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Nеиtral words, which form the bulk of the English vocabulary, are used in both literary and colloquial language. Neutral words are the main source of synonymy and polysemy. It is the neutral stock of words that is so prolific in the production of new meanings.

The wealth of the neutral stratum of words is often overlooked. This is due to their inconspicuous character. But their faculty for assuming new meanings and generating new stylistic variants is often quite amazing. This generative power of the neutral words in the English language is multiplied by the very nature of the language itself. It has been estimated that most neutral English words are of monosyllabic character, as, in the process of development from Old English to Modern English, most of the parts of speech lost their distinguishing suffixes. This phenomenon has led to the development of conversion as

the most productive means of word-building. Word compounding is not so productive as conversion or word derivation, where a new word is formed because of a shift in the part of speech in the first case and by the addition of an affix in the second. Unlike all other groups, the neutral

group of words cannot be considered as having a special stylistic colouring, whereas both literary and colloquial words have a definite stylistic colouring.

Common literary words are chiefly used in writing and in polished speech. One can always tell а literary words froma colloquial word. The reason for this lies in certain objective features of the literary layer of words. What these objective features are, is difficult to say because as yet no objective criteria have been worked out. But one of them undoubtedly is that 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.

The following synonyms illustrate the relations that exist between the neutral, literary and colloquial words in the English language.

Colloquial Neutral Literary
kid child infant
daddy father parent
chap fellow associate
get out go away retire
go on continue proceed
teenager boy (girl) youth (maiden)
flapper young girl maiden
go ahead get going make a move begin start     commence

It goes without saying that these synonyms are not only stylistic but ideographic as well, i. e. there is a definite, though slight, semantic difference between the words. But this is almost always the case with synonyms. There are very few absolute synonyms in English just as there are in any language. The main distinction between synonyms remains stylistic. But stylistic difference 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. The same mау be said of the upper range of the colloquial layer: it can very easily pass into the neutral layer. The lines of demarcation between common colloquial and neutral, on the one hand, and common literary and neutral, on the other, are blurred. It is here that the process of interpenetration of the stylistic strata becomes most apparent.


Still the extremes remain antagonistic and therefore are often used to bring about a collision of manners of speech for special stylistic purposes. The difference in the stylistic aspect of words may colour the whole of an utterance.

In this example from "Fanny's First Play" (Shaw), the difference between the common literary and common colloquial vocabulary is clearly seen.

"DORA: Oh, I've let it out. Have I? (contemplating Juggins approvingly as he places a chair for her between the table and the sideboard). But he's the right sort: I can see that (buttonholing him). You won't let it out downstairs, old man, will you?

JUGGINS: The family can rely on my absolute discretion."

The words in Juggins's answer are on the border-line between common literary and neutral, whereas the words and expressions used by Dora are clearly common colloquial, not bordering on neutral.

This example from "David Copperfield" (Dickens) illustrates the use of literary English words which do not border on neutral:

"My dear Copperfield," said Mr., Micawber, "this is luxurious. This is a way of life which reminds me of a period when I was myself in. a state of celibacy, and Mrs. Micawber had not yet been solicited to plight her faith at the Hymeneal altar."

"He means, solicited by him, Mr. Copperfield," said Mrs. Micawber, archly. "He cannot answer for others."

"My dear," returned Mr. Micawber with sudden seriousness, "I have no desire to answer for others. I am too well aware that when, in the inscrutable decrees of Fate, you were reserved for me, it is possible you may have been reserved for one destined, after a protracted struggle, at length to fall a victim to pecuniary involvements of a complicated nature. I understand your allusion, my love, I regret it, but I can bear it."

"Micawber!" exclaimed Mrs. Micawber, in tears. "Have I deserved this! I, who never have deserted you; who never will desert you, Micawber!"

"My. love," said Mr. Micawber, much affected, "you will forgive, and our old and tried friend Copperfield will, I am sure, forgive the momentary laceration of a wounded spirit, made sensitive by a recent collision with the Minion of Power—in other words, with a ribald Turncock attached to the waterworks — and will pity, not condemn, its excesses."

