Elements of Drama


Most simply a character is one of the persons who appears in the play, one of the dramatis personae (literally, the persons of the play). In another sense of the term, the treatment of the character is the basic part of the playwright's work. Conventions of the period and the author's personal vision will affect the treatment of character.

Most plays contain major characters and minor characters. The delineation and development of major characters is essential to the play; the conflict between Hamlet and Claudius depends upon the character of each. A minor character like Marcellus serves a specific function, to inform Hamlet of the appearance of his father's ghost. Once, that is done, he can depart in peace, for we need not know what sort of person he is or what happens to him. The distinction between major and minor characters is one of degree, as the character of Horatio might illustrate.

The distinction between heroes (or heroines) and villains, between good guys and bad guys, between virtue and vice is useful in dealing with certain types of plays, but in many modern plays (and some not so modern) it is difficult to make. Is Gregers Werle in The Wild Duck, for example, a hero or a villain?

Another common term in drama is protagonist. Etymologically, it means the first contestant. In the Greek drama, where the term arose, all the parts were played by one, two, or three actors (the more actors, the later the play), and the best actor, who got the principal part(s), was the protagonist. The second best actor was called the euteragonist. Ideally, the term "protagonist" should be used only for the principal character. Several other characters can be defined by their relation to the protagonist. The antagonist is his principal rival in the conflict set forth in the play. A foil is a character who defines certain characteristics in the protagonist by exhibiting opposite traits or the same traits in a greater or lesser degree. A confidant(e) provides a ready ear to which the protagonist can address certain remarks which should be heard by the audience but not by the other characters. In Hamlet, for example, Hamlet is the protagonist, Claudius the antagonist, Laertes and Fortinbras foils (observe the way in which each goes about avenging the death or loss of property of his father), and Horatio the confidant.

Certain writers-- for example, Moliere and Pirandello--use a character type called the raisonneur, whose comments express the voice of reason and also, presumably, of the author. Philinte and the Father are examples of the raisonneur.

Another type of character is the stereotype or stock character, a character who reappears in various forms in many plays. Comedy is particularly a fruitful source of such figures, including the miles gloriosus or boastful soldier (a man who claims great valor but proves to be a coward when tested), the irascible old man (the source of elements in the character of Polonius), the witty servant, the coquette, the prude, the fop, and others. A stock character from another genre is the revenger of Renaissance tragedy. The role of Hamlet demonstrates how such a stereotype is modified by an author to create a great role, combining the stock elements with individual ones.

Sometimes group of actors work together over a long period in relatively stable companies. In such a situation, individual members of the group develop expertise in roles of a certain type, such as leading man and leading lady (those who play the principal parts), juveniles or ingénues of both sexes (those who specialize as young people), character actors (those who perform mature or eccentric types), and heavies or villains.

The commedia dell'arte, a popular form of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, employed actors who had standard lines of business and improvised the particular action in terms of their established characters and a sketchy outline of a plot. Frequently, Pantalone, an older man, generally a physician, was married to a young woman named Columbine. Her lover, Harlequin, was not only younger and more handsome than her husband but also more vigorous sexually. Pantalone's servants, Brighella, Truffaldino, and others, were employed in frustrating or assisting either the lovers in their meetings or the husband in discovering them.

A group of actors who function as a unit, called a chorus, was a characteristic feature of the Greek tragedy. The members of the chorus shared a common identity, such as Asian Bacchantes or old men of Thebes. The choragos (leader of the chorus) sometimes spoke and acted separately. In some of the plays, the chorus participated directly in the action; in others they were restricted in observing the action and commenting on it. The chorus also separated the individual sins by singing and dancing choral odes, though just what the singing and dancing were like is uncertain. The odes were in strict metrical patterns; sometimes they were direct comments on the action and characters, and at other times they were more general statements and judgments. A chorus in Greek fashion is not common in later plays, although there are instances such as T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral, in which the Women of Canterbury serve as a chorus.

On occasion a single actor may perform the function of a chorus, as do the aptly named Chorus in Shakespeare's Henry V and the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder's Our Town. Alfieri in the View from the Bridge functions both as a chorus and a minor character in the action of the play.


The Norton Introduction to Literature (Combined Shorter Edition) Edited by Carl E. Bain, Jerome Beaty & J. Paul Hunter Copyright 1973 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. and published simultaneously in Canada by Goerge J. McLeod Limited, Toronto

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by: Eduardo M. Tajonera Jr.

The interest generated by the plot varies for different kinds of plays. (See fiction elements on plot for more information regarding plot.) The plot is usually structured with acts and scenes.

Open conflict plays: rely on the suspense of a struggle in which the hero, through perhaps fight against all odds, is not doomed. Dramatic thesis: foreshadowing, in the form of ominous hints or symbolic incidents, conditions the audience to expect certain logical developments. Coincidence: sudden reversal of fortune plays depict climatic ironies or misunderstandings. Dramatic irony: the fulfillment of a plan, action, or expectation in a surprising way, often opposite of what was intended.


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The plot has been called the body of a play and the theme has been called its soul. Most plays have a conflict of some kind between individuals, between man and society, man and some superior force or man and h imself. The events that this conflict provokes make up the plot. One of the first items of interest is the playwright\rquote s treatment of the plot and what them he would draw from it. The same plots have been and will be used many times; it is the treatment that supplies each effort with originality or artistic worth. Shakespeare is said to have borrowed all but one of his stories, but he presented them so much better than any of the previous authors that he is not seriously criticized for the borrowing. Th e treatment of theme is equally varied.

The same theme or story may be given a very serious or a very light touch. It may be a severe indictment or a tongue-in- cheek attack. It could point up a great lesson or show the same situation as a handicap to progress. The personality, background an d social or artistic temperament of the playwright are responsible for the treatment that he gives to his story or theme. We must, therefore, both understand and evaluate these factors.

To endure, a play should have a theme. It is sometimes suggested in the title as in Loyalties, Justice, or Strife, You can't Take It With You, or The Physician in Spite of Himself. At other times it is found in the play itself, as in Craig's Wife when the aunt says to Mrs. Craig, "People who live to themselves are often left to themselves." Sometimes theme is less obvious, necessitating closer study.

If a play has a theme, we should be able to state it in general terms and in a single sentence, even at the risk of oversimplification. The theme of Hamlet is usually stated as the failure of a youth of poetic temperament to cope with circumstances that demand action. The theme of Macbeth is that too much ambition leads to destruction; a Streetcar Named Desire, that he who strives hardes t to find happiness oftentimes finds the least; and of Green pastures, that even God must change with the universe.

Of course the theme, no matter how fully stated, is not the equivalent of the play. The play is a complex experience, and one must remain open to its manifold suggestions.

As indicated above, the statement of the play in specific terms is the plot presented. Plot and theme should go hand in hand. If the theme is one of nobility, or dignity, the plot must concern events and characters that measure up to that theme. As we a nalyze many plays, we find that some posses an excellent theme, but are supported by an inconsequential plot. One famous play of this nature, Abie's Irish Rose, held the stage for many years. The theme said: Difference of r eligion need not hinder a happy marriage. The plot was so thin and both characters and situation so stereotyped, that justice was not done to the theme. This weakness was most obvious in the play's revival after twenty years.

Examples of the frequent fault of superior plot and little or no theme come to us in much of the work of our current playwrights. Known for their cleverness in phrasing and timing, and their original extremely witty conceptions, these plays are often ver y successful. More often than not, however, they are utterly lacking in a theme or truth that will withstand more than momentary analysis. They are delightful but ephemeral. An audience believes them only while watching in the theatre. Consequently, the author, although now among ou r most popular, will not endure as artists, nor are their plays likely to be revived a hundred years hence. They but emphasize more strongly the axiom that a good plot or conflict is needed for transitory success, but a great theme is more likely to assu re a play a long life.


Wright, E.A. (1969). A PRIMER FOR PLAYGOERS. Englewood Cliffs; PRENTICE-HALL, INC., pp.156-158

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Dialogue provides the substance of a play. Each word uttered by the character furthers the business of the play, contributes to its effect as a whole. Therefore, a sense of DECORUM must be established by the characters, ie., what is said is appropriate to the role and situation of a character. Also the exposition of the play often falls on the dialogue of the characters. Remember exposition establishes the relationships, tensions or conflicts from which later plot developments derive.

Any artificial picture of life must start from the detail of actuality. An audience must be able to recognize it; however changed; we want to check it against experience. Death for exampl e, is something we cannot know. In every man it is represented as an embodying some of our feelings about it. So Death is partly humanized, enough, anyway, for us to be able to explore what the dramatist thinks about it.

Conversely, the detail of actuality in realistic drama can be chosen and presented in such a way as to suggest that it stands for more on the stage than it would in life. The Cherry Orchard family, in the excitement of their departure, overlook s their old servant Firs. Placed with striking force at the end of the play, this trivial accident becomes an incisive and major comment on everything the family has done.

So it is dramatic speech. A snatch of phase caught in everyday conversation may mean little, Used by an actor on a stage, it can assume general and typical qualities. The context into which it is put can make it pull more than its conversation al weight, no matter how simple words. Consider Othello\rquote s bare repetition: 'Put out the light, end then put out the light.' In its context the repetition prefigures precisely the comparison Shakespeare is about to make between the lam Othello is holding and Desdemona's life and being. Its heavy rhythm suggests the strained tone and obsessed mood of the man, and an almost priestlike attitude behind the twin motions. We begin to see the murder of Desdemona in the larger general terms of a ritualistic sacrifice. Poetry is made of words, which can be in use in more prosaic ways; dramatic speech, with its basis in ordinary co nversation, is speech that has had a specific pressure put on it.

