Common literary words and their stylistic functions 

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Common literary words and their stylistic functions

chiefly used in writing and in polished speech. Literary units stand in opposition to colloquial units. This is especially apparent when pairs of synonyms, literary and colloquial, can be formed which stand in contrasting relation.


Colloquial Neutral Literary  
kid daddy c chap     Father fellow     parent associate

The main distinction between synonyms – stylistic, may be of various kinds: it may lie in the emotional tension connoted in a word, or in the sphere of application, or in the degree of the quality denoted. Colloquial words are always more emotionally coloured than literary ones. The neutral stratum of words, as the term itself implies, has no degree of emotiveness, nor have they any distinctions in the sphere of usage.

Both literary and colloquial words have their upper and lower ranges. The lower range of literary words approaches the neutral layer and has a markedly obvious tendency to pass into that layer. There is a certain analogy between the interdependence of c. l. words and neutral ones, on the one hand, and common collo­quial words and neutral ones, on the other. Both sets can be viewed as being in invariant — variant relations. The neutral voc may be viewed as the invariant of the standard English voc. The stock of words forming the neutral stratum should in this case be regarded as an abstraction. The words of this stratum are generally deprived of any concrete associations and refer to the concept more or less directly.

Literary Coinages (Including Nonce-Words)

There is a term in linguistics which by its very nature is ambiguous and that is the term neologism - a new word or a new meaning for an established word. If a new meaning is recognized as an element in the semantic structure of a lexical unit, it ceases to be neologism. Every period in the development of a lan produces an enormous number of new words or new meanings of established words. Most of them do not live long. They are coined for use at the moment of speech, and therefore possess a peculiar property —that of temporariness. They are meant only to "serve the occasion. New coin­ages may replace old words and become established in the language as synonyms and later as substitutes for the old words.

The coining of new words generally arises first of all with the need to designate new concepts resulting from the development of science or as a search for a more economical, brief and compact form of utterance.

Types: terminological coinages ( designate new­born concepts); stylistic coinages (words coined because their creators seek expressive utte­rance)

New words are mainly coined according to the productive models for word-building in the given lan. But the new words of the literary-bookish type 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. Among new coinages of a literary-bookish type - considerable layer of words appearing in the publicistic style: 'backlash' (in 'backlash policy') and its opposite 'frontlash'.

Literary coinages make utterances more pompous and sensational. As their effect is transitory, it must be instan­taneous. The freshness of the creation is its primary and indispensable quality.

Most of the literary-bookish coinages are built by means of affix­ation and word compounding, will be immediately perceived because of their unexpectedness.

Conversion, derivation and change of meaning used to coin new terms in which new mean­ings are imposed on old words. The new meaning co-exists with the old ones. But there are cases when new mean­ings imposed on old words drive out old meanings.

Word-building by means of affixation is still predominant in coining new words(The suffix -ize 'villagize'. –dom: ', 'musicdom' (general meaning of collectivity). -ее has been given new life: 'askee'. -ship: 'showmanship. -ese, e. g. Chinese ', New Yorkese', belonging to a city or country; pertaining to a particular writer (of style or diction), e. g. journalese. " Some affixes are themselves literary in character for example, the prefix anti- ' anti -hero', ' anti -world', ' anti -emotion', 'anti-trend' ( The prefix anti-has developed a new meaning 'the reverse of).

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. means of word-building,f.e. the blending: cinemactress (cinema+actress)

We must not overlook injecting into well-known words with concrete meanings, a meaning that the word did not have before. This is generally due to the combinative power of the word (productive is the adjective, it acquires an emotive meaning alongside its logical meaning, as, for instance, terrible, awful, dramatic, top). The adjective of this kind becomes an intensifier.

Another type of neologism is the nonce-word, i.e. a word coined to suit one particular occasion. They are created to designate some in­significant subjective idea or evaluation of a thing. They rarely pass into the language as legiti­mate units of the vocabulary:" I am wived in Texas, and mother-in-lawed, and uncled, and aunted, and cousined within an inch of my life."; "sevenish" (around seven o'clock); "morish" (a little more)).

