What is Literary Language? Characteristics and Main Elements

He Literary language Is a way of artistic expression in which the writer tries to convey an idea in a way, aesthetically more beautiful and stylized, to capture the reader's attention.

Can be used in prose or verse. It can also be verbal and used in daily communication. Literary language is a special language insofar as it prioritizes the way of transmitting the message than in the message itself.

Literary times books

It is obvious that a literary message stripped of its form, loses or changes its meaning, loses its connotative potential and with it, its literary character (Sotomayor 2000, 29). Making use of this way of expression involves inexorably creative activity.

The use of this dialect of language used to be very popular in the Middle Ages To create a dramatic effect (English Oxford Living Dictionaries, 2017). Because of the above, it is very present in liturgical scriptures. Nowadays it is frequently found in poetry, poems and songs.

Literary language is malleable enough to interfere with other non-literary writings such as memoirs and journalistic pieces.

Depending on the structure and content, literary language can be found in the lyrical, narrative, dramatic and didactic-essayistic genres.

Characteristics of literary language

1- Originality

Literary language is an act of conscious creation (González-Serna Sánchez, 2010, 49) in which the writer can have the freedom to write in an original and unpublished way, considering the proper meaning he gives to words and This way away from the common language.

2- Artistic Will

The final intention of what is written is to create a work of art, that is, through the words convey beauty. It privileges the style and the way of saying the message about the content itself.

3- Special communicative intention

Language is a self-communication and is what gives meaning to it. Therefore, literary language does have a communicative intention that is to communicate literary beauty over a practical purpose (González-Serna Sánchez, 2010).

4- Connotative or subjective language

Realizing the originality and fiction characteristic of literary language, the writer is sovereign in giving meaning to the words he desires and gives his discourse multipurpose and multiple meanings (as opposed to a technical or non-literary text), that is, multi-meaning . In this way, each receiver will have a different assimilation.

5- Use of fiction

The message creates fictitious realities that do not have to correspond to external reality. The writer can be very versatile and convey the reader to other dimensions almost identical to real life, but unreal in the end.

This world of fiction is the result of the author's own particular vision of reality, but in turn generates in the receiver some of his own life experiences that express in the reading the horizon of expectations with which a text is approaching (Sotomayor, 2000). , Pp. 28-29).

5- Importance of form

The relevance of form in literary language leads the writer to take care of the"texture"of the language as such, such as careful selection of words, order of words, musicality, syntactic and lexical construction, etc.

Poetic function

Pursuing an aesthetic purpose, literary language takes advantage of all available expressive possibilities (phonic, morphosyntactic and lexical) to produce curiosity and attention on the part of the reader.

7- Use of rhetorical figures or literary figures

We will understand here by"figure", in its broadest sense, any kind of resource or language manipulation for persuasive, expressive or aesthetic purposes (García Barrientos, 2007, p.10).

Rhetorical figures are ways of using words in an unconventional way to cause strangeness to the reader and confer more meaningful text. Of these resources we find a wide variety in two main categories: diction and thought.

8- Appearance in prose or verse

It is chosen based on the needs of the author and the chosen genre (Herreros & García, 2017).

Literary language can be present in the two forms of language: prose or verse.

In prose, which is the natural structure that takes the language, we appreciate it in fables, stories and novels. It serves to enrich the description of the texts.

In the case of verse, its composition is more careful and demanding because the lyrical works measure the number of syllables (measure), the rhythmic accents in the verses (rhythm) and, the relationship between the verses and the rhyme (stanzas).

We can appreciate this form in poems, poetry, hymns, songs, odes, elegies or sonnets.

Elements involved in literary communication

These are aspects that constitute a process of general communication but operate differently when it comes to literary communication.

1- Issuer

It is the agent that tries to generate emotions or stimulate the imagination, a more sensorial message in relation to the emitter of the communication that focuses on the content.

2- Receiver

It is who receives the message. It is not a concrete person, but a hypothesis demanded by the text itself (González-Serna Sánchez, 2010, page 51).

Recall that literary language is an expression of artistic communication, and without the assumption that"someone"will receive the message (even if sensorial) that the author wishes to convey, would lose meaning.

3- Channel

It is the means by which the literary message is communicated. Normally it is written, although it can be verbal when a poem is recited, a monologue is recited or sung.

4 - Context

The context generally refers to the temporal, spatial and socio-cultural circumstances in which the message is circumscribed, but in the case of literary language, the freedom of the writer to give rein to his imagination causes the context of the literary work Reality, that of any literary work) is itself (González-Serna Sánchez, 2010, 52).

5- Code

They are the signs that are going to be used to deliver the message but in this case, it is not used in the same way since there is no univocal interpretation of the text but the explained multi-meaning.


  1. English Oxford Living Dictionaries. (2017, 76). LIterary Language. Retrieved from English Oxford Living Dictionaries: en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/literary-language
  2. García Barrientos, J.L. (2007). Presentation. In J. L. García Barrientos, The rhetorical figures. Literary language (pp. 9-11). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Gómez Alonso, J.C. (2002). Amado Alonso: from stylistics to a theory of literary language. In J. C. Gómez Alonso, The stylization of Amado Alonso as a theory of literary language (pp. 105-111). Murcia: University of Murcia.
  4. González-Serna Sánchez, J. M. (2010). Literary texts. In J. M. González-Serna Sánchez, Thematic varieties of the text (pp. 49-55). Sevilla: Aula de Letras.
  5. Herreros, M. J., & García, E. (2017, 76). Unit 2. Literary texts, Features and features. Retrieved from Don Bosco Secondary Education Institute: iesdonbosco.com.
  6. Sotomayor, M. V. (2000). Literary language, genres and literature. In F. Alonso, X. Blanch, P. Cerillo, M. V. Sotomayor, & V. Chapa Eulate, Present and future of children's literature (pp. 27-65). Cuenca: Editions of the University of Castilla-La Mancha.

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