Why do words begin to assume general qualities, and why do they become dramatic? Here are two problems on either side of the same coin. The words in both cases depend upon the kind of attention we give them. The artist using them, whether aut hor or actors, force them upon us, and in a variety of ways try to fix the quality of our attention.

If dialogue carefully follows the way we speak in life, as it is likely to go i n a naturalistic play, the first step towards understanding how it departs from actuality can be awkward. It is helpful to cease to submit the pretence for the moment. An apparent reproduction of ordinary conversation will be, in good drama, a constructio n of word setup to do many jobs that are not immediately obvious. Professor Erick Bently has written of Ibsen's 'opaque, uninviting sentences' :

An ibsenite sentence often performs four or five function at once. It shed light on the character spo ken about, it furthers the plot; it functions ironically is conveying to the audience a meaning different from that conveyed to the characters.

It is true that conversation itself can sometimes be taken to do this thing. 'Whatever you think. I'm going to tell him what you said.' is a remark which in its context can shed light on the speaker, the person spoken to and the spoken about. For a fourth person listening, as spectator witnesses a play, there may also be an element of that mean something only to himself as observer. In the play the difference lies first in an insistence that the words go somewhere, move towards a predetermined end. It lies in a charge of meaning that will advance the action.

This is argued in a statement in Strindberg's manifesto for the naturalistic theatre. He says of his characters that he has 'permitted he minds to work irregularly as they do in reality, where, during conversation, the cogs of mind seem more or less haphazardly to engage those of another one, an where no topic is fully exhausted.' But he adds that. While the dialogue seems to stray a good deal in the opening scenes, \lquote it acquires a material that later on is worked over, picked up again repeated, expounded, and built up the theme in a musical composition.'

It is a question of economy. The desultory and clumsy talk of real life, with its interruptions, overlapping, in decisions and repetitions, talk without direction, wastes our interest\emdash unless, like the chatter given to Jane Austen\rquote s Miss Bates, it hides relevance in irrelevance. It follows the dialogue which the wit and vitality in Shaw's dialogue yet ignore the question of its relevance to the action.

When the actor examines the text to prepare his part, he looks for what makes the words different from conversation, that is he looks for the structural elements of the building, for links of characteristic thought in the character, and so on . He persists till he has shaped in his mind a firm and workable pattern of his part. Now the clues sought by the actor hidden beneath the surface of the dialogue are the playgoer's guides too. The actor and producer Stanislavsky have called these clues the 'subtext' of a play.

The subtext is a web of innumerable, varied inner patterns inside a play and a part, woven from 'magic ifs' , given circumstances, all sorts of figments of the imagination, inner movements, objects of attention, smaller and greater truths and a belief in them, adaptations, adjustmen ts and other similar elements. It is subtext that makes us say the words we do in a play.

And in another place he says that 'the whole text of the play will be accompanied by a sub textual stream of images, like a moving picture constantly thrown on the screen of our inner vision, to guide us as we speak and act on the stage.' Once we admit that the words must propose and substantiate the play\rquote s meaning, we shall find in them more and more of the author's wishes.

For dramat ic dialogue has other work to do before it provides a table of words to be spoken. In the absence of the author it must provide a set of unwritten working directives to the actor on how to speak its speeches. And before that, it has to teach him how to think and feel them: the particularly of a play requires this if is not to be animated by a series of cardboard stereotypes.

Dramatic dialogue works by a number of instinctively agreed codes. Some tell the producer how to arrange the figures on the stage. Others tell him what he should hear as the pattern of sound echoing and contradicting, changing tone, rising and falling. These are directives strongly compelling him to hear the key in which a scene should be played, and the tone and temp of the melody. Others oblige him to start particular rhythmic movements of emotion flowing between the stage and the audience. He is th en left to marry the colour and shape of the stage picture with the music he finds recorded in the text.

Good dialogue works like this and throws out a 'substextual stream of images'; Even if the limits within which these effects work are narrow, even if the effect lies in the barest or simplest of speeches, we may expect to hear the text humming the tune as it cannot in real life. Dialogue should be read and heard as a dramatic score.


The Elements of Drama by J.L. Styan

Cambridge University Press 1960

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The means the playwright employs are determined at least in part by dramatic convention. Greek: Playwrights of this era often worked with familiar story material, legend about gods and famous families that the audience was familiar with. Since the audience was familiar with certain aspects of these, the playwrights used allusion rather than explicit exposition. In representing action, they often relied on messengers to report off-stage action. For interpretation the Greeks relied on the CHORUS, a body of onlookers, usually citizens or elders, whose comments on the play reflected reactions common to the community. These plays were written in metered verse arranged in elaborate stanzas. This required intense attention from the audience. English Drama: Minor chara cters play an important role in providing information and guiding interpretation. The confidant, a friend or servant, listens to the complaints, plans and reminiscences of a major character. Minor characters casually comment among themselves on major characters and plot development. Extended SOLILOQUY enables a major character to reveal his thoughts in much greater detail than in natural dialogue. ASIDES, remarks made to the audience but not heard by those on the stage, are common. Realism: Toward the end of the nineteenth century, realistic depiction of everyday life entered the genre of drama, whereas the characters may be unconventional and their thoughts turbulent and fantasy-ridden. Contemporary: Experimentation seems to be the key word here. A NARRATOR replaces the messenger, the chorus and the confidant. FLASHBACKS often substitute for narration. Many contemporary playwrights have abandoned recognizable setting, chronological sequence and characterization through dialogue.

Reference :

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Emil Sylianteng

Genre is a term that describes works of literature according to their shared thematic or structural characteristics. The attempt to classify literature in this way was initiated by Aristotle in the Poetics, where he distinguishes tragedy, epic, and comedy and recognizes even more fundamental distinctions between drama, epic, and lyric poetry. Classical genre theory, established by Aristotle and reinforced by Horace, is regulative and prescriptive, attempting to maintain rigid boundaries that correspond to social differences. Thus, tragedy and epic are concerned exclusively with the affairs of the nobility, comedy with the middle or lower classes.

Modern literary criticism, on the other hand, does not regard genres as dogmatic categories, but rather as aesthetic conventions that guide, but are also led by, writers. The unstable nature of genres does not reduce their effectiveness as tools of critical inquiry, which attempts to discover universal attributes among individual works, and has, since classical times, evolved theories of the novel, ode, elegy, pastoral, satire, and many other kinds of writing.

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Manuel L. Ortiz

It is the act or chance of hearing; a reception by a great person; the person to hear.

Playhouse, script, actors, mise en scene, audience are inseparable parts of the theatre. The concept of drama put forward in this book insists that the audience have an indispensable role to play. While Stanislavsky is right in saying that 'spectator come to the theatre to hear the subtext. They can read the text at home; he is speaking as a man of the nineteenth century. We do not go to the play merely to have the text interpreted and explained by the skills of the director and his actor. We do not go as in a learning situation, but to share in a partnership without which the players cannot work. In his Reflaxions sur l; art, valery believed that a creator is one who makes other create': in art both the artist and the spectator actively cooperate, and the value of the work is dependent on this reciprocity. If in the theatre there is no interaction between stage and audience, the play is dead, bad or non-existent: the audience, like the customer, is always right.

Every man, women, or child who has expressed an opinion concerning a dramatic performance has, in a sense, proclaim himself to be a critic. Whether his reaction has been good or bad, his opinion will have some effect on the thinking of those who have heard or read his comment, and what have been said will become a part of the production's history. The statement may have been inadvertent, biased, unfair, without thought or foundation, but once spoken or repeated, it cease to be just an opinion and is accepted as a fact. Who has not heard, accepted, repeated, and been affected by such generalization as: "They say its terrible!" or " They say its terrific!"

Another type of critic is the more powerful and frequently only slightly more qualified, individual who is-often for strange and irrelevant reasons-assigned to cover an opening for the school or community paper. He may be completely lacking in the knowledge required of even a beginner in dramatic criticisms, but, again, "Anyone can write up a play." Yet the power of the written words takes over, and what this novice write becomes the accepted authority for many. The hundreds of hour of work by the many persons involved in the production, their personal sacrifices, and their pride in their work-to say nothing of the financial outlay involved-far too often are condemned or praised for the wrong reasons or for logical reason at all. As a further injustice, what the critic has written, although it is just a single opinion, becomes the only record of the production and so catalogs the event of the future.

It is doubtful if any other business or art is so much a victim of inept, untrained, illogical, and undeserved criticism as is a dramatic performance. Whether the remarks have grown out of prejudice, meager knowledge of the theatre, lack of understanding or sensitivity, momentary admiration or dislike foe some individual participant, a poor dinner or disposition, an auditorium too hot or too cold, or any of a hundred incidents that could occurred during the production itself does not matter. Those whose effort are being discussed can console themselves only with the fact that criticism-good or bad-is much easier than creation or craftsmanship for the same reason that the work is harder than talk.

Having been a part of the theatre-professional, community, and educational-for more than four decades, we are well aware that criticism of the critics is frequently heard, and that this criticism includes those who write the drama section for the national magazine or the large daily newspaper report on the opening night. This is inevitable, for total agreement on any phase of the theatre is impossible. We live in a world with out laws of logic or mathematical formulas to guide us. There are no yardsticks that will give us all the same answer, but there are yardsticks that should be familiar to all of us. In this paper we propose to present and to discuss some of these criteria. If the amateur critics just referred to had been familiar with some basic dramatic principles and had used them honestly, there would be a greater feeling that justice had been done. Any intelligent theatre person knows that each member of the audience views what is before him with different eyes and so sees something different from his neighbor. How each member reacts will be determined by education, age, experience, nationality, maturity, background, temperament, heredity, environment, the rest of the audience, the weather, what he has done or eaten in the past few hours, or his plans for after the performance. This list of imponderable could go indefinitely. Furthermore, if agreement on any one aspect of a given performance is impossible, then agreement is even more hopeless if different performances of the same play, in the same theatre, and with the same cast, are under discussion; for a different audience makes for a different production.

