PROBLEM OF LANGUAGE REDUNDANCY ON THE EXAMPLE OF A SCIENTIFIC TEXT

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Abstract


Language redundancy is an actual problem for native Russian speakers. In this article, the authors consider the issue of linguistic redundancy in written communication, and describe some of its aspects using examples derived from various scientific and popular-scientific articles in the field of humanities (psychology, linguistics, literary criticism) selected from public Internet sources. The article describes the history of the scientific study of the problem of linguistic redundancy in texts of various styles, presents a typology of examples of linguistic redundancy primarily at the level of a combination of lexical units and at the level of text construction. The research also gives arguments on the reasons for linguistic redundancy emergence and possible steps to overcome it. The object of the study is a popular-scientific and scientific text, the subject of the study are stylistic errors and elements of language redundancy. The material of the analysis is represented in the texts obtained by the method of continuous sampling from collections of scientific articles in the Russian language, posted on the Internet. In each specific example, the authors propose their own way of expressing content without unnecessary lexical units, omitting or replacing them with synonyms and synonymous expressions. The stylistic error causing the problem of linguistic redundancy is a violation of the formal connection of sentences in the text, in which the reference words or link words are repeated. The article provides their typology and examples of errors of this type. The scientific novelty of the research is primarily related to the lack of research on linguistic redundancy on the material of scientific texts In Russian. The authors of the article see the practical value and possible implementation of the results in the drawing attention of the authors of scientific texts to their works in terms of their compliance with the norm in this aspect.


1. LANGUAGE REDUNDANCY AS A LINGUISTIC PROBLEM Redundancy as a property of a language was noticed in research literature in the midtwentieth century in connection with the emergence and development of information theory, for example, Claude Shannon wrote: “In communication theory it is considered that a language can be regarded as a certain probabilistic process that creates a discrete (defined) sequence of symbols in accordance with a certain probability system. Each language is associated with a certain parameter D, which can be called the redundancy of this language. Redundancy measures in some sense how much the length of a text in a given language can be reduced without losing any part of the information. A simple example: since in English spelling, only the letter u always follows the letter q, u can be omitted without affecting. Significant number of abbreviations in English can be made using its statistical structure, the frequent recurrence of certain letters or words, etc.” [1]. E.V. Grudeva writes that later redundancy was considered as a necessary condition that ensures adequate reception of information by the addressee, first in communication theory, and then in linguistics. A. Martinet, using the terms of the communication theory, singled out the main function of redundancy - the struggle against noise, i.e. ensuring the perception of the message despite external interference. G. Gleason noted: “Although redundancy in the language directly provides benefits to the speaker, it causes a lot of trouble for the linguist when analyzing and describing the language. Trying to give a conscientious description of any verbal expression, the linguist inevitably drowns in the mass of details that are of no significance due to high redundancy. The main method in linguistics is, in fact, the distinction between the phenomena of redundant and non-redundant” [2]. There is no unambiguous assessment of redundancy in linguistics, thus, G. Gleason believes that “The unrealized transmitting ability of the code arises as a result of the fact that we repeated the signals, and it can be called redundant”. He also links redundancy with the written language: “In any code like written English, there are different levels of organization. Each of these levels has its own restrictions on the message. They are reflected in the redundancy of the language as a code. These restrictions arise simply because the codes have a structure. The structure is nothing else but a system of restrictions that bind freedom of use and therefore inevitably generate redundancy” [3. P. 362]. H. Hokket argues that redundancy should not be understood as something superfluous, since a language without redundancy could function only in ideal external conditions - only in a written, most controlled form, and in hasty speech, so common in many life situations, or noisy room, or with some defects of pronunciation, it would inevitably be incomprehensible. Consequently, redundancy is a kind of a foolproof, which ensures the operation of the mechanism under adverse conditions [4. P. 89]. V.A. Zvegintsev determines the difference between natural and logical languages precisely on the basis of the presence/absence of redundancy and thus determines redundancy: “Redundancy is established statistically; redundancy is established within the same language level (phonetic, morphemic, etc.); when calculating redundancy, the sequence of elements at a given level of language is taken into account. Following F. de Saussure, we can say that it is based on the principle of linearity of the language; knowing the limitations inherent in this code (the structure of the code is a system of these restrictions), we can predict the appearance of subsequent elements that are linearly arranged based on the statistical probability; predictability can condition understanding; the concept of redundancy should be coordinated with the concept of information” [5]. The levels at which redundancy is considered are described by J. Dubois, F. Edelin, 1. Klinkenberg and others in ‘General Rhetoric’. The authors consider such types of redundancy as: 1. phonetic; 2. graphic; 3. syntactic; 4. grammatical; 5. semantic; 6. conventional redundancy [6]. E.V. Grudeva traced the chronology of the reference to the term redundancy in the national scientific and educational literature and claims that works related to the study of redundancy were conducted in our country as early as the 1960s (N.N. Leontyeva, 2. Nikitina, M.I. Otkupshchikova, R.G. Piotrovsky [2]. But for the first time the concept of redundancy in the terminological sense is presented in the textbook ‘Semantics’ by M.A. Krongauz [7]. In the textbook by I.P. Susov on introduction to linguistics in the section ‘Information processes and systems’ there is also a paragraph dedicated to noise and, as a result, the redundancy of the language as a code. In particular, it notes: “Natural languages are usually characterized by high redundancy, allowing us to recognize speech signals with a sufficient degree of reliability” [8]. Nevertheless, assessing the redundancy of the lexical level, first of all we must associate it with a particular style and genre. “The concept of the genre has long been formed in the linguistic tradition. At the heart of its definition there is a number of generalized ideas about the structure, content, author’s attitude and accompanying extralinguistic components, for example, of a text” [9]. A scientific article as a genre of scientific style, in our opinion, should least contain elements of language redundancy. 2. LANGUAGE REDUNDANCY AS A DIDACTIC PROBLEM It is believed that stylistically and semantically unjustified linguistic redundancy is an indicator of an insufficiently high verbal culture. The increase in the number of deficiencies of this type of a written text has a number of reasons. Thus, for example, a series of collections of scientific articles, which are published in authors’ edition, has increased, whereas the level of text processing by a literary or scientific editor made it possible to reveal the absence of logic in the presentation of individual text fragments and to eliminate infelicities of style, including examples of language redundancy. Another factor of a certain decrease in the written culture of Russian speakers is a fall in the proportion of written communication in school, in particular by increasing a student’s multiple choice tasks activity. In our opinion, one of the reasons for the increasing of the use of elements of language redundancy is the lack of examples of elitist language proficiency in the media, as the spontaneous speech of journalists, anchor men, bloggers, actors, and other media people is replete with speech errors. It is possible, in some cases, to talk about the unwillingness to effectively solve a communicative problem, about a kind of ‘sketching’ lexical units. This is an uneconomic waste of other language means with the expectation that the recipient will choose the minimum of words that will allow to achieve understanding. Redundancy in speech is considered to be represented in superfluous words, constructions, turnovers, the contents of which can be conveyed by a simpler synonymous expression or a single word. 3. ASPECTS OF SPEECH REDUNDANCY Language redundancy can be considered at different levels of the organization of a statement, for example: 1. at the content level; 2. at the level of lexical units’ combination; 3. at the text level. Let us note that all the examples below will be presented in the original language (Russian) to save the content and