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  Stylistic Lexicology of the English Language Приветствую Вас Гость | RSS

(Методичні вказівки до семінарських занять зі стилістики англійської мови для студентів IV курсу. (Видання 2) / Уклад. Воробйова О.П., Бойцан Л.Ф., Ганецька Л.В. та інш. – К.: Вид. центр КНЛУ, 2001. – С. 13–19.)

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b) evaluative meaning which bears reference to things, phenomena, or ideas through the evaluation of the denotate: out-of-date-method-time-tested method, firm-obstinate-pig-headed;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 man cockerel, 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.

    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.
    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 (commix mix);
    b) archaic forms (vale valley);
    c) historic words (argosy large 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 (troth faith, losel worthless);
    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; ageism discrimination 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.
Barbarisms and foreign words
    There are many borrowings in every language, some of them being assimilated. We may distinguish four groups of such words in English: foreign words, barbarisms, exotic words, and borrowings.
    Foreign words are close to barbarisms, but they are characterised by occasional usage only, mainly in literary speech. They do not form a lexico-stylistic paradigm, though they may be used to create some stylistic effect.
    Barbarisms are words of foreign origin which have not been entirely assimilated into the English language preserving their former spelling and pronunciation. Most of them (e.g. chic, chagrin, en passant) have corresponding English synonyms.
    Exotic words are borrowed foreign words denoting objects characteristic of a certain country (canzonet, matador). They have no synonyms in the language-borrower, do not form a lexico-stylislic paradigm and therefore are not considered to be lexical EM, but nevertheless they may be used for stylistic purposes.
    Borrowings, if they are assimilated, do not differ much from native words as far as their stylistic aspect is concerned. They are usually high-flown synonyms of neutral native words (to commence to begin, labour work, female – woman).
    The stylistic functions of barbarisms and foreign words are similar, they are used to create a local colouring, to identify a personage as a foreigner, or to show his/her mannerism.
    Bookish (learned) words are mostly used in official or high-flown style (catenate, depicture, disimprove, dalliance). In official usage, they mark the text as belonging to this or that style of written speech, but when used in colloquial speech or in informal situations, they may create a comical effect.

