Paralanguage in Fiction

2020. № 6, 117-128

Alexander T. Khrolenko, Kursk State University (Russia, Kursk),


Paralanguage occupies a very important place in oral communication. However, paralanguage is also connected to written speech. The detailed analysis of M.Y. Lermontov’s novel and L.N. Tolstoy’s youth stories has built a holistic picture concerning the place of paralinguistics in fiction (facial expressions, movements of the head, hands, shoulders, intonation, pausation, etc.). The article analyses the ways, Russian classical writers used to depict paralinguistic aspects. This includes using special fonts and paragraph structure as a means to emphasize intonation or  “meaningful” pauses.

The studied works of M.Y Lermontov and L.N. Tolstoy contain four main forms of paralanguage in the written text: kinems — a word or a word group which describes a  gesture, facial expression or body movements; to depict ‘linguistic gestures’ the authors use paralinguail prosody — a font alteration of a word or a word group, which emphasizes a certain intonation or any other phonation in the text; parasememe — a word or a word group that defines a communicative gesture; interpretation unit — an author’s explanation of the meaning of the   gesture.

The article demonstrates how parakinetics turns into peculiar dialogues and becomes a means for building a plot. The article draws a conclusion  that it is crucial to include the topic “Paralanguage in Fiction” in educational programmes and philological books.

For citation:

Khrolenko A. T. Paralanguage in Fiction. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2020. No. 6. Pp. 117–128. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170012882-9.