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Eduardo M. Tajonera Jr

The stage creates its effects in spite of, and in part because of, definite physical limitations. Setting and action tend to be suggestive rather than panoramic or colossal. Both setting and action may be little more than hints for the spectator to fill out.


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Francis Calangi

Theater Space

Theater can also be discussed in terms of the type of space in which it is produced. Stages and auditoriums have had distinctive forms in every era and in different cultures. New theaters today tend to be flexible and eclectic in design, incorporating elements of several styles; they are known as multiple-use or multiple-form theaters.

A performance, however, need not occur in an architectural structure designed as a theater, or even in a building. The English director Peter Brook talks of creating theater in an "empty space." Many earlier forms of theater were performed in the streets, open spaces, market squares, churches, or rooms or buildings not intended for use as theaters. Much contemporary experimental theater rejects the formal constraints of available theaters and seeks more unusual spaces. In all these "found" theaters, the sense of stage and auditorium is created by the actions of the performers and the natural features of the space. Throughout history, however, most theaters have employed one of three types of stage: end, thrust, and arena. An end stage is a raised platform facing the assembled audience. Frequently, it is placed at one end of a rectangular space. The simplest version of the end stage is the booth or trestle stage, a raised stage with a curtained backdrop and perhaps an awning. This was the stage of the Greek and Roman mimes, the mountebanks and wandering entertainers of the Middle Ages, commedia dell'arte, and popular entertainers into the 20th century. It probably formed the basis of Greek tragic theater and Elizabethan theater as well.

The Proscenium Theater

Since the Renaissance, Western theater has been dominated by an end stage variant called the proscenium theater. The proscenium is the wall separating the stage from the auditorium. The proscenium arch, which may take several shapes, is the opening in that wall through which the audience views the performance. A curtain that either rises or opens to the sides may hang in this space. The proscenium developed in response to the desire to mask scenery, hide scene-changing machinery, and create an offstage space for performers' exits and entrances. The result is to enhance illusion by eliminating all that is not part of the scene and to encourage the audience to imagine that what they cannot see is a continuation of what they can see. Because the proscenium is (or appears to be) an architectural barrier, it creates a sense of distance or separation between the stage and the spectators. The proscenium arch also frames the stage and consequently is often called a peep-show or picture-frame stage.

The Thrust Stage

A thrust stage, sometimes known as three-quarter round, is a platform surrounded on three sides by the audience. This form was used for ancient Greek theater, Elizabethan theater, classical Spanish theater, English Restoration theater, Japanese and Chinese classical theater, and much of Western theater in the 20th century. A thrust may be backed by a wall or be appended to some sort of end stage. The upstage end (back of the stage, farthest from the audience) may have scenery and provisions for entrances and exits, but the thrust itself is usually bare except for a few scenic elements and props. Because no barrier exists between performers and spectators, the thrust stage generally creates a sense of greater intimacy, as if the performance were occurring in the midst of the auditorium, while still allowing for illusionistic effects through the use of the upstage end and adjacent offstage space.

The Arena Stage

The arena stage, or theater-in-the-round, is a performing space totally surrounded by the auditorium. This arrangement has been tried several times in the 20th century, but its historical precedents are largely in nondramatic forms such as the circus, and it has limited popularity. The necessity of providing equal sight lines for all spectators puts special constraints on the type of scenery used and on the movements of the actors, because at any given time part of the audience will inevitably be viewing a performer's back. Illusion is more difficult to sustain in arena, since in most setups, entrances and exits must be made in full view of the audience, eliminating surprise, if nothing else. Nonetheless, arena, when properly used, can create a sense of intimacy not often possible with other stage arrangements, and, as noted, it is well suited to many nondramatic forms. Furthermore, because of the different scenic demands of arena theater, the large backstage areas associated with prosceniums can be eliminated, thus allowing a more economical use of space.

Variant Forms

One variant form of staging is environmental theater, which has precedents in medieval and folk theater and has been widely used in 20th-century avant-garde theater. It eliminates the single or central stage in favor of surrounding the spectators or sharing the space with them. Stage space and spectator space become indistinguishable. Another popular alternative is the free, or flexible, space, sometimes called a black-box theater because of its most common shape and color. This is an empty space with movable seating units and stage platforms that can be arranged in any configuration for each performance.

The Fixed Architectural Stage

Most stages are raw spaces that the designer can mold to create any desired effect or location; in contrast, the architectural stage has permanent features that create a more formal scenic effect. Typically, ramps, stairs, platforms, archways, and pillars are permanently built into the stage space. Variety in individual settings may be achieved by adding scenic elements. The Stratford Festival Theater in Stratford, Ontario, for example, has a permanent "inner stage"-a platform roughly 3.6 m (12 ft) high-jutting onto the multilevel thrust stage from the upstage wall. Most permanent theaters through the Renaissance, such as the Teatro Olimpico (1580) in Vicenza, Italy, did not use painted or built scenery but relied on similar permanent architectural features that could provide the necessary scenic elements. The No and kabuki stages in Japan are other examples.


Auditoriums in the 20th century are mostly variants on the fan-shaped auditorium built (1876) by the composer Richard Wagner at his famous opera house in Bayreuth, Germany. These auditoriums are shaped like a hand-held fan and are usually raked (inclined upward from front to back), with staggered seats to provide unobstructed sight lines. Such auditoriums may be designed with balconies, and some theaters, such as opera houses, have boxes-seats in open or partitioned sections along the sidewalls of the auditorium-a carry-over from baroque theater architecture.

Set Design

In Europe, one person, frequently called a scenographer, designs sets, costumes, and lights; in the U.S. these functions are usually handled by three separate professionals. Set design is the arrangement of theatrical space; the set, or setting, is the visual environment in which a play is performed. Its purpose is to suggest time and place and to create the proper mood or atmosphere. Settings can generally be classified as realistic, abstract, suggestive, or functional.

Stage Facilities

The use and movement of scenery are determined by stage facilities. Relatively standard elements include trapdoors in the stage floor, elevators that can raise or lower stage sections, wagons (rolling platforms) on which scenes may be mounted, and cycloramas-curved canvas or plaster backdrops used as a projection surface or to simulate the sky. Above the stage, especially in a proscenium theater, is the area known as the fly gallery, where lines for flying-that is, raising-unused scenery from the stage are manipulated, and which contains counterweight or hydraulic pipes and lengths of wood, or battens, from which lights and pieces of scenery may be suspended. Other special devices and units can be built as necessary. Although scene painting seems to be a dying art, modern scene shops are well equipped to work with plastics, metals, synthetic fabrics, paper, and other new and industrial products that until recently were not in the realm of theater.

Lighting Design

Lighting design, a more ephemeral art, has two functions: to illuminate the stage and the performers and to create mood and control the focus of the spectators. Stage lighting may be from a direct source such as the sun or a lamp, or it may be indirect, employing reflected light or general illumination. It has four controllable properties: intensity, color, placement on the stage, and movement-the visible changing of the first three properties. These properties are used to achieve visibility, mood, composition (the overall arrangement of light, shadow, and color), and the revelation of form-the appearance of shape and dimensionality of a performer or object as determined by light.

Until the Renaissance, almost all performance was outdoors and therefore lit by the sun, but with indoor performance came the need for lighting instruments. Lighting was first achieved with candles and oil lamps and, in the 19th century, with gas lamps. Although colored filters, reflectors, and mechanical dimming devices were used for effects, lighting served primarily to illuminate the stage. By current standards the stage was fairly dim, which allowed greater illusionism in scenic painting. Gas lighting facilitated greater control, but only the advent of electric lighting in the late 19th century permitted the brightness and control presently available. It also allowed the dimming of the house-lights, plunging the auditorium into darkness for the first time.

Lighting design, however, is not simply aiming the lighting instruments at the stage or bathing the stage in a general wash of light. Audiences usually expect actors to be easily visible at all times and to appear to be three-dimensional. This involves the proper angling of instruments, provision of back and side lighting as well as frontal, and a proper balance of colors. Two basic types of stage-lighting instruments are employed: floodlights, which illuminate a broad area, and spotlights, which focus light more intensely on a smaller area. Instruments consist of a light source and a series of lenses and shutters in some sort of housing. These generally have a power of 500 to 5000 watts. The instruments are hung from battens and stanchions in front of, over, and at the sides of the stage. In realistic settings, lights may be focused to simulate the direction of the ostensible source, but even in these instances, performers would appear two-dimensional without back and side lighting.

Because so-called white light is normally too harsh for most theater purposes, colored filters called gels are used to soften the light and create a more pleasing effect. White light can be simulated by mixing red, blue, and green light. Most designers attempt to balance "warm" and "cool" colors to create proper shadows and textures. Except for special effects, lighting design generally strives to be unobtrusive; just as in set design, however, the skillful use of color, intensity, and distribution can have a subliminal effect on the spectators' perceptions.

The lighting designer is often responsible for projections. These include still or moving images that substitute for or enhance painted and constructed scenery, create special effects such as stars or moonlight, or provide written legends for the identification of scenes. Images can be projected from the audience side of the stage onto opaque surfaces, or from the rear of the stage onto specially designed rear-projection screens. Similar projections are often used on scrims, semitransparent curtains stretched across the stage. Film and still projection, sometimes referred to as mixed media, was first used extensively by the German director Erwin Piscator in the 1920s and became very popular in the 1960s.

The lights are controlled by a skilled technician called the electrician, who operates a control or dimmer board, so called because a series of "dimmers" controls the intensity of each instrument or group of instruments. The most recent development in lighting technology is the memory board, a computerized control system that stores the information of each light cue or change of lights. The electrician need no longer operate each dimmer individually; by pushing one button, all the lights will change automatically to the preprogrammed intensity and at the desired speed.