    Here we refer colloquial words, general-slang words (interjargon), special slang words (social and professional jargons), dialectal words and vulgarisms. Some linguists differentiate slang and jargon, but the difference is vague and is practically irrelevant for stylistics. Generally, colloquial words according to their usage may be divided into three big groups:
        1) literary colloquial;
        2) familiar colloquial;
        3) low colloquial.
    According to the relations between their form and meaning, all colloquial words may be divided into three subgroups:
        a) words which are based on the change of their phonetic or morphological form without changing their lexical and stylistic meaning;
        b) words which are the result of the change of both their form and lexico-stylistic meaning;
        c) words which resulted from the change of their lexical and/or lexico-stylistic meaning without changing their form.
    The first subgroup comprises such varieties of word-form change as:
        a) clipping (shortening): serge sergeant, caff caffeteria;
        b) contamination of a word combination: leggo let's go, kinna kind of, c'mon come on;
        c) contamination of grammatical forms: I'd go, there's, we're going.
    These words have no lexico-stylistic paradigms. They possess denotative meaning only.
    Within the second group of colloquialisms, we may distinguish two varieties of the word-form change leading to the alteration of its lexico-stylistic meaning:
    a) the change of the grammatical form which brings the change of the lexico-stylistic meaning: heaps very many, a handful a person causing a lot of trouble;
    b) the change of the word-building pattern which causes the emergence of another lexico-stylistic meaning through;
        - affixation: oldie, tenner, clippie;
        - compounding: backroom boy, clip-joint;
        - conversion: to bag, teach-in;
        - telescopy: swellegant, flush, fruice;
        - shortening and affixation: Archie (Archibald);
        - compounding and affixation: strap-hanger, arty-crafty.
    All these words form a lexico-stylistic paradigm as they have synonyms among neutral and literary words and are characterised by various connotations while giving additional characteristics to the denotate.
    The third subgroup of colloquial words is the most numerous and comprises:
        a) words with emotive-expressive meaning only: oh, bach, ah as well as word combinations having a special expressive function: I never, Good (Great) heavens, God forbid;
        b) words and word combinations having both connotative and denotative meaning where the former one prevails: terribly, you don't say so, did he really;
        c) words in which denotative and connotative meanings interplay: bunny a waitress, colt-team – young team;
        d) words in which denotative meaning in certain contextual conditions gives rise to a new connotative meaning: affair – business, to have an affair – to be in love, beggar – poor person, lucky beggar – lucky person;
        e) words denotative and connotative meanings of which are completely different from their former meanings: chanter (poetic) – a singer; chanter (col.) - a person who sells horses at the market.
    Slang is composed of highly colloquial words whose expressiveness and novelty make them emphatic and emotive as compared to their neutral synonyms.
We саn distinguish two varieties of slang; general slang (interjargon) and special slangs (social as well as professional jargons). Some of the former slangisms may enter the colloquial or even the neutral layer of the vocabulary (phone, flu, sky-scrapei). Novelty is the most impressive feature of slang. As it disappears, they lose their expressiveness.
    Vulgarisms are the words which are not generally used in public. However, they can be found in modern literature nowadays, though formerly they were tabooed or marked by the initial letters only.
    Dialectal words (‘ud would, ‘im him, ‘aseen have seen, canna cannot, dinna don’t, sportin sporting) are used to intensify the emotive and expressive colouring of speech which is primarily determined by the peculiarities of social or geographical environment.
    Conversational words of all kinds are widely used for stylistic purposes. There are four speech spheres in which they are mostly largely used: everyday speech, newspaper language, poetry, and fiction.
    In newspaper language, colloquial words and word combinations, and sometimes general slang words, are used to give an expressive evaluation of facts and events. In modern poetry, words of all layers are most widely used. Lyrical poetry allows the usage of various non-poetic words to create the atmosphere of sincerity, confidence etc. Slang words in fiction (mostly in dialogues) add to the informality and emotiveness of the character’s speech alongside with indicating social and speech peculiarities of the personages.
    To this group, we refer terms, nomenclature words, historical words, exotic words, and lexical neologisms.
    Terms are words and word combinations expressing scientific and scholarly notions in which essential properties of the object or phenomenon are reflected. Terms are generally associated with a definite branch of science and, therefore, with a set of other terms belonging to that particular branch of science or humanities. For example, language and speech may be used as synonyms in everyday usage, but in de Saussure’s theory, they are opposed to each other as terms.
    Nomenclature words are very close to terms: they refer to a definite branch of human activity, mainly professional, e.g. names of minerals, chemical elements, types of cars etc.
    Historical words denote objects and notions referring to the past.
    Exotic words denote notions and objects unknown or rarely met in the given language community.
    Lexical neologisms are new (or old) words denoting new notions.  
    All the words mentioned above, being used in special texts, have no stylistic functions: their usage is determined by their nominative function, i.e. to define the denotate. In fiction, they may acquire connotative meaning due to their syntagmatic relations with both stylistically marked and neutral words. For example, in Live with Lightning, Say No to Death, The Citadel, Airport, they are used to create the life-like atmosphere of a laboratory, hospital etc. When used in monologues or dialogues, terms become a means of the speech characterisation. Sometimes, while incompatible with their context, terms may be used to create a satirical or humorous effect.
    The question of the status of phraseological units (PhU) is very complicated. There are many phraseological units which are quite neutral: in fact, in turn, for instance, in order that, in principle. To this group we should also refer historical PhU: the secular aim, the Blue and the Grey, the common beam; lexical neologisms: oil crisis, energy crisis; and terminological PhU: supersentencial units, expressive means etc.
    Additional (connotative) information of PhU, as that of any word, may be of four types, functional-stylistic, emotional, evaluative, and expressive-figurative.
    Accordingly, PhU may be divided into two similar classes: PhU having a lexico-stylistic paradigm, and those having no lexico-stylistic paradigms.
    PhU having a lexico-stylistic paradigm also fall into literary (be in accord with somebody, play upon advantage, most and least, bring to mould,; ad ovo, ad hoc, a la carte,; a heart of oak, Achilles heel) and conversational ones (Adams ale, slit the bat, ask me another, monkey's allowance, to get on the ball, admiral of the red, grab for altitude, gef the bird, sell one's back, get the wind up, a bit of jam, get somebody on his ears).
    Peculiar stylistic usage of PhU is accounted for the possibility of their structural and contextual transformations which are oriented to achieving a definite stylistic effect.
    Structural transformations of PhU may be represented by:
        1) expansion of PhU, e.g. When you had a weak case and knew it, Alan thought, even straws should be grasped at firmly (from to catch at a straw);
        2) reduction of PhU as the result of the compression of proverbs, sayings, quotations etc, e.g. Howaden added severely: "Better too much too eariy than too little too late” (from better late than never);
        3) inversion of the components of PhU. It implies the change of the PhU structure while preserving its original components, e.g. Fortunately, it's only the cat’s head and we still have a firm grip on the body (from to let the cat out of the bag).
Contextual transposition of PhU presupposes that a PhU may be totally reconsidered and reinterpreted in context, e.g. Pooh goes visiting and gets into a tight place (from to be in a tight comer).

1. Stylistic differentiation of the English vocabulary. Functional-stylistic and connotative meanings of the word. Types of connotations: emotive, evaluative, and expressive. Criteria for the stylistic differentiation of the English vocabulary.
2. Words which have a lexico-stylistic paradigm. Words which have no lexico-stylistic paradigm.
3. Stylistic functions of literary words; poetic diction, archaic words, barbarisms, bookish words, stylistic neologisms.
4. Stylistic functions of conversational words: colloquial words, general slang, special slang, stylistic neologisms, vulgarisms.
5. Stylistic functions of words which have no lexico-stylistic paradigm: historical words, exotic words, terms, lexical neologisms.
6. Stylistic functions of phraseology.


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