Студопедия — Literary Stratum of Words. Colloquial Words
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Literary Stratum of Words. Colloquial Words

The word-stock of any given language can be roughly divided into three uneven groups, differing from each other by the sphere of its possible use. The biggest division is made up of neutral words, possessing no stylistic connotation and suitable for any communicative, situation, two smaller ones are literary and colloquial strata respectively.

Literacy words serve to satisfy communicative demands of official, scientific, poetic messages, while the colloquial ones are employed in non-official everyday communication. Though there is no immediate correlation between the written and the oral forms of speech on the one hand, and the literary and colloquial words, on the other, yet, for the most part, the first ones are mainly observed in the written form, as most literary messages appear in writing. And vice versa: though there are many examples of colloquialisms in writing (informal letters, diaries, certain passages of memoirs, etc.), their usage is associated with the oral form of communication.
Consequently, taking for analysis printed materials we shall find literary words in authorial speech, descriptions, considerations, while colloquialisms will be observed in the types of discourse, simulating (copying) everyday oral communication-i.e., in the dialogue (or interior monologue) of a prose work.

When we classify some speech (text) fragment as literary or colloquial it does not mean that all the words constituting it have a corresponding stylistic meaning. More than that: words with a pronounced stylistic connotation are few in any type of discourse, the overwhelming majority of its lexis being neutral. As our famous philologist L.V. Shcherba once said- a stylistically coloured word is like a drop of paint added to a glass of pure water and colouring the whole of it. Each of the two named groups of words, possessing a stylistic meaning, is not homogeneous as to the quality of the meaning, frequency of use, sphere of application, or the number and character of potential users. This is why each one is further divided into the general, i. e. known to and used by most native speakers in generalized literary (formal) or colloquial (informal) communication, and special bulks. The latter ones, in their turn, are subdivided into subgroups, each one serving a rather narrow, specified communicative purpose. So, among special literary words, as a rule, at least two major subgroups are mentioned.

They are:

1. Terms, i. e. words denoting objects, processes, phenomena of science, humanities, technique.

2. Archaisms, i. e. words,

  • a) denoting historical phenomena which are no more in use (such as "yeoman", "vassal", falconet"). These are historical words.
  • b) used in poetry in the XVII-XIX cc. (such as "steed" for "horse"; "quoth" for "said"; "woe" for "sorrow"). These are poetic words.
  • c) in the course of language history ousted by newer syn onymic words (such as "whereof = of which; "to deem" = to think; "repast" - meal; "nay" = no) or forms ("maketh" = makes; "thou wilt" = you will; "brethren" = brothers). These are called archaic words (archaic forms) proper.

Literary words, both general (also called learned, bookish, high-flown) and special, contribute to the message the tone of solemnity, sophistication, seriousness, gravity, learnedness. They are used in official papers and documents, in scientific communication, in high poetry, in authorial speech of creative prose.

Colloquial words, on the contrary, mark the message as informal, non-official, conversational. Apart from general colloquial words, widely used by all speakers of the language in their everyday communication (e. g. "dad", "kid", "crony", "fan", "to pop", "folks"), such special subgroups may be mentioned:

1. Slang forms the biggest one. Slang words, used by most speakers in very informal communication, 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. So, the idea of a "pretty girl" is worded by more than one hundred ways in slang.

In only one novel by S. Lewis there are close to a dozen synonyms used by Babbitt, the central character, irreverence to a girl: "cookie", "tomato", "Jane", "sugar", "bird", "cutie", etc.

The substandard status of slang words and phrases, through universal usage, can be raised to the standard colloquial: "pal", "chum," "crony" for "friend"; "heavies", "woolies" for "thick panties"; "booze" for "liquor"; "dough" for "money"; "how's tricks" for "how's life"; "beat it" for "go away" and many many more-are examples of such a transition.

2. Jargonisms stand close to slang, also being substandard, expressive and emotive, but, unlike slang they are used by limited groups of people, united either professionally (in this case we deal with professional jargonisrns, or professionalisms}, or socially (here we deal with /argon/sins proper). In distinction from slang, jargonisrns of both types cover a narrow semantic field: in the first case it is that, connected with the technical side of some profession. So, in oil industry, e. g, for the terminological "driller" (буровик) there exist "borer", ^"digger", "wrencher", "hogger", "brake weight"; for "pipeliner" (трубопроводчик), "bender", "cat", "old cat", "collar-pecker", "hammerman"; for "geologist"-"smeller", "pebble pup", "rock hound", "witcher", etc From all the examples at least two points are evident: professionalisms are formed according to the existing word-building patterns or present existing words in new meanings, and, covering the field of special professional knowledge, which is semantically limited, they offer a vast variety of synonymic choices for naming one and the same professional item
Jargonisrns proper are characterized by similar linguistic features, but differ in function and sphere of application. They originated from the thieves' jargon (1'argo, cant) and served to conceal the actual significance of the utterance from the uninitiated. Their major function thus was to be cryptic, secretive. This is why among them there are cases of conscious deformation of the existing words. The so-called back jargon (or back slang) can serve as an example: in their effort to conceal the machinations of dishonest card-playing, gamblers used numerals in their reversed form: "ano" for "one", "owt" for "two", "erth" for "three".