Costume Design

A costume is whatever is worn on the performer's body. Costume designers are concerned primarily with clothing and accessories, but are also often responsible for wigs, masks, and makeup. Costumes convey information about the character and aid in setting the tone or mood of the production. Because most acting involves impersonation, most costuming is actual or re-created historical or contemporary dress; as with scenery, however, costumes may also be suggestive or abstract. Until the 19th century, little attention was paid to period or regional accuracy; variations on contemporary dress sufficed. Since then, however, costume designers have paid great attention to authentic period style.

As with the other forms of design, subtle effects can be achieved through choice of color, fabric, cut, texture, and weight or material. Because costume can indicate such things as social class and personality traits, and can even simulate such physical attributes as obesity or a deformity, an actor's work can be significantly eased by its skillful design. Costume can also function as character signature, notably for such comic characters as Harlequin or the other characters of the commedia dell'arte, Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, or circus clowns.

In much Oriental theater, as in classical Greek theater, costume elements are formalized. Based originally on everyday dress, the costumes became standardized and were appropriated for the stage. Colors, designs, and ornamentation all convey meaningful information.


A special element of costume is the mask. Although rarely used in contemporary Western theater, masks were essential in Greek and Roman drama and the commedia dell'arte and are used in most African and Oriental theater. The masks of tragedy and of comedy, as used in ancient Greek drama, are in fact the universal symbols of the theater. Masks obviate the use of the face for expression and communication and thus render the performer more puppetlike; expression depends solely on voice and gesture. Because the mask's expression is unchanging, the character's fate or final expression is known from the beginning, thereby removing one aspect of suspense. The mask shifts focus from the actor to the character and can thus clarify aspects of theme and plot and give a character a greater universality. Like costumes, the colors and features of the mask, especially in the Orient, indicate symbolically significant aspects of the character. In large theaters masks can also aid in visibility.


Makeup may also function as a mask, especially in Oriental theater, where faces may be painted with elaborate colors and images that exaggerate and distort facial features. In Western theater, makeup is used for two purposes: to emphasize and reinforce facial features that might otherwise be lost under bright lights or at a distance and to alter signs of age, skin tone, or nose shape.

Technical Production

The technical aspects of production may be divided into preproduction and run of production. Preproduction technical work is supervised by the technical director in conjunction with the designers. Sets, properties (props), and costumes are made during this phase by crews in the theater shops or, in the case of most commercial theater, in professional studios.

Props are the objects handled by actors or used in dressing the stage-all objects placed or carried on the set that are not costumes or scenery. Whereas real furniture and hand props can be used in many productions, props for period shows, nonrealistic productions, and theatrical shows such as circuses must be built. Like sets, props can be illusionistic-they may be created from papier-mâché or plastic for lightness, exaggerated in size, irregularly shaped, or designed to appear level on a raked stage; they may also be capable of being rolled, collapsed, or folded. The person in charge of props is called the props master or mistress.

Sound and Sound Effects

Sound, if required, is now generally recorded during the preproduction period. From earliest times, most theatrical performances were accompanied by music that, until recently, was produced by live musicians. Since the 1930s, however, use of recorded sound has been a possibility in the theater. Although music is still the most common sound effect, wind, rain, thunder, and animal noises have been essential since the earliest Greek tragedies. Any sound that cannot be created by a performer may be considered a sound effect. Such sounds are most often used for realistic effect (for example, a train rushing by or city sounds outside a window), but they can also assist in the creation of mood or rhythm. Although many sounds can be recorded from actual sources, certain sounds do not record well and seem false when played through electronic equipment on a stage. Elaborate mechanical devices are therefore constructed to simulate these sounds, such as rain or thunder.

Technicians also create special aural and visual effects simulating explosions, fire, lightning, and apparitions and giving the illusion of moving objects or of flying.


Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia copyright 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.

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Ma. Criselda De Leon

Conversions, closely examined, will be found to fall into two classes: changes of volition, and changes of sentiment. It was the former class that Dryden had in mind; and, with reference to this class, the principle he indicates remains a sound one. A change of resolve should never be due to mere lapse of time---to the necessity for bringing the curtain down and letting the audience go home. It must always be rendered plausible by some new fact or new motive; some hitherto untried appeal to reason or emotion. This rule, however, is too obvious to require enforcement. It was not quite superfluous so long as the old convention of comedy endured. For a century and a half after Dryden's time, hard-hearted parents were apt to withdraw their opposition to their children's "felicity" for no better reason than that the fifth act was drawing to a close. But this formula is practically obsolete. Changes of will, on the modern stage, are not always adequately motived; but that is because of individual inexpertness, not because of any failure to recognize theoretically the necessity for adequate motivation.

Changes of sentiment are much more important and more difficult to handle. A change of will can always manifest itself in action; but it is very difficult to externalize convincingly a mere change of heart. When the conclusion of a play hinges (as it frequently does) on a conversion of this nature, it becomes a matter of the first moment that it should not merely be asserted but proved. Many a promising play has gone wrong because of the author's neglect, or inability, to comply with this condition.

It has often been observed that of all Ibsen's thoroughly mature works, from A Doll's House to John Gabriel Borkman, The Lady from the Sea is the loosest in texture, the least masterly in construcion. The fact that it leaves this impression on the mind is largely due, I think, to a single fault. The conclusion of the play---Ellida's clinging to Wangel and rejection of the Stranger---depends entirely on a change in Wangel's mental attitude, of which we have no proof whatever beyond his bare assertion. Ellida, in her overwrought mood, is evidently inclining to yield to the uncanny allurement of the Stranger's claim upon her, when Wangel, realizing that her sanityis threatened, says:

WANGEL: It shall not come to that. There is no other way of deliverance for you---at least I see none. And therefore---therefore I---cancel our bargain on the spot. Now you can choose your own path, in full---full freedom.

ELLIDA: (Gazes at him awhile, as if speechless): Is this true---true---what you say? Do you mean it---from your inmost heart?

WANGEL: Yes---from the inmost depths of my tortured heart, I mean it.... Now your own true life can return to its---its right groove again. For now you can choose in freedom; and on your own responsibility, Ellida.

ELLIDA: In freedom---and on my own responsibility? Responsibility? This---this transforms everything.

---and she promptly gives the Stranger his dismissal. Now this is inevitably felt to be a weak conclusion, because it turns entirely on a condition of Wangel's mind of which he gives no positive and convincing evidence. Nothing material is changed by his change of heart. He could not in any case have restrained Ellida by force; or, if the law gave him the abstract right to do so, he certainly never had the slightest intention of exercising it. Psychologically, indeed, the incident is acceptable enough. The saner part of Ellida's will was always on Wangel's side; and a merely verbal undoing of the "bargain" with which she reproached herself might quite naturally suffice to turn the scale decisively in his favour. But what may suffice for Ellida is not enough for the audience. Too much is made to hang upon a verbally announced conversion. The poet ought to have invented some material---or, at the very least, some impressively symbolic---proof of Wangel's change of heart. Had he done so, The Lady from the Sea would assuredly have taken a higher rank among his works.

Let me further illustrate my point by comparing a very small thing with a very great.

The late Captain Marshall wrote a "farcical romance" named The Duke of Killiecrankie, in which that nobleman, having been again and again rejected by the Lady Henrietta Addison, kidnapped the obdurate fair one, and imprisoned her in a crag-castle in the Highlands. Having kept her for a week in deferential durance, and shown her that he was not the inefficient nincompoop she had taken him for, he threw open the prison gate, and said to her: "Go! I set you free!" The moment she saw the gate unlocked, and realized that she could indeed go when and where she pleased, she also realized that had the least wish to go, and flung herself into her captor's arms. Here we have Ibsen's situation transposed into the key of fantasy, and provided with the material "guarantee of good faith" which is lacking in The Lady from the Sea. The Duke's change of mind, his will to set the Lady Henrietta free, is visibly demonstrated by the actual opening of the prison gate, so that we believe in it, and believe that she believes in it. The play was a trivial affair, and is deservedly forgotten; but the situation was effective because it obeyed the law that a change of will or of feeling, occurring at a crucial point in a dramatic action, must be certified by some external evidence, on pain of leaving the audience unimpressed.

This is a more important matter than it may at first sight appear. How to bring home to the audience a decisive change of heart is one of the ever-recurring problems of the playwright's craft. In The Lady from the Sea, Ibsen failed to solve it: in Rosmersholm he solved it by heroic measures. The whole catastrophe is determined by Rosmer's inability to accept without proof Rebecca's declaration that Rosmersholm has "ennobled' her, and that she is no longer the same woman whose relentless egoism drove Beata into the mill-race. Rebecca herself puts it to him: "How can you believe me on my bare word after to-day?" There is only one proof she can give---that of "going the way Beata went." She gives it: and Rosmer, who cannot believe her if she lives, and will not survive her if she dies, goes with her to her end. But the cases are not very frequent, fortunately, in which such drastic methods of proof are appropriate or possible. The dramatist must, as a rule, attain his end by less violent means; and often he fails to attain it at all.

A play by Mr. Haddon Chambers, The Awakening, turned on a sudden conversion---the "awakening," in fact, referred to in the title. A professional lady-killer, a noted Don Juan, has been idly making love to a country maiden, whose heart is full of innocent idealisms. She discovers his true character, or, at any rate, his reputation, and is horror-stricken, while practically at the same moment, he "awakens" to the error of his ways, and is seized with a passion for her as single-minded and idealistic as hers for him. But how are the heroine and the audience to be assured of the fact? That is just the difficulty; and the author takes no effectual measures to overcome it. The heroine, of course, is ultimately convinced; but the audience remains skeptical, to the detriment of the desired effect. "Sceptical," perhaps is not quite the right word. The state of mind of a fictitious character is not a subject for actual belief or disbelief. We are bound to accept theoretically what the author tells us; but in this case he has failed to make us intimately feel and know that it is true.

