SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY

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-d,ated ones.

This sensitivity to alteration is mainly due to the necessity of re­flecting in SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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 otfr 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 vquality of the thing, phenomenon or action as seen by the scientist in the light SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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) term*. Linguistically the difference is important in that terms are much mure easily substitutable by other terms than are words by other words: it is easier to feplace, 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY a (sporadical)

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. Cronjn in his novel "The Citadel". The frequent use of medical terms in the novel is explained SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY Changing English Language" writes:

"...science 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—oneVecalls 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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."*

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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY function as terms in a work °f belles-lettres, they are or ought to be easily understood from the con­text so that the desired effect in depicting the situation will be secured,



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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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^ense 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY in its logical meaning 'the breast of a woman'.

Another example of the saijie 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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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 tore-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 SPECIAL LITERARY VOCABULARY 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.


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