There is a certain analogy between the interdependence of common literary 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 vocabulary may be viewed as the invariant of the standard English vocabulary. 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. Synonyms of neutral words, both colloquial and literary, assume a far greater degree of concreteness. They generally present the same notions not abstractly but as a more or less concrete image, that is, in a form perceptible by the senses. This perceptibility by the senses causes subjective evaluations of the notion in question, or a mental image of the concept. Sometimes an impact of a definite kind on the reader or hearer is the aim lying behind the choice of a colloquial or a literary word rather than a neutral one.

In the diagram (p. 71), сomтоп colloquial vocabularу is represented as overlapping into the standard English vocabulary and is therefore to be considered part of it. It borders both on the neutral vocabulary and on the special colloquial vocabulary which, as we shall see later, falls out of standard English altogether. Just as common literary words Tack 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. Thus, the words teenager (a young girl or young man) and hippie (hippy) (ayoung person who leads an unordered and unconventional life) are colloquial words passing into the neutral vocabulary. They are gradually losing their non-standard character and becoming widely recognized. However, they have not lost their colloquial association and therefore still remain in the colloquial stratum of the English vocabulary. So also are the following words and expressions: take (in 'as I take it' = as 1 understand); to go for (to be attracted by, like very much, as in "You think she still goes for the guy?"); guy (young man); to be gone on (=to be madly in love with); pro (=a professional, e. g. a professional boxer, tennis-player, etc.).

The spoken language abounds in set expressions which are colloquial in character, e. g. all sorts of things, just a bit, How is life treating you?, so-so, What time do you make it?, to hob-nob (=to be very friendly with, to drink together), 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, inasmuch 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, ii to lend assistance, to draw a lesson, responsibility rests.




a) Terms


"All scientists are linguists to some extent. They are responsible for devising a consistent terminology, a skeleton language to talk about their subject-matter. Philologists and philosophers of speech are in the peculiar position of having to evolve a special language to talk about language itself."1

This quotation makes clear one of the essential characteristics of a term, viz. its highly conventional character. A term is generally very easily coined and easily accepted; and new coinages as easily replace out-dated ones.

This sensitivity to alteration is mainly due to the necessity of reflecting in language the cognitive process maintained by scholars in analysing different concepts and phenomena. 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.

When a term is used our mind immediately associates it with a certain nomenclature. A term is directly connected with the concept it denotes. A term, unlike other words, directs the mind to the essential quality of the thing, phenomenon or action as seen by the scientist in the light of his own conceptualization.

"A word is organically one with its meaning; likewise a term is one with a concept. Conceptualization leaves, as it were, language behind, although the words remain as (scientific or philosophical) terms. Linguistically the difference is important in that terms are much more easily substitutable by other terms than are words by other words: it is easier to replace, say, the term phonology by phonemics (provided I make it clear what, is meant), than to replace everyday words like table and chair by other words." 2

Terms are mostly and predominantly used in special works dealing with the notions of some branch of science. Therefore it may be said that they belong to the style of language of science. But their use is not confined to this style. They may as well appear in other styles—in newspaper style, in publicistic and practically in all other existing styles of language. But their function in this case changes. They do not always fulfil their basic function, that of bearing exact reference to a given concept. When used in the belles-lettres style, for instance, a term may acquire a stylistic function and consequently become a (sporadical)



1 Ullmann, Stephen. Words and their Use. Frederick Muller, Ldn, 1951, p. 107.

2 Verhaar, John W. M. Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Linguists. The Hague, 1966, p. 378.


SD. This happens when a term is used in such a way that two meanings are materialized simultaneously.

The function of terms, 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.

In this connection it is interesting to analyse the stylistic effect of the medical terminology used by A. J. Cronin in his novel "The Citadel". The frequent use of medical terms in the novel is explained by its subject-matter—the life of a physician—and also by the fact that the writer himself is a physician and finds it natural to use medical terminology.