In Mr. Alfred Sutro's play The Builder of Bridges, Dorothy Faringay, in her devotion to her forger brother, has conceived the rather disgraceful scheme of making one of his official superiors fall in love with her, in order to induce him to become practically an accomplice in her brother's crime. She succeeds beyond her hopes. Edward Thursfield does fall in love with her, and, at a great sacrifice, replaces the money the brother has stolen. But, in a very powerful peripety-scene in the third act, Thursfield learns that Dorothy has been deliberately beguiling him, while in fact she was engaged to another man. The truth is, however, that she has really come to love Thursfield passionately, and has broken her engagement with the other, for whom she never truly cared. So the author tells us, and so we are willing enough to believe---if he can devise any adequate method of making Thursfield believe it. Mr. Sutro's handling of the difficulty seems to me fairly, but not conspicuously, successful. I cite the case as a typical instance of the problem, a part from the merits or demerits of the solution.

It may be said that the difficulty of bringing home to us the reality of a revulsion of feeling, or radical change of mental attitude, is only a particular case of the playwright's general problem of convincingly externalizing inward conditions and processes. That is true: but the special importance of a conversion which unties the knot and brings the curtain down seemed to render it worthy of special consideration.


Play-making A Manual of Craftsmanship by William Archer

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Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society. Sociolinguistics differs from sociology of language in that the focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the latter's focus is on the language's effect on the society. Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics. It is historically closely related to linguistic anthropology and the distinction between the two fields has even been questioned recently.
It also studies how language varieties differ between groups separated by certain social variables, e.g., ethnicity, religion, status, gender, level of education, age, etc., and how creation and adherence to these rules is used to categorize individuals in social or socioeconomic classes. As the usage of a language varies from place to place, language usage also varies among social classes, and it is these sociolects that sociolinguistics studies.
The social aspects of language were in the modern sense first studied by Indian and Japanese linguists in the 1930s, and also by Gauchat in Switzerland in the early 1900s, but none received much attention in the West until much later. The study of the social motivation of language change, on the other hand, has its foundation in the wave model of the late 19th century. The first attested use of the term sociolinguistics was by Thomas Callan Hodson in the title of a 1939 paper. Sociolinguistics in the West first appeared in the 1960s and was pioneered by linguists such as William Labov in the US and Basil Bernstein in the UK.
Applications of sociolinguistics
For example, a sociolinguist might determine through study of social attitudes that a particular vernacular would not be considered appropriate language use in a business or professional setting. Sociolinguists might also study the grammar, phonetics, vocabulary, and other aspects of this sociolect much as dialectologists would study the same for a regional dialect.
The study of language variation is concerned with social constraints determining language in its contextual environment. Code-switching is the term given to the use of different varieties of language in different social situations.
William Labov is often regarded as the founder of the study of sociolinguistics. He is especially noted for introducing the quantitative study of language variation and change, making the sociology of language into a scientific discipline.
Sociolinguistic interviews are an integral part of collecting data for sociolinguistic studies. There is an interviewer, who is conducting the study, and a subject, or informant, who is the interviewee. In order to get a grasp on a specific linguistic form and how it is used in the dialect of the subject, a variety of methods are used to elicit certain registers of speech. There are five different styles, ranging from formal to casual. The most formal style would be elicited by having the subject read a list of minimal pairs (MP). Minimal pairs are pairs of words that differ in only one phoneme, such as cat and bat. Having the subject read a word list (WL) will elicit a formal register, but generally not as formal as MP. The reading passage (RP) style is next down on the formal register, and the interview style (IS) is when an interviewer can finally get into eliciting a more casual speech from the subject. During the IS the interviewer can converse with the subject and try to draw out of them an even more casual sort of speech by asking him to recall childhood memories or maybe a near death experience, in which case the subject will get deeply involved with the story since strong emotions are often attached to these memories. Of course, the most sought after type of speech is the casual style (CS). This type of speech is difficult if not impossible to elicit because of the Observer's Paradox. The closest one might come to CS in an interview is when the subject is interrupted by a close friend or family member, or perhaps must answer the phone. CS is used in a completely unmonitored environment where the subject feels most comfortable and will use their natural vernacular without overtly thinking about it.
Fundamental concepts in sociolinguistics
While the study of sociolinguistics is very broad, there are a few fundamental concepts on which many sociolinguistic inquiries depend.
Speech community
Main article: Speech community
Speech community is a concept in sociolinguistics that describes a more or less discrete group of people who use language in a unique and mutually accepted way among themselves.
Speech communities can be members of a profession with a specialized jargon, distinct social groups like high school students or hip hop fans, or even tight-knit groups like families and friends. Members of speech communities will often develop slang or jargon to serve the group's special purposes and priorities.
High prestige and low prestige varieties
Main article: Prestige (sociolinguistics)
Crucial to sociolinguistic analysis is the concept of prestige; certain speech habits are assigned a positive or a negative value which is then applied to the speaker. This can operate on many levels. It can be realised on the level of the individual sound/phoneme, as Labov discovered in investigating pronunciation of the post-vocalic /r/ in the North-Eastern USA, or on the macro scale of language choice, as realised in the various diglossias that exist throughout the world, where Swiss-German/High German is perhaps most well known. An important implication of sociolinguistic theory is that speakers 'choose' a variety when making a speech act, whether consciously or subconsciously.
Social network
Understanding language in society means that one also has to understand the social networks in which language is embedded. A social network is another way of describing a particular speech community in terms of relations between individual members in a community. A network could be loose or tight depending on how members interact with each other.[4] For instance, an office or factory may be considered a tight community because all members interact with each other. A large course with 100+ students would be a looser community because students may only interact with the instructor and maybe 1-2 other students. A multiplex community is one in which members have multiple relationships with each other.[4] For instance, in some neighborhoods, members may live on the same street, work for the same employer and even intermarry.
The looseness or tightness of a social network may affect speech patterns adopted by a speaker. For instance, Sylvie Dubois and Barbara Horvath found that speakers in one Cajun Louisiana community were more likely to pronounce English "th" [θ] as [t] (or [ð] as [d]) if they participated in a relatively dense social network (i.e. had strong local ties and interacted with many other speakers in the community), and less likely if their networks were looser (i.e. fewer local ties).
A social network may apply to the macro level of a country or a city, but also to the inter-personal level of neighborhoods or a single family. Recently, social networks have been formed by the Internet, through chat rooms, MySpace groups, organizations, and online dating services.
Internal vs. external language
In Chomskian linguistics, a distinction is drawn between I-language (internal language) and E-language (external language). In this context, internal language applies to the study of syntax and semantics in language on the abstract level; as mentally represented knowledge in a native speaker. External language applies to language in social contexts, i.e. behavioral habits shared by a community. Internal language analyses operate on the assumption that all native speakers of a language are quite homogeneous in how they process and perceive language. External language fields, such as sociolinguistics, attempt to explain why this is in fact not the case. Many sociolinguists reject the distinction between I- and E-language on the grounds that it is based on a mentalist view of language. On this view, grammar is first and foremost an interactional (social) phenomenon (e.g. Elinor Ochs, Emanuel Schegloff, Sandra Thompson).
Differences according to class
Sociolinguistics as a field distinct from dialectology was pioneered through the study of language variation in urban areas. Whereas dialectology studies the geographic distribution of language variation, sociolinguistics focuses on other sources of variation, among them class. Class and occupation are among the most important linguistic markers found in society. One of the fundamental findings of sociolinguistics, which has been hard to disprove, is that class and language variety are related. Members of the working class tend to speak less standard language, while the lower, middle, and upper middle class will in turn speak closer to the standard. However, the upper class, even members of the upper middle class, may often speak 'less' standard than the middle class.The looseness or tightness of a social network may affect speech patterns adopted by a speaker. For instance, Sylvie Dubois and Barbara Horvath found that speakers in one Cajun Louisiana community were more likely to pronounce English "th" [θ] as [t] (or [ð] as [d]) if they participated in a relatively dense social network (i.e. had strong local ties and interacted with many other speakers in the community), and less likely if their networks were looser (i.e. fewer local ties) This is because not only class, but class aspirations, are important.
Class aspiration
Studies, such as those by William Labov in the 1960s, have shown that social aspirations influence speech patterns. This is also true of class aspirations. In the process of wishing to be associated with a certain class (usually the upper class and upper middle class) people who are moving in that direction socio-economically will adjust their speech patterns to sound like them. However, not being native upper class speakers, they often hypercorrect, which involves overcorrecting their speech to the point of introducing new errors. The same is true for individuals moving down in socio-economic status.
Social language codes
Basil Bernstein, a well-known British socio-linguist, devised in his book, 'Elaborated and restricted codes: their social origins and some consequences,' a social code system which he used to classify the various speech patterns for different social classes. He claimed that members of the middle class have ways of organizing their speech which are fundamentally very different from the ways adopted by the working class.
Restricted code
In Basil Bernstein's theory, the restricted code was an example of the speech patterns used by the working-class. He stated that this type of code allows strong bonds between group members, who tend to behave largely on the basis of distinctions such as 'male', 'female', 'older', and 'younger'. This social group also uses language in a way which brings unity between people, and members often do not need to be explicit about meaning, as their shared knowledge and common understanding often bring them together in a way which other social language groups do not experience. The difference with the restricted code is the emphasis on 'we' as a social group, which fosters greater solidarity than an emphasis on 'I'.
Elaborated code
Basil Bernstein also studied what he named the 'elaborated code' explaining that in this type of speech pattern the middle and upper classes use this language style to gain access to education and career advancement. Bonds within this social group are not as well defined and people achieve their social identity largely on the basis of individual disposition and temperament. There is no obvious division of tasks according to sex or age and generally, within this social formation members negotiate and achieve their roles, rather than have them there ready-made in advance. Due to the lack of solidarity the elaborated social language code requires individual intentions and viewpoints to be made explicit as the 'I' has a greater emphasis with this social group than the working class.
Deviation from standard language varieties

