|Why Literature in a Language Department?
This paper aims to explain why literature is taught in a language department. Three great reasons are given in it. First, a literature course is “practical” in a language department, since the language used in literature is usually not quite different from the language used in our daily life. Literary fictionality is not equal to impracticality; the speech acts in literature resemble the speech acts in real life. Second, a literature course is pleasurable as well as practical, since literature is to delight and instruct at the same time. A literary work can indeed help teach a language through its delightful form and content. Third, a literature course can be more holistic than a linguistics course or a language-training course, since it provides us not only with literary knowledge but also with general knowledge in life and for life. A literary text can be used to teach grammar, rhetoric, and pragmatics at once. It contains truth, beauty and goodness. It can help develop the students’ linguistic competence, literary competence, and communicative competence. Confucius knew the importance of literature to language education a long time ago. Modern language teachers are following Confucius if they stress the importance of literature and use literary texts as language-teaching material.
1. literature 2. language-teaching 3. holistic 4. linguistic competence 5. literary competence 6. communicative competence
I. Two Facts
It is a fact that in our country all departments of foreign languages offer literature courses along with linguistics courses and language-training courses, no matter what names the departments may bear: say, “departments of foreign languages and literature(s)” or “departments of applied foreign languages.” It is also a fact that many students of our language departments keep wondering why they should take so many literature courses. “Aren’t we just to learn such language skills as listening, speaking, reading, writing, and translation?” They often ask such a question, and sometimes they even go so far as to protest against listing literature courses among their required courses and plead that they should be provided with more “practical courses.”
II. First Reason
To those who wonder why we should teach literature in a language department, I have responded several times with theoretical discussions plus practical examples in formal papers as well as in casual talks.1 Now, I want to sum up and explain the reasons that I have mentioned or thought out so far.
My first reason for teaching literature in a language department is: a literature course is actually a “practical course,” not an impractical course. It is practical because the language used in literature is usually not quite different from the language used in everyday life. I know there are people who believe in the Russian Formalists’ ideas that literary language is distinguishable from ordinary language, that a literary work owes its “literariness” or “poeticalness” to its “defamiliarizing” or “making strange” its language, and that literary language is used for its own sake: in foregrounding its literary function, literature pushes communication into the background as the object of expressing oneself.2 But such ideas are all delusions.
I do not deny that the language of Beowulf is unreadable to modern English readers. And I agree that Shakespeare’s language is difficult to ordinary English readers. But I must remind you that Beowulf was readable in the Middle Ages, and Shakespeare’s plays were enjoyed in Renaissance England. Just as a modern piece of literature is normally written in a real, modern language for the modern public, so old literature was practically written in readable and enjoyable languages of old times for the ancient public. In fact, good literary works of the remote past are often translated (and simplified) into readable and enjoyable modern writings, not to say adapted into modern films.
It is true that the language in a poem may seem to be very different from the language of our ordinary speech. We certainly seldom speak words with regular meters or rhymes. And we certainly seldom talk with elaborate usage of verbal ambiguities, images, metaphors, symbols, etc., which make up the so-called poetry. But do poetical devices just serve to reduce our understanding of poems? Does blank verse hinder our understanding of Paradise Lost? Does conceit make it impossible to read John Donne? Do we fail to realize the sense and sensibility embedded in such a metaphoric line as “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed!” (Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”)? Usually, versification or poeticizing does not result in unreadable language.
In fact, a large part of the language in literature is no other than ordinary speech. Are not most dialogues in drama and in fiction so written as to sound like authentic language in real life? Do not Lamb’s or E. B. White’s essays read like familiar talks and use the same English as used by people dealing with practical business? There are poems, too, which are highly conversational in tone, prosaic in diction, and easily comprehensible in theme. What do you think of the lines?—“My love is like a red, red, rose that’s newly sprung in June”; “Go, lovely Rose, tell her … how sweet and fair she seems to be”; and “Back from my trellis, sir, before I scream!”3 Have Burns, Waller, and Ransom really made their poems “strange” by defamiliarizing their (and our) English?
