This chapter builds upon the basics of language structure and functions (Chapters 2–9) to demonstrate how texts (spoken or written, long or short) present a particular view of the world which reflects the ideological position of one (or more) of the perceived producers of the text. The chapter takes a neutral view of what ideology means, seeing it as referring to sets of values (and also, in some cases, beliefs) that are held by a group of people, often a society as a whole. You will be introduced to the framework of critical stylistics, which allows you to analyse the hidden and implicit ideologies inherent in textual construction. The basis of this framework is the ‘textual-conceptual function’ which demonstrates how the text is constructing different aspects of the world of the text by processes such as naming, negating, hypothesizing and enumerating. This approach shares with critical discourse analysis (CDA) the idea that ideology is present in all texts, but unlike CDA it is politically neutral rather than taking an explicitly socialist or Marxist stance in itself.
Although we tend to assume that there is some kind of abstract linguistic system in place, underpinning the things we say and write, linguistics has long recognized that there are also discrepancies between this ‘idealized’ system which is made up of items (phonemes, morphemes, words, phrases, clause elements etc.) and the rules for how they combine into texts (the phonological rules and the grammar) – and the way in which the system is ‘realized’ when it is used. Famously, Saussure (see also Chapter 1), often seen as the founder of modern linguistics, labelled this distinction (in French) langue (language) and parole (speech) and much of the effort of early linguistic description went into describing how the langue worked. Later, when it became evident that there was regular patterning even in the apparently messy reality of parole, subdisciplines of linguistics (e.g. sociolinguistics, pragmatics, conversation analysis) grew up to try and map out the regularities in usage as much as in the system itself. Later, the cognitive approach to human language represented in Chomsky's transformational-generative grammar recognized a similar distinction between the abstract underlying system of the language – here seen as part of human cognition and therefore labelled ‘competence’ – and the usage of the system which was labelled ‘performance’ (see also Chapter 1).