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D) Barbarisms and Foreignisms

 

In the vocabulary of the English language there is a considerable layer of words called barbarisms. These are words of foreign origin which have not entirely been assimilated into the English language. They bear the appearance of a borrowing and are felt as something alien to the native tongue. The role foreign borrowings played in the development of the English literary language is well known, and the great majority of these borrowed words now form part of the rank and file of the English vocabulary. It is the science of linguistics, in particular its branch etymology, that reveals the foreign nature of this or that word. But most of what were formerly foreign borrowings are now, from a purely stylistic position, not regarded as foreign. But still there are some words which retain their foreign appearance to a greater or lesser degree. These words, which are called barbarisms, are, like archaisms, also considered to be on the outskirts of the literary language.

Most of them have corresponding English synonyms; e.g. chic (=stylish); bon mot (==a clever witty saying); en passant (= in passing); ad infinitum (= to infinity) and many other words and phrases.

It is very important for purely stylistic purposes to distinguish between barbarisms and foreign words proper. Barbarisms are words which have already become facts of the English language. They are, as it were, part and parcel of the English word-stock, though they remain on the outskirts of the literary vocabulary. Foreign words, though used for certain stylistic purposes, do not belong to the English vocabulary. They are not registered by English dictionaries, except in a kind of addenda which gives the meanings of the foreign words most frequently used in literary English. Barbarisms are generally given in the body of the dictionary.

In printed works foreign words and phrases, are generally italicized to indicate their alien nature or their stylistic value Barbarisms, on the contrary, are not made conspicuous in the text unless they bear a special load of stylistic information.

There are foreign words in the English vocabulary which fulfil a terminological function. Therefore, though they still retain their


 

foreign appearance, they should not be regarded as barbarisms. Such words as ukase, udarnik, soviet, kolkhoz and the like denote certain concepts which reflect an objective reality not familiar to English-speaking communities. There are no names for them in English and so they have to be explained. New concepts of this type are generally given the names they have in the language of the people whose reality they reflect.

Further, such words as solo, tenor, concerto, blitzkrieg (the blitz), luftwaffe and the like should also be distinguished from barbarisms. They are different not only in their functions but in their nature as well. They are terms. Terminological borrowings have no synonyms; barbarisms, on the contrary, may have almost exact synonyms.

It is evident that barbarisms are a historical category. Many foreign words and phrases which were once just foreign words used in literary English to express a concept non-existent in English reality, have little by little entered the class of words named barbarisms and many of these barbarisms have gradually lost their foreign peculiarities, become more or less naturalized and have merged with the native English stock of words. Conscious, retrograde, spurious and strenuous are words in Ben Jonson's play "The Poetaster" which were made fun of in the author's time as unnecessary borrowings from the French. With the passing of time they have become common English literary words. They no longer raise objections on the part of English purists. The same can be said of the words scientific, methodical, penetrate, function, figurative, obscure, and many others, which were once barbarisms, but which are now lawful members of the common literary word-stock of the language.



Both foreign words and barbarisms are widely used in various styles of language with various aims, aims which predetermine their typical functions.

One of these functions is to supply local colour. In order to depict local conditions of life, concrete facts and events, customs and habits, special care is taken to introduce into the passage such language elements as will reflect the environment. In this respect a most conspicuous role is played by the language chosen. In "Vanity Fair" Thackeray takes the reader to a small German town where a boy with a remarkable appetite is made the focus of attention. By introducing several German words into his narrative, the author gives an indirect description of the peculiarities of the German menu and the environment in general.

"The little boy, too, we observed, had a famous appetite, and consumed schinken, and braten, and kartoffeln, and cranberry ... with a gallantry that did honour to his nation."

The German words are italicized to show their alien nature and at the same time their stylistic function in the passage. These words have not become facts of the English language and need special decoding to be understood by the rank and file English-speaking reader.

In this connection mention might be made of a stylistic device often used by writers whose knowledge of the language and customs of the country they depict bursts out from the texture of the narrative. They

use foreign words and phrases and sometimes whole sentences quite regardless of the fact that these may not be understood by the reader. However, one suspects that the words are not intended to be understood exactly. All that is required of the reader is that he should be aware that the words used are foreign and mean something, in the above case connected with food. In the above passage the association of food is maintained through-out by the use of the words 'appetite', 'consumed' and the English 'cranberry jam'. The context therefore leads the reader to understand that schinken, braten and kartoffeln are words denoting some kind of food, but exactly what kind he will learn when he travels in Germany.

The function of the foreign words used in the context may be considered to provide local colour as a background to the narrative. In passages of other kinds units of speech" may be used which will arouse only a vague conception in the mind of the reader. The significance of such units, however, is not communicative the author does not wish them to convey any clear-cut idea but to serve in making the main idea stand out more conspicuously.

This device may be likened to one used in painting by representatives of the Dutch school who made their background almost indistinguishable in order that the foreground elements might stand out distinctly and colourfully.