It is true that literature is largely fictional: it often involves fictional characters speaking and acting in fictional situations. But fictionality is not equal to impracticality. Is it impractical to hear a Mr. Micawber repeatedly saying “something will turn up”? To overhear a Willy Loman priggishly saying that his neighbor’s son is not “well liked”? Or to be shocked with the news that “Richard Cory, one calm summer night,/ Went home and put a bullet through his head”?4 We must understand that literature may really be all true except for its names of characters and places. Aside from names, all literary characters in all literary situations may be as true and hence as “practical” as our neighbors in our neighborhood.
In fact, every piece of literature is a double speech act at least. It is firstly a speech act of the author. It is secondly a speech act of any speaker in the work. In writing the poem “Dover Beach,” for instance, Matthew Arnold was trying to preach faithfulness to his readers. Within the poem, then, the unnamed speaker is calling for sympathy on the topic of faith to his unidentified sweetheart.5 If we read a work larger than “Dover Beach,” we may find that it involves other speech-makers in addition to the author and the speaker/narrator of the work. In a novel, for instance, there may be a number of characters speaking in various situations. In such a case, the speech act may be more than a double one. It may become what Teun van Dijik calls “a global speech act or MACRO-SPEECH ACT” (238), which contains several levels of separate speech acts carried on by all the speakers/characters.
Anyway, if practical life involves confrontation with daily speech acts of all sorts, is it impractical to read literature, to lead a vicarious life in literature, and to be confronted with various speech acts of authors and literary personae? I would say it is most practical to learn, unharmed and even profited, from literary mouthpieces about the speech acts of declaring, preaching, warning, cajoling, cheating, lying, promising, threatening, joking, bidding, consoling, pitying, pleading, seducing, praising, etc., etc.—all by word of mouth or by word of print given in literary works.
If literature contains speech acts of all sorts, it is only natural that one can learn the “appropriateness conditions” 6 for certain speech acts from literary works. In reading Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” for example, when we come to the part of the story where people find a bad smell coming from Emily’s house, we can learn from Judge Stevens’ opinion the ethical principle that it is improper to accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad. In reading Pride and Prejudice, for another example, we may examine the speech characteristics of the hero and the heroine, see if they have violated any “appropriateness conditions,” and come to know why Darcy is suspected of pride and Elizabeth is suspected of prejudice.
So far, I have argued that a literature course is practical because literary language is not quite different from ordinary language, because literary fictionality does not affect its truthfulness (since fictional characters are like real people acting and speaking in real situations), and because literature is full of sample speech acts and therefore useful to those who want to learn the “appropriate conditions” for various speech acts. Now, I want to add that a course of literature is usually pleasurable as well, not just practical. And that is my second reason for teaching literature in a language department.
III. Second Reason
Literature is often said to have two functions: to delight and to instruct. Horace says that poets strive to either profit or delight and that the poet mixes the useful with the sweet.7 Coleridge says: “A poem is that species of composition, which is opposed to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth” (Biographia Literaria, Chapter 14). And Robert Frost simply says that a poem “begins in delight and ends in wisdom.”8 These critical remarks tell us that literature does have the aesthetic purpose of giving pleasure. But does this aesthetic purpose, then, push communication into the background as the object of expression? Is literature, then, written purely for its own sake, that is, for its aesthetic beauty only? The answer is emphatically “No,” of course. The critical remarks also tell us, in effect, that the dimension of beauty is but an additional and immediate object of consideration for literature. Logically speaking, literature should be able to communicate feelings, attitudes, or ideas even more effectively since it has beauty added to it immediately. In other words, a good piece of literature is certainly like a sugar-coated pill: it profits one with pleasure.
Take A. E. Housman’s “When I Was One-and Twenty” for example. It is a commonplace to give a hearsay report that a certain young woman or young man disregards others’ advice and falls too readily in love with someone else, only to learn too late that true love is often betrayed by falsehood and repaid with sorrow. This report is instructive as a message. As a commonplace hearsay, however, this report cannot impress others deeply and cannot easily touch young hearts. Now, Housman has turned this report into a poem with these lines:
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
‘Tis paid with sighs a-plenty
And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ‘tis true, ‘tis true.