the subject of the study. Language redundancy at the content level is manifested in redundant, secondary information that obscures the meaning of the main statement. The redundant information and the verbose explanation bear record to the inability of the writer to concentrate on the main thing, to express the thought briefly. At the level of lexical units’ combination, three types of speech redundancy are distinguished: pleonasm, tautology, word repetition. The term pleonasm describes the use in speech of close in meaning and therefore logically redundant words, for example: § толпа людей Толпа людей является кратковременной естественной общностью. Люди сознательно не договариваются о правилах, нормах и законах поведения в толпе, они опираются на резидуальные правила - бессознательно установленные и принятые людьми нормы. This statement could have the following form: Толпа является ... кратковременной естественной общностью. In addition to pleonasm, the new version of the first phrase eliminates the repetition of the word with the root люд(людей и люди) in two sentences, one of which follows the other, i.e. violates the laws of the formal links of sentences within a paragraph. The semantics of the lexical unit толпа includes seme1 ‘люди’; seme2 ‘множество’; seme3 ‘неорганизованное, стихийное множество’. § главная суть А) Главная суть «Крика» [Munch]; B) Всем известно, в чем главная суть гомеопатии: лекарства в малых дозах действуют на организм иначе, чем в обычных, и лечение может быть более эффективным. In these two examples, pleonastic use is motivated by the desire to strengthen the seme ‘выделение самого важного’, ‘иерархическое представление’ of the lexical unit ‘суть’, which already has the meaning ‘the most important and essential thing’ [10]. These errors could be corrected as follows: А) Главная суть «Крика» [Munch] = Главное в содержании «Крика» [Munch] 4. Всем известно, в чем главная суть гомеопатии: лекарства в малых дозах действуют на организм иначе, чем в обычных, и лечение может быть более эффективным. = Всем известна суть гомеопатии: лекарства в малых дозах действуют на организм иначе, чем в обычных, и лечение может быть более эффективным. Tautology, which is a kind of pleonasm, and occurs when the same-root words are repeated, is represented by the combination of Russian and foreign words with the same meaning: § ринопластика носа 5. Ринопластика носа может иметь функциональную подоплеку в том случае, когда появляются проблемы с дыханием. = Пластика носа (ринопластика) может иметь функциональную подоплеку в том случае, когда появляются проблемы с дыханием. 6. Ринопластика горбинки носа является наиболее востребованной причиной обращения к пластическому хирургу. = Устранение горбинки носа является наиболее частой причиной обращения к пластическому хирургу. In these two examples, tautological use is associated with breaking the link between the lexical unit of Russian носа and the term ринопластика, which means ‘restoring or correcting the shape of the nose using plastic surgery methods’ [11]. These errors could be corrected as follows: 7. Ринопластика носа может иметь функциональную подоплеку в том случае, когда появляются проблемы с дыханием. 8. Ринопластика горбинки носа является наиболее востребованной причиной обращения к пластическому хирургу. At the text level, a common example of language redundancy is word repetition, which can be classified by several basic types [12]: 9. by the nature of repetitive elements - repetition of words, set expressions, phraseological units, morphological forms, lexical blocks, syntactic structures; 10. by the location of the repetitions relative to each other - contact and distant repetitions; 11. by composition in the structure of the text - anaphoric, ring, epiphoric repetitions; 12. by the number of repetitive figures in the text - double, triple, multiple repetitions; 13. by the quality of the repeating elements, we distinguish complete and partial repetitions. Let us consider the following example: Во Франции уверены: любой может1 достичь2 самых высоких целей3, если он получил4 соответствующую квалификацию, ну а если он ее получил4, то ему попросту обязаны предоставить возможность1 достичь2 всего, чего он хочет, сразу же, как только он докажет, что шел к своей цели3 правильным путем, соблюдая общепринятые нормы и условности. In this example, four pairs of repetitions can be marked; firstly, the repetition is present in the personal form of the verb может and the single-root word возможность. This repetition is partial, distant, double. Secondly, the infinitive достичь is repeated twice; this case can be described as complete and distant. The nouns целей (plural, genitive) and цели (singular, dative) are the third described pair, they are partial, distant, double repetition. Получил and получил, located in the adjacent parts of the complex sentence are partial, distant, double repetition. If we evaluate the use of these repetitions, then, in our opinion, not all of them are justified. It is probably possible to leave them unchanged (that is, to evaluate repetitions as intentional and relevant) the block может1 достичь2 and возможность1 достичь2; the other two repetitions are elements of language redundancy and can be replaced by: решал поставленные задачи and это сделал, i.e. express the declared content through context synonyms. Thus, we can conclude that language redundancy is not always the result of the author’s inattentive attitude to the text, but, for example, “one of the sources of the expressiveness of the language” [13]. 