An example which is even more characteristic of the use of the local colour function of foreign words is the following stanza from Byron's "Don Juan":

... more than poet's pen

Can point, "Cosi viaggino: Ricchil"

(Excuse a foreign slip-slop now and then,

If but to show I've travell'd: and what's travel

Unless it teaches one to quote and cavil?)

The poet himself calls the foreign words he has used 'slip-slop', i. e. twaddle, something nonsensical.

Another function of barbarisms and foreign words is to build up the stylistic device of non-personal direct speech or represented speech (see . 26). The use of a word, or a phrase, or a sentence in the reported speech of a local inhabitant helps to reproduce his actual words, manner of speech and the environment as well. Thus in James Aldridge's "The Sea Eagle" "And the Cretans were very willing to feed and hide the J Inglisi", the last word is intended to reproduce the actual speech of I the local people by introducing a word actually spoken by them, a word which is very easily understood because of the root.

Generally such words are first introduced in the direct speech of a character and then appear in the author's narrative as an element of reported speech. Thus in the novel "The Sea Eagle" the word 'benzina' (=motor boat) is first mentioned in the direct speech of a Cretan:

"It was a warship that sent out its benzina to catch us and look for guns."

Later the author uses the same word but already in reported speech:


"He heard too the noise of a benzina engine starting."

Barbarisms and foreign words are used in various styles of language, but are most often to be found in the style of belles-lettres and the publicistic style. In the belles-lettres style, however, foreignisms are sometimes used not only as separate units incorporated in the English narrative. The author makes his character actually speak a foreign language, by putting a string of foreign words into his mouth, words which to many readers may be quite unfamiliar. These phrases or whole sentences are sometimes translated by the writer in a foot-note or by explaining the foreign utterance in English in the text. But this is seldom done.

Here is an example of the use of French by John Galsworthy:

"Revelation was alighting like a bird in his heart, singing: "Elle est ton revel Elle est ton revel" ("In Chancery")

No translation is given, no interpretation. But something else must be pointed out here. Foreign words and phrases may sometimes be used to exalt the expression of the idea, to elevate the language. This is in some respect akin to the function of elevation mentioned in the chapter on archaisms. Words which we do not quite understand sometimes have a peculiar charm. This magic quality in words, a quality not easily grasped, has long been observed and made use of in various kinds of utterances, particularly in poetry and folklore.

But the introduction of foreign speech into the texture of the English language hinders understanding and if constantly used becomes irritating. It may be likened, in some respect, to jargon. Soames Forsyte, for example, calls it exactly that.

"Epatant!" he heard one say.

"Jargon!" growled Soames to himself.

The introduction of actual foreign words in an utterance is not, to our mind, a special stylistic device, inasmuch as it is not a conscious and intentional literary use of the facts of the English language. However, foreign words, being alien to the texture of the language in which the work is written, always arrest the attention of the reader and therefore have a definite stylistic function. Sometimes the skilful use of one or two foreign words will be sufficient to cret the impression of an utterance" made in a foreign language. Thus in the following example:

"Deutsche Soldatena little while ago, you received a sample of American strength." (Stefan Heym, "The Crusaders")

The two words 'Deutsche Soldaten' are sufficient to create the impression that the actual speech was made in German, as in real life it would have been.

The same effect is sometimes achieved by the slight distortion of an English word, or a distortion of English grammar in such a way that the morphological aspect of the distortion will bear a resemblance to the morphology of the foreign tongue, for example:

"He look at Miss Forsyte so funny sometimes. I tell him all my story; he so sympatisch." (Galsworthy)

Barbarisms have still another function when used in the belles-lettres style. We may call it an "exactifying" function. Words of foreign origin generally have a more or less monosemantic value. In other words, they do not tend to develop new meanings. The English So long, for example, due to its conventional usage has lost its primary meaning. It. has become a formal phrase of parting. Not so with the French "Au revoir." When used in English as a formal sign of parting it will either carry the exact meaning of the words it is composed of, viz. 'See you again soon', or have another stylistic function. Here is an example:

"She had said 'Au revoir!' Not good-bye!" (Galsworthy)

The formal and conventional salutation at parting has become a meaningful sentence set against another formal salutation at parting which, in its turn, is revived by the process to its former significance of "God be with you," i. e. a salutation used when parting for some time.

In publicistic style the use of barbarisms and foreign words is mainly confined to colouring the passage on the problem in question with a touch of authority. A person who uses so many foreign words and phrases is obviously a very educated person, the reader thinks, and therefore a "man who knows." Here are some examples of the use of barbarisms in the publicistic style:

"Yet en passant I would like to ask here (and answer) what did Rockefeller think of Labour..." (Dreiser, "Essays and Articles")

"Civilization" as they knew it still depended upon making profits ad infinitum." (Ibid.)

We may remark in passing that Dreiser was particularly fond of using barbarisms not only in his essays and articles but in his novels and stories as well. And this brings us to another question. Is the use of barbarisms and foreign words a matter of individual preference of expression, a certain idiosyncrasy of this or that writer? Or is there a definite norm regulating the usage of this means of expression in different styles of speech? The reader is invited to make his own observations and inferences on the matter.

