What “The”..?!?!

From my understanding of macroanalysis, it is corresponding to the study of economics. “Macroeconomics, however, is about the study of the entire economy.” (24) It is very closely related to close reading and critical thinking. The only difference is, close readings can be given by anyone who is reading, whereas a close reading in macroanalysis, is given only by someone who has a familiar background on the that particular field. This is known as a “macroreading”. It seems to be more of a hypothesis than a fact. It seems as if it is taking a similar approach to new criticism, in that it closely studies how language is used as a function for containing the aesthetic object within the text.

The only concern I have involving close readings of certain author’s writings is that it may be going into such deep detail that it seems like it may be over doing it. For example, it says that John Burrow studies the words the and of within authors writing to show the stylistic aspect of their writing. However, I don’t think such small words should reflect a person’s entire stylistic flow. Words such as the and of are words that are pretty much impossible to go without using. I know that as small as they are, they carry huge weight, but not to the point where they need to be so closely examined. (26)

It also speaks on the advantages of computers in helping Burrow more closely look at these forms of writing in deeper context.  I’m still not entirely sure how doing this helps us find the historical context within a text, find common patterns, trends, traditions, gender influence, or evolution just by words so small and easily ignored. Even the definition of the word “the” states that it is common knowledge. “denoting one or more people or things already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge.” It’s almost impossible to go without using it. Even as I looked it up, I typed the word multiple times. “What is THE definition of THE word “THE”? It’s simply a word in which needs to be there in order for other words to flow in a way that makes sense. I’d like to look into this further because as of right now, it’s still a little baffling, yet interesting.

3 thoughts on “What “The”..?!?!”

  1. “However, I don’t think such small words should reflect a person’s entire stylistic flow”: “should” or “can”? You’ll see lots of arguments that common words do indeed reflect style, but the debate is whether we should take that into consideration or not.

  2. The importance of “the” perhaps is its use in contrast to “a/an”. For example, there is a world of difference between saying “the president” and “a president”. “The” denotes that there is only one, and that the one being identified as “the” is the most important one of its kind. Think about it in every day use. “Let the dog out” is something you might say around your house and everyone knows which dog you are talking about. If you said “Let a dog out” it denotes some random dog that you might have to go search the neighborhood to find.
    In the case of “of”, it also functions in sentences to distance subjects and objects. One can say, “It was the house of her mother-in-law,” or “It was her mother-in-law’s house.” In the first example the mother-in-law achieves a higher status by adding “of” in front of her title. The second sounds more casual and friendly. Now, I’m also curious to see what other conclusions studying these small words can produce, but I think they exist, however small. This is the real use of microanalysis, though. If I attempted to write a paper (without the assistance of computer amassed data) on Jane Austen’s use of “the” in Pride and Prejudice, I think it wouldn’t amount to much, but to use a much greater sample, we can begin to uncover patterns and make new interpretations.

  3. Dana,
    I think that you are right in saying that macroeconomics in literature has to do with language and how it functions. What I found shocking was that the frequency of words was an importance in language even if the words are “the, and, to.” I think that those words do have significant importance because it shows the author’s style and form in their writing that is seen as something that the author does unconsciously. At first I did not know how economics would play into a analyzing text but then when there was a class discussion about economics and its important in text I realized why it was being discussed. I felt like the theory had to do more with how a text was formulated statistically then what the text actually is trying to state. It is more about analyzing the texts frequency with words and how often they are used to a bigger study that examines the historical time period that the text was written in as well as other authors who are also writing in the same genre category. What I found interesting was the topic of genre because I had taken a genre course and was reminded in this class that genre is not as simple as a category of a text, there are several categories of genre and sub categories that a text can fall into. By looking into the text and word choices and language one can see the different categories of genre the text falls into and why. I think that analyzing text in a statistical way can reveal its genre and subgenres.

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