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Review of  Linguistische Stil- und Textanalyse

Reviewer: Valentina Concu
Book Title: Linguistische Stil- und Textanalyse
Book Author: Ulrike Krieg-Holz Lars Bülow
Publisher: Narr Francke Attempto Verlag GmbH + Co. KG
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Text/Corpus Linguistics
Discipline of Linguistics
Subject Language(s): German
Issue Number: 28.3388

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“Linguistische Styl- und Textanalyse” by Ulrike Krieg-Holz and Lars Bülow is an introductory textbook on Discourse Analysis in German with the aim of fostering the acquisition of theoretical and practical tools required in conduction textual analyses. For this reason, the text is suitable for those willing to build a solid background or deepen their knowledge in the field of Textlinguistik. The book’s structure guides the reader from a general introduction to text and textuality to more detailed accounts for understanding the parameters and tools for textual analysis and its applications in research. Each chapter introduces a particular aspect of textual analysis, and relevant terminology is presented in gray boxes to facilitate the learning of such terms. Useful examples also accompany each definition, offering additional support for understanding the main concepts presented in the various chapters. Furthermore, the authors provide suggestions for further readings in both German and English at the end of every section.


Chapter 1 (Text als Linguisticher Gegenstand - Text as a linguistic research object) introduces the reader to the formal features of a text, such as cohesion, coherence, intentionality, acceptability, informativeness, situationality, and intertextuality. The cohesion and coherence are part of the internal properties of a given text and concern its grammatical and semantic structure. The remaining features are external attributes and refer to the communicative and pragmatic characteristics of a given text. Although such criteria are widely accepted and used for textual analyses, a text can display different degrees of conformity to such features and may largely depart from them.

In light of such considerations, a text is defined here as a linguistic object with visible physical limits and a particular topic which, through its structure, indicates its affinity to a given textual prototype. To analyze a text means to look for those specific features that define its belonging to a thematic field and contribute to its coherence. It is also important to distinguish those elements that make its borders easily recognizable, as well as those that define its belonging to a specific textual group.

Chapter 2 (Ebenen der Textbeschreibung - Levels of textual description) discusses the different levels by which textual analyses can be carried out, outlining the specific features of German that are suitable for such purposes. On the textual level, the organization of a text, as well as the hierarchical relationship among the different sections, can be seen as indicative of the textual typology. For instance, the position of the date, signature, and forms of address can all contribute to the categorization of a given text to a particular type. Other elements that can be analyzed are those that account for cohesion and coherence. Grammatical and lexical elements, together with punctuation, are responsible for the connections of words, while the sequence of thematics makes a text coherent. The second degree of analysis addresses the syntactic organization of the words in a sentence, which determines the acceptability of the various sentences and how these are interrelated to each other. The German ''Satzklammer,'' for instance, governs the order of grammatical elements in a sentence in independent and dependent clauses and is a valuable parameter for the evaluation of grammaticality. The last level of analysis concerns the morphological features, and specifically, the inflectional morphemes, which specify the relationships between the different lexical elements and the order in which they should appear in a given sentence.

Chapter 3 (Parameter der Stilbeschreibung - Parameters for style description) offers a detailed description of the parameters for the analysis of textual style, from the most common to the most complex ones, and provides an exhaustive account of their application with useful examples.

The first part of Chapter 3 discusses the goals and methods of stylistics, which focuses on the scientific description of different text styles. These are determined by the function of a specific text and the pragmatic intentions of the author and contribute to the effects of a given textual style. The reception of such texts is then influenced by the social environment in which a text is produced, since every society shares stylistic practices with specific parameters for the exchange of information. Stylistics aims to uncover those linguistic and communicative elements that are relevant for the determination of the style of a given text. For this reason, stylistics focuses its attention on those stylistic elements that possess stylistic values.

The second part of Chapter 3 discusses the individual stylistic phenomena on the textual level, such as the way the text is structured, how the elements are connected to each other, politeness, and the morphological features of the lexemes. The length and complexity of a sentence also indicate the textual style as well as the position of words. In fact, German, unlike French or English, has a certain freedom concerning the position of specific elements in a sentence, and this can also have stylistic values for scientific analyses. The selection of a given lexeme in place of another also contributes to the determination of textual style, and this includes the use of neologisms, occasionalisms, foreign words, regionalisms, and dialectisms. The inclusion of terminology from technical languages and jargon, together with the use of colorful expression, also accounts for the stylistic features of a text. Lastly, rhetorical figures, such as ellipses, zeugmas, anaphors, monosyndetons and polysyndetons, antitheses, oxymorons, chiasms, parallelisms, metaphors, and hyperboles influence the stylistic tone of a text.