Barbarisms assume the significance of a stylistic device if they display a kind of interaction between different meanings, or functions, or aspects. When a word which we consider a barbarism is used so as to evoke a twofold application we are confronted with an SD.

In the example given above "She had said 'au revoir!' Not goodbye!" the 'au revoir' will be understood by the reader because of its frequent use in some circles of English society. However, it is to be understood literally here, i. e. 'So long' or 'until we see each other again.' The twofold perception secures the desired effect. Set against the English 'Good-bye' which is generally used when people part for an


indefinite time, the barbarism loses its formal character and re-establishes its etymological meaning. Consequently, here again we see the clearly cut twofold application of the language unit, the indispensable requirement for a stylistic device.

 

e) Literary Coinages (Including Nonce-Words)

 

There is a term in linguistics which by its very nature is ambiguous and that is the term neologism. In dictionaries it is generally defined as ' a new word or a new meaning for an established word. Everything in this definition is vague. How long should words or their meanings be regarded as new? Which words of those that appear as new in the language, say during the life-time of one generation, can be regarded as established? It is suggestive that the latest editions of certain dictionaries avoid the use of the stylistic notation "neologism" apparently because of its ambiguous character. If a word is fixed in a dictionary and provided that the dictionary is reliable, it ceases to be a neologism. If a new meaning is recognized as an element in the semantic structure of a lexical unit, it ceases to be new. However, if we wish to divide the word-stock of a language into chronological periods, we can conventionally mark off a period which might be called new.

Every period in the development of a language produces an enormous number of new words or new meanings of established words. Most of them do not live long. They are not meant to live long. They are, as it were, coined for use at the moment of speech, and therefore possess a peculiar property that of temporariness. The given word or meaning holds only in the given context and is meant only to "serve the occasion."

However, such is the power of the written language that a word or a meaning used only to serve the occasion, when once fixed in writing, may become part and parcel of the general vocabulary irrespective of the quality of the word. That's why the introduction of new words by men-of-letters is pregnant with unforeseen consequences: their new coinages may replace old words and become established in the language as synonyms and later as substitutes for the old words.

In this connection it might be noted that such words as, , and their derivatives as well as , , and others introduced into the literary Russian language by V. G. Belinsky have become legitimate Russian words firmly established in the word-stock of the Russian language and are no longer felt to be alien to the literary language as they were in the nineteenth century.

The coining of new words generally arises first of all with the need to designate new concepts resulting from the development of science and also with the need to express nuances of meaning called forth by a deeper understanding of the nature of the phenomenon in question. It may also be the result of a search for a more economical, brief and compact form of utterance which proves to be a more expressive means of communicating the idea.

The first type of newly coined words, i. e. those which designate newborn concepts may be named terminological coinages. The sec-

ond type, i.e. words coined because their creators seek expressive utterance may be named stylistic coinages. New words are mainly coined according to the productive models for word-building in the given language. But the new words of the literary bookish type we are dealing with in this chapter may sometimes be built with the help of affixes and by other means which have gone out of use or which are in the process of dying out. In this case the stylistic effect produced by the means of word-building chosen becomes more apparent, and the stylistic function of the device can be felt more acutely.

It often happens, however, that the sensitive reader finds a new application of an already existing word almost revolting. Purists of all shades rise up in protest against what they call the highly objectionable and illegitimate usage of the word. But being once successfully used, it may he repeated by other writers and so may remain in the language and, moreover, may influence the further history of the semantic development of the word. V. V. Vinogradov justly remarks:

"...The turning point in the semantic history of many words is the new, vividly expressive, figurative, individual use of them. This new and genuinely artistic application of a word, if it is in conformity with the general tendencies of the semantic development of the language, not infrequently predetermines the further semantic development of the word."1

Among new coinages of a literary-bookish type must be mentioned a considerable layer of words appearing in the publicistic style, mainly in newspaper articles and magazines and also in the newspaper style mostly in newspaper headlines. To these belongs the word Blimp a name coined by Low, the well-known English cartoonist. The name was coined to designate an English colonel famous for his conceit, brutality, ultra-conservatism. This word gave birth to a derivative, viz. Blimpish. Other examples are 'backlash' (in 'backlash policy') and its opposite 'frontlash'.

Literary critics, men-of-letters and linguists have manifested different attitudes towards new coinages both literary and colloquial. Ever since the 16th century, literature has shown example after example of the losing battle of the purists whose strongest objection to the new words was on the score of their obscurity. A. A. Baugh points out that the great exponent of this view was Thomas Wilson. His "Arte of Rhetorique" (1533) was several times reprinted and was used by Shakespeare.

Of course, there are different degrees of purism. In other words, the efforts of scholars to preserve the purity of their language should not always be regarded as conservative. They do not look upon any and every change with suspicion or regard an innovation as invariably a corruption of the language.