4. LANGUAGE REDUNDANCY ON THE EXAMPLE THE SCIENTIFIC TEXT The language redundancy in a scientific text may be manifested in the use of a larger than required number of words for the expression of thoughts and words that supplement no additional sense to what has been said or involuntarily contradict it. Let us consider the following example: Таким образом, можно сказать, что основной эмоциональной доминантой1 в речи первого персонажа выступает положительный эмоциональный2 настрой. Наличие перечисленных звуковых коннотаций очень ярко3 характеризует душевное и эмоциональное состояние главной героини, а именно: изменение жизненной ситуации и уравновешенная, рефлексивная, адекватная реакция со стороны4 главной героини на сложившиеся новые5 обстоятельства. In the above extract of the article, we noted five elements that can be considered in terms of the presence of language redundancy. In the first case, a special attention is paid to the combination of the adjective основной, which has the minimal semantic meaning ‘наиболее важный, главный’ [10] and the terminological unit доминанта. The repetition (эмоциональной и эмоциональный) also manifests language redundancy. The emotional-semantic dominant referred to in this text is a complex of cognitive and emotive standards that are characteristic of a certain type of a person and serve as the psychological basis for verbalizing the picture of the world in a literary text. This term is used primarily in the analysis of a literary text and is evaluated as the main method of creating it. In the definition by B.V. Tomaszewski “The aggregate of dominants is the defining moment in the formation of the genre” [14. Р. 207]. In a literary text, the emotional-semantic dominant acts as an organizing principle that predetermines the selection of certain plots, characters, syntactic and lexical-semantic means by the author. Given the semantics of this term, it should be considered that the basic lexical unit основной is superfluous, since its lexical meaning contradicts the seme ‘комплекс’ of the term доминанта. If the author wants to highlight the emotional standard in the complex of emotive-semantic dominant, it can be expressed as following: Таким образом, можно сказать, что доминантой1 в речи первого персонажа выступает положительный эмоциональный2 настрой. Omitting unnecessary words основной and эмоциональной, we avoid repeating the words эмоциональной and эмоциональный while maintaining the author’s intention. The third element that aroused our interest and can be considered from the point of view of the presence of language redundancy is the use of the adverb очень in the text of a scientific article in combination with the adverb ярко. We argue that the reinforcement which the author wants to express already exists in the semantics of the combination of lexical unit ярко характеризует, the verb in this case has the meaning ‘определять (определить) отличительные черты, особенности кого-, чего-л.’ [11]. Probably, the author considers it necessary to highlight one of the elements that describe the emotional state of the main character, in our opinion, the best expression of this intention is: Наличие перечисленных звуковых коннотаций характеризует душевное и эмоциональное состояние главной героини (без усиления), или Наличие перечисленных звуковых коннотаций точно описывает душевное и эмоциональное состояние главной героини. Another example: Фильм рассказывает о том, как известная оперная певица собирается покинуть Россию и увезти с собой своего1 сына. Перед отъездом она хочет показать сыну2 свою историческую Родину. Во время поездки сына3 она теряет своего сына4 и это коренным образом меняет ее судьбу. Анализируемый отрывок текста - это первая сцена фильма, которая представляет собой диалог личного характера между матерью и сыном5, мать убеждает своего сына6 посетить места, в которых жил его дед, но все доводы матери вызывают у него глубокое7 раздражение. Таким образом, в первой сцене фильма развивается драматургический конфликт двух близких людей, в котором один из персонажей пытается наладить контакт, другой же уходит от общения. First