Any literary text has a complex multilayered structure, a whole set of ideas, images and means that form them. In this regard, the term ‘polyphony’ has become widespread in the field of philology. Drawing the analogy to the musical instrument, we have suggested using the term ‘homophony’ for deciphering the text, in other words, for analyzing its “instrumentation” that can be revealed in a different form and with the help of various devices. The aim of our research, whose results are outlined in this paper, was to receive the confirmation of the significance of rhythmic figures of speech in the context of defining the multilayeredness of the piece of work from the perspective of its structure: identifying its polyphony and/or homophony. In order to facilitate the process of carrying out the analysis we used PRD (ProseRythmDetector) which is a computer-aided application that allows to do the automatic search and quantity analysis of some rhythmic figures. In terms of the main results of the research we can come to the conclusion that rhythmic figures of speech, which are characteristic of a given author’s idiolect, text peculiarities, allow us to find a solution to the problem of polyphony and homophony to some extent. Text cannot be easily attributed either to polyphonic or homophonic, any piece of work is complex in its structure and only the entwinement of thoughts, ideas, linguistic and stylistic devices enables us to enjoy the art of the narrative and the expression of writer’s thoughts.
One of the main concepts of euphonia, sound organization of the speech in the literary text, is instrumentation. This term was borrowed from the field of music where it means an arrangement or composition of a piece of music for particular instruments or voices. In relation to the arrangement of the sound form of a literary text or a piece of music, the aims of music and literature coincide: that is to have harmony of sounds, sonority and euphonia.
With regard to the sound organization, euphonia of the text can be achieved with the help of the laws of polyphony and homophony. These are the forms of the text arrangement that enable us to understand the correlation between the major and minor theme(s) or ideas of the piece of work, it raises our awareness of the distribution of “roles” in the structure of the images. In music we usually compare and contrast the terms homophony and polyphony (simultaneous combination of melodies or voices based on equality and independence of all voices). Homophony is a kind of polyphony where one voice dominates whereas the other voices serve as a harmonious accompaniment.
In literature studies these concepts are closely connected with the concept of the author’s idiolect, peculiarities of his or her language because we perceive the structure and the content of the text, its complexity and simplicity, ideas and images, domination of something or somebody and secondariness of the others only by means of idiosyncrasy of the author’s style and their linguistic peculiarities.
Studies of homophony and polyphony are conducted by Russian as well as foreign philologists and linguists, albeit the number of research papers dedicated to the problems of polyphonic text arrangement outnumbers the ones connected with the homophonic arrangement due Bakhtin’s widespread theory of text polyphony. His theory is based on the in-depth study of the novels by F. Dostoevsky whose pieces of work contain “a plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses, a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices…” (Bakhtin, 2000; p. 12). In Bakhtin’s (2000) opinion, ‘polyphonic world’ is created and appears in the novels by F. Dostoevsky as a contrast to European monologic (homophonic) novels, his novels are “the interaction of several consciousnesses” (p. 14).
In recent decades there has been a considerable interest in the structure of a polyphonic text, translation techniques of this structure, voice arrangement in the text, and in finding out specific features of temporal and spatial peculiarities of a polyphonic text (Demina, 2003; Nølke, 2001; Prudon, 2002; Perrin-Schrimer et al., 2004). Apart from this, there has been an increasing number of studies that reflect specific features of a polyphonic structure of the narrative and point to the peculiarities of an intertextual connection from the perspective of a polyphonic text structure (Harkness, 2014; Kratschmer et al., 2009; Langevin & Baron, 2016).
In poetry, the phenomenon of homophony has been studied thoroughly by French linguists including P. Verrier, М. Grammont, E. Martin, P. Guiraud, М. Gauthier and others, whereas not much attention has been paid to homophony within the framework of prosaic texts, in comparison with polyphony, although these two phenomena often co-exist in the text. Polyphonic text organization has been thoroughly covered in the research carried out by Ducrot (1972), who, bearing in mind Bakhtin’s work, did not consider the polyphony of the text, but did consider the polyphony of the sentence, that, in turn, allows us to speak about different polyphonic settings.