The piling up of difficult and special terms hinders the reader's understanding of the text if he is not a specialist even when the writer strives to explain them. Moreover, such an accumulation of special terminology often suggests that the author is displaying his erudition. Maxim Gorki said that terms must not be overused. It has been pointed out that those who are learning use far more complicated terms than those who have already learned.

There is an interesting process going on in the development of any language. With the increase of general education and the expansion of technique to satisfy the ever-growing needs and desires of mankind, many words that were once terms have gradually lost their quality as terms and have passed into the common literary or even neutral vocabulary. This process may be called "de-terminization". Such words as 'radio', 'television' and the like have long been in common use and their terminological character is no longer evident.

Brian Foster in his book "The Changing English Language" writes:

" is one of the most powerful influences moulding the English language into fresh shapes at the present time. Scientific writing is not highly esteemed for its elegance—one recalls the tale of the scientist who alluded to a certain domain of enquiry as a 'virgin field pregnant with possibilities'—but scientific jargon and modes of thought inevitably come to the fore in a society which equates civilization with chromium-plated bath taps. Nor does the process date from yesterday, for we have long been talking of people being 'galvanized' into activity or going 'full steam ahead', but nowadays this tendency to prefer technical imagery is ever-increasing, so that science can truly be said to have 'sparked off a chain-reaction' in the linguistic sphere."1

This quotation clearly shows how easily terms and terminological combinations become de-terminized. We hardly notice sometimes the terminological origin of the words we use.

But such de-terminized words may by the force of a stylistic device
become re-established in their terminological function, thus assuming a
twofold application, which is the feature required .of a stylistic device.

But when terms are used in their normal function as terms in a work
of belles-lettres, they are or ought to be easily understood from the con-
text so that the desired effect in depicting the situation will be secured.



1 Foster, Brian. The Changing English Language. Penguin Books, 1971, p. 12.

Here is an example of a moderate use of special terminology bordering on common literary vocabulary.

"There was a long conversation—a long wait. His father came back to say it was doubtful whether they could make the loan. Eight per cent, then being secured for money, was a small rate of interest, considering its need. For ten per cent Mr. Kuzel might make a call-loan. Frank went back to his employer, whose commercial choler rose at the report." (Theodore Dreiser, "The Financier")

Such terms as 'loan', 'rate of interest', and the phrase 'to secure for money' are widely known financial terms which to the majority of the English and American reading public need no explanation. The terms used here do not bear any special meaning. Moreover, if they are not understood they may to some extent be neglected. It will suffice if the reader has a general idea, vague though it may be, of the actual meaning of the terms used. The main task of the writer in this passage is not to explain the process of business negotiations, but to create the environment of a business atmosphere.

In this example the terms retain their ordinary meaning though their function in the text is not exactly terminological. It is more nearly stylistic, inasmuch as here the terms serve the purpose of characterizing the commercial spirit of the hero of the novel. However, they are not SDs because they fail to meet the main requirement of an SD.

The following is an example where a term is used as an SD.

"What a fool Rawdon Crawley has been," Clump replied, "to go and marry a governess. There was something about the girl too."

"Green eyes, fair skin, pretty figure, famous frontal development," Squill remarked. (W. M. Thackeray)

The combination 'frontal development' is terminological in character (used sometimes in anatomy). But being preceded by the word 'famous' used in the sense indicated by the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as "a strong expression of approval (chiefly colloquial); excellent, capital" the whole expression assumes a specific stylistic function due to the fact that 'frontal development' is used both in its terminological aspect and in its logical meaning 'the breast of a woman'.