A diagram showing variation in the English language by region (the bottom axis) and by social class (the side axis). The higher the social class, the less variation.
The existence of differences in language between social classes can be illustrated by the following table:
Bristolian Dialect (lower class) ... Standard English (higher class)
I ain't done nothing ... I haven't done anything
I done it yesterday ... I did it yesterday
It weren't me that done it ... I didn't do it
Any native speaker of English would immediately be able to guess that speaker 1 was likely of a different social class than speaker 2, namely from a lower social class, probably from a working class pedigree. The differences in grammar between the two examples of speech is referred to as differences between social class dialects or sociolects.
It is also notable that, at least in England and Australia, the closer to standard English a dialect gets, the less the lexicon varies by region, and vice-versa.
Covert prestige
Main article: Prestige (sociolinguistics)
It is generally assumed that non-standard language is low-prestige language. However, in certain groups, such as traditional working class neighborhoods, standard language may be considered undesirable in many contexts. This is because the working class dialect is a powerful in-group marker, and especially for non-mobile individuals, the use of non-standard varieties (even exaggeratedly so) expresses neighborhood pride and group and class solidarity. There will thus be a considerable difference in use of non-standard varieties when going to the pub or having a neighborhood barbecue (high), and going to the bank (lower) for the same individual.
Sociolinguistic variables
Main articles: Variation (linguistics), Dialectology, and Language and gender
Studies in the field of sociolinguistics typically take a sample population and interview them, assessing the realisation of certain sociolinguistic variables.
A commonly studied source of variation is regional dialects. Dialectology studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features. Sociolinguists concerned with grammatical and phonological features that correspond to regional areas are often called dialectologists.
There are several different types of age-based variation one may see within a population. They are: vernacular of a subgroup with membership typically characterized by a specific age range, age-graded variation, and indications of linguistic change in progress.
Variation may also be associated with gender. Men and women, on average, tend to use slightly different language styles. These differences tend to be quantitative rather than qualitative. That is, to say that women use a particular speaking style more than men do is akin to saying that men are taller than women (i.e., men are on average taller than women, but some women are taller than some men).
Further information: Complimentary language and gender

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Literature (from Latin litterae (plural); letter) is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources (although, under circumstances unpublished sources can be exempt). Literally translated, the word literature means "acquaintance with letters" (as in the "arts and letters"). The two major classification of literature are poetry and prose.

"Literature" is sometimes differentiated from popular and ephemeral classes of writing. Terms such as "literary fiction" and "literary merit" are used to distinguish individual works as art-literature rather than vernacular writing, and some critics exclude works from being "literary", for example, on grounds of weak or faulty style, use of slang, poor characterization and shallow or contrived construction. Others exclude all genres such as romance, crime and mystery, science fiction, horror and fantasy. Pop lyrics, which are not technically a written medium at all, have also been drawn into this controversy.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest known literary works. This Babylonian epic poem arises from stories in the Sumerian language. Although the Sumerian stories are older (probably dating to at least 2100 B.C.), it was probably composed around 1900 BC. The epic deals with themes of heroism, friendship, loss, and the quest for eternal life.

Different historical periods are reflected in their literature. National and tribal sagas, accounts of the origin of the world and of customs, and myths which sometimes carry moral or spiritual messages predominate in the pre-urban eras. The epics of Homer, dating from the early to middle Iron age, and the great Indian epics of a slightly later period, have more evidence of deliberate literary authorship, surviving like the older myths through oral tradition for long periods before being written down.

As a more urban culture developed, academies provided a means of transmission for speculative and philosophical literature in early civilizations, resulting in the prevalence of literature in Ancient China, Ancient India, Persia and Ancient Greece and Rome. Many works of earlier periods, even in narrative form, had an covert moral or didactic purpose, such as the Sanskrit Panchatantra or the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Drama and satire also developed as urban culture provided a larger public audience, and later readership, for literary production. Lyric poetry (as opposed to epic poetry) was often the speciality of courts and aristocratic circles, particularly in East Asia where songs were collected by the Chinese aristocracy as poems, the most notable being the Shijing or Book of Songs. Over a long period, the poetry of popular pre-literate balladry and song interpenetrated and eventually influenced poetry in the literary medium.

In ancient China, early literature was primarily focused on philosophy, historiography, military science, agriculture, and poetry. China, the origin of modern paper making and woodblock printing, produced one of the world's first print cultures.[1] Much of Chinese literature originates with the Hundred Schools of Thought period that occurred during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BCE). The most important of these include the Classics of Confucianism, of Daoism, of Mohism, of Legalism, as well as works of military science (e.g. Sun Tzu's The Art of War) and Chinese history (e.g. Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian). Ancient Chinese literature had a heavy emphasis on historiography. The Chinese kept consistent and accurate court records after the year 841 BCE, with the beginning of the Gonghe regency of the Western Zhou Dynasty. The earliest known narrative history of China was the Zuo Zhuan, which was compiled no later than 389 BCE, and attributed to the blind 5th century BCE historian Zuo Qiuming.

In ancient India, literature originated from stories that were originally orally transmitted. Early genres included drama, fables, sutras and epic poetry. Sanskrit literature begins with the Vedas, dating back to 1500–1000 BCE, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India. The Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts. The Samhitas date to roughly 1500–1000 BCE, and the "circum-Vedic" texts, as well as the redaction of the Samhitas, date to c. 1000-500 BCE, resulting in a Vedic period, spanning the mid 2nd to mid 1st millennium BCE, or the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age.[2] The period between approximately the 6th to 1st centuries BC saw the composition and redaction of the two most influential Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, with subsequent redaction progressing down to the 4th century AD.

In ancient Greece, the epics of Homer, who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Hesiod, who wrote Works and Days and Theogony, are some of the earliest, and most influential, of Ancient Greek literature. Classical Greek genres included philosophy, poetry, historiography, comedies and dramas. Plato and Aristotle authored philosophical texts that are the foundation of Western philosophy, Sappho and Pindar were influential lyrical poets, and Herodotus and Thucydides were early Greek historians. Although drama was popular in Ancient Greece, of the hundreds of tragedies written and performed during the classical age, only a limited number of plays by three authors still exist: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The plays of Aristophanes provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, the earliest form of Greek Comedy, and are in fact used to define the genre.[3]

Roman histories and biographies anticipated the extensive mediaeval literature of lives of saints and miraculous chronicles, but the most characteristic form of the Middle Ages was the romance, an adventurous and sometimes magical narrative with strong popular appeal. Controversial, religious, political and instructional literature proliferated during the Renaissance as a result of the invention of printing, while the mediaeval romance developed into a more character-based and psychological form of narrative, the novel, of which early and important examples are the Chinese Monkey and the German Faust books.

In the Age of Reason philosophical tracts and speculations on history and human nature integrated literature with social and political developments. The inevitable reaction was the explosion of Romanticism in the later 18th century which reclaimed the imaginative and fantastical bias of old romances and folk-literature and asserted the primacy of individual experience and emotion. But as the 19th-century went on, European fiction evolved towards realism and naturalism, the meticulous documentation of real life and social trends. Much of the output of naturalism was implicitly polemical, and influenced social and political change, but 20th century fiction and drama moved back towards the subjective, emphasising unconscious motivations and social and environmental pressures on the individual. Writers such as Eliot, Joyce, Kafka and Pirandello exemplify the trend of documenting internal rather than external realities.

Genre fiction, conventionally equated with escapism and static formulas, also threw reality into question in its distinctive 20th-Century developments, through the enquiries of the ever-sceptical detective and the alternative realities of science fiction. The separation of "mainstream" and "genre" forms (including journalism) continued to blur during the period up to our own times.

A poem is a composition written in verse (although verse has been equally used for epic and dramatic fiction). Poems rely heavily on imagery, precise word choice, and metaphor; they may take the form of measures consisting of patterns of stresses (metric feet) or of patterns of different-length syllables (as in classical prosody); and they may or may not utilize rhyme. One cannot readily characterize poetry precisely. Typically though, poetry as a form of literature makes some significant use of the formal properties of the words it uses – the properties of the written or spoken form of the words, independent of their meaning. Meter depends on syllables and on rhythms of speech; rhyme and alliteration depend on the sounds of words.

Arguably, poetry pre-dates other forms of literature. Early examples include the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (dated from around 2700 B.C.), parts of the Bible, the surviving works of Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey), and the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. In cultures based primarily on oral traditions the formal characteristics of poetry often have a mnemonic function, and important texts: legal, genealogical or moral, for example, may appear first in verse form.

Some poetry uses specific forms. Examples include the haiku, the limerick, and the sonnet. A traditional haiku written in Japanese relate to nature, contain seventeen onji (syllables), distributed over three lines in groups of five, seven, and five, and should also have a kigo, a specific word indicating a season. A limerick has five lines, with a rhyme scheme of AABBA, and line lengths of 3,3,2,2,3 stressed syllables. It traditionally has a less reverent attitude towards nature. Poetry not adhering to a formal poetic structure is called "free verse"

Language and tradition dictate some poetic norms: Persian poetry always rhymes, Greek poetry rarely rhymes, Italian or French poetry often does, English and German poetry can go either way. Perhaps the most paradigmatic style of English poetry, blank verse, as exemplified in works by Shakespeare and Milton, consists of unrhymed iambic pentameters. Some languages prefer longer lines; some shorter ones. Some of these conventions result from the ease of fitting a specific language's vocabulary and grammar into certain structures, rather than into others; for example, some languages contain more rhyming words than others, or typically have longer words. Other structural conventions come about as the result of historical accidents, where many speakers of a language associate good poetry with a verse form preferred by a particular skilled or popular poet.