In this poem, someone (the speaker or the “I”) tells what he or she heard a wise man say to him or her twice when he or she was 21 years old, and confesses that he or she did not listen, but now (when he or she is 22) knows the words are true. This confessional story is not interesting in itself. But it is made pleasurable in the poem.
On one hand, this poem gives us the pleasure of form. It contains two 8-line stanzas. Each odd line has four and a half feet while each even line has four feet only. Each foot is regularly iambic in meter except two feet (the feet of “out of” and “given” in lines11 & 12 are trochaic). And all the even lines are regularly rhymed (say/away, free/me, again/vain, & rue/true) although the odd lines are not (no rhyme in bosom/twenty, only imperfect rhyme in guineas/rubies, though perfect rhyme in plenty/twenty). Anyway, whenever we read the poem, we will feel the musical pleasure inherent in the rhythmical pattern and the rhymes.
On the other hand, this poem gives the pleasure of content as well. We find it has some interesting truths implied in the speaker’s confessional account of his hearing the wise man’s sayings. The first interesting truth is: in this modern world of commerce, a young man or woman (like the “I” in the poem) not only falls in love all too easily but also mistakes a love affair for a business deal all too easily—he or she will too often give away or take crowns, pounds, guineas, pearls, rubies, etc., for tokens of love, and he or she too often cannot “keep his or her fancy free” and will easily give away “his or her heart out of the bosom,” only to learn too late that he or she has been cheated in the “deal” and his or her true love has actually been “paid with sighs a plenty” (instead of money) and “sold for endless rue” (instead of jewels). Another interesting truth is: a young man or woman can be a stubborn fool in dealing with love, refusing to hear any wise man’s advice or warning. And a third interesting truth is: one year’s difference in age (the difference between, say, 21 and 22) may be enough to make a young man or woman mature (presumably after tasting the bitter fruit of love) and recognize the wisdom in warning youth not to confuse a love affair with a business deal. Thus, the poem with its implied critical comment on the give-and-take of this modern world’s “sales mentality” does add pleasure to its confessional story.
Pope tells us that true wit consists in beautiful expressions: “what oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d” (Essay on Criticism, Part II, 297-8). In reading literature we do often find pleasure in things well expressed. In reading Robert Burns’s “Tam o’ Shanter,” for instance, we will come to these lines:
But pleasures are like poppies spread—
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river—
A moment white, then melts forever. (59-62)
We often feel the transitory nature of life and may wish to express the feeling. We may follow a cliché and compare life to a flying arrow. But the comparison has lost its originality and is boring now. When we come across the lines as quoted above, will we not be delighted by the well-expressed similes if we have the experience of seizing a poppy and causing it to shed its bloom and have the experience of seeing snow fall in the river and melt?
Literature has a lot to delight us, indeed. We may be delighted by the surprise ending of an O. Henry story, by a stock character like Falstaff, by the witty sarcasms underlying the thrusts of Oscar Wilde’s dramatic dialogues, by the fantasy of Dodgson’s adventure stories, by the theme of “universal sin” in “Young Goodman Brown,” by the symbolic force of O’Neill’s “Hairy Ape,” by the abundance of images in Keats’s “To Autumn,” by the ambiguity of a single word (e.g. the word “Cross” which serves as the title of Langston Hughes’s poem), by the rhythm in Old Ulysses’ swearing “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” or by a setting, a tone, an allusion, an atmosphere, or anything else found in any specific work or any genre of literature.
No literary pleasure exists per se, however. Language is the tool of literature. Every piece of literature gives pleasure through the language it uses to convey its intended ideas, feelings, or attitudes. What makes literature interesting, therefore, is ultimately the skillful use of language to fulfill the double function of providing pleasure in addition to information or instruction.
