Language and Literature2020

Language and Literature2020

Let’s learn about the difference between Language and Literature in detail…

Language and Literature2020

Language and literature

Language is central to all human activity and all literature is also manifested in and through language. All our individual and social activities are possible through language because functions as a powerful symbol for the representation of reality. We need to understand the difference between language and the actual objects or events of actual life or language and literature.

For example, the word ‘tree’  consists of three sound ‘t’, ‘re and the long vowel as denoted by ‘ee’. The tree as an actual physical object is part of the world. So we have the sign ‘tree’ and the actual object of the tree. When the sign, which is born out of, The use in society gets associated with the object for its users, then the sign can be said to have meaning.

This is how meanings get associated with spoken words and we begin to call them words and the larger units as sentences etc.

Language is a versatile medium of communication. It is used for all kinds of human communication- in gossip, in Commerical transactions, in political persuasion, in scientific reports, in advertisement and in ‘literature’ etc. If we classify the above into two groups, I.e., non-literary and literary languages, then can we distinguish between the two varieties of language? The answer may be is provided on the basis of the following two reasons:

Firstly (Language and Literature)

Language and literature

The ‘non-Literary’ or the ‘Ordinary’ and Practical Language Can be an aid to be Used in Carrying on the Practicalities. of Everyday Life, Literary Language does Not Use Language in ‘Real’ Day-to-Day Situation.

The Literary Language may be Life and Analogous to Ordinary Language, as in novels and Dramas, But It’s not Carry Forward the actual happenings, between ‘Real’ people such as Meeting, Praising, giving a Loan making a Transaction, teaching a Class etc. In this sense, literary language can be said to a historical.

Secondly ( Language and Literature)

Language and literature2020

Language and Literature

Literary language can be seen to deviate or violate in structure from the ‘ordinary’ language in many ways. Many scholars believe that literary writers have a very subtle experience to communicate and since ordinary language is unable to meet their requirements, they resort to pattering or distortion of language forms for aesthetic purposes.

By aesthetics, we mean the pleasure that one derives from the observation of an object by itself. This ‘joy’ is not really to any ‘practical’ use of language.

For example ‘Roman’ Jakobson (Linguistics and poetics: A closing statement ‘ in T.A. Sebeok (Ed) style in language MIT press) cites an example where a lady says “I like IKe”. When someone asked why she didn’t say ” IKe for me” or ” I like Eisenhower” (President Eisenhower of USA was known as IKe), she replied that the expression she used as a pleasure of its own. Similar is the case of all literary language. Literary language creates meanings by using language in both conventional and non-conventional ways.

Language and Literature……

The conventional or the ‘literal’ use of language gives us known meanings of words whereas the unconventional or literary language creates new meanings through forms like the metaphor etc. ( The present Block will introduce you to the way meanings are ‘extended ‘ or ‘re-created’ in literary language).

Language as a medium of communication functions mainly through two modes’ i.e., spoken and the written. We use the spoken medium in our daily communication, and we use the written medium in all our writings and readings, official or otherwise. These two modes have some significant differences which as below:


Language and literature2020

  1. We speak and listen to speech – so vocal and auditory systems are used.
  2. Speech (minus the recording system) is transient, for it dissipates in the air after it is spoken.
  3. Speech has different degrees of pauses and it uses intonation contours for statements, questions, special focus etc.
  4. Speaker and hearer are generally close and here there is greater integration between the two.
  5. Since the interlocutors are present, which is assumed, resulting in utterances which are grammatically incomplete.


Language and literature 2020

  1. We write, and read what is written and hence it involves our visual capacity. Writing can be presented as a record.
  2. Writing exploits punctuation to give a rhythm of language, and also we can have diagrams, graphs, charts and equations in writing.
  3. Writing generally involves some distance between the writer and the reader and hence it involves distance between the interlocutors.
  4. Due to distance, writing generally is more grammatically complete.

Language and Literature……

Although the two are different modes of the language they are not entirely exclusive, e.g., we can find elements of speech in writing dialogues as in novels and dramas,  and know about language and literature, are even have the written form in speech as in the news broadcast/telecast over the Radio/Tv.

All dramas (plays) are constructed on the pattern of oral speech (dialogues). Dialogues in drama function at two levels as shown in the diagram below. From short (1989:49) [M.short 1989: ‘Discourse analysis and the analysis of drama.’ In R Carton and P. Simpson (eds) language, Discourse and Literature, London: Unwin Hyman.]

In writing, we generally, come across two varieties of speech- ‘direct’ speech and the ‘indirect’ speech. Look at two structures two:

  1. She said, ‘I’ll come here tomorrow”


2. I’ll come here tomorrow, “she said

3. She said that she would go there the following day. ( indirect speech)

Indirect speech, we have the reporting verb which can be different from the tense of the reported speech in inverted commas. The indirect speech changes to the pronounce, the adverbs of time, and the tense of the reported speech etc.

Language and Literature…….

Language and literature 2020

In novels and short stories, we find a third variety called the ‘free indirect discourse’  (FID). The FID combines elements from both the indirect speech and its function to present a ‘stream of consciousness ‘ etc. The above sentence can be rendered in FID as:

4. She would be there tomorrow.

Here the adverb ‘tomorrow ‘ has the form as in the direct speech and the phrase ‘she would’ as in the indirect speech and the higher reporting verb as ‘she said’ is missing.

Language and literature….

The FID expressions at times do carry the punctuation marks found indirect speech such as questions Mark or sign of in interrogation etc. This technique is used more in short stories and novels about which you will read more in later blocks.

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