It is worth mentioning that establishing the criteria for polyphonic and homophonic text settings has been a crucial issue due to the lack of research studies in this area, which has led to another problem of summarizing all existing theories and outlining a common denominator.
A growing body of literature has examined a polyphonic text as a combination of linguistic peculiarities of the author’s speech, their idiolect. For instance, Amvrossova (1984) regards polyphonic narrative as a structure, in which language units that reflect the individual parameters of the character's image and main features of the character’s communicative situation are presented by lexical, grammatical, phonetic and stylistic devices. In terms of lexical devices, the researcher opts for the words that express reflective understanding of the events relevant to the character’s image. Grammar devices include such parts of speech as articles, pronouns, interjections, modal words - at the morphological level; interrogative and imperative sentences, syntactic constructions, traditionally attributed to colloquial speech (ellipsis, repetition, etc.), exclamatory syntactic constructions - at the syntactic level. At the phonetic level, the linguist considers it important to take the peculiarities of characters’ pronunciation into account in the written text, and defines stylistic signals as the use of stylistic devices that comprise words related to professional, social, age-specific and other stylistic layers: from common colloquial, vulgar to slang, intimately tender ones (Amvrossova, 1984).
Polyphonic text setting can be observed at the temporal text level. It can be expressed with the help of perceptive timeline (retrospection, prospection, temporal ellipses, narrative summary); objective timeline (various dates, accurate and approximate time of the clock, names of seasons and time of the day, names of days of the week); event timeline (tenses and aspects in the taxis) (Demina, 2003).
It is also important to take into account the fact that the text cannot only be either polyphonic or homophonic, we can see an abrupt change of voices. For example, the change of rhythm (that is the change of the dominant rhythmic device in the particular text fragment) can be a criterion, an indicator of the voice change in the polyphonic or homophonic text. The criteria of such a voice change can be: change of the syntactic devices within the statement, change of the lexical register, of phonetic parameters, marked use/ sudden cancellation of the stylistic devices within the statement, inner replication (character’s inner feelings and thoughts), change of the narrative focus, change of microgenre within the statement, change of the point of view) (Skrebnev, 1985).
Due to the fact that the connection between the author’s idiolect and type of the piece of work (homophonic or polyphonic) is extremely stable, it seems to be logical to define the term ‘idiolect’ and to show what scientists meant and used it to refer to.
In the last two decades a lot of research papers have been published aimed at examining the specific features of author’s language (Bogdanova, 2015; Tchugunova, 2017; Karelova, 2006; Louwerse, 2004; Medvedkova, 2016; Tikhonenko, 2013; Voskoboynikov, 2013; Wright, 2018).They stress the necessity of the interaction of the linguistic means used by the author and the national language a certain stage of its development. Moreover, the inherence of reciprocity (enriching the national language with new forms created by the author in particular) is emphasized. However, there is still a need for addressing the question of choice and classification of the features to describe the author’s idiolect.
Idiolect is always presented by a definite idiom, i.e. literary language, territorial or social dialect, uniting general and specific features of its structure, norms and usage. This theory suggests that “no two people who share a common language have exactly the same linguistic repertoire” (Wright, 2018, p. 360). The variation shown in the person’s language production is affected by their dialect, sociolect and register, as well as by personal, idiosyncratic, frequently habitual linguistic preferences, that is idiolect. A person’s idiolect comprises linguistic features relevant to idiolect and sociolect, the features that, taken together, make up the so-called shared identity based on cultural and social awareness (Malyuga & McCarthy, 2018; Samokhina, 2019). What makes the research of idiolect more challenging is the fact that idiolect is not something that is stable. While gaining new knowledge and experience, some new elements can be acquired and added to the person’s idiolect, certainly, some elements will remain unchanged. Since the late nineteenth century when the term was introduced into linguistics no systematic study of idiolect has been conducted. There are still discrepancies as to what to consider an idiolect, whether it is the overall system of an individual or just some structures, some language patterns and patterns of usage. This is the case when the concept of idiolect is given in almost every dictionary, but there is not enough empirical evidence.