Most of the new words of the 16th century as well as those of the 17th were foreign borrowings from Latin, Greek and continental French. The words were introduced into the English language and used in the

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1 . . . ., . 78 ().


same sense and with almost the same pronunciation as in the language they were borrowed from. But most of those which have remained in the language underwent changes due to the process of assimilation and were finally "naturalized." This process is slow. It sometimes takes centuries to make a word borrowed from another language sound quite English. The tempo of assimilation is different with different borrowings, depending in particular on the language the word is borrowed from. Borrowings from the French language are easily and quickly assimilated due to long-established tradition. The process of assimilation plays a rather important role in the stylistic evaluation of a lexical unit. The greater and the deeper the process of assimilation, the more general and common the word becomes, the less bookish it sounds, and the greater the probability of its becoming a member of the neutral layer of words.

Throughout the history of the English literary language, scholars have expressed their opposition to three main lines of innovation in the vocabulary: firstly, to borrowings which they considered objectionable because of their irregularity; secondly, to the revival of archaic words; and thirdly, because the process of creation of new words was too rapid for the literary language to assimilate. The opposition to one or other of these lines of innovation increased in violence at different stages in the development of the language, and switched from one to another in accordance with the general laws of development in the given period.

We shall refer the reader to books on the history of the English language for a more detailed analysis of the attitude of purists of different shades to innovations. Our task here is to trace the literary, bookish character of coinages and to show which of their features have contributed to their stylistic labels. Some words have indeed passed from the literary-bookish layer of the vocabulary where they first appeared, into the stratum of common literary words and then into the neutral stratum. Others have remained within the literary-bookish group of words and have never shown any tendency to move downwards in the scale.

This fact is apparently due to the linguistic background of the new words and also to the demand for a new unit to express nuances of meaning.

In our times the same tendency to coin new words is to be observed in England and particularly in the United States of America. The literary language is literally inundated with all kinds of new words and a considerable body of protest has arisen against them. It is enough to look through some of the articles of the New York Times on the subject to see what direction the protest against innovations takes.

Like earlier periods in the development of the English language, modern times are characterized by a vigorous protest against the unrestrained influx of new coinages, whether they have been built in accordance with the norms of the language, or whether they are of foreign origin.

An article in the Ottawa Evening Journal (Feb. 1957), entitled "Massey Deplores Use of Bad English," states:

"The danger is not that the reading public would desert good books, but that abuse of the written language may ruin books.

"As for words, we are never at a loss; if they do not exist, we invent them. We carry out purposeful projects in a meaningful manner in order to achieve insightful experiences.

"We diarize, we earlirize; any day we may begin to futurize. We also itinerize, reliablize; and we not only decontaminate and dehumidify but we debureaucratize and we deinsectize. We are, in addition, discovering how good and pleasant it is to fellowship with one another.

"I can only say, 'let us finalize all this nonsense'."

The writer of the article then proceeds to give an explanation of the reasons for such unrestrained coinage. He states that some of the writers

"...are not ashamed of writing badly but rather proud of writing at all andwith a certain vanityare attracted by gorgeous words which give to their slender thoughts an appearance of power."

Perhaps the writer of this article is not far from the truth when he ascribes literary coinage to the desire to make utterances more pompous and sensational. It is suggestive that the majority of such coinages are found in newspaper and magazine articles and, like the articles themselves, live but a short time. As their effect is transitory, it must be instantaneous. If a newly-coined word can serve the demand of the moment, what does it matter to the writer whether it is a necessary word or not? The freshness of the creation is its primary and indispensable quality.

The fate of literary coinages, unlike colloquial ones, mainly depends on the number of rival synonyms already existing in the vocabulary of the language. It also depends on the shade of meaning the new coinage may convey to the mind of the reader. If a new word is approved of by native speakers and becomes widely used, it ceases to be a new word and becomes part and parcel of the general vocabulary in spite of the objections of men-of-letters and other lawgivers of the language, whoever they may be.

Many coinages disappear entirely from the language, leaving no mark of their even brief existence. Other literary neologisms leave traces in the vocabulary because they are fixed in the literature of their time. In other words, new* literary-bookish coinages will always leave traces in the language, inasmuch as they appear in writing. This is not the case with colloquial coinages. These, as we shall see later, are spontaneous, and due to their linguistic nature, cannot be fixed unless special care is taken by specialists to preserve them.

Most of the literary-bookish coinages are built by means of affixation and word compounding. This is but natural; new words built in this manner will be immediately perceived because of their unexpectedness. Unexpectedness in the use of words is the natural device of those writers who seek to achieve the sensational. It is interesting to note in passing that conversion, which has become one of the most productive word-build-


ing devices of the English language and which is more and more widely used to form new words in all parts of speech, is less effective in producing the sensational effect sought by literary coinage than is the case with other means of word-building. Conversion has become organic in the English language.

Semantic word-building, that is, giving an old word a new meaning, is rarely employed by writers who coin new words for journalistic purposes. It is too slow and imperceptible in its growth to produce any kind of sensational effect.