IV. Third Reason
Now, what information or instruction can be provided through the skillful and hence delightful use of language in literature? The scope of knowledge contained in literature, we must say, is as large as life itself, since literature is a vicarious form of life, a cornucopia filled with all kinds of human ideas, feelings, and attitudes. Indeed, every piece of literature is “a slice of life” skillfully and delightfully represented in language. This fact leads to my third reason for teaching literature in a language department: the reason that a literature course can be more holistic than a linguistics course or a language-training course.
Courses are either knowledge courses or skill courses. Literature courses and linguistics courses are knowledge courses since they provide literary and linguistic knowledge, while language-training courses are skill courses since they provide training for such skills as listening, speaking, reading, writing, and translation. In an (applied) English department, for instance, English Literature or Introduction to Drama is a knowledge course, and English Phonology or English Discourse Analysis is also a knowledge course, while English Conversation or English Composition is a skill course.
As a skill course aims to train a certain skill, repeated practice is important in the course. In contrast, as a knowledge course aims to provide knowledge, it requires plenty of knowledge rather than plenty of practice. Now, what is the difference between a linguistics course and a literature course in giving plenty of knowledge? A literature course gives knowledge in literature, of course, while a linguistics course gives knowledge in linguistics. Yet, besides giving knowledge in its special field or discipline, literature provides us with all kinds of knowledge in life and for life. This abundance of knowledge in life and for life is the feature that distinguishes literature from any other science including linguistics. What do you learn from reading A Tale of Two Cities, for instance? Besides the knowledge about its author, its genre, its settings, its plot, its characters, its narrator, its writing technique, etc., which constitute its literary knowledge, we are also provided with some knowledge of the French Revolution, of the French peasantry and aristocracy, of the brutality of the revolutionaries, of the two cites Paris and London, of the danger of a spy’s life, of the depth of a lover’s devotion, etc., etc., which constitute the knowledge of the novel’s “slice of life.”
We have quite a few “Departments of Applied English.” In such departments, English is taught and learned as a language to be applied in some lines of business or work. If the students expect to become secretaries of international trading companies, they will then be taught business English. If they expect to become international tour guides, they will then learn tourist English. Likewise, according to the concentrations of the departments, journalistic English, diplomatic English, medical English, legal English, scientific English, aviation English, etc., are to be taught and learned. In fact, in all our foreign language departments, English for specific purposes (ESP) is considered more and more important. But what is ESP? Is it English composed of technical terms only? Is it English disconnected with ordinary life? Is it English wholly unrelated to culture and literature? No, no, no, of course.
In fact, all our foreign language departments offer courses of TESL and courses of English translation, which are to use English in teaching English and in translating English into Chinese or translating Chinese into English. Such courses are not regarded as ESP courses, but they also apply English for specific purposes, don’t they? Furthermore, since English literature is the result of using English in writing literature for the specific purpose of delighting and instructing readers, can’t we consider a course of English literature as an ESP course? Let me emphasize this: every English course is in a sense a course designed for a special or specific use of English, and hence it is an ESP course in its broadest sense. It is only that we reserve the name “ESP” for those courses which involve the use of technical English other than the English used in our everyday life. But, even in an ESP course in its restricted sense, the authentic English to be taught and learned is never purely technical English composed of technical terms only. It is, rather, ordinary English mixed with technical English. Thus, an ESP course is at best nothing but an advanced course using technical English blended into ordinary English for a specific or special purpose.
Now, we must understand that just as a linguistics course is often limited to the teaching and learning of linguistic facts and terms, an ESP course is often limited to the knowledge and terms of a specific area. Such knowledge and terms may be useful in doing a job. But, even in doing the job (say, in working as a tourist guide or as a news-reporter), can one dispense with ordinary language? Certainly not. The fact is: the job a tourist guide, a news-reporter, or any other professional does is not a job involving professionals only. Like an ordinary job, a professional job has to render service to the common people. And to communicate effectively with the common people, a professional has to use ordinary English more often than technical English. It follows, then, that an ESP course is but an additionally-required course for those who have mastered the English language and have to use English in their professional career. It is obviously not a course designed to replace the courses aiming to train the students’ basic English skills and increase their common knowledge.