In modern English new words are also coined by contractions and abbreviations: laser (= light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation); Unesco (United Nations Education and Science Organization).

Coinages attract the attention of the reader by 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. However, these words will ordinarily carry an expressive function due to their emotive meaning. 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.

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.


24. Common colloquial vocab­ulary and its stylistic functions

Common colloquial vocab­ulary is overlapping into the standard English vocab­ulary and is therefore part of it. It borders both on the neutral vocabulary and on the special colloquial vocabulary which falls out of standard English altogether. Just as common literary words lack homogeneity so do common colloquial words and set expressions. Some of the lexical items belonging to this stratum are close to the non-standard colloquial groups such as jargonisms, professionalisms, etc. These are on the border-line between the common colloquial vocabulary and the special colloquial or non-standard vocabulary. Other words approach the neutral bulk of the English vocabulary: teenager and hippie (hippy) are colloquial words passing into the neutral vocabulary.

The spoken language abounds in set expressions which, are collo­quial in character, e. g. all sorts of things, just a bit,, so-so, so much the better, to be sick and tired of, to be up to something.

The stylistic function of the different strata of the English vocabu­lary depends not so much on the inner qualities of each of the groups, as on their interaction when they are opposed to one another. However, the qualities themselves are not unaffected by the function of the words, in as much as these qualities have been acquired in certain environments. It is interesting to note that anything written assumes a greater degree of significance than what is only spoken. If the spoken takes the place of the written or vice versa, it means that we are faced with a stylistic device.

Certain set expressions have been coined within literary English and their use in ordinary speech will inevitably make the utterance sound bookish. In.other words, it will become literary. The following are examples of set expressions which can be considered literary: in accordance with, with regard to, by virtue of, to speak at great length, to lend assistance, to draw a lesson, responsibility rests.



25. Familiar words. Professionalisms, their functions. Coinages.

Familiar words…

Professionalisms are the words used in a definite trade, profession or calling by people connect­ed by common interests. They commonly designate some working process or implement of labour. Professional­isms are correlated to terms.

Professional words name anew already-existing concepts, tools or instruments, and have the typical properties of a special code. The main feature of a professionalism is its technicality. Professionalisms are spe­cial words in the non-literary layer of the English vocabulary, whereas terms are a specialized group belonging to the literary layer of words. Professionalisms generally remain in circulation within a definite community, terms are well-known to ordinary people. The se­mantic structure of a professionalism is often dimmed by the image on which the meaning of the professionalism is based, particularly when the features of the object in question reflect the process of the work, metaphori­cally or metonymically. Professionalisms do not allow any polysemy, they are monosemantic. The sem.str of a term is transparent and easily understood. Here are some professionalisms: tin-fish (submarine); outer (=& knockout blow).

Professionalisms should not be mixed up with jargonisms. Professionalisms do not aim at secrecy. They fulfill a socially useful function in communication, facilitating a quick and adequate grasp of the message.

Professionalisms are used in emotive prose to depict the natural speech of a character. The skilful use of a professional word will show not only the vocation of a character, but also his education, breeding, environment and sometimes even his psychology. That is why, perhaps, a literary device known as speech-characterization is so abundantly used in emotive prose.


Every period in the development of a lang produces an enormous number of new words or new meanings of established words. Most of them do not live long, they possess a peculiar property —that of temporariness. They are meant only to "serve the occasion. New coin­ages may replace old words and become established in the language as synonyms and later as substitutes for the old words.

The coining of new words generally arises first of all with the need to designate new concepts resulting from the development of science or as a search for a more economical, brief and compact form of utterance.

The first type of newly coined words, i. e. those which designate new­born concepts, may be named terminological coinages. The second type, f. e. words coined because their creators seek expressive utte­rance may be named stylistic coinages.

New words are mainly coined by means of: affixation, compounding, conversion, semantic word-building, blends.

Colloquial coinages - unlike literary ones – spontaneous and elusive. Not all of them are fixed in dictionaries or in writing so most of them disappear.