Works for theatre (see below) traditionally took verse form. This has now become rare outside opera and musicals, although many would argue that the language of drama remains intrinsically poetic.

In recent years, digital poetry has arisen that takes advantage of the artistic, publishing, and synthetic qualities of digital media.

An essay consists of a discussion of a topic from an author's personal point of view, exemplified by works by Michel de Montaigne or by Charles Lamb.

'Essay' in English derives from 'attempt.' Thus, one can find open-ended, provocative and/or inconclusive essays. The term "essays" first applied to the self-reflective musings of Michel de Montaigne--even today he has a reputation as the father of this literary form.

Genres related to the essay may include:

the memoir, telling the story of an author's life from the author's personal point of view
the epistle: usually a formal, didactic, or elegant letter.
works by Lady Murasaki[citation needed], the Arabic Hayy ibn Yaqdhan by Ibn Tufail, the Arabic Theologus Autodidactus by Ibn al-Nafis, and the Chinese Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong[citation needed].

Early novels in Europe did not count as significant litera perhaps because "mere" prose writing seemed easy and unimportant. It has become clear, however, that prose writing can provide aesthetic pleasure without adhering to poetic forms. Additionally, the freedom authors gain in not having to concern themselves with verse structure translates often into a more complex plot or into one richer in precise detail than one typically finds even in narrative poetry. This freedom also allows an author to experiment with many different literary and presentation styles—including poetry—in the scope of a single novel.

A play or drama offers another classical literary form that has continued to evolve over the years. It generally comprises chiefly dialogue between characters, and usually aims at dramatic / theatrical performance (see theatre) rather than at reading. During the 18th and 19th centuries, opera developed as a combination of poetry, drama, and music. Nearly all drama took verse form until comparatively recently. Shakespeare could be considered drama. Romeo and Juliet, for example, is a classic romantic drama generally accepted as literature.

Greek drama exemplifies the earliest form of drama of which we have substantial knowledge. Tragedy, as a dramatic genre, developed as a performance associated with religious and civic festivals, typically enacting or developing upon well-known historical or mythological themes. Tragedies generally presented very serious themes. With the advent of newer technologies, scripts written for non-stage media have been added to this form. War of the Worlds (radio) in 1938 saw the advent of literature written for radio broadcast, and many works of Drama have been adapted for film or television. Conversely, television, film, and radio literature have been adapted to printed or electronic media. HI“”
Oral literature
The term oral literature refers not to written, but to oral traditions, which includes different types of epic, poetry and drama, folktales, ballads.

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Meaning (linguistics)

In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing (law of identity). In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same. But out of these three only two can be verified or falsified, namely the object itself, its referent (may be in different languages), the concepts are not. Hence the inferred from the objects and the concepts are expressed by words, phrases or sentences in semantics that are to be agreed on by the speakers. Clearly, this also calls for an agreement or synchronization of the other two elements, the concepts and the objects. Objects may be shown as pictures, and concepts may be defined by providing various verbal clues.

Meaning is inferred not only from the verbal form, but from the current context. It assumed that some intended meaning is present by the writer or speaker in pragmatics in the message, which is then interpreted in terms of the knowledge of the listener or reader. The knowledge of the audience will determine how much or what he/she understands from the message. Besides, the more he knows, the more options he has to see different senses to the messages. This does not mean that he is more prone to misunderstand the message than the one who is familiar with one sense only - which is the objective of all participants in a communication situation. But it may not be case, if they want to cover up the message before outsiders. They may even choose to use non-linguistic devices. Therefore the intent and the message of the sender of a malevolent practitioner (with respect to the outsiders, or the counter-interested parties) will remain "cryptographic", which means that it will be open to many interpretations so that the tracker may get lost in trying to figure out what the message is about. Human creativity (for bad causes as well) is unlimited.
The sources of ambiguity
Ambiguity means confusion about what is conveyed, since the current context may lead to different interpretations of meaning or sense. The reasons must be clear. It is about breaking the rule of identity.
Pragmatic meaning

Pragmatics studies the ways that context affects meaning. The two primary forms of context important to pragmatics are linguistic context and situational context. In applied pragmatics, for example, meaning is formed through sensory experiences, even though sensory stimulus cannot be easily articulated in language or signs. Pragmatics, then, reveals that meaning is both something affected by and affecting the world. Meaning is something contextual with respect to language and the world, and is also something active toward other meanings and the world.

Ferdinand de Saussure described language in terms of signs, which he in turn divided into signifieds and signifiers. The signifier is the sound of the linguistic object. The signified, on the other hand, is the mental construction or image associated with the sound. The sign, then, is essentially the relationship between the two.

Signs themselves exist only in opposition to other signs, which means that "bat" has meaning only because it is not "cat" or "ball" or "boy". This is because signs are essentially arbitrary, as any foreign language student is well aware: there is no reason that bat couldn't mean "that bust of Napoleon over there" or "this body of water". Since the choice of signifiers is ultimately arbitrary, the meaning cannot somehow be in the signifier. Saussure instead defers meaning to the sign itself: meaning is ultimately the same thing as the sign, and meaning means that relationship between signified and signifier. This, in turn, means that all meaning is both within us and communal. Signs mean by reference to our internal lexicon and grammar, and despite their being a matter of convention, that is, a public thing, signs can only mean something to the individual - what red means to one person may not be what red means to another. However, while meanings may vary to some extent from individual to individual, only those meanings which stay within a boundary are seen by other speakers of the language to refer to reality: if one were to refer to smells as red, most other speakers would assume the person is talking nonsense (although statements like this are common among people who experience synesthesia).

Linguistic context becomes important when looking at particular linguistic problems such as that of pronouns. In most situations, for example, the pronoun him in the sentence "Joe also saw him" has a radically different meaning if preceded by "Jerry said he saw a guy riding an elephant" than it does if preceded by "Jerry saw the bank robber" or "Jerry saw your dog run that way". Linguistic context is how meaning is understood without relying on intent and assumptions.

Situational context would to the extent possible refer to every non-linguistic factor that affects the meaning of a phrase. Nearly anything can be included in the list, from the time of day to the people involved to the location of the speaker or the temperature of the room. An example of situational context at work is evident in the phrase "it's cold in here", which can either be a simple statement of fact or a request to turn up the heat, depending on, among other things, whether or not it is believed to be in the listener's power to affect the temperature.
Semantic meaning

In logical or formal Semantics the study of meaning is conveyed through signs and language. Linguistic semantics focuses on the history of how words have been used in the past. General semantics is about how people mean and refer in terms of likely intent and assumptions. These three kinds of semantics formal, historical, and general Semantics are studied in many different branches of science, but the the three main types are not always carefully disitnguished from each other, and consequently how meaning is studied may vary. Understanding how facial expressions, body language, and tone affects meaning, and how words, phrases, sentences, and punctuation relate to meaning are also examples of what Semanticists study.

Philosopher John Stuart Mill during the 19th century defined semantic meaning with the help of words like "denotation" and "connotation". Mill defined denotation to mean reference and allowed that words, collocations, and sentences could do the referring or denoting. Today denotation means the normal or traditional use of a word. Connotations are associations which people make with words. The original use of "meaning" as understood early in the 20th century by Lady Welby, happened after her daughter had translated the term "semantics" from French.

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Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. It studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on the linguistic knowledge (e.g. grammar, lexicon etc.) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, knowledge about the status of those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker, and so on. In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity, since meaning relies on the manner, place, time etc. of an utterance.[1] The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence. So an utterance describing pragmatic function is described as metapragmatic. Pragmatic awareness is regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of language learning, and comes only through experience
The sentence "You have a green light" is ambiguous. Without knowing the context, the identity of the speaker, and their intent, it is not possible to infer the meaning with confidence. For example:
• It could mean you have green ambient lighting.
• Or that you have a green light to drive your car.
• Or it could be indicating that you can go ahead with the project.
• Or that your body has a green glow.
Similarly, the sentence "Sherlock saw the man with binoculars" could mean that Sherlock observed the man by using binoculars; or it could mean that Sherlock observed a man who was holding binoculars.[3] The meaning of the sentence depends on an understanding of the context and the speaker's intent. As defined in linguistics, a sentence is an abstract entity — a string of words divorced from non-linguistic context — as opposed to an utterance, which is a concrete example of a speech act in a specific context. The closer conscious subjects stick to common words, idioms, phrasings, and topics, the more easily others can surmise their meaning; the further they stray from common expressions and topics, the wider the variations in interpretations. This suggests that sentences do not have meaning intrinsically; there is not a meaning associated with a sentence or word, they can only symbolically represent an idea. The cat sat on the mat is a sentence of English; if you say to your sister on Tuesday afternoon: "The cat sat on the mat", this is an example of an utterance. Thus, there is no such thing as a sentence, term, expression or word symbolically representing a single true meaning; it is underspecified (which cat sat on which mat?) and potentially ambiguous. The meaning of an utterance, on the other hand, is inferred based on linguistic knowledge and knowledge of the non-linguistic context of the utterance (which may or may not be sufficient to resolve ambiguity). In mathematics with Berry's paradox there arose a systematic ambiguity with the word "definable". The ambiguity with words shows that the descriptive power of any human language is limited.
Pragmatics was a reaction to structuralist linguistics as outlined by Ferdinand de Saussure. In many cases, it expanded upon his idea that language has an analyzable structure, composed of parts that can be defined in relation to others. Pragmatics first engaged only in synchronic study, as opposed to examining the historical development of language. However, it rejected the notion that all meaning comes from signs existing purely in the abstract space of langue. Meanwhile, historical pragmatics has also come into being.
• The study of the speaker's meaning, not focusing on the phonetic or grammatical form of an utterance, but instead on what the speaker's intentions and beliefs are.
• The study of the meaning in context, and the influence that a given context can have on the message. It requires knowledge of the speaker's identities, and the place and time of the utterance.
• The study of implicatures, i.e. the things that are communicated even though they are not explicitly expressed.
• The study of relative distance, both social and physical, between speakers in order to understand what determines the choice of what is said and what is not said.
• The study of what is not meant, as opposed to the intended meaning, i.e. that which is unsaid and unintended, or unintentional.
• Information Structure, the study of how utterances are marked in order to efficiently manage the common ground of referred entities between speaker and hearer
• Formal Pragmatics, the study of those aspects of meaning and use, for which context of use is an important factor, by using the methods and goals of formal semantics.
• When we speak of the referential uses of language we are talking about how we use signs to refer to certain items. Below is an explanation of, first, what a sign is, second, how meanings are accomplished through its usage.

