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Mind Style

Mind Style

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Published by B V Rama Prasad
about Hallidy's concept of minfd style
about Hallidy's concept of minfd style

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Published by: B V Rama Prasad on Oct 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Mind styleMind style is a concept introduced by Halliday and developed by Roger Fowler.It is a concept, which looks at the way in which the linguistic choices that an author makesreflect his worldview. Leech and Short(1981) and Mick Short(1996) use the word mindstyle as synonym to the word ‘World view’.Fowler uses the word mind style to refer to the way in which the fictional worldis presented to the reader or the way in which a particular character looks at the ‘objective’world. Fowler defines mind style as “--- any distinctive linguistic presentation of anindividual mental self ”(Fowler, 1977:103). The word linguistic is important here. AsFowler says “--- consistent structural options, agreeing in cutting the presented world toone pattern or another, give rise to an impression of the world view” (Fowler, 1977: 76). Inother words, mind style refers, not to the object referred to in a text, but to the way inwhich that object is seen, the way in which --- that world is apprehended, or conceptualized” (Leech and Short, 1981:187). Any ‘objective world’, fictional or otherwise, is seen through a consciousness that conceptualizes the world to suit its ownneeds or its own limitations. And in fiction, the language used- either by the particular author or by a particular character in a novel- makes explicit the conceptualization of theworld that can be either conscious or subconscious.Leech and Short give a very good example to show how a consciousness canapprehend reality in a startlingly fresh way. The example is from Ulysses, where thenarrator says, “ Bob Cowley’s out stretched talons gripped the black deep soundingchords” (see Leech and Short, 1981). The narrator is describing someone playing a piano.1
The choice of the lexical item ‘talon’ to refer to hand and the unusual collocation of black with sound give rise to a unique view of a very ordinary activity like playing the piano.Thus, fictional world is seen through the consciousness of a person who sees it in a waythat tells us a lot about his way of cutting the world in to a pattern. As Fowler says, “ Byassigning a consistent type of semantic structure to a character--- the novelist is able toconvey not only the sequence of a character’s thoughts---but also the implicit structure andquality of his outlook” (Fowler, 1977:104).However, mind style need not be restricted to a particular character. There aredifferent levels at which mind style can operate. It can be used at the level of character  portrayal, as Halliday has shown in the analysis of 
The Inheritors
(see Halliday, 2002).Here the novelist William Golding is consciously using particular semantic and syntacticconstructions to portray the character of a Neanderthal man. The language is a result of thelimitations of the Neanderthal man’s linguistic and cognitive abilities. But the concept of mind style can be applied to a writer as a whole, in which case it can indicate the writer’ssocial and ideological leanings. We can apply it to one single text or it can manifest itself ina single passage. As Prakasam says, “ Mind style can be ascribed to an author per se asseen through his writings. It can be for a novel as such. It can also be for a particular character or even a particular event (Prakasam, 1999:36).Prakasam also talks about the different ways in which the mind style islinguistically manifested. The following aspects can be considered as important-i. participant relations in the clause2
ii. lexical structuresiii. syntactic structuresiv. textual relationsv. patterns of cohesionvi. figures of speech(Prakasam, 1999: 36).These can lead to different kinds of mind style. For example, a style can beeither objective or subjective (see Leech and Short, 1981). The style can be neutral, as if the narrator is giving a mere photographic impression of the scene or the character. It can be extremely subjective, where the narrator continually modifies his statements with wordslike seemed, appeared, etc. Different writers have different mind styles. And it is notnecessary that the complexity of the mind styles is manifested in ‘high brow’ literatureonly. As literature is one of the discourses, the complex processes that are involved indiscourses will be there in literature, whether it is highbrow or lowbrow. Hence, it is notwrong to look for the subtleties of mind style in a form like that of detective fiction. Let ustry to look at some mind styles seen in detective fiction keeping the above points in mind.Following Leech and Short, who try to look at some passages from differentnovels which deal with similar themes, let us try to look at passages that deal withcharacterization and setting elements in some detective novels. Our first example is from3

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