Despite all the attempts, scientists have not managed to reach an agreement in relation to the theory of a writer’s idiolect. Nevertheless, the first considerable efforts of analyzing the idiolect of British writers were made in the second half of the twentieth century. A good example of this can be a book ‘Idiolects in Dickens: The Major Techniques and Chronological Development’ by Robert Golding published in 1985. Judging by the book’s title, one can assume that the research consisted of two parts. First, the linguist examined Dickens’ idiolects including linguistic identifiers, root dialects and registers, rhythmic patterns, representational speech and rhetorical extension. Second, Golding traced the chronological development of Dickens’ idiolects, analyzing the novels in the order they were written by the author (Golding, 1985). The idiolects created by Dickens for his characters also constitute his idiolect as a writer and distinguish his style from the style of other novelists.
Having analyzed this and other papers published in the last century, we may conclude that their research was mainly based on taking into account such linguistic features as
The rhetorical and rhythmic patterns were also considered, along with the idiosyncratic way of creating characters’ language and rhythmic organization of the text (metric and stylistic figures of speech).
With the emergence of corpus and computational linguistics researchers gained access to more tools that can be used to define writer’s idiolect. There has been research of the idiolect of Charles Dickens, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, T.S Eliot and others (Louwerse, 2004). In the latest studies of the British writers’ idiolect, we can notice that the research is conducted in a different way. The study is carried out at different levels: syntactic, pragmatic and semantic. These components constitute the author’s code. For example, at the semantic level, the frequency of words is taken into consideration. Nowadays, this research work does not take so much time, on the contrary, it takes seconds to find out the most common words in the text, the most/ least frequent figures of speech, to identify the length of the text, sentence and so on. One of the most common ways of analysis is the use of n-grams that allows to trace the sequence of sounds, syllables, letters and words. It helps to collect valuable material for examining the author’s idiolect.
In order to structure the criteria for polyphony and homophony in the text, we need a complex approach to these two concepts. The use of these text structures takes place at various text and linguistic levels simultaneously, they cannot be examined separately from one another, they should be regarded as a whole, like an author’s piece of work. In relation to this, polyphony and homophony accompany literary text, it is crucial to follow a definite structure of its philological analysis. From our point of view, the most complete and logical scheme is the one devised by Khovanskaya (1980). She suggests considering
So, at the level of non-textual factors polyphony and homophony can be observed by means of thoughts and ideas repeated at a certain interval and connected with the author’s outlook on the world. What is more, in case of polyphonic setting ideas can be intertwined and co-exist with each other, whereas in case of homophonic setting only one idea is dominant, that is the idea that the author would like to transfer from their biography into the piece of work, in the same way the individual psychological peculiarities of a writer’s personality emerge in the novel.
At the level of non-textual factors in “The Red and the Black” by Stendhal a good example of homophony can be the idea, which is constantly developed by the writer in the novel, about the emotional tension and anxiety of the main character caused by the incongruity of the modern society and happiness which is possible only in the situation of unconditional happiness of all the people (according to the school of thought of Claude Helvetius whose ideas were groundbreaking for Stendhal).
As for polyphony at the level of non-textual factors, we can provide an example of novels “Human Comedy” by Honore de Balzac, in which the writer describes vices and virtues, all-consuming passions and the contradictions of human nature, temper and drama, occurring inside different social classes, co-existing in the text and, at the same time, developing as independent strands of the narrative (Boychuk, 2015).
The literary and speech levels are intertwined with one another and cannot be studied separately, as the narrative framework becomes discernible thanks to some figures of speech. Speech level is at the phonetic, lexical, grammar and stylistic linguistic levels. The literary one includes text composition which depends on the plot construction and availability of theme and plot-related parallelism within the text.
We suggest having a look at the examples of the literary level from the perspective of the polyphonic and homophonic text settings. In the homophonic text, there is one strand of the narrative: one fate, one spatiotemporal continuum or one voice. In the polyphonic text, on the contrary, its multilayeredness is important (availability of numerous strands of the narrative and timelines, division of the events in time into 3 parts: present, past and future), combination of different tenses and aspects (Demina, 2003).
In terms of polyphony at the literary level, the novel “The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club” by Charles Dickens can be considered as fine example. The narration goes through a series of funny episodes which tells the reader about the adventures of companions who travel to remote places from London. Several narrative strands are also presented in the novel “Bouvard et Pécuchet” by Gustave Flaubert, where the characters try out all the new activities themselves.