A sign is the link or relationship between a signified and the signifier as defined by Saussure and Huguenin. The signified is some entity or concept in the world. The signifier represents the signified. An example would be:
Signified: the concept cat
Signifier: the word "cat"
The relationship between the two gives the sign meaning. This relationship can be further explained by considering what we mean by "meaning." In pragmatics, there are two different types of meaning to consider: semantico-referential meaning and indexical meaning. Semantico-referential meaning refers to the aspect of meaning, which describes events in the world that are independent of the circumstance they are uttered in. An example would be propositions such as:

"Santa Claus eats cookies."
• In this case, the proposition is describing that Santa Claus eats cookies. The meaning of this proposition does not rely on whether or not Santa Claus is eating cookies at the time of its utterance. Santa Claus could be eating cookies at any time and the meaning of the proposition would remain the same. The meaning is simply describing something that is the case in the world. In contrast, the proposition, "Santa Claus is eating a cookie right now," describes events that are happening at the time the proposition is uttered.
• Semantico-referential meaning is also present in meta-semantical statements such as:

Tiger: omnivorous, a mammal

If someone were to say that a tiger is an omnivorous animal in one context and a mammal in another, the definition of tiger would still be the same. The meaning of the sign tiger is describing some animal in the world, which does not change in either circumstance.
• Indexical meaning, on the other hand, is dependent on the context of the utterance and has rules of use. By rules of use, it is meant that indexicals can tell you when they are used, but not what they actually mean.

Example: "I"
• Whom "I" refers to depends on the context and the person uttering it.
• As mentioned, these meanings are brought about through the relationship between the signified and the signifier. One way to define the relationship is by placing signs in two categories: referential indexical signs, also called "shifters," and pure indexical signs.

Referential indexical signs are signs where the meaning shifts depending on the context hence the nickname "shifters." 'I' would be considered a referential indexical sign. The referential aspect of its meaning would be '1st person singular' while the indexical aspect would be the person who is speaking (refer above for definitions of semantico-referential and indexical meaning). Another example would be:
• "This"
Referential: singular count
Indexical: Close by
• A pure indexical sign does not contribute to the meaning of the propositions at all. It is an example of a ""non-referential use of language.""

A second way to define the signified and signifier relationship is C.S. Peirce's Peircean Trichotomy. The components of the trichotomy are the following:
• 1. Icon: the signified resembles the signifier (signified: a dog's barking noise, signifier: bow-wow)
2. Index: the signified and signifier are linked by proximity or the signifier has meaning only because it is pointing to the signified
3. Symbol: the signified and signifier are arbitrarily linked (signified: a cat, signifier: the word cat)

These relationships allow us to use signs to convey what we want to say. If two people were in a room and one of them wanted to refer to a characteristic of a chair in the room he would say "this chair has four legs" instead of "a chair has four legs." The former relies on context (indexical and referential meaning) by referring to a chair specifically in the room at that moment while the latter is independent of the context (semantico-referential meaning), meaning the concept chair.
Silverstein's "pure" indexes
Michael Silverstein has argued that "nonreferential" or "pure" indices do not contribute to an utterance's referential meaning but instead "signal some particular value of one or more contextual variables."[4] Although nonreferential indexes are devoid of semantico-referential meaning, they do encode "pragmatic" meaning.
The sorts of contexts that such indexes can mark are varied. Examples include:
• Sex indexes are affixes or inflections that index the sex of the speaker, e.g. the verb forms of female Koasati speakers take the suffix "-s".
• Deference indexes are words that signal social differences (usually related to status or age) between the speaker and the addressee. The most common example of a deference index is the V form in a language with a T-V distinction, the widespread phenomenon in which there are multiple second-person pronouns that correspond to the addressee's relative status or familiarity to the speaker. Honorifics are another common form of deference index and demonstrate the speaker's respect or esteem for the addressee via special forms of address and/or self-humbling first-person pronouns.
• An Affinal taboo index is an example of avoidance speech and produces and reinforces sociological distance, as seen in the Aboriginal Dyirbal language of Australia. In this language and some others, there is a social taboo against the use of the everyday lexicon in the presence of certain relatives (mother-in-law, child-in-law, paternal aunt's child, and maternal uncle's child). If any of those relatives are present, a Dyirbal speaker has to switch to a completely separate lexicon reserved for that purpose.
In all of these cases, the semantico-referential meaning of the utterances is unchanged from that of the other possible (but often impermissible) forms, but the pragmatic meaning is vastly different.
The performative
Main articles: Performative utterance, Speech act theory
J.L. Austin introduced the concept of the performative, contrasted in his writing with "constative" (i.e. descriptive) utterances. According to Austin's original formulation, a performative is a type of utterance characterized by two distinctive features:
• It is not truth-evaluable (i.e. it is neither true nor false)
• Its uttering performs an action rather than simply describing one
However, a performative utterance must also conform to a set of felicity conditions.
• "I hereby pronounce you man and wife."
• "I accept your apology."
• "This meeting is now adjourned."
Jakobson's six functions of language
Main article: Jakobson's functions of language

The six factors of an effective verbal communication. To each one corresponds a communication function (not displayed in this picture).[5]
Roman Jakobson, expanding on the work of Karl Bühler, described six "constitutive factors" of a speech event, each of which represents the privileging of a corresponding function, and only one of which is the referential (which corresponds to the context of the speech event). The six constitutive factors and their corresponding functions are diagrammed below.
The six constitutive factors of a speech event

The six functions of language
• The Referential Function corresponds to the factor of Context and describes a situation, object or mental state. The descriptive statements of the referential function can consist of both definite descriptions and deictic words, e.g. "The autumn leaves have all fallen now."
• The Expressive (alternatively called "emotive" or "affective") Function relates to the Addresser and is best exemplified by interjections and other sound changes that do not alter the denotative meaning of an utterance but do add information about the Addresser's (speaker's) internal state, e.g. "Wow, what a view!"
• The Conative Function engages the Addressee directly and is best illustrated by vocatives and imperatives, e.g. "Tom! Come inside and eat!"
• The Poetic Function focuses on "the message for its own sake"[6] and is the operative function in poetry as well as slogans.
• The Phatic Function is language for the sake of interaction and is therefore associated with the Contact factor. The Phatic Function can be observed in greetings and casual discussions of the weather, particularly with strangers.
• The Metalingual (alternatively called "metalinguistic" or "reflexive") Function is the use of language (what Jakobson calls "Code") to discuss or describe itself.
Related fields
There is considerable overlap between pragmatics and sociolinguistics, since both share an interest in linguistic meaning as determined by usage in a speech community. However, sociolinguists tend to be more interested in variations in language within such communities.
Pragmatics helps anthropologists relate elements of language to broader social phenomena; it thus pervades the field of linguistic anthropology. Because pragmatics describes generally the forces in play for a given utterance, it includes the study of power, gender, race, identity, and their interactions with individual speech acts. For example, the study of code switching directly relates to pragmatics, since a switch in code effects a shift in pragmatic force.[6]
According to Charles W. Morris, pragmatics tries to understand the relationship between signs and their users, while semantics tends to focus on the actual objects or ideas to which a word refers, and syntax (or "syntactics") examines relationships among signs or symbols. Semantics is the literal meaning of an idea whereas pragmatics is the implied meaning of the given idea.
Speech Act Theory, pioneered by J.L. Austin and further developed by John Searle, centers around the idea of the performative, a type of utterance that performs the very action it describes. Speech Act Theory's examination of Illocutionary Acts has many of the same goals as pragmatics, as outlined above.
Pragmatics in philosophy
Pragmatics (more specifically, Speech Act Theory's notion of the performative) underpins Judith Butler's theory of gender performativity. In Gender Trouble, she claims that gender and sex are not natural categories, but socially constructed roles produced by "reiterative acting."
In Excitable Speech she extends her theory of performativity to hate speech and censorship, arguing that censorship necessarily strengthens any discourse it tries to suppress and therefore, since the state has sole power to define hate speech legally, it is the state that makes hate speech performative.
Jaques Derrida remarked that some work done under Pragmatics aligned well with the program he outlined in his book Of Grammatology.
Émile Benveniste argued that the pronouns "I" and "you" are fundamentally distinct from other pronouns because of their role in creating the subject.
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari discuss linguistic pragmatics in the fourth chapter of A Thousand Plateaus ("November 20, 1923--Postulates of Linguistics"). They draw three conclusions from Austin: (1) A performative utterance does not communicate information about an act second-hand—it is the act; (2) Every aspect of language ("semantics, syntactics, or even phonematics") functionally interacts with pragmatics; (3) There is no distinction between language and speech. This last conclusion attempts to refute Saussure's division between langue and parole and Chomsky's distinction between surface structure and deep structure simultaneously.

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