Another example of the same kind —terms becoming SDs:

"I should like," said young Jolyon, "to lecture on it: PROPERTY AND QUALITIES OF A FORSYTE. This little animal, disturbed by the ridicule of his own sort, is unaffected in his motions by the laughter of strange creatures (you and I). Hereditarily disposed to myopia, he recognizes only the persons and habitats of his own species, among which he passes an existence of competitive tranquility." (Galsworthy)

In this excerpt the twofold application of meanings—terminological and stylistic—is achieved by the following means: the verb ‘to lecture (on...)’ and the title of the subject 'Properties and qualities (of a Forsyte)' direct the mind to the domain of science, i. e. they are used in a


terminological sense. But when they are followed by a word with nominal meaning (Forsyte) they assume an additional meaning—a stylistic one. This clash of incongruous notions arrests the mind and forces it to re-evaluate the terminological meaning of the words which aim at supporting the pseudo-biological and medical aspect of the message—this being contained in the words 'sort', 'creature', 'little animal', 'species', 'habitats', 'myopia'. This aspect is also backed up by such literary words and word-combinations as 'tranquility' and 'passes an existence' which are in full accord with the demands of a lecture.

Whenever the terms used in the belles-lettres style set the reader at odds with the text, we can register a stylistic effect caused either by a specific use of terms in their proper meanings or by a simultaneous realization of two meanings.


b) Poetic and Highly Literary Words

Poetic words form a rather insignificant layer of the special literary vocabulary. They are mostly archaic or very rarely used highly literary words which aim at producing an elevated effect. They have a marked tendency to detach themselves from the common literary word-stock and gradually assume the quality of terms denoting certain definite notions and calling forth poetic diction.

Poetic words and expressions are called upon to sustain the special levated atmosphere of poetry. This may be said to be the main function of poetic words.

V. V. Vinogradov gives the following properties of poetic words:

"...the cobweb of poetic words and images veils the reality, stylizing it according to the established literary norms and canons. A word is torn away from its referent. Being drawn into the system of literary styles, the words are selected and arranged in groups of definite images, in phraseological series, which grow standardized and stale and are becoming conventional symbols of definite phenomena or characters or of definite ideas or impressions."1

Poetical tradition has kept alive such archaic words and forms as yclept (p. p. of the old verb clipian—to call, name); quoth (p. t. of cwedan — to speak); eftsoons (eftsona, — again, soon after), which are used even by modern ballad-mongers. Let us note in passing that archaic words are here to be understood as units that have either entirely gone out of use, or as words some of whose meanings have grown archaic, e. g. hall in the following line from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage:

Deserted is my own good hall, its hearth is desolate.

It must be remembered though, that not all English poetry makes use of "poeticisms or poetical terms", as they might be named. In the history of English literature there were periods, as there were in many



1 Vinogradov V. V. The Style of Pushkin. M., 1941, pp. 8—9.

countries, which were characterized by protests against the use of such conventional symbols. The literary trends known as classicism and romanticism were particularly rich in fresh poetic terms.

Poetical words in an ordinary environment may also have a satirical function, as seen in this passage from Byron.

But Adeline was not indifferent: for

(Now for a common-place!) beneath the snow,

As a volcano holds the lava more

Within—et cetera. Shall I go on?—No,

I hate to hunt down a tired metaphor,

So let the often-used volcano go.

Poor thing: How frequently, by me and others,

It hath been stirred up till its smoke quite smothers!

("Don Juan")

The satirical function of poetic words and conventional poetic devices is well revealed in this stanza. The 'tired metaphor' and the 'often-used volcano' are typical of Byron's estimate of the value of conventional metaphors and stereotyped poetical expressions.

The striving for the unusual—the characteristic feature of, some kinds of poetry—is akin to the sensational and is therefore to be found not only in poetry, but in many other styles.

A modern English literary critic has remarked that in journalese a policeman never goes to an appointed spot; he proceeds to it. The picturesque reporter seldom talks of a horse, it is a steed or a charger. The sky is the welkin; the valley is the vale; fire is the devouring element...