New literary coinages always bear the brand of individual creation, their mening can be easily grasped because of word-building. The meaning of col.coinages creeps into well-known words imperceptibly. They are not new words, but new meanings.


26. Non-standard (Special colloquial) vocabulary and its stylistic functions

N-st English is the English used by people with little or no education, it is nearly always spoken, seldom written, except in fiction which reproduces this type of speech. It is characterized by the misuse of words, the use of non-standard words, and the corruption of what is now considered a correct or conventional grammatical form. Another characteristic of non-standard English is its limited vo;-falls into the following groups: slang, jargonisms, professional words, dialectal words, vulgar words and colloquial coinages. Function: - to mark inf conversational style; create verisimilitude; may indicate some features of the speaker’s character, his state of mind, his attitude to others, educational level(bookish words, slang), define speaker to its origin, nationality, social standing(dialectal, foreign words), mark character’s occupation(terms, jargonisms), his idiolect (individual speech peculiarities, a means of individualization) Slang seems to mean everything that is below the standard of usage of present-day English. S. is nothing but a deviation from the established norm at the level of the voc of the lan. Slang words, used by most speakers in very infl com, are highly emotive and expressive and as such, lose their originality rather fast and are replaced by newer formations. This tendency to synonymic expansion results in long chains of synonyms of various degrees of expressiveness, denoting one and the same concept.

to do a flit— 'to quit one's flat or lodgings at night without paying the rent or board'


The substandard status of slang words and phrases, through universal usage, can be raised to the standard colloquial: “pal”, “chum,” “crony” for “friend” Jargon is a recognized term for a group of words that exists in almost every lan and whose aim is to preserve secrecy within one or another social group. J-s are generally old words with entirely new meanings imposed on them. Slang (general slang) and jargonisms (special slang) have much in common: are emotive, expressive, unstable, fluctuating, tending to expanded synonymity within certain lexico-semantic groups and limited to a highly informal, substandard communication.

a lark = fun or sport of any kind

a blowing = a girl

Professionalisms, as the term itself signifies, are the words used in a definite trade, profession or calling by people connect­ed by common interests both at work and at home.

block-buster (= a bomb especially designed to destroy blocks of big buildings); piper (=a specialist who decorates pastry with the use of a cream-pipe); a midder case (=a midwifery case); outer (=& knockout blow).

Dialectal words are those which in the process of integration of the English national lan­guage remained beyond its literary boundaries, and their use is gener­ally confined to a definite locality.. In Great Britain 4 major dialects: Lowland Scotch, Northern, Midland (Central) and Southern. In the USA three major dialectal varieties are distinguished: New England, Southern and Midwestern (Central, Midland) ;lass, meaning 'a girl or a beloved girl; hinny from honey Vulgarisms are: expletives and swear words which are of an abusive character, coarse words with a strong emotive meaning, mostly derogatory, normally avoided in polite conversation; 'damn', 'bloody', hell', 'goddam' and, as some dictionaries state, used now as general exclamations; obscene words.

Colloquial coinages (nonce-words) are newly invented words, phrases, usages, which are spontaneous and elusive - You are the limit=unbearable

27. Terms and their stylistic functions. Neologisms.

One of the essential characteristics of a term is highly conventional character. A t. is generally easily coined and easily accepted; and new coinages as easily replace out-dated ones.

One of the most characte­ristic features of a term is its direct relevance to the system or set of terms used in a particular science, discipline or art, i.e. to its nomenclature.

A t. is directly connected with the concept it de­notes; unlike other words, directs the mind to the essential quality of the thing as seen by the scientist in the light of his own conceptualization.

T-s are mostly used in special works dealing with the notions of some branch of science; in other styles— in newspa­per style, in publicistic and practically in all other existing styles of lan. But their f. in this case changes. They do not always fulfill their basic f., that of bearing exact reference to a given con­cept. (the belles-lettres style)- a stylistic f. and consequently become a (sporadical) SD. This happens when a t. is used in such a way that two meanings are materialized simultaneously.

