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The subject - matter of a text. Form and addressee.

The subject-matter of the story is the main idea of interest treated in the story. It may be an element of character (the subject of ambition in Macbeth), an element of plot (the subject of marriage in Pride and Prejudice), or an element of thought (the subject of appearance vs. reality in practically any work). Certain literary genres (historical novels, detective stories, science fiction) may concentrate on certain subjects.

The subject matter of the information transmitted in a text may be of different nature. A weather forecast, Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, an advertisement for ice-cream, an Act of Parliament and the «No smoking» notice are all texts centering round peculiar subject-matters.

Opinions differ as to the form in which a text exists. Some scholars (Z. Turaeva, I. Galperin) maintain that an utterance is called a text only when it is written message, others say that there is no point to exclude folklore, and that graphical presentation (fixation in written form) is optional (I. Arnold). The written form is more usual, but a folklore song, although oral, is in some respects more of a text than a telephone directory.

The borderline is represented by all sorts of familiar phrases existing in oral tradition and forming a complete whole, but mostly used (like proverbs) within larger units.

There is also the problem of the addressees: whether to consider an utterance to be a message and a text, when the addressee is not mentioned, or when the addressee is not human.

G.G. Byron addressees a star. Words are addressed not to a person, but to an inanimate object. It’s a form of personification. Every reader accepts this, not as something meant for outer space, but as a manifestation of the poet’s lyrical mood, meant for terrestrial readers. There are poems addressed to the Ocean, Sky, the Night, naturally, printed and published for the benefit of human readers.

Actually, a text may have two levels of communicational existence. Every text is addressed by a poet (writer) to the mass of possible readers, but it may, especially as a poem, create its own situation of address.

The oral charms in which the message is neither written nor addressed to any other human being, is considered a text, because it is a complete verbal message stored in the memory of the members of a tribe and passed on to younger generations. The addressee is imaginative – the charm is meant to conciliate fate and supernatural forces.

22.12.2014; 01:16
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