Keywords: Foregrounding; Deviation; Semiotics: Empirical Research on Texts; E.E. Cummings.
About half a century ago, a little revolution in literary studies took place. Following the ideas of the Russian Formalists and Prague Structuralists, a more rigorous approach to the study of literary texts was proposed. One of the major discussions turned around e.e. cummings'1 "anyone lived in a pretty how town", especially about the heavy foregrounding in the poem. Initially, the debate was one of conceptualization and the framing of the function of literary analysis, and no effort was made to investigate the effects of the deviations empirically. This is where our research starts. In this paper we argue that the value of literary techniques lies in the effects they create in readers. Hence we will show the results of an empirical study in reactions to the poem by cummings, which will illuminate the way in which beginning vs. advanced EFL students react to foregrounding devices in the text.