Talking of common knowledge, I must mention the so-called General Knowledge Education. We know that it is a trend of the world’s higher education to emphasize more and more the importance of general knowledge, as our educators are frightened to see more and more of our educated people becoming more and more biased ideologically towards their expertise. Personally, I agree that a modern man must know more than his expertise allows him to know, and a “wholesome” man needs a whole-scoped knowledge. In a language department, therefore, the students need more than language training and linguistic knowledge. They also need such general knowledge as available in the introductory courses of all other departments and in the courses offered by the “Center for General Knowledge Education.”
In a language department, nevertheless, a literature course is by nature a good course for general knowledge education. As every piece of literature is a “slice of life,” a literature course covering a number of literary works naturally contains a very wide variety of general knowledge. A course of American Literature, for instance, (with its background information provided directly or indirectly in the works) may help the students learn a lot about American geography and history, American politics and economics, American social customs and intellectual ideas, etc.—almost all common or general knowledge about American culture, in addition to the literary knowledge about American authors and works. Thus, a literature course is really a holistic course in which general knowledge of all kinds is available through all the “slices of life” represented in the works.
V. Three Kinds of Competence
A course of literature is holistic not only in that it can provide plenty of general knowledge, but also in that it can help the students develop at once their linguistic skills, their sense of beauty in language, and their ethical consciousness in using a language. This point needs elaboration, of course.
We all know that what grammar wants is correctness or accuracy, and what linguistics wants is truth. In a language department, there are a number of language-training courses aiming at proficiency or mastery of the language. In such courses, correctness or accuracy is expected--the students are trained to hear words correctly, speak with right pronunciation and intonation, read with accurate understanding, and write a good composition with very few errors. Besides such language-training courses, a language department also offers courses in linguistics (phonetics, phonemics, morphology, syntax, discourse analysis, semantics, etc.). Such courses are designed to teach linguistic truths in all aspects. In teaching linguistic truths, however, such courses must base the truths on accuracy of analyses and correctness of data. Thus, both language-training courses and linguistics courses aim at correctness or Truth in a broad sense.
Yet, in using a language, what one needs is not just correctness or Truth. One often needs effectiveness into the bargain. In any linguistic communication, one has to speak or write correctly first so that no misunderstanding may arise from it. Yet, a correct speech or writing may not be able to impress the listener or reader and achieve its intended goal if it is not effective enough. Traditionally, therefore, one is often taught rhetoric in addition to grammar. In a course of rhetoric, the students are expected to learn how to use rhetorical devices to speak or write “beautifully” or effectively.
Rhetorical devices are numerous.9 One can learn them from a book of rhetoric, of course. But the best place to learn rhetoric is, in fact, the literary works one has a chance to read. Rhetorical devices are no other than literary or poetical devices. Literature is indeed the place where all rhetorical devices, from alliteration to zeugma, are well utilized to convey feelings, ideas, and attitudes beautifully and effectively so that people may be delighted immediately and instructed ultimately. Tennyson’s “The Eagle,” for example, delights us first with its initial, alliterated line (“He clasps the crag with crooked hands”) and then tells us not only the crooked way an eagle occupies a place but also by association the crooked way a king occupies his kingdom. In Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, for another example, we find the device of chiasmus in the lines “Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots sword-knots strive,/Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive” (I. 101-2 ) and the device of zeugma in the lines “Or stain her honor, or her new brocade … Or lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball” (II. 107-9 ). Such lines not only delight us with their syntactic features, but also suggest the confused ways and values of life in the debauched world of beaux and belles.
In communication, we want not only correctness and effectiveness but also appropriateness, that is, not only Truth and Beauty but also Goodness. The statement-- “The grave’s a fine and private place./ But none, I think, do there embrace” (Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”)-- is grammatically correct, to be sure. And it is surely effective as a statement to remind people that not all private places are fine places where lovers can embrace. Still, suppose you go to a man’s funeral and there you hear the deceased is to be buried together with his dear dead wife in the same grave. On that occasion, if you quote the statement as a comment on the situation, it will be very inappropriate and you may even be disparaged for indecency.