In the third part of Chapter 3, the authors describe more complex stylistic phenomena that are used to categorize a given text and to determine its affiliation to a specific textual typology. Depending on the content, a text can be of a different genre: a story, a description, an explanation, a reasoning, or indications. The grammatical and lexical choices indicate the membership of one of these categories. The structural features of texts are part of the complex phenomena for the determination of the stylistic tone. The shortening of sentences through the omission of the subject or the predicate, the use of sentence fragments, and associative or affective aesthetic language, together with pragmatics related strategies, are also responsible for the stylistic categorization of textual production.

Chapter 4 (Textsorten und Textklassifikation - Text types and Text classification) focuses on the classification of text types. In the first part, the authors provide a brief review of the literature describing the different approaches for text categorization and the parameters used in their definitions, such as the stylistic means used, the structure of the text, and the function carried out through the writing. Different scholars describe text types using a theoretical framework based on specific categories: class, order, family, genre, and art. The class refers to texts that are part of a specific communicative field, which is determined by its external feature. An example of text class is texts produced by the press, such as pieces of journalism of variable length used to express opinions on a given topic. The description of text types also relies today on a complex system of extra-textual parameters, which refer to the situational, functional, thematic, structural, and stylistic aspects. The first one goes beyond the simple dichotomy of spoken vs. written, includes the newest channels of communication, and takes into account the roles of the writer and the recipient. The functional aspect emphasizes the communicative value of a text, which is closely bound to the intention of the writer and the interest of the reader. The thematic aspect considers the subject of the writing, which can be a static, dynamic, or cognitive object. The structural organization is also a valuable instrument to determine the text typology and refers, for instance, to the page and text length. The last aspect used to describe textual types is the linguistic style, which is of high relevance for the categorization of a given text. The pragmatic nuance is determined by the language and the way of thinking, which are strongly intertwined with each other and serve as parameters for textual analyses.

Chapter 5 (Anwendungen - Applications) focuses on the application of textual and stylistic analyses in different fields, such as forensic linguistics, Kiezdeutsch, and the writing didactic. Indeed, the parameters described throughout the four chapters can be applied for the identification of the perpetrator of a crime in a legal case, for the description of the German-Turkish spoken variety in the youth population, or to study the learnability of the written language in the first years of primary education.


“Linguistische Still- und Textanalyse” is, first of all, a valuable tool for the understanding and acquisition of the specific linguistic devices for textual analysis. The authors present a particular aspect of this discipline in every chapter, combining detailed depictions of the most relevant parameters to carry out accurate analyses with numerous and elucidative examples, which facilitate the comprehension of the features that account for textual style and typology.

However, this volume is not merely a descriptive textbook about stylistics and a collection of useful examples taken from modern German. On several occasions, the authors remind the reader of the questionable character of the categorization of texts. They also point out how a comprehensive understanding of this matter must also consider the fact that it is in the nature of categories that they are limiting and not able to account for the complexity and diversity of text production. As the authors mention, text classifications are not only the result of the theoretical and scientific analyses carried out by different scholars but also involve the various ideas and conceptions of the text in the minds of the participants of the communicative exchange in modern society (p. 27). With this in mind, and throughout the volume, the authors successfully attempt to bridge the gap between the scientific discourse on textual analysis and the relevance of the social environment in which texts are conceived and produced. This volume highlights the relevance of both the writers and the recipients of a text, both with specific cognitive configuration about textual categories. For this reason, I believe this volume offers not only a valid instrument for the scientific understanding of textual analysis but also an excellent opportunity to reflect on the current status of the discipline, fostering interesting debates around the challenges and difficulties of textual typologies.

Worthy of special mention is the last chapter, in which the authors discuss the practical applications of textual analysis in various fields. In line with the other sections, Chapter 5 also successfully links scientific discourse to society, providing an accurate and contemporary spectrum of some of the career-related possibilities for students and scholars interested in textual analysis.
I'm an international Ph.D. student from Italy in the Department of German and Russian at Purdue University. After spending several years in Germany, I am pursuing my degree in the USA.
My research interests include, but are not limited to Historical Linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, Pragmatics, and Second Languages Acquisition.
After graduation, I would like to get a post-doctoral position in Linguistics, with a focus on the emergence of language and language change.