Regarding homophony at the level of the narrative strands, “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte can be a perfect example. On the one hand, the life of the main character is shown as a continuous line. On the other hand, at the temporal level we can see a long line steadily running from the past to the present, this line cannot be called polyphonic, as it is a dominant one and it is solid throughout the whole novel.
At the speech level, from the perspective of the phonetic aspect homophony is presented through the dominance of some phono-stylistic device (to the extent to which this device can be expressed in the written text), prevalence of rhythm, metre, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia and other easily noticeable phono-stylistic devices. In the polyphonic text, such devices co-exist and constitute certain configurations, which besides that create a rhythmic picture of the novel (Boychuk & Trofimova, 2019).
At the lexical level in the homophonic text, a particular lexical device prevails, dominates, it can be a repetition of synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, proverbs and sayings, a key word in this piece of work and others. Polyphony implies equal dominance of particular devices, their parallel presence in terms of their prevalence over other devices.
Grammar devices can be traced at the level of morphology, as well as syntax, consistent with stylistics, it means that these can be stylistic figures whose main criterion for allocating is morphology or syntax. At the morphology level, we can take into account the frequent use of the parts of speech such as articles. pronouns, interjections and modal words, such devices as derivation, polyptoton, reduplication with the repetition of an item. At the grammar level, we can consider interrogative and imperative sentences, elliptical structures, aposiopesis, repetition of any kind (lexical, syntactic anaphora, epiphora, symploce, anadiplosis, epizeuxis, diacope, chiasmus, homogeneous parts of the sentence, sentences with homogeneous subordinate clauses with polysyndeton or asyndeton, syntactic parallelism and others).
For instance, antonyms and synonyms are the most common devices in “Bouvard et Pécuchet” by Gustave Flaubert (Boychuk, 2019). Thierry démontre, à propos des Barbares, combien il est sot de rechercher si tel prince fut
In the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, we can point out alliteration as the most active device at the phono-stylistic level:
Derivation and polyptoton are common in the novel “Leaf Storm” by G.G. Márquez (Boychuk & Jonson, 2019) :
It is obvious that the majority of devices have a close connection with the repetition of some kind. Primarily, it is due to the fact that dominance of one voice is its prevalence, it is a definite, fixed idea, or thought, that cannot be expressed without repetition. Thus, the implementation of these settings depends on the text rhythm, no matter whether the text has polyphonic or homophonic structure. It mainly concerns the speech level of the piece of work. As for the non-textual factors and literary level, we can say that it does not always happen through repetition, but it might take place.
Purpose of the Study
The aim of our research is to define the text structure, determine whether it is polyphonic and/or homophonic on the basis of the rhythmic figures of speech that prevail in the text and constitute the author’s idiolect. The current work is based on the thorough analysis of grammar and compositional level of the rhythmicity in the English prose of the 19th and 20th сenturies.
Grammar level within the framework of the rhythm analysis consists of two sublevels: the morphological one and the syntactic one, presented by word-formation devices, stylistic figures and syntactic constructions. Morphological sublevel includes derivation and polyptoton. At the syntactic sublevel, there are syntactic and semantic-syntactic devices presented by stylistic figures and syntactic constructions. Regarding syntactic devices, we take into consideration the position of the repetitions for stylistic devices (anaphora, epiphora and others) and some syntactic constructions (syntactic parallelism, homogeneous parts of the sentence, etc.); semantic-syntactical devices are found on the basis of their close interconnection of the repetition structure and its semantics (epanalepsis, gradation as a repetition of the same word with an intensifier and so on). We focus on such rhythmic figures as
Structural-compositional level of rhythmicity can be described through the structure and literary text composition. By using the word ‘structure’, we imply architectonics which creates visual rhythm (evenness and permanency of the number of the rhythmic units). At the compositional level, some devices are detected within the framework of the main structure text units: a system of images, characters, spatiotemporal connections in relation to events, rhythm in creating a storyline, alternation of episodes, parallelism within the text, antithesis, repetition of the keywords, expressions, sentences and episodes (Boychuk, 2019).
Previous work in the field of literary text analysis has tended to be done manually that made the process of data analysis more difficult and time-consuming. However, nowadays there are more and more opportunities for detecting some particular linguistic devices automatically.
