Functional Styles of English Language

Functional Styles of English Language. This handout contains brief discussions on the definitions, classifications, and specific examples of the functional styles of English language. 

Functional style is a system of interrelated language means serving a definite aim in communication. It is the coordination of the language means and stylistic devices which shapes the distinctive features of each style and not the language means or stylistic devices themselves. Each style however, can be recognized by one or leading features which are especially conspicuous.

5 Functional Styles of English Language

  1. Belles-Letters Functional Style (Poetry, Emotive Prose, Drama)
    • Its function is aesthetic- cognitive; cognitive on the other hand and receiving pleasure on the other.
    • The means of this functional style are:
      • Genuine imaginative means and stylistic devices
      • The use of words in its contextual meaning
      • The individual choice of vocabulary which reflects the author’s personal evaluation
      • The peculiar individual selection of syntax
  2. Publicist Functional Style (Oratory, Essays, Newspaper and Magazine Articles)
    • It treats certain political, social, economic, and cultural problems.
    • Its aim is to form public opinion, and/or to convince the reader or the listener.
    • It (oratory) makes use of great hummer of expressive means to arouse and keep the publicist’s interest: repetition, gradation, antithesis, rhetorical questions, emotive words and elements of colloquial speech.
    • It (radio and TV commentaries) is less impersonal, more expressive and emotional.
    • It (essay) is very subjective and the most colloquial of all the sub-styles; it makes use of expressive means and tropes.
  3. Newspaper Functional Style (Brief News Items, Advertisements, Announcements, Headlines)
    • Its (brief news item) function is to inform the reader; it states the facts without giving comments.
    • Its (headline) main function is to inform the reader briefly what the news is to follow about.
    • The function (of advertisement and/or announcement) is to inform the reader. In classified, the information is arranged according to the subject matter.
  4. Scientific Prose Style (Exact Sciences, Humanitarian Sciences, Popular-Science Prose)
    • Its function is to work out and ground the theoretically objective knowledge about reality.
    • The aim of communication is to create new concepts and disclose the international laws of concepts.
    • The peculiarities are: objectiveness, logical coherence, impersonality, unemotional character, exactness.
    • The use of terms and words used to express a specialized concept in a given branch of science.
    • The logical presentation and cohesion of thought manifests itself in a developed feature of scientific syntax is the use of established patterns: postulatory, formulative, and argumentative.
    • The impersonal and objective character of scientific prose style is revealed in the frequent use of passive constructions, impersonal sentences.
  5. Official Documents Style (Diplomatic Documents, Business Letters, Military Documents, Legal Documents)
    • Its aims include reaching agreement between two contracting parties, and stating the conditions binding two parties in an understanding.
    • The vocabulary is conservative.
    • Legal documents contain a large portion of formal and archaic words used in their dictionary meaning.
    • In diplomatic and legal documents, many words have Latin and French origin.
    • There are a lot of abbreviations and conventional symbols.
    • The most noticeable feature of grammar is the compositional pattern. Every document has its own stereotyped form. The form itself is informative and tells you with what kind of letter we deal with.
    • Morphological peculiarities are passive constructions; they make the letters impersonal
    • There is a tendency to avoid pronoun reference.
    • Its typical feature is to frame equally important factors and to divide them by members in order to avoid ambiguity of the wrong interpretation.