Poetical words and word-combinations can be likened to terms in that they do not easily yield to polysemy. They are said to evoke emotive meanings (see p. 66). They colour the utterance with a certain air of loftiness, but generally fail to produce a genuine feeling of delight: they are too hackneyed for the purpose, too stale. And that is the reason that the excessive use of poeticisms at present calls forth protest and derision towards those who favour this conventional device.

Such protests have had a long history. As far back as the 16th century Shakespeare in a number of lines voiced his attitude toward poeticisms, considering them as means to embellish poetry. Here is one of the sonnets in which he condemns the use of such words.

So is it not with me as with that Muse

Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,

Who heaven itself for ornament doth use

And every fair with his fair doth* rehearse,

Making a couplement of proud compare,

With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,

With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare

That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.

O, let me, true in love, but truly write,

And then believe me, my love is as fair

As any mother's child, though not so bright


As those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air:

Let them say more that like of hearsay well;

I will not praise that purpose not to sell.

(Sonnet XXI)

It is remarkable how Shakespeare though avoiding poetic words proper uses highly elevated vocabulary in the first part of the sonnet (the octave), such as 'heaven's air', 'rehearse', 'couplement', 'compare' (noun), 'rondure', 'hems', in contrast to the very common vocabulary of the second part (the sestette).

The very secret of a truely poetic quality of a word does not lie in conventionality of usage. On the contrary, a poeticism throughconstant repetition gradually becomes hackneyed. Like anything that lacks freshness it fails to evoke a genuinely aesthetic effect and eventually call forth protest on the part of those who are sensitive to real beauty As far back as in 1800 Wordsworth raised the question of the conventional use of words and phrases, which to his mind should be avoided. There was (and still persists) a notion called "poetic diction" which still means the collection of epithets, periphrases, archaisms, etc., which were common property to most poets of the 18th century.

However, the term has now acquired a broader meaning. Thus Owen Barfield says:

"When words are selected and arranged in such a way that their meaning either arouses or is obviously intended to arouse, aesthetic imagination, the result may be described as poetic diction."1

Poetic diction in the former meaning has had a long lineage. Aristotle in his "Poetics" writes the following:

"The perfection of Diction is for it to be at once clear and not mean. The clearest indeed is that made up of the ordinary words for things, but it is mean... the diction becomes distinguished and non-prosaic by the use of unfamiliar terms, i. e. strange words, metaphors, lengthened forms and everything that deviates from the ordinary modes of speech... A certain admixture, accordingly, of unfamiliar terms is necessary. These, the strange words, the metaphor, the ornamental equivalent, etc will save the language from seeming mean and prosaic, while the ordinary words in it will secure the requisite clearness."2

A good illustration of the use of poetic words the bulk of which are archaic is the following stanza from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Whilome (at some past time) in Albion's isle (the oldest name of the island of Britain) there dwelt (lived) a youth,

Who ne (not) in virtue's ways did take delight:

But spent his days in riot (wasteful living) most uncouth (unusual, strange)

And vex'd (disturbed) with mirth (fun) the drowsy ear of Night.



1 Barfield, Owen. Poetic Diction. Ldn, 1952, 2d ed. (cit. from Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, p. 628)

2 Aristotle. Poetics. (cit. from Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton, 1969, p. 628)

Ah me! (interjection expressing regret, sorrow) in sooth (truely) he was a shameless wight (a human being)

Sore (severely, harshly) given to revel (noisy festivity) and ungodly (wicked) glee (entertainment);

Few earthly things found favour in his sight

Save concubines (prostitutes) and carnal (not spiritual) companie,

And flaunting (impudent) wassailers (drunkards; revellers) of high and low degree.

The use of poetic words does not as a rule create the atmosphere of poetry in the true sense; it is a substitute for real art. Poetic words are not freely built in contrast to neutral, colloquial and common literary words, or terms. The commonest means is by compounding, e. g. 'young-eyed', 'rosy-fingered'.