Conversion, derivation and change of meaning may be registered as means by which literary-bookish coinages are formed. These three means of word-building are mostly used to coin new terms in which new meanings are imposed on old words. Among coinages of this kind the word accessories may be mentioned. It has now become an important word in the vocabulary of feminine fashion. It means gloves, shoes and handbag, though jewellery and other ornaments are sometimes included. Mary Reifer's "Dictionary of New Words" notes a verb to accessorize meaning 'to provide with dress accessories, such as handbag, gloves, shoes, etc. These items are supposed to form a matching or harmonious whole.

The new meaning co-exists with the old ones. In other words, new meanings imposed on old "words form one system in which old and new meanings are ranged in a dictionary according to their rate of frequency or to some other underlying principle. But there are cases when new meanings imposed on old words drive out old meanings. In this case we register a gradual change in "the meaning of the word which may not incorporate the old one. In most cases, however, the old meaning is hardly felt; it is generally forgotten and can only be re-established by etymological analysis.

Thus the word admire, which, as in Latin, first meant 'to feel or express surprise or astonishment', has today lost its primary meaning and now has acquired a new one which, however, still contains a shade of the old, viz. 'to regard with wonder and approval, esteem or affection, to delight in'.

The process of elimination of the old meaning, as is seen from this example, is slow and smooth. Hardly ever can we register a sudden switch from one meaning to another: there is always a gradual transition, and not infrequently the two competing meanings co-exist, manifesting in this co-existence" an almost imperceptible internal struggle which ends in the complete elimination of one of them.

Almost half of the words in the 18th century "English Dictionary" compiled by Samuel Johnson may serve as examples of change of meaning. A word or two taken at random will confirm the statement just made.

The word to fascinate meant 'to bewitch'; 'to enchant'; 'to influence in some wicked and secret manner'. The word available is explained in Johnson's Dictionary as "1. Profitable; Advantageous. 2. Powerful, in force."

True, in some respects Johnson's Dictionary cannot be regarded as a reliable source of information: his attitude towards colloquial idiom

 

is well known. It was not only aversionit was a manifestation of his theoretical viewpoint. James Boswell in his "Life of Johnson" says that the compiler of the dictionary was at all times jealous of infractions upon the genuine English language, and prompt to repress what he called colloquial barbarisms; such as pledging myself for 'undertaking', line for 'department' or 'branch', as the civil line, the banking line. He was particularly indignant against the almost universal use of the word idea in the sense of 'notion' or 'opinion', when it is clear that idea, being derived from the Greek word meaning 'to see', can only signify something of which an image can be formed in the mind. We may have, he says, an idea or image of a mountain, a tree, a building; but we cannot surely have an idea or image of an argument or proposition.

As has been pointed out, word-building by means of affixation is still predominant in coining new words. Examples are: orbiter'a spacecraft designed to orbit a celestial body'; lander'a spacecraft designed to land on such a body'; missileer' a person skilled in missilery or in the launching and control of missiles'; fruitotogist and wreckologist which were used in a letter to the editor of The Times from a person living in Australia. Another monster of the ink-horn type is the word overdichotomize'to split something into too many parts', which is commented upon in an article in New York Times Magazine:

"It is, alas, too much to expect that this fine flower of language, a veritable hot-house specimencombining as it does a vogue word with a vogue suffixwill long survive."1

The literary-bookish character of such coinages is quite apparent and needs no comment. They are always felt to be over-literary because either the stem or the affix (or both) is not used in the way the reader expects it to be used. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that by forcibly putting together a familiar stem and a familiar affix and thus producing an unfamiliar word, the writer compels the reader to concentrate his attention on the new word, firstly by its novelty and secondly by the necessity of analysing it in order to decipher the message. By using a neologism instead of the word or combination of words expected, he violates the main property of a communication, which is to convey the idea straightforwardly and promptly.

Among new creations those with the suffix -ize seem to be the most frequent. The suffix -ize gives a strong shade of bookishness to new words. Here are some more examples of neologisms with this suffix:

'detribalized (Africans)'; 'accessoriez'; 'moisturize'; 'villagize'.

Thomas Pyles writes: "The -ize suffix... is very voguish in advertizing copy, a most potent disseminator of modish expressions; ...its fashionableness may explain why 'hospitalize', current since the turn of the century, has recently begun to flourish."2

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1 New York Times Magazine, July 15, 1958. 15

2 See "Subliminal Words are Never Finalized", New York Times Magazine, July, 15, 1958


Some affixes are themselves literary in character and naturally carry this property to derivatives formed with them. Thus, for example, the I prefix anti- has given us a number of new words which are gradually becoming recognizable as facts of the English vocabulary, e. g.

'nti-novelist', 'anti-hero', 'anti-world', 'nti-emotion', 'anti-trend' and the like.

The prefix anti-, as is seen from these examples, has developed a new meaning. It is rather difficult to specify. In the most general terms it may be defined as 'the reverse of. In this connection it will be interesting to quote the words of an English journalist and essayist.

