pile of books
skip main nav
 Ling 131: Language & Style

Topic 3 (session A) - Patterns, Deviations, Style and Meaning > Foregrounding, deviation and parallelism

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

Foregrounding, Deviation and Parallelism

This topic is all about how and why writersFOREGROUND parts of their texts and what meanings and effects are associated with these foregroundings. The theory of FOREGROUNDING is probably the most important theory within Stylistic Analysis, and foregrounding analysis is arguably the most important part of the stylistic analysis of any text.

The words 'foreground' and 'foregrounding' are themselves foregrounded in the previous paragraph. They stand out perceptually as a consequence of the fact that they DEVIATE graphologically from the text which surrounds them in a number of ways. The other words are in lower case, but they are capitalised. The other words are black but they are multicoloured. The other words are visually stable but they are irregular.

One way to produce foregrounding in a text, then, is through linguistic deviation. Another way is to introduce extra linguistic patterning into a text. The most common way of introducing this extra patterning is by repeating linguistic structures more often than we would normally expect to make parts of texts PARALLEL with one another. So, for example, if you look at the last three sentences of the previous paragraph you should feel that they are parallel to one another. They have the same overall grammatical structure (grammatical parallelism) and some of the words are repeated in identical syntactic locations.

Note that lots of the things we explored in terms of special meanings and effects in the analysis of particular texts and textual extracts in Topics 1 and 2 can be re-cast in terms of deviation, parallelism and foregrounding. You may find it helpful, after you have found out more about these topics, to revisit those earlier parts of this website and think about them in terms of foregrounding theory.

To sum up, we can say that:description of following animation

Now we need to work on FOREGROUNDING, deviation and parallelism in more detail.

to the top
Next: Foregrounding next

Home ¦ Outline ¦ Contents ¦ Glossary