Anglo-American tradition, starting with E. Partridge, a famous English lexicographer, does not differentiate between slang and jargonisrns regarding these groups as one extensive stratum of words divided into general slang, used by all, or most, speakers and special slang, limited by the professional or social standing of the speaker. This debate appears to concentrate more on terminology than on essence. Indeed slang (general slang) and jargonisrns (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 So it seems appropriate to use the indicated terms as synonyms.

3. Vulgarisms are coarse words with a strong emotive meaning, mostly derogatory, normally avoided in polite conversation. History of vulgarisms reflects the history of social ethics. So, in Shakespearean times people were much more linguistically frank and disphemistic in their communication than in the age of Enligtenment, or the Victorian era, famous for its prudish and reserved manners. Nowadays words which were labelled vulgar in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are considered such no more. In fact, at present we are faced with the reverse of the problem: there are practically no words banned from use by the modern permissive society. Such intensifies as "bloody", "damned", "cursed", "hell of", formerly deleted from literature and not allowed in conversation, are not only welcomed in both written and oral speech, but, due to constant repetition, have lost much of their emotive impact and substandard quality. One of the best-known American editors and critics Maxwell Perkins, working witn tne serialized 1929 magazine edition of Hemingway's novel A. Farewell to Arms found that the publishers deleted close to a dozen words which they considered vulgar for their publication. Preparing the hardcover edition Perkins allowed half of them back ("son of a bitch", "whore", "whorehound," etc.). Starting from the late 'fifties no publishing house objected to any coarse or obscene expressions. Consequently, in contemporary West European and American prose all words, formerly considered vulgar for public use (including the four-letter words), are even approved by the existing moral and ethical standards of society and censorship.

4. Dialectal words are normative and devoid of any stylistic meaning in regional dialects, but used outside of them, carry a strong flavour of the locality where they belong. In Great Britain four major dialects are distinguished: Lowland Scotch, Northern, Midland (Central) and Southern. In the USA three major dialectal varieties are distinguished: New England, Southern and Midwestern (Central, Midland). These classifications do not include many minor local variations. Dialects markedly differ on the phonemic level: one and the same phoneme is differently pronounced in each of them. They differ also on the lexical level, having their own names for locally existing phenomena and also supplying locally circulating synonyms for the words, accepted by the language in general. Some of them have entered the general vocabulary and lost their dialectal status ("lad", "pet", "squash", "plaid"). Each of the above-mentioned four groups justifies its label of special colloquial words as each one, due to varying reasons, has application limited to a certain group of people or to certain communicative situations.



5. Деякі основні категорії тексту та їх стилістичне використання. Лексичні виразні засоби і стилістичні прийоми. Книжкова та розмовна лексика.


1. Every notional word of a natural language carries some definite information. This information may be basic or denotative and additional or connotative.
The majority of words of the English language possesses denotative information only. So, they are stylistically neutral: man, house, to run, red etc. This does not mean that they cannot be used for stylistic purposes. A word in fiction acquires new qualities depending on its position, distribution, etc. Practically any word, depending on its context, may acquire certain connotations (honey - bum, sugar - plum).
In the English language, there are many words which possess not only basic information but additional information as well.
The additional information or connotative meaning may be of four types:
a) functional stylistic meaning which is the result of the constant usage of the word in definite speech spheres or situations: foe, maiden, realm are mostly used in poetry; terms and nomenclature words are used in scientific prose style and in official documents;
b) evaluative meaning which bears reference to things, phenomena, or ideas through the evaluation of the denotate: out-of-date-method-time-tested method, firm-obstinate - pig - headed;
c) emotive meaning which expresses the speaker's emotional attitude to the denotate (chit, puppet, jade). Neutral words that name emotions like anger, pleasure, and pain should be distinguished from the above mentioned emotionally coloured words;
d) expressive meaning which does not refer directly to things or phenomena of the objective reality, but to the feelings and emotions of the speaker, it is based on the metaphoric transfer (speaking of a mancockerel, bully, buck).
There are no strict rules for distinguishing between functional-stylistic and other connotative meanings. Moreover, the functional-stylistic meaning which is connected with a certain sphere of communication may serve as a starting point for the word acquiring other connotative meanings.
2. Stylistic classification of the vocabulary of any language is a very complicated problem. The existing classifications are based on different criteria, which take into account common semantic and stylistic characteristics of words in the given period of time (synchronic approach). The two criteria used for our classification are as follows:
1) paradigmatic criterion, i.e. the absence or presence in the word semantics of the additional information (evaluative, emotive, or expressive meaning);
2) syntagmatic criterion, i.e. the character of syntagmatic relations between the lexical or lexical-stylistic meaning of the word and its context.
Both criteria are interconnected. Proceeding from them and using N.D.Arutyunova’s ideas of the word semantics, we may divide all words of the English vocabulary into two major groups:
1. words having a lexico - stylistic paradigm which are characterized by:
a) an indirect reference to the object: fat cat (coll.) => a provider of money for political uses (neutral) => denotate;
b) subjective evaluative connotations;
c) referential borders which are not strict: these words are of a qualifying character so they may be used to characterize different referents;
d) synonyms;
e) possible antonyms.
To this group we refer poetic diction; archaisms (archaic words); barbarisms and foreign words; stylistic neologisms; slangisms; colloquialisms; jargonisms (social and professional); dialectal words; vulgarisms.
2. words having no lexico - stylistic paradigm are characterized by:
a) a direct reference to the object;
b) the absence of subjective evaluative connotations,
c) strict referential borders;
d) the lack of synonyms. Synonyms that they may have are purely denotative;
e) the lack of antonyms.
Here we refer stylistically neutral words; terms; nomenclature words; historical words; lexical neologisms; and exotic words.