of all, it should be noted that the author, in order to analyze the means of figurativeness, retells the plot of the film, which probably influenced the changes of style from scientific to journalistic and led to the stylistic mistakes we are talking about. We consider the first drawback to be the use of the possessive pronoun своего in the first sentence, which is unnecessary, since the context does not involve the discussion of the other characters’ children. We suppose the next mistake is unmotivated direct distant repetition (examples 4-6): in four sentences the lexical unit сын is mentioned six times, two of them twice in a sentence. We do not know the content of the film, but it is obvious that a synonymous replacement of the lexeme сын to мальчик, юноша, молодой человек, his name, ребенок, etc. is possible. The next mistake, in our opinion, is the use of a complicated definition of the subject диалог - личного характера между матерью и сыном (example 5). We believe that the use of the preposition между is unnecessary, since the normative pattern is диалог кого? Further, the adjective личного [характера] becomes unclear, the semantics of which is not supported by subordinate clauses. Мать убеждает своего сына6 посетить места, в которых жил его дед, но все доводы матери вызывают у него глубокое раздражение. The definition глубокое to the complement раздражение is unmotivated, since the semantics of the lexical unit раздражение already provides the seme ‘очень’: чувство острого недовольства, досады, злости [15]. Речь второго персонажа окрашена совершенно другими1 коннотативными значениями. В данном случае доминируют значения с отрицательным эмоциональным настроем. В ней в относительно равной2 мере присутствуют значения насмешки, недовольства, удовлетворения, подавленности, возмущения и негодования. Перечисленные значения достаточно четко3 коррелируют с состоянием человека, который может лишиться своего обычного мира и героя, ищущего опоры вне себя. Считаю4 важным обратить внимание еще на две особенности, характеризующие звуковую эмотивную коннотативную структуру текста: а) эмотивные коннотативные значения в тексте диалога могут, как резко контрастировать5 в речи обоих персонажей6, б) так и меняться на протяжении всей реплики в речи того или иного персонажа. Для иллюстрации приведу два примера из речи обоих персонажей6. В первом примере видно, как отчетливо меняются7 эмотивно коннотативные значения интонации в речи первого персонажа: в начале в голосе слышится размышление, затем недовольство, нежность, и во второй половине реплики эмоциональный подъем сменяется уверенностью и сожалением. The phrase совершенно другими1 [коннотативными значениями], in our opinion, should not be used in the context of a scientific article. In this case, другие коннотативные значения is meant, reinforcement of this phrase is not required, the lexical unit другие already involves the seme ‘абсолютное качество’. In the following phrase в относительно равной2 мере, the general lexical meaning is ambiguous, since it is not clear what is meant: ‘в равной мере’ or ‘в пропорциональном отношении’, in our opinion, the valence of the adverb относительно does not allow to combine it with the adjective in the phrase равная мера. Равный means ‘одинаковый, совершенно сходный, такой же (по величине, значению, качеству)’ [10], consequently, совершенно сходный cannot be относительным. In the phrase достаточно четко3 коррелируют the motives of use of adverbs достаточно and четко with the verb коррелировать are not clear enough: the verb has the meaning ‘быть взаимосвязанным с чем-либо по отдельным признакам, параметрам’ [15], and the adverbs do not specify the semantics of the verb. The general meaning of the three sentences does not clarify the author’s intention either: в речи второго персонажа присутствуют значения насмешки и т.д., которые коррелируют с определенным (автор называет его) состоянием человека we may interpret as following: в речи второго персонажа присутствует значения насмешка и т.д., которые характерны (автор называет его) состоянию человека. Accordingly, we can state that lexical units достаточно четко, значения are redundant. In the example Считаю4 важным обратить внимание еще на две особенности, характеризующие звуковую эмотивную коннотативную структуру текста: а) эмотивные коннотативные значения в тексте диалога могут, как резко контрастировать5 в речи обоих персонажей6, б) так и меняться на протяжении всей реплики в речи того или иного персонажа6. Для иллюстрации приведу два примера из речи обоих персонажей it is possible to note the wrong use of the personal form of the verb считать (1st person singular) with the normative use in the scientific style of the personal form - 1st person plural - мы считаем. The synonymous replacement of the lexical units эмотивная коннотативная структура and