Recently pragmatics has become an important subfield of linguistics. Our studies are directed more and more towards the ways in which context contributes to meaning. After the speech act theory of Austin, scholars have sought to apply the idea of “appropriateness conditions” to speech acts.10 Nowadays, students can learn the conditions in a course of pragmatics, of course. Yet, since a literary work is a slice of life in which speech acts are carried out (vicariously) by characters under certain circumstances according to (or against) certain “appropriateness conditions,” it is natural that one can learn from the speech acts carried on in the work what may be and what may not be appropriate to speak in certain situations.
In Shakespeare’s Richard II, for example, we may recall the scene in which King Richard came to see his dying uncle John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The Duke was wise to know that “the tongues of dying men / Inforce attention like deep harmony” and that “Where words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain” (2.1.5-7). Yet, he was not wise enough to know that a young king would easily be “stopped with other flattering sounds” (2.1.17) and hate to be given counsel. He was in fact so foolish as to barter verbal thrusts with the King and give him a tirade in which he likened the kingdom to a death-bed and said, “Landlord of England are thou now, not king” (2.1.114). The result of his foolish tirade, as we know, was the seizure of all the Duke’s “plate, coin, revenues, and movables” by the King (2.1.161). From this scene we can learn that one had better be “gaunt” of bitter words in the presence of powerful figures even if the words are right and have might.
Young Cordelia’s niggardliness of words stands in sharp contrast to old Gaunt’s verbosity. Like young Richard, old Lear preferred flattery to frankness. And, like any old father, he liked to know how deep he was loved by his children. So, he asked each of his three daughters to declare openly in the court how she loved him so that he might know who loved him most and “we our largest bounty may extend” (1.1.51). Yet, while Goneril and Regan used long strings of flowery words to please Lear, Cordelia just said, “Nothing, my lord” (1.1.86). When she was asked to say more, she added frankly: “… I love your Majesty / According to my bond; no more nor less” (1.1.91-92). She even confessed: “Happily, when I shall wed, / That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry / Half my love with him” (1.1.99-101). Cordelia had reason to say little and speak frankly, of course. Still, on that occasion her niggardliness of words and frankness of speech were a sort of effrontery rather than a sort of proper respect. Her tragedy is a tragedy of speech act, of not knowing the appropriateness conditions of speech in response to a critical inquiry.
Cordelia’s case leads us to the conclusion that literature can indeed provide us with not only examples of correct language and beautiful language but also with examples of when to spare and when not to spare words, as well as what language to use in what situation to what person. In other words, literature can provide good data for teaching grammar, rhetoric, and pragmatics all at once. With this fact, we can assert then that a literature course is more holistic than a linguistics course and a language-training course.
So far, I have stated my three great reasons for teaching literature in a language department and I have given my explanations in relation to the reasons. I certainly believe that a course of literature can be practical, pleasurable, and holistic if it is taught not purely for the sake of some literary knowledge and terminology, but additionally, through textual reading, for the sake of helping the students testify to the correctness in grammar, the effectiveness and beauty in rhetoric, and the appropriateness of the speech acts contained in the works.
I have asserted elsewhere that a language teacher is expected to teach for three kinds of competence: linguistic competence, literary competence, and communicative competence.11 Now, I must remind you that our Confucius has twice emphasized the importance of literature. On one occasion he said that “one cannot speak well without learning poetics” and that “one cannot live well without learning ritualistics.”12 This time Confucius equated literariness with poeticalness, as many of us do today. And he was suggesting that to speak effectively and beautifully one has to learn the art of making poetic or literary language while to live successfully one has to learn the social, ritualistic conventions.
On another occasion, the Master said: “Language is for fully expressing ideas. Literature is for fully applying language. Whose ideas can be understood without words? One cannot go far if one’s language is without literariness.”13 By saying so, this great master was telling us that with literary competence one can then apply language “fully” (in all textual and contextual aspects) and go far in life (advance to a high degree of success). So, for Confucius language education is very important; it can be perfect only when the aesthetic (literary or poetic) and ethical (social or ritualistic) dimensions together with the linguistic (grammatical) dimension are taken into consideration; and literature is a good means for full language education.