"The spirit of opposition is as necessary as the presence of rules and disciplines, but unlimited kicking over traces can become a tedious exercise. So can this popular business of being 'anti' in general. In the world of letters the critical lingo of our time speaks of the 'anti-novel' or 'anti-play' which has an 'anti-hero'. Since there is a fashion for characters unable to communicate, people with nothing to say and no vocabulary with which to explain their vacuity, 'anti-writing' may fairly be described as possessing 'anti-dialogue'."

The suffix -dom has also developed a new meaning, as in 'gangdom', 'freckledom', 'musicdom' where the suffix is used with the most general meaning of collectivity. The suffix - has been given new life. We have 'interrogatee', 'autobiographee' ("...the pseudo-autobiographer has swallowed the autobiographee whole," New Statesman, Nov. 29, 1963); 'enrollee' ("Each enrollee is given a booklet filled with advice and suggestions, and attends the lecture..." New York Times Magazine, Jan. 26, 1964); 'omittee', 'askee' ("That's a bad habit, asking a question and not waiting for an answer, but it's not always bad for the askee."Rex Stout, "Too many clients")

The suffix -ship has also developed a new shade of meaning which is now gaining literary recognition, as in the coinages:

'showmanship', 'brinkmanship', 'lifemanship', 'lipmanship', 'mistressmanship', 'supermanship', 'one-upmanship', etc.

In these coinages an interesting phenomenon seems to be taking place. The word man is gradually growing first into a half-suffix and finally into part of the complex suffix -manship with the approximate meaning 'the ability to do something better than another person'.

Among voguish suffixes which colour new coinages with a shade of bookishness is the suffix -ese, the dictionary definition of which is "1) belonging to a city or country as inhabitant (inhabitants) or language, e. g. Genoese, Chinese; 2) pertaining to a particular writer (of style or diction), e. g. Johnsonese, journalese."

Modern examples are:

'Daily-Telegraphese', 'New Yorkese'; recently a new word has appeared 'TV-ese'. It is the novelty of these creations that attracts our attention

 

and it is the unexpectedness of the combination that makes us feel that the new coinage is of a bookish character.

The resistance of purists to the unrestrained flow of new coinages of a bookish character, which greatly outnumbers the natural colloquial creations, can be illustrated in the following words of Robert E. Morseberger:

"Anyone familiar with the current crop of horror movies knows that weird mutations caused by atomic radiation have spawned a brood of malignant monsters, from giant insects (half human and otherwise) to blobs of glup. While these fortunately are confined to science fiction, our language itself demonstrates similar grotesque mutations in truncated, telescoped words and words with extra inflationary growths on the suffix end, not counting the jargon of special groups from beatniks to sociologists.

"Among the more frequent and absurd of these linguistic monsters are condensed words ending in -rama and -thon. The former comes from panorama from the Greek pan (= all) plus horama (= a view) or cyclorama from the Greek kyklos (=a circle) plus horama again. So far so good; the next development is cinerama, still sound, from the Greek ki (= motion) and our old friend horama.

"Now the advertisers have taken the suffix-root and proceed to torture it out of sense and recognition, with horama (or rather a vowel followed by -rama) no longer meaning simply a view but an entire spectacle or simply a superlative, so that the suffix has devoured all the original panorama in such distortions as cleanorama (= a spectacular cleaning spree); tomatorama, beanarama, bananarama (= a sensational sale of tomatoes, beans or bananas)...

"Keeping pace with -rama (pacerama) is -thon, a suffix newly minted from ancient metal. Pheidippides' race from the battlefield of Marathon and the later foot race of that name gave the noun Marathon the meaning of an endurance contest; but we now have to endure -thon alone, divorced, and made into a self-sustaining suffix in (sob!) such words as telethon, walkathon, talkathon, danceathon, cleanathon, ... Clearly -thon and rama compete in the rivalry between cleanathon and cleanorama; both bastard suffixes have swallowed their original noun, and it is only logical that they should next swallow each other in 'thonorama' (= an endurance of various -ramas) or ramathon (= a panoramic or sensational endurance contest).1

The reader will undoubtedly not fail to observe that the protest against these "ink-horn" terms is not based on any sound linguistic foundation. It merely shows the attitude of the writer towards certain novelties in language. They seem to him monstrous. But there is no indication as to what makes them monstrous. The writer himself readily uses new words

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1 The New York Times Book Review, Nov, 17, 1963.


such as glup, beatniks without quotation marks, which shows, evidently, that he is reconciled to them. Strugglesome, informatative, connotate, unworthwhile, inferiorism, deride, to be accusated are other words which he apparently considers distortions. The last string of literary coinages is supplied with the following footnote: "All words used in this sentence are gratefully acknowledged as coming from college freshman themes."

Unfortunately there are no objective criteria for ascertaining the stylistic aspect of words. Therefore the protest of many language puristsis sometimes based on subjective idiosyncrasy. We find objections to the ways and means of coining new words, as in the quotation above, and also to the unrestrained injection into some words of emotive meaning when this meaning, it is said, has not yet been widely recognized, as top (= excellent, wonderful), fey (= somewhat whimsical, in touch with the supernatural, a little cracked).1 This second objection applies particularly to the colloquial stratum of words. We also find objections to the new logical meanings forced upon words, as is done by a certain J. Bell in an article on advertizing agencies.

