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Seeing Through Language: A Guide to Styles of English Writing

ISBN: 978-0-631-15135-7
280 pages
January 1991, Wiley-Blackwell
Seeing Through Language: A Guide to Styles of English Writing (0631151354) cover image


Riddle: Why is a telescope like a bad excuse? Answer: Because anyone can see through it.

The authors of this book would like to help anyone - but particularly students of English - to "see through" language, whether as the instrument of perception or as the evasive code. They write about texts, and the making of texts, and how texts are made to carry various kinds of meaning; and the topics they choose to write about range from the lexicon of car maintenance manuals to the role of grammatical modality in literary criticism. Their aim is to help students who may have little experience of linguistic studies to develop the articulate awareness of language that may subsequently be of service to them.

The book has something to say about aesthetics, but it is not addressed to aesthetes; and much to say about the functions of language. One of its aims is to be of value to students and teachers of English by providing close and extensive readings of non-literary as well as literary texts. It is thus a demonstration of techniques and themes in stylistics, but it also has claims as a manual of self-defence for citizens beset by the salesmanship of words. Above all, it is concerned with creativeness, particularly as developed through the complementary processes of textual analysis and textual composition. The programme of exercises with which the book concludes is designed to enhance not only the student's understanding of various types of text, but also the ability to turn perception into productivity through the process of writing.

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Table of Contents



1. Language and Style.

2. Language, Style and Literariness.

3. Sample Cases.

4. Style, Composition and Creativeness.


Further Reading.


Glossarial Index.

Index of Extracts.

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Author Information

Ronald Carter is Senior Lecturer in English and Director of the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) at the University of Nottingham. He is also currently acting as National Coordinator of the Language in the National Curriculum (LINC) project.

Walter Nash is Professor of Modern English Language at the University of Nottingham.

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The Wiley Advantage

  • Wealth and range of exemplary texts
  • Use of stylistics as a way of teaching the facts of grammar, phonetics and the lexicon.
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"Fills a gap in the field of stylistics and satisfies the needs of scholars for a better knowledge of how to face text analysis." Journal of Literary Semantics

"A highly commendable work combining both textual analysis and composition"Moderna Sprak, Spring 1999

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