Some writers make abundant use of this word-building means. Thus Arthur Hailey in his novel "In High Places" has 'serious-faced', 'high-ceilinged', 'beige-carpeted', 'tall-backed', 'horn-rimmed' in almost close proximity. There is, however, one means of creating new poetic words still recognized as productive even in present-day English, viz. the use of a contracted form of a word instead of the full one, e. g. 'drear' instead of dreary, 'scant' (=scanty). Sometimes the reverse process leads to the birth of a poeticism, e. g. 'vasty' (=vast. 'The vasty deep', i. e. the ocean); 'steepy' (=steep), 'paly' (=pale).

These two conventional devices are called forth by the requirements of the metre of the poem, to add or remove a syllable, and are generally avoided by modern English poets.

Poetical words and set expressions make the utterance understandable only to a limited number of readers. It is mainly due to poeticisms that poetical language is sometimes called poetical jargon.

In modern English poetry there is a strong tendency to use words in strange combinations. It manifests itself in the coinage of new words and, most of all, in combining old and familiar words in a way that hinders understanding and forces the reader to stop and try to decipher the message so encoded.

The following may serve as examples:

'The sound of shape'; "night-long eyes'; 'to utter ponds of dream'; 'wings of because'; 'to reap one's same'; 'goldenly whole, prodigiously keen star whom she—and he—, —like ifs of am perceive...' (E. E. Cummings).

All these combinations are considered ungrammatical inasmuch as they violate the rules of encoding a message. But in search of new modes of expression modern poets, particularly those who may be called "modernists", have a strong bias for all kinds of innovation. They experiment with language means and are ready to approve of any deviation from the normal. So also are literary critics belonging to what is called the avant-garde movement in art, the essence of which is the use of unorthodox and experimental methods. These usually lead both the poet and the critic to extremes, examples of which are given, above.


c) Archaic, Obsolescent and Obsolete Words


The word-stock of a language is in an increasing state of change. Words change their meaning and sometimes drop out of the language altogether. New words spring up and replace the old ones. Some words stay in the language a very long time and do not lose their faculty of gaining new meanings and becoming richer and richer polysemantically. Other words live but a short time and are like bubbles on the surface of water — they disappear leaving no trace of their existence.

In registering these processes the role of dictionaries can hardly be over-estimated. Dictionaries serve to retain this or that word in a language either as a relic of ancient times, where it lived and circulated, or as a still living unit of the system, though it may have lost some of its meanings. They may also preserve certain nonce-creations which were never intended for general use.

In every period in the development of a literary language one can find words which will show more or less apparent changes in their meaning or usage, from full vigour, through a moribund state, to death, i. e. complete disappearance of the unit from the language.

We shall distinguish three stages in the aging process of words:

The beginning of the aging process when the word becomes rarely used. Such words are called obsolescent, i.e. they are in the stage of gradually passing out of general use. To this category first of all belong morphological forms belonging to the earlier stages in the development of the language. In the English language these are the pronouns thou and its forms thee, thy and thine; the corresponding verbal ending –est and the verb-forms art, wilt (thou makest, thou wilt); the ending -(e)th instead of -(e)s (he maketh) and the pronoun ye.

To the category of obsolescent words belong many French borrowings which have been kept in the literary language as a means of preserving the spirit of earlier periods, e. g. a pallet (=a straw mattress); a palfrey (=a small horse); garniture (=furniture); to emplume (=to adorn with feathers or plumes).

The second group of archaic words are those that have already gone, completely out of use but are still recognized by the English-speaking community: e. g. methinks (=it seems to me); nay (=no). These words are called obsolete.

The third group, which may be called arсhaiс proper, are words which are no longer recognizable in modern English, words that were in use in Old English and which have either dropped out of the language entirely or have changed in their appearance so much that they have become unrecognizable, e.g. troth (=faith); a losel (=a worthless, lazy fellow).