During the last two decades several tools have been created that allow us to perform text analysis from the perspective of examining particular stylistic figures based on repetition. Thus, it is worth mentioning research papers written by Dubremetz (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), who provides the results of testing the tool for the automatic search of
In the paper written by Liang and Wu (2003), the device searched for is anaphora. Using WordNet, the researchers examine the frequency of anaphora in relation to its position. So, according to the results of the experiment, anaphora within the sentence was detected in 60% of cases in the texts of Brown Corpus, BC. The authors excluded 30% of wrongly detected cases of anaphora by implementing heuristic algorithm.
The necessity of conducting analysis of large amount of text in order to detect specific features of author's individual style, their idiolect, which in turn also requires defining polyphonic and homophonic text settings, has enabled a group of Russian researchers (N. Lagutina, K. Lagutina, E. Boychuk, I. Vorontsova, E. Shliakhtina, O. Belyayeva) to create a tool for text rhythm analysis on the basis of search and quantitative estimation of lexical-grammatical devices. At the moment, our tool PRD (ProseRythmDetector) detects anaphora, epiphora, symploce, epizeuxis, anadiplosis, epanalepsis, diacope, polysyndeton (Certificate of State Registration of Software No.2019619380, 2019).
This tool makes it possible to do the analysis of text rhythmicity at the lexical-grammatical level, as well as the statistical analysis of a large number of texts or pieces of work aimed at comparative and contrastive studies of texts written in different epochs (Lagutina et al., 2019). In our research, it is important to use the tool to find out the most active figure of speech in the novel which is also necessary for detecting the device (one or a few) that prevails in the text, which might help us to consider the text polyphonic or homophonic.
To carry out the analysis, we have chosen the novels by English writers of the 19th-20th centuries: “Vanity Fair” (W. Thackeray, 1848), “Jude the Obscure” (Th. Hardy, 1895), “Jacob’s Room” (V. Woolf, 1922), “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (G. Orwell, 1949), “The Collector” (J. Fowles, 1963).
Among the above mentioned pieces of work, we can point out the ones that have several narrative threads, both at the level of the plot and the language structure level. To illustrate this, such novels as “Vanity Fair”, “Jude The Obscure” can be given as an example, in which there are parallel plots, stories of different fates that are all intertwined and influence the destiny of the main characters. For instance, “Vanity Fair” follows the lives of Amelia Sedley and Becky Sharp who are very different from one another and in the end have different lives and fates: Amelia is an example of virtue and kindness, whereas Becky is smart, witty and full of determination. Amelia who aspires to be happy with George Osbourne loses him one day and becomes happy with a person who fell for her a while ago and loved her a lot, unlike her late husband. Becky, Amelia’s opposite, is rather manipulative, seeks happiness and pursues her own interests by acting hypocritically, by supporting charity and making useful contacts. This fuss makes an impression of involvement in the lives of these two ladies who are described by the author quite vividly against the background of the society of that time, its manners and principles, its interest in the trivial.
In the novel “Jude The Obscure” we do not see clearly the secondary lines in the narration, but the fate of Jude Fawley is in the centre of attention, his life depends on the decisions of the others, his nearest and dearest, then his life is ruined by failing to receive education and enter the profession - this is the indication of homophony as a strength and weakness of the main character, his attitude to reality, whether he accepts it or not. There are more parallel ideas created by the author, they concern ostentatious equality, authority of the church, illusions of a happy marriage, shattered hopes and a great thirst for knowledge and education. Polyphony is discernible in the characters of the heroines in the novel: the rude and flirtatious Arabella is opposed to the decent and serious Sue Bridehead.
In “Jacob’s Room” polyphony can be explained through “multifacetedness” of the narrator, which has several levels of subjectivity (the author performing the roles of “an omniscient storyteller” and “an acute observer”). In a relatively short novel there are more than 160 characters often outshining the main character who appears episodically, in the so-called “concentric circles” with Jacob Flanders in the centre. In this case, his character constitutes the main storyline (homophony) which is set around him.
