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 Ling 131: Language & Style

Topic 3 (session A) - Patterns, Deviations, Style and Meaning > Deviation: non-literary examples

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Session Overview
Overview of foregrounding, deviation and parallelism
Deviation: non - literary examples
Deviation: literary examples
Parallelism: non-literary examples
Parallelism: literary examples
Useful Links

Deviation for Foregrounding Purposes - A Universal Phenomenon

Deviation occurs when we have a set of rules or expectations which are broken in some way. Like the way this font has just changed. This deviation from expectation produces the effect of foregrounding, which attracts attention and aids memorability. Deviation is by no means restricted just to language.

For example, most people are taught that it is rude to pick their nose, and indeed this social rule is so strong that nose-picking is rarely seen in public gatherings. But you do sometimes see car drivers doing it. This will count as unusual, or marked behaviour for you, and may make you offended or amused. Whatever specific reaction you have to the nose-picking, because it is deviant behaviour you cannot easily ignore it, and indeed you will feel a need to explain or interpret it. People who are amused by such behaviour often point out, for example, that car drivers think of their cars as being private spaces when actually they are rather public because of the need for the driver to have all-round vision when driving. description of following flash animation

The picture of the professor figure on the homepage for this website is wearing a bow tie. This is because the designer for this course, Mick Short, wears a bow tie and the teacher-researchers helping him create the course thought it would be fun to have him on the site "in person".

The wearing of bow ties is deviant in terms of the dress code in UK universities. Most male academics don't wear ties at all, and those who do usually wear traditional 'kipper' ties. So Mick's unusual dress counts as a 'signature' for him, making him stand out from the crowd, and at the same time shows he is always interested in deviation and foregrounded behaviour!
Note that all you need for deviation to occur is a set of rules, however informal or intuitive, which are then broken.

Want to compare what Mick looks like with/without his bow tie? Have a look below!

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