Original Research

Register-analysis as a means for eliciting the meaning of literary texts

C. Jeffery
Literator | Vol 23, No 2 | a332 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v23i2.332 | © 2002 C. Jeffery | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2002 | Published: 06 August 2002

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C. Jeffery, School of Languages, University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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Abstract

Intuitive reading of a literary text does not enable one to understand how the text means. For that purpose one needs a suitable semantic theory. This article proposes such a theory, based on the concept of register as meaning-potential. Situation-types have semiotic properties, which set up expectations of the kind of meaning likely in that kind of situation, and those expectations constitute the meaning-potential of the situation, that is the register, which is realised in whatever texts are actually uttered there. So register determines meaning; and register is determined by situationtype, which can be precisely defined by means of categories of (discourse-) situation. Five such categories are put forward. Their application constitutes register-analysis. The process is demonstrated on a literary text; and it is claimed that an intuitive, practical-criticism-type analysis could not be as clear, precise and comprehensive as a register-analysis. And the coherent theory of meaning which supplies the categories also provides a consistent, defined metalanguage to work in. So register-analysis offers a significant advance on intuitive reading.

Keywords

Register; Situation Semantics; Stylistic Analysis

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