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Literary Criticism and Linguistics

Literary criticism is an endeavor that can be approached from a wide variety of points of view. Linguistics has been a major influence on twentieth-century literary theory and criticism and on particular schools of criticism, such as structuralism, post-structuralist psychoanalytics, and deconstructionist approaches. Literature is, of course, made up of words that create images, evoke symbols, and create connections between words, images and symbols. Linguistics has been an important influence as it explains the development of language, the relationships among words, modes of expression, and the relationship between language used and the psychological constructs and states of the speaker.

Language remains one of the more mysterious of human activities, and how and why it develops as it does is only partially understood. Linguists have been much more successful at identifying variations in languages than in determining how and why language developed in the first place, and the variations in existing languages seem to show the specific need of the human being for expressions related to day-to-day life and interactions. Language changes over time, and in literary criticism this raises the need for a way of examining works from different time periods so as to understand the language of the time and to understand how language has changed. Indeed, literature embodies that change in a way that is evident and accessible in a way that the minute changes taking place all around us at all times are not. If we lived in a village where all we heard was the language of our region, we would not notice the changes that took place over time because they would be gradual. We would notice slight shifts in terms of new generations, much as we can see in our own society as the younger generation in essence invents some language of its own in order to differentiate it from the adult world. Such variations are more extensive than are apparent fr...

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Literary Criticism and Linguistics. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:49, February 28, 2017, from