It will be noted that on the diagram (p. 71) the small circles denoting archaic and poetic words overlap and both extend beyond the large circle "special literary vocabulary". This indicates that some of the words in these layers do not belong to the present-day English vocabulary. . The border lines between the groups are not distinct. In fact they interpenetrate. It is specially difficult to distinguish between obsolete

and obsolescent words. But the difference is important when we come to deal with the stylistic aspect of an utterance in which the given word serves a certain stylistic purpose. Obsolete and obsolescent words have separate functions, as we shall point out later.

There is still another class of words which is erroneously classed as archaic, viz. historical words. By-gone periods in the life of any society are marked by historical events and by institutions, customs, material objects, etc. which are no longer in use, for example: Thane, yeoman, goblet, baldric, mace. Words of this type never disappear from the language. They are historical terms and remain as terms referring to definite stages in the development of society and cannot therefore be dispensed with, though the things and phenomena to which they refer have long passed into oblivion. Historical words have no synonyms, whereas archaic words have been replaced by modern synonyms.

Archaic words are primarily and predominantly used in the creation of a realistic background to historical novels. It must be pointed out, however, that the use of historical words (terms) in a passage written in scientific style, say, in an essay on the history of the Danish invasion, will bear no stylistic function at all. But the same terms when used in historical novels assume a different stylistic value. They carry, as it were, a special volume of information adding to the logical aspect of the communication.

This, the main function of archaisms, finds different interpretation in different novels by different writers. Some writers overdo things in this respect, the result being that the reader finds all kinds of obstacles in his way. Others under-estimate the necessity of introducing obsolete or obsolescent elements into their narration and thus fail to convey what is called "local colour".

In his "Letter to the Young Writer" A. N. Tolstoi states that the heroes of historical novels must think and speak in the way the time they live in, forces them to. If Stepan Razin', he maintains, were to speak of the initial accumulation of capital, the reader would throw the book under the table and he would be right. But the writer must know all about the initial accumulation of capital and view events from this particular position.

On the whole Tolstoi's idea does not call for criticism. But the way it is worded may lead to the misconception that heroes of historical novels should speak the language of the period they live in. If those heroes really spoke the language of the time they lived in, the reader would undoubtedly throw the book under the table because he would be unable to understand it.

As a matter of fact the heroes of historical novels speak the language of the period the writer and the reader live in, and the skill of the writer is required to colour the language with such obsolete or obsolescent elements as most naturally interweave with the texture of the modern literary language. These elements must not be archaic in the narrow sense. They must be recognizable to the native reader and hot hinder his understanding of the communication.

The difficulty in handling archaic words and phrases and the subtlety


required was acutely felt by A. S. Pushkin. In his article "Juri Miloslavski, or the Russian of 1612," Pushkin writes:

"Walter Scott carried along with him a crowd of imitators. But how far they are from the Scottish charmer! Like Agrippa's pupil, they summoned the demon of the Past but they could not handle him and fell victims of their own imprudence."

Walter Scott was indeed an inimitable master in the creation of an historical atmosphere. He used the stylistic means that create this atmosphere with such skill and discrimination, that the reader is scarcely aware that the heroes of the novels speak his language and not that of their own epoch. Walter Scott himself states the principles which he considers basic for the purpose: the writer's language must not be out of date and therefore incomprehensible, but words and phrases of modern coinage should not be used.

"It is one thing to use the language to express feelings common both to us and to our forefathers," says Scott, "but it is another thing to impose upon them the emotions and speech characteristics of their descendants."

In accordance with these principles Walter Scott never photographs the language of earlier periods; he sparingly introduces into the texture of his language a few words and expressions more or less obsolescent in character, and this is enough to convey the desired effect without unduly interlarding present-day English with outdated elements of speech. Therefore we can find such words as methinks, haply, nay, travail, repast and the like in great number and, of course, a multiplicity of historical terms. But you will hardly find a true archaism of the nature indicated in our classification as archaisms proper.

