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Colloquial coinages (words and meanings)

Colloquial coinages (nonce-words), unlike those of a literary-bookish character, are spontaneous and elusive. This proceeds from the very nature of the colloquial words as such. Not all of the colloquial nonce-words are fixed in dictionaries or even in writing and therefore most of them disappear from the language leaving no trace in it whatsoever.

Unlike literary-bookish coinages, nonce-words of a colloquial na­ture are not usually built by means of affixes but are based on certain semantic changes in words that are almost imperceptible to the linguistic observer until the word finds its way into print.

It is only a careful stylistic analysis of the utterance as a whole that will reveal a new shade of meaning inserted into the semantic struc­ture of a given word or word-combination.

Writers often show that they are conscious of the specific character of the nonce-word they use by various means. The „following-are illus­trations of the deliberate use of a new word that either was already es­tablished in the language or was in process of being established as such:"...besides, there is a tact——

(That modern phrase appears to me sad stuff. But it will serve to keep my verse compact). (Byron, "Don^Juan")

New expressions accepted by men-of-letters and commented on in one way or another are not literary coinages but colloquial ones. New literary coinages will always bear the brand of individual crea­tion and will therefore have more or less precise semantic boundaries. The meaning of literary coinages can easily be grasped by the reader because of the use of the productive means of word-building, and also from the context, of course.

This is not the case with colloquial nonce-words. The meaning of these new creations creeps into well-known words imperceptibly. One hardly notices the process leading to the appearance of a new meaning. Therefore colloquial nonce-formations are actually not new words but new meanings of existing words. True, there are some words that are built with the help of affixes, but these are few and they are generally built with the most common suffixes or prefixes of the English language which have no shade of bookishness, as -er, -al, un- and the like.

New coinage in colloquial English awakens as emphatic a protest on the part of literary-conscious people as do nonce-words in literary English.

In some cases it is difficult to draw a line of demarcation between nonce-words of bookish and of colloquial origin. Some words which have undoubtedly sprung from the literary-bookish stratum have be­come popular in ordinary colloquial language and have acquired new meanings in their new environment.

Most of the words which we call here colloquial coinages are newly-minted words, expressions or meanings which are labelled slang in many modern dictionaries. But we refrain from using the term so freely as it is used in dictionaries firstly because of its ambiguity, and secondly because we reserve it for phenomena which in Russian are known as ïðî­ñòîðå÷üå, i. e. city vernacular bordering on non-literary speech.

 

 


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 2728


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Familiar Words, Professionalisms and their Stylistic Functions. Coinages. | Special Colloquial Vocabulary.
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