This article argues that in his collection of short stories England and Other Stories (2014), as in most of his fiction, Graham Swift is preoccupied with the limits of language, with what remains unsaid or is poorly communicated. In this volume, the writer’s focus on private, domestic and ordinary lives corresponds to his representation of the language of everyday interaction as essentially non-creative and formulaic. Swift’s deliberately clichéd language reflects what, as contemporary studies of discourse reveal, is a standard mode of social interaction. For example, Roberta Corrigan et al. affirm that linguistic formulae should be considered as yet another manifestation of behavioural routines (xxiii-xxiv), while Alison Wray claims that the reliance on formulaic language “predominates in normal language processing” (Formulaic Language 101). A range of uses of formulaic language is analysed in selected stories from the collection. It is demonstrated that, typically, characters choose prefabricated language for the paradoxical purpose of establishing and maintaining a degree of contact with others while avoiding in-depth interaction.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
Aristotle. “The Art of Poetry.” Classical Literary Criticism. Trans. T.S. Dorsch. London: Penguin, 1988. 31-75.
Bernard, Catherine. “An Interview with Graham Swift.” Contemporary Literature 38.2 (1997): 217-31.
Corrigan, Roberta et al. “Introduction: Approaches to the Study of Formulae.” Formulaic Language. Vol. 1. Distribution and Historical Change. Ed. Roberta Corrigan et al. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. xi-xxiv.
Craps, Stef. “An Interview with Graham Swift.” Contemporary Literature 50.4 (2009): 636-61.
Dennison, Matthew. “You’ll Never Look at Dried Pasta in the Same Way Again: A Review of England and Other Stories, by Graham Swift.” The Spectator 12 July 2014. Web. 5 Jan. 2019.
Derbyshire, Jonathan. “Tongue Tied. Wish You Were Here, Graham Swift.” New Statesman 23 June 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
Erman, Britt. “Formulaic Language from a Learner Perspective.” Formulaic Language. Vol. 2. Acquisition, Loss, Psychological Reality, and Functional Explanations. Ed. Roberta Corrigan et al. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. 323-46.
Jaki, Sylvia. Phraseological Substitutions in Newspaper Headlines: “More Than Meats the Eye.” Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2014.
Kakutani, Michiko. “Review: Graham Swift’s England and Other Stories: A Darkness across Time and Fates.” The New York Times 22 June 2015. Web. 5 Jan. 2019.
Lea, Daniel. Graham Swift. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2005.
Malcolm, David. Understanding Graham Swift. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 2003.
Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.” Collected Essays. London: Mercury, 1961. 337-51.
Runcie, James. “England and Other Stories by Graham Swift.” The Independent 3 July 2014. Web. 5 Jan. 2019.
Scholes, Lucie. “England and Other Stories Review – Graham Swift’s Affectionate Chronicle of Everyday Lives.” The Guardian 3 Aug. 2014. Web. 5 Jan. 2019.
Seiffert, Rachel. “England and Other Stories, by Graham Swift.” The Financial Times 18 July 2014. Web. 5 Jan. 2019.
Sidtis, Diana Van Lancker. “Formulaic and Novel Language in a ‘Dual Process’ Model of Language Competence. Evidence from Surveys, Speech Samples, and Schemata.” Formulaic Language. Vol. 2. Acquisition, Loss, Psychological Reality, and Functional Explanations. Ed. Roberta Corrigan et al. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. 445-70.
Swift, Graham. England and Other Stories. London: Simon, 2014.
Tatarian, Laurence. “Graham Swift’s Vocal Silences.” Voices and Silence in the Contemporary Novel in English. Ed. Vanessa Guignery. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2009. 38-54.
Tollance, Pascale. “‘You Cross a Line’: Reticence and Excess in Graham Swift’s The Light of Day.” Voices and Silence in the Contemporary Novel in English. Ed. Vanessa Guignery. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2009. 63-73.
Weinert, Regina. “Formulaicity and Usage-Based Language: Linguistic, Psycholinguistic and Acquisitional Manifestations.” Perspectives on Formulaic Language: Acquisition and Communication. Ed. David Wood. London: Continuum, 2010. 1-20.
Widdowson, Peter. Graham Swift. Tavistock: Liverpool UP, 2006.
Wray, Alison. Formulaic Language and the Lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002.
Wray, Alison. “Identifying Formulaic Language. Persistent Challenges and New Opportunities.” Formulaic Language. Vol. 1. Distribution and Historical Change. Ed. Roberta Corrigan et al. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. 27-51.