Words having a lexico-stylistic paradigm are not homogeneous; they may enter the following oppositions:

vocolloquial cabulary – bookish vocabulary
non-literary words – literary words
general literary vocabulary – social or dialectal elements special vocabulary
contemporary vocabulary — archaic vocabulary.


However, the mentioned groups of words are not closed; they are intersecting – one and the same word may belong to two or more groups.

STYUSTIC FUNCTIONS OF THE WORDS HAVING A LEXICO-STYUSTIC PARADIGM Lexical expressive means of the English language are words which do not only have denotative meaning but connotative as well. Depending on their connotative meaning such words fall into two major groups: literary(high-flown) words which are traditionally linked with poetic, bookish, or written speech and conversational(low-flown) words that are most often used in oral, colloquial speech. Literary words are more stable due to the traditions of the written type of speech. Conversational words are constantly changing. Within a period of time they can become high-flown or neutral, e.g. bet, mob, trip, fun, chap. 3.1. STYLISTIC FUNCTIONS OF LITERARY (HIGH-FLOWN) WORDS


Literary words of the English language can be classified into the following groups: poetic diction, archaic words, barbarisms and foreign words, bookish (learned) words.

Poetic diction
Poetic words are stylistically marked, they form a lexico-stylistic paradigm. In the 17th-18th centuries they were widely used in poetry as synonyms of neutral words. In modern poetry such a vocabulary barely exists.


Poetic words are diverse; they include:
a) archaic words (commixmix);
b) archaic forms (valevalley);
c) historic words (argosylarge merchant ship);
d) poetic words proper (anarch, brine).

Their main function is to mark the text in which they are used as poetic, thus distinguishing it from non-fiction texts. In modern poetry such words are seldom used. Their stylistic meaning gets more vivid when they are contrasted to neutral words.
Archaic words


Archaic words, i.e. out-dated words that denote existing objects, are divided into two groups:
a) archaic words proper: words which are no longer recognized in modern English. They were used in Old English and have either dropped out of language use entirely or completely changed (trothfaith, loselworthless);
b) archaic forms of the words: corse instead of corpse, an instead of and, annoy instead of аnnоуаnсе.

Speaking of archaic words we should distinguish "ageing/newness” of the word form and "ageing/newness” of the denotate. And then, accordingly, we may correlate archaic words and historic words on the one hand as well as lexical and stylistic neologisms on the other.
Lexical neologisms are new words that denote new objects (laser shopping, pop promo, killer satellite). Stylistic neologisms are new names that denote already existing objects and notions (mole – a spy who successfully infiltrates an organization; ageismdiscrimination of a person on the ground of age).
Historical words are associated with definite stages in the development of a society and cannot be neglected, though the things and phenomena to which they refer no longer exist.
Historical words (yeoman, thane, baldric, goblef) have no synonyms as compared to archaic words which may be replaced by their modern synonyms.


Historical words and lexical neologisms having no stylistic meaning, do not form lexico-stylistic paradigms. But archaic words and stylistic neologisms mark the text stylistically, distinguishing if from neutral speech.
In fiction, together with historical words, archaisms create the effect of antiquity, providing a true-to-life historical background and reminding the reader of past habits, customs, clothes etc. The usage of archaisms, incompatible with conversational words, might in some cases lead to a humorous or satirical effect.

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