 27), who found that the difference between the conative and the expressive functions is merely psychological. …

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