D) Barbarisms and Foreignisms

Barbarisms 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.

There are foreign words in the English vocabulary which fulfill 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. 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.

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.

Barbarisms and foreign words 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.

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.

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.

e) Literary Coinages (Including Nonce-Words)

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 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."

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 second 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 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.

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'.

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.

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.

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.

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-building 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.

Conversion, derivation and change of meaning 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.

As has been pointed out, word-building by means of affixation is still predominant in coining new words. Examples are: orbiter'aspacecraft designed to orbit a celestial body'; lander'aspacecraft 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'.

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'.

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 suffix -dom has also developed a new meaning, as in '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,"); '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.")

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."

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, also cleanorama (= a spectacular cleaning spree); tomatorama, beanarama, bananarama (= a sensational sale of tomatoes, beans or bananas)...

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.

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 underestimated 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. 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.

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.

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.




  1. Barbarisms and foreignisms

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