персонажи is also required. In the first case, the author uses a term, so a substitution with a synonym term is impossible; in the second case, instead персонажи it could be better to use the word герои. The phrase резко контрастировать contains a superfluous refining of the verb контрастировать, the semantics of which already involves an element of the meaning резко - ‘составлять контраст, представлять собою контраст’ [15]; контраст is ‘резко выраженная противоположность в чем-либо’ [15] (authors’ selection). In the sentence В первом примере видно, как отчетливо меняются7 эмотивно коннотативные значения интонации в речи первого персонажа: в начале в голосе слышится размышление, затем недовольство, нежность, и во второй половине реплики эмоциональный подъем сменяется уверенностью и сожалением it is necessary to note the different valences of lexical units отчетливо and меняться: in the first case, the meaning ‘so that all the details, subtleties are well perceived, visible, distinguishable’ states qualities in their static form (constant quality semes); in the second case, the meaning ‘to become different, to acquire new properties and qualities’ actualizes the semantics of change. The use of these two units together in one phrase in a scientific text is undesirable. In our opinion, this sentence could be presented as following: В первом примере отчетливо видно, как меняются7 эмотивно коннотативные значения интонации в речи первого персонажа: в начале в голосе слышится размышление, затем недовольство, нежность, и во второй половине реплики эмоциональный подъем сменяется уверенностью и сожалением. The final example in our article is an attempt to create an emotionally coloured popular-scientific text: Весь диалог построен таким образом на антиномиях между явно положительной1 и явно отрицательной2 интонационной экспрессией. ... Разнообразная коннотативная палитра интонации в речи героев психологически обогащает содержание текста и расцвечивает разными красками3 картину события. Both cases (examples 1 and 2) of the use of adverb явно and the adjective is a violation of lexical compatibility, since the word явно has the meaning ‘так, что совершенно очевидно, ясно для всех’, which contradicts the semantics of the words положительный - ‘свидетельствующий о наличии чего-либо предполагаемого, соответствующий ожидаемому’ - and отрицательный - ‘свидетельствующий об отсутствии чего-либо или несоответствующий чему-либо ожидаемому’ and contains the seme of clarity presence. The repetition of this adverb is not justified - we did not see in it an organizing function for this text, any reinforcement is not necessary. The fragment of the text расцвечивает разными красками3 картину события not only has unambiguous semantics, but it is not the logical conclusion of a paragraph either: расцвечивает is duplicated by разными [красками] and the word палитра, картина события are two nouns that mark a certain passage of the work. Thus, we understand the author’s intention as following: ... Разнообразная коннотативная палитра интонации в речи героев психологически обогащает содержание текста и делает событие объемным/многогранным/ неоднородным и расцвечивает разными красками3 картину события. CONCLUSION 1. Language redundancy has relatively recently appeared in the focus of attention of researchers, therefore, in scientific and scientific-didactic works there are no detailed recommendations on the assessment of excessiveness in different styles and genres. 2. In scientific literature language redundancy is assessed as a positive feature of a natural language, something that allows you to add or refine information already indicated. 3. Language redundancy is partly justified in the oral speech, in everyday communication. 4. A scientific text is a special form of written communication, an important condition for its implementation is a preliminary reflection on the statement, a monologue in nature with a fixation on normalized speech. 5. While working with a scientific text, it is necessary to keep in mind that the absolute criterion is the desire to express certain content with a minimum of the most accurate lexical units in compliance with the basic principles of the formal links of parts of the text, which will allow avoiding language redundancy.

Natalia V Alontseva

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Author for correspondence.
Email: alontseva_nv@rudn.university
6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russia, 117198

Associate professor of the department of foreign languages

Yury A Ermoshin

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Email: ermoshin_yua@rudn.university
6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russia, 117198

Associate professor of the department of foreign languages, PhD in Pedagogy

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