The f. of t-s, if encountered in other styles, is either to indi­cate the technical peculiarities of the subject dealt with, or to make some reference to the occupation of a character whose language would naturally contain special words and expressions.

Many words that were once t-s have gradually lost their quality as t-s and have passed into the common literary or even neutral voc - "de-terminization". ('radio', 'television'). But such de-terminized words may by the force of a SD become re-established in their terminological f. thus assuming a twofold application, which is the feature required of a SD.

Terms may serve the purpose of characterizing the spirit of the hero or the novel; creating special atmosphere.

Neologisms( New words and expressions) are created for new things irrespective of their scale of importance. They may be all-important and concern some social relationships, such as a new form of state, e. g. People’s Republic, or sth threatening the very existence of humanity, like nuclear war or quite insignificant and short-lived, like fashions in dancing, clothing, hairdo or footwear (e. g. roll-neck).

A n. is a newly coined word or phrase or a new meaning for an existing word, or a word borrowed from another lan.(black hole, computer, isotope, feedback, penicillin)

Lexical system is not only adding new units but readjusts the ways and means of word-formation and the word-building means.

3 main ways:

1. a lexical unit existing in the language may change its meaning to denote a new object or phenomenon (semantic neologisms)

2. a new l.u. can develop in the language to denote a an object or phenomenon which already has some lexical unit to denote it (transnomination)

3. a new lexical unit can be introduced to denote a new object(a proper neologism)

N-s may be coined by: affixation- workaholic, blending- bionics < bio+(electr)onics; compounding by mere juxtaposition- to brain-drain; the change of meaning, or rather the introduction of a new, additional meaning - net-work

The lexical system may adapt itself to new f-s by combining several word-building processes - fall-out is coined by composition and conversion simultaneously.

In the course of time the new word is accepted into the word-stock of the lan and being often used ceases to be considered new, or else it may not be accepted for some reason or other and vanish from the lan. The fate of n-s is hardly predictable: some of them are short-lived, others, on the contrary, become durable as they are liked and accepted. Once accepted, they may serve as a basis for further word-formation: gimmick, gimmickry, gimmicky



28 Barbarism and foreign words, their functions

Barbarisms - are words of foreign origin which have not entirely been assimilated into the English lan­; bear the appearance of a borrowing and are felt as sth alien to the native tongue. Most of them have corresponding English synonyms; e. g. chic (=stylish); 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 lan. They are, as it were, part and parcel of the English word-stock, though they remain on the outskirts of the literary voc.; are generally given in the body of the dictionary. Foreign words, though used for certain stylistic purposes, do not belong to the English voc; are not usually registered by English dictionaries. In printed works 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 bad of stylistic information.

There are foreign words in the English voc which fulfill a terminological function. s ukase, udarnik, soviet, kolkhoz and the like solo, tenor, blitzkrieg (the blitz), luftwaffe.

It is evident that b-s are a historical category. Many foreign words and phrases entered the class of words named b-s and many of these b-s 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. Both foreign words and b-s are widely used in various styles of lan with various aims, which predetermine their typical functions: to supply local colour. In order to depict local conditions of life,- concrete facts and events, customs and habits, special carets taken to introduce into the passage such language elements as will reflect the environment

The function of the foreign words used in the context may be con­sidered to provide local colour as a background to the narrative- the author does not wish them to convey any clear-cut idea — but to serve in making the main idea stand out more conspicuously.

to build up the stylistic device of non-personal direct speech or represented speech. 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.

to exalt the expression of the idea, to elevate the lan. 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.

(in the belles-lettres style) " exactifying" function. Words of foreign origin 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.

(In publicistic style) the colouring the passage on the problem in question with & touch of authority. A person who uses so many foreign words is obviously a very educated person, the reader thinks, and therefore a "man who knows”

B-s assume the significance of a SD if they display a kind of interaction between different meanings, or f-s, or aspects. When a word which we consider a b-m is used so as to evoke a twofold application we are confronted with an SD.



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