Besides the function just mentioned, archaic words and phrases have other functions found in other styles. They are, first of all, frequently to be found in the style of official documents. In business letters, in legal language, in all kinds of statutes, in diplomatic documents and in all kinds of legal documents one can find obsolescent words which would long ago have become obsolete if it were not for the preserving power of the special use within the above-mentioned spheres of communication. It is the same with archaic and obsolete words in poetry. As has already been pointed out, they are employed in the poetic style as special terms and hence prevented from dropping completely out of the language.

Among the obsolescent elements of the English vocabulary preserved within the style of official documents, the following may be mentioned: aforesaid, hereby, therewith, hereinafternamed.

The function of archaic words and constructions in official documents is terminological in character. They are used here because they help to maintain that exactness of expression so necessary in this style.

Archaic words and particularly archaic forms of words are sometimes used for satirical purposes. This is achieved through what is called Anticlimax (see p. 221). The situation in which the archaism is used is not appropriate to the context. There appears a sort of discrepancy bet-

ween the words actually used and the ordinary situation which excludes the possibility of such a usage. The low predictability of an archaism when it appears in ordinary speech produces the necessary satirical effect.

Here is an example of such a use of an archaic form. In Shaw's play "How He Lied to Her Husband" a youth of eighteen, speaking of his feelings towards a "female of thirty-seven" expresses himself in a language which is not in conformity with the situation. His words are:

"Perfect love casteth off fear."

Archaic words, word-forms and word-combinations are also used to create an elevated effect. Language is specially moulded to suit a solemn occasion: all kinds of stylistic devices are used, and among them is the use of archaisms.

Some archaic words due to their inner qualities (sound-texture, nuances of meaning, morphological peculiarities, combinatory power) may be revived in a given period of the development of the English language. This re-establishing in the vocabulary, however, is generally confined to poetry and highly elevated discourse. The word albeit (although)1 may serve as an example.

The stylistic significance of archaic words in historical novels and in other works of fiction (emotive literature—belles-lettres) is different. In historical novels, as has been pointed out, they maintain "local colour", i.e. they perform the function of creating the atmosphere of the past. The reader is, as it were, transplanted into another epoch and therefore perceives the use of аrсhaiс wоrds as a natural mode of communication.

Not so when archaic words are encountered in a depiction of events of present-day life. Here archaisms assume the function of an SD proper. They are perceived in a twofold function, the typical quality of an SD, viz. diachronically and synchronically. The abundance of archaic words playing the role of poeticisms in the stanza of "Childe Harold" quoted on p. 81 sets the reader on guard as to the meaning of the device. On the one hand, the word 'whilome' triggers off the signal of something that took place in times remote, and therefore calls forth the necessity of using archaic words to create local colour. On the other hand, the crowding of such obsolete units of the vocabulary may be interpreted as a parody on the "domain of the few", whose adherents considered that real poetry should avoid using "mean" words. At any rate, the use of archaic words here is a stylistic device which willy-nilly requires decoding, a process which inevitably calls forth the double function of the units.

One must be well aware of the subtleties in the usage of archaisms. In American English many words and forms of words which are obsolete or obsolescent in British English have survived as admissible in literary usage.

A. C. Baugh, a historian of the English language, points out that in some parts of America one may hear "there's a new barn a-building down the road". The form 'a-building' is obsolete, the present form being



1 Compare the Russian conjunction ибо.


building (There is a house building = A house is being built). This form has undergone the following changes: on building > a-building > building; consequently, ' a-building' will sound obsolete in England but will be considered dialectal in the United States. This predetermines the stylistic meaning when used in American or British texts.

The extension of such forms to the passive: 'A house is being built' took place near the very end of the 18th century.

Stylistic functions, of archaic words are based on the temporal perception of events described. Even when used in the terminological aspect, as for instance in law, archaic words will mark the utterance as being connected with something remote and the reader gets the impression that he is faced with a time-honoured tradition.


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 italicizedto 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 Лат... 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 toconvey 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 р. 2З6). 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. Thismagic 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 creаtе the impression of an utterance" made in a foreign language. Thus in the following example:

"Deutsche Soldaten—a 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.


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