Today, as we know, teachers are often encouraged to adopt the so-called communicative approach or situational approach in teaching a foreign language. Such an approach is certainly good since it pragmatically takes into consideration the linguistic context and must of necessity consider the perlocutionary force and appropriateness of words as words are spoken in certain contexts by people engaged in certain speech acts. However, such an approach only emphasizes the importance of communicative competence. It does not emphasize the importance of literary competence and may not seek to cultivate the students’ sense of verbal beauty. Therefore, I would suggest that any method or approach of teaching a foreign language should use as much good literary material as possible to train the learners’ language skills. Conversely, any literature course should use its literary texts as examples to help teach vocabulary, grammar, rhetoric, decorum of speech, etc.—all things concerning linguistic, literary, and communicative competence. If our teachers can follow my suggestion, they will become our modern Confucians and our students will not complain so much about teaching literature in a language department.
1. The formal papers include, most notably, ＜從文學性談語言與文學教學＞ (1990), “The Nature and the Locus of ‘Literariness’” (1990) and “Teaching for Three Kinds of Competence” (2009).
2. The Russian Formalists referred to include Viktor Shklovsky, Roman Jakobson, Boris Tomashevsky, and Jan Mukarovsky. For discussion of their ideas, see Erlich, p. 121, p. 172, & pp.175-195.
3. The lines are taken from Robert Burns’ “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose,” Edmund Waller’s “Go, Lovely Rose,” and John C. Ransom’s “Piazza Piece.”
4. Mr. Micawber appears in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. Willy Loman is a character in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. And Richard Cory is depicted in Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Richard Cory.”
5. For detailed discussion, see my paper “A New Linguistic Analysis of Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’” in Studies in English Literature and Linguistics, Taiwan Normal University, No. 18, 1992, 63-77.
6. The “appropriateness conditions” refer to those “conditions on which the felicity of a speech act depends.” While linguists most commonly use the term “appropriateness conditions,” philosophers usually call them “felicity conditions.” For further explanation, see Pratt, p. 81.
7. See Horace’s Ars Poetica, l. 333 & l. 343. The original lines read: “aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae” and “miscuit utili dulci” respectively.
8. See his foreword to his Collected Poems (1939). The foreword is an essay titled “The Figure a Poem Makes,” quoted in Untermeyer, ed. A Concise Treasury of Great Poems, p. 440.
9. In his A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices, Robert A. Harris gives definitions with examples of 60 traditional rhetorical devices. And in his Writing with Clarity and Style, more than 60 devices are discussed.
10. In Traugott & Pratt’s Linguistics for Students of Literature, p. 229 ff, for instance, six classes of speech acts (representatives, expressives, verdictives, directives, commissives, declarations) are listed, each class including a number of speech acts and each speech act given its “appropriateness conditions.”
11. Noam Chomsky distinguishes linguistic competence from linguistic performance much like Saussure’s discrimination between langue and parole. Jonathan Culler introduces the term “literary competence” in connection with Chomsky’s “linguistic competence” in his Structuralist Poetics, Chapter 6, pp. 113-130. The term “communicative competence” was coined by Dell Hymes in 1966. Traugott and Pratt took the term from Hymes’ “Competence and Performance in Linguistic Theory,” in Language Acquisition: Models and Methods. Both Hymes’ and Chomsky’s ideas were originally research-based rather than pedagogic.
12. From Confucius’ talk to his son Kung-li recorded in his Analects: 《論語》〈季氏篇〉。 The Chinese original is:「不學詩無以言」 and 「不學禮無以立」。The English translation is mine.
13. From “Hsiang-kuong’s 25th Year” in Tso-tsuan (《左傳》〈襄公卄五年〉)。 The Chinese original is: 孔子曰：「言以足志，文以足言，不言誰知其志？言之無文，行之不遠。」The English translation is mine.
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