On Functions of Dialect in The Mayor of Casterbridge from a Sociolinguistic Perspective
Dialect is often employed in fiction writing to achieve special effects, as it is a social indicator, carrying social connotations and reflecting aspects of the speaker’s identity. Sociolinguistics is a sub-discipline of linguistics, which examines the relationships between language and society, with the speech variation (especially dialect) and the accompanying social significance or functions as the main focus. Therefore, sociolinguistic theories and research findings may play an effective role in the analysis of functions of dialect in fictional conversations. The Mayor of Casterbridge is considered Hardy’s first masterpiece; some critics regarded it as his greatest tragic novel. One of the distinctive characteristics of Hardy’s style consists in his masterly use of Wessex dialect in his fictional conversations. Based on relevant theories in sociolinguistics, the paper attempts to analyze the functions of dialect used in the fictional conversations in Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge and concludes that the use of dialect is not only successful in conveying a vivid fictional world, adding the local color, mirroring social significance, but is also consistent with Hardy’s social and artistic pursuits.
Key words: The Mayor of Casterbridge; Dialect; Sociolinguistics
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