Decoding Stylistics is based on Information Theory. Information Theory was developed by Claude E. Shannon. His theory is used not only in mathematics and engineering, but in many other areas, in neurobiology, ecology,etc.
C. Shannon created his revolutionary mathematical theory now known as Information Theory in response to engineering demands. Very soon his theory was found to have applications far beyond those for which it was originally offered. As developed by C. Shannon himself and others this theory became of fundamental importance in all disciplines involving problems of communication, language and meaning. Cl. Shannon gave a new interpretation to such notions as «information» and «message».
The scheme of communication offered by Shannon
Source of information → Transmitter → Channel → Receiver → Adressee
Source of noise
- The information source is where the message to be sent is selected from an array of possible messages;
- the transmitter encodes the message into a signal;
- the signal is sent through a communication channel;
- the message is received and decoded by a receiver;
- there is a destination, addressee, analogous to the source which makes use of the signal;
- undesirable but inevitable variations in the signal due to various external causes affecting transmission are called noise.
There is an adaptation of this scheme to literature.
We, in decoding stylistics and text interpretation, concentrate on the receiving end of the process of communication, i.e. on decoding the message, hence the term "decoding stylistics" (D.S.). It is the impression produced by the poem upon you, his readers, your attitude that is of importance in this course of lectures. We are interested in what seems to be said in the text and whether we agree with it, rather than in the writer's motives for saying it.
A message-a fragment of objective reality, encoded in the form of images.
By encoding we mean the operation of identification of the symbols of one kind with the symbols of another kind.
Decoding-the reconstruction of the message by knowing the code combination.
Communication channel-books, magazines.
Transmitter-is the writer,choosing the message and his system of codes and encoding the message.
Receiver-the reader decoding he message with the help of his thesaurus and remodellimg the information.
Adressee-objective reality surrounding the reader and influenced by him.
Source of noise-the reader’s thesaurus, his inability to understand allusions, connotations that prevents from correct decoding.
Signal-a complex combination of stylistic devices on all the levels of the language: graphic, phonetic, lexical, syntactical, morphological.
Roman Jakobsan’s scheme of communication
Addresser→ Contact→ Addressee
Ivor Richards gave a more elaborate variant considering not the participants or means of communication but the process itself:
source→ selection→ encoding→ transmission→ reception→ decoding→ development→ destination