"Highly literate men are busy selling cancer and alcoholism to the public, commending inferior goods, garbling facts, confusing figures, exploiting emotions..."

Here the word sell is used in the sense of 'establishing confidence in something, of speaking convincingly, of persuading the public to do, or buy and use something' (in this case cigarettes, wine and spirits); the word commend has developed the meaning of 'recommend' and the word inferior has come to mean 'lower in price, cheap'; to garble, the primary meaning of which is 'to sort by sifting', now also means 'to distort in order to mislead'; to confuse is generally used in the sense of 'to mix up in mind', to exploit emotions means 'making use of peoples emotions for the sake of gain'.

All these words have acquired new meanings because they are used in combinations not yet registered in the language-as-a-system. It is a well-known fact that any word, if placed in a strange environment, will inevitably acquire a new shade of meaning. Not to see this, means not to correctly evaluate the inner laws of the semantic development of lexical units.

There is still another means of word-building in modern English which may be considered voguish at the present time, and that is the blending of two words into one by curtailing the end of the first component or the beginning of the second. Examples are numerous: musicomedy (music+comedy); cinemactress (cinema+actress); avigation (aviation+navigation); and the already recognized blends like smog (smoke+fog); chortle (chuckle+snort); galumph (triumph+gallop) (both occur in Humpty Dumpty's poem in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass"). A rockoon (rocket+balloon) is 'a rocket designed to be launched from a balloon'. Such words are called blends.

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1 New Statesman, 22 Feb., 1863.

 

In reviewing the ways and means of coining new words, we must not overlook one which plays a conspicuous role in changing the meaning of words and mostly concerns stylistics. We mean injecting into well-known, commonly-used words with clear-cut concrete meanings, a meaning that the word did not have before. This is generally due to the combinative power of the word. This aspect of words has long been under-estimated by linguists. Pairing words which hitherto have not been paired, makes the components of the word-combinations acquire a new, and sometimes quite unexpected, meaning. Particularly productive is the adjective. It tends to acquire an emotive meaning alongside its logical meaning, as, for instance, terrible, awful, dramatic, top.

The result is that an adjective of this kind becomes an intensifier: it merely indicates the degree of the positive or negative quality of the concept embodied in the word that follows. When it becomes generally accepted, it becomes part of the semantic structure of the word, and in this way the semantic wealth of the vocabulary increases. True, this process is mostly found in the domain of conversation. In conversation in unexpectedly free use of words is constantly made. It is in conversation that such words as stunning, grand, colossal, wonderful, exciting and the like have acquired this intensifying derivative meaning which we call motive.1 But the literary-bookish language, in quest of new means of impressing the reader, also resorts to this means of word coinage. It is mostly the product of newspaper language, where the necessity, nay, the urge, to discover new means of impressing the reader is greatest.

In this connection it is interesting to quote articles from English and American periodicals in which problems of language in its functional aspect are occasionally discussed. In one of them, "Current Clichés and Solecisms" by Edmund Wilson,2 the improper application of the primary and accepted meanings of the words massive, crucial, transpire and others is condemned. The author of the article is unwilling to acknowledge the objective development of the word-stock and instead of fixing the new meanings that are gaining ground in the semantic structure of these words, he tries to block them from literary usage while neglecting the fact that these new meanings have already been established in the language. This is what he says:

"Massive! I have also written before of this stupid and oppressive word, which seems to have become since then even more common as a ready cliché that acts as a blackout on thinking. One now meets it in every department: literary, political, scientific. In a period of moral impotence, so many things are thought as intimidating that they are euphemistically referred to as massive. I shall not present further examples except to register a feeling of horror at finding this adjective resorted to three times, and twice in the same paragraph, by Lionell Trilling in Commentary, in the course of an otherwise admirable discussion of the LeavisSnow controversy: massive signi-

_________

 

1 See "Meaning from a Stylistic Point of View". (p. 57)

2 New Statesman and Nation, Feb. 8, 1963.


ficance of "The Two Cultures", massive intention of "The Two Cultures", quite massive blunder of Snow in regard to the Victorian writers. Was Snow's essay really that huge and weighty? If it was, perhaps it might follow that any blunder in it must also be massive."

Another of these emotional intensifiers is the word crucial. It also raises objections on the part of purists and among them the one whose article we are quoting. "This word," writes Edmund Wilson, "which means properly decisive, critical, has come to be used, and used constantly, in writing as well as in conversation as if it meant merely important... 'But what is crucial, of course, is that these books aren't very good...' 'Of course it is of crucial importance'."

Another type of neologism is the nonce - word, i.e. a word coined to suit one particular occasion. Nonce-words remain on the outskirts of the literary language and not infrequently remind us of the writers who coined them. They are created to designate some insignificant subjective idea or evaluation of a thing or phenomenon and generally become moribund. They rarely pass into the language as legitimate units of the vocabulary, but they remain in the language as constant manifestations of its innate power of word-building.