Pointless and merciless duel between the personality and the system is revealed in the dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by G. Orwell These two lines constitute the polyphony of two voices at the level of the main idea: a more stable harsh voice of the system, and weak and gentle voice of a depressed man without any rights. At the level of characters, we can observe three lines: Winston Smith, Julia and O’Brien, and this opposition of two against the third one who wins, a “Torquemada”, uncommonly handsome, who has a clear mind, a broad outlook and a gift of persuasion. We can easily identify the polyphony of the voices here, but at the same time the main character with his ideas and thoughts is definitely Winston Smith, thus it proves that the novel is also homophonic.
The dualism that is achieved through the Jekyll-Hide narration of the events described in the diaries of Clegg and Miranda, a kidnapper and a victim, a representative of the Masses and a representative of the Choice is shown in the novel “The Collector” by John Fowles. These two worlds in particular are contrasted by the author in his psychological thriller which is about the opposition against the mass culture and wider society.
Thus, at the level of ideas and at the level of creating the images we can trace a different degree of text polyphony which often borders with homophony at the level of characters.
While conducting the analysis, the most frequent figures of speech were detected at the linguistic level (see Table
We can see that there are many cases of using diacope in all the analyzed novels. First of all, it can be justified by the specifics of this figure of speech. Diacope is a repetition of words at small regular intervals (2-5 words) in the text. This is a certain way of getting back to the idea, to the word, this is a repetition that makes up a whole chain of keywords of a piece of work. Besides that, it is obvious that anaphora is advantageous for all texts as well as epizeuxis, but to a lesser extent. In our research work anaphora is just the repetition of words at the beginning of a sentence. In spite of the fact that the volume of the texts is different (“Vanity Fair” is twice as long as some other pieces), we can outline common tendencies typical of the novels by these writers. At the same time, we cannot help noticing quantity differences in terms of the use of epiphora, symploce, epanalepsis and anadiplosis in the texts by different authors. Nevertheless, our aim is not to compare the pieces of work from the perspective of use of these figures of speech, but to point out special features of each of them.
Repetitions that are found in relation to the use of diacope lead to the creation of keywords, that is why we can consider it homophonic and the main one at the linguistic level. For example, in the novel “The Collector” the most frequently repeated lexical items are
Anaphora whose frequent use sets “Vanity Fair”, “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and “The Collector” apart from the other novels (in comparison with the other figures of speech used in the text) is realized by pronominal anaphora:
In other cases lexical items or combination of words that are repeated at the beginning of a sentence are highly significant, as they create a certain image and express author’s thoughts:
It is obvious that every writer has their repertoire of linguistic devices and they consolidate the peculiarities of the literary language, author’s idiolect, an aspiration to emphasize something in the plot with the help of repetition (see Figure
The style of Virginia Woolf seems distinctive, the number of rhythmic figures of speech is lower in contrast to other novels, and there is a particular drop in anaphora and epizeuxis.
The linguistic devices that account for approximately the same considerable number in the text can be considered homophonic, as they dominate in the novel. Polyphony at the linguistic level can be interpreted by approximately the same number of devices in the piece of work.
At the level of functioning of the above mentioned figures of speech (anaphora, epiphora, symploce, epizeuxis, anadiplosis, epanalepsis, diacope and polysyndeton), we can point out homophony of one figure in the text, for example, diacope and anaphora, as well as a polyphonic sound of the other figures in the background. Certainly, in order to carry out an in-depth and thorough analysis we should expand a range of devices, examine them as a whole, although even at this stage of analysis we can see the multilayeredness of the texts at the literary level as well as the linguistic one. Anyway, it is still difficult to say for sure whether the piece is homophonic or polyphonic: at different levels of text analysis instrumentation emerges in its own way, usually there is a combination of both of them, an intertwinement of voices (as lead and back singers). In this duel, polyphony wins.
The study was funded by RFBR under the Research Project No.19-07-00243.
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08 December 2020
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Linguistics, modern linguistics, translation studies, communication, foreign language teaching, modern teaching methods
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Boychuk, E. I., & Belyayeva, O. V. (2020). "Multilayeredness Of Literary Prosaic Text: Polyphony Vs Homophony". In V. I. Karasik (Ed.), Topical Issues of Linguistics and Teaching Methods in Business and Professional Communication, vol 97. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 211-223). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.12.02.30