Here are some of these neologisms which, by the way, have the right to be called so because they will always remain neologisms, i. e. will never lose their novelty:

"Let me say in the beginning that even if I wanted to avoid Texas I could not, for I am wived in Texas, and mother-in-lawed, and uncled, and aunted, and cousined within an inch of my life." (J. Steinbeck)

The past participles mother-in-lawed, uncled, aunted and cousined are coined for the occasion on the analogy of wived and can hardly be expected to be registered by English dictionaries as ordinary English words.

Here are some more examples of nonce-words, which strike us by their novelty, force and aesthetic aspect.

"There is something profoundly horrifying in this immense, indefinite not-thereness of the Mexican scene." (Huxley)

"You're the bestest good oneshe saidthe most bestest good one in the world." (H. E. Bates)

"That was masterly. Or should one say mistressly." (Huxley)

"Surface knowingness" (J. Updike); "sevenish" (around seven o'clock); "morish" (a little more) (A. Christie).

In modern English new words are also coined by a means which is very productive in technical literature and therefore is mostly found in scientific style, viz. by contractions and abbreviations. But this means is sometimes resorted to for stylistic purposes. Here are some of these coinages which appear daily in "different spheres of human activity.

TRUD (=time remaining until dive). The first letters of this word sequence forms the neologism TRUD which will presumably remain as

 

a professional term unknown to wider circles of native English speakers. Such also are the words LOX (= 1. liquid oxygen explosive, 2. liquid oxygen) and GOX (= gaseous oxygen). To the layman, oxygen is a gas, but in missilery (also a new word) it is more often a liquid or even a solid, so gaseous oxygen has to be distinguished. Other better-known examples are laser (= light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation); UNESCO (United Nations Education and Science Organization); jeep (GP=General Purpose car).

Not all of the means of word coinage existing in the English language have been dealt with in this short survey. The reason for this is simple: in stylistics there are ways and means of producing an effect which attract the attention of the reader not only by the novelty of a coinage but by a more elaborate language effect. This effect must be specified to make clear the intentions of the writer. The writer in this case is seeking something that will adequately convey his idea to the mind of the reader. The means assume some additional force: novelty+force.

Therefore in the survey of the means of word-formation only those have been selected which provide novelty+force.

The stylistic effect achieved by newly-coined words generally rests on the ability of the mind to perceive novelty at the background of the familiar. The sharper the contrast, the more obvious the effect. The slight, almost imperceptible changes caused by extensions of an original meaning might well produce a stylistic effect only when the reader is well versed in discriminating nuances of meaning.

Thus the use of the words commitment and commit in the meaning of involvement' and 'involve' has imperceptibly crept into common use since approximately 1955 and is now freely used. So also are the use of unfortunately instead of 'regretfully', the use of dramatic and massive as intensifiers. Such changes are apparent only to the eye of the lexicographer and will hardly provoke a twofold application of meaning, unless, of course, the context forcibly points to such an application.

However, these words will ordinarily carry an expressive function due to their emotive meaning.

When we tackle the problem of SDs and penetrate more deeply into its essence, it becomes apparent that stylistic function is not confined to phenomena which are foregrounded, as newly-coined words generally are. A stylistic effect may also be achieved by the skilful interplay of a long-established meaning and one just being introduced into the language-as-a-system.

Thus the word deliver in the United States has acquired the meaning 'to carry out or fulfil an expectation; make good' (Barnhart Dictionary). If this word were to carry its original meaning alongside the one now current in the U. S. it would produce a stylistic effect, if, of course, this twofold application of the word is done deliberately. Novelty is not a device. One must distinguish between a deliberate, conscious employment of the inherent property of words to be used in different meanings simultaneously and the introduction of a new meaning which in the given context excludes the one from which it is derived.

In the following examples taken from the Barnhart Dictionary the


italicized words do not display any twofold meanings, although they are illustrative of the new meanings these words have acquired.

"...he has spent hours reading government cables, memoranda and classified files to brief himself for in-depth discussions."

'In-depth', adj. means 'going deeply, thoroughly into a subject'.

"Bullit, 1 find, is completely typical of the 'now' look in American movies a swift-moving, constantly shifting surface that suggests rather than reveals depth."

The word now as an adjective is a novelty. Barnhart labels it slang "very fashionable of up-to-date; belonging to the Now Generation."

And still the novelty can be used for stylistic purposes provided that the requirements for an SD indicated earlier are observed. It must be repeated that newly-minted words are especially striking. They check the easy flow of verbal sequences and force our mind to take in the referential meaning. The aesthetic effect in this case will be equal to zero if the neologism designates a new notion resulting from scientific and technical investigations. The intellectual will suppress the emotional. However, coinages which aim at introducing additional meanings as a result of an aesthetic re-evaluation of the given concept may perform the function of a stylistic device.

 


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