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Linguistic creativity and the focusing strategy

The evolvement of human experience sparks new notions which become reflected in language, especially in its word-stock. However, if every new notion acquires a new word, the dictionary would become rather wide and would exceed the possibilities of human memory. The trend towards economizing on language means and the analytical activity of the human intellect leads to the situation when any language community tends to use existing words and word combinations for a new designation of already existing notions.

The rise of a new word results from the conflict of two tendencies- development and preservation of the language. For a more adequate expression, presentation and perception of new ideas and notions, the language in general and its word-stock in particular are forced to be reorganized through the acquisition of new components. That is why the rise of a new word does not always stem from a public’s direct need of a new meaning.

According to Vygotsky, transformation of an unclear thought into clear speech comprises several stages: transition from thought to its signals and from meanings in interior speech to interior word, from interior word to exterior speech (Vygotsky 1996: 2). Thus, it can be seen as a change from a code of interior lexicon into a code of natural speech-exterior code. This is the case of a semantic process in which forms of not distinct meaning in combinations with certain features trigger a subsequent search for a new form.

In this respect a set of the following patterns is singled out:

  • - an existing language form is selected for a new combination of features (new meanings of traditional words are generated);
  • - a new form is created for a new collection of meanings (new words are generated);
  • - a new form is selected for a new collection of meanings, which was expressed in the language by a different word (Zabotkina 1991: 23).

Moreover, all the aforementioned operations are performed by a person representing a particular social, professional, age, ethnic, gender and other groups. Besides, one can experience a certain emotional state. Each of these factors can have an impact upon the nature of these operations. Thus, pragmatics and cognition interact. The semantics of a word at the moment of implementation of an unclear thought, along with a search for an appropriate form, reflects the specificity of a context in which it occurs.

The usage of a new word presupposes the existence of new pragmatic components. Numerous usages of new words cause changes in the distribution of pragmatic components within different aspects of meaning, as well as in the specificity of their meanings. Components, which code the modality types of “surprise” and “unexpectedness”, become subdued. New components appear, shaping new modality types. They reveal new characteristics of a communicative situation in which the new word is most commonly used. During the moment of word formation there is a dependence of pragmatic components upon its original context. Later on, when the word becomes part of standard vocabulary, it acquires more contexts of usage.

A person who has created a new word strives to achieve individuality and originality, thus drawing the attention of the listener’s/reader’s to the idea expressed. Afterwards, the word undergoes several stages of socialization in the society and is introduced into the lexical system. The process of its conventionalization presupposes the participation of representatives from specific socio-professional and other groups, which influences the acceptance/rejection of neologisms by the lexical system of the language. The word is accepted by mediators who spread it the society. As a rule, these are leaders of reference groups and those who are employed in mass media. The word enters oral speech and periodicals. The next stage is the acceptance of the word by a large number of speakers. Then the word enters the lexical system of language with simultaneous practice of its adequate usage, i.e. the acquisition of communicative and pragmatic competence by language speakers.

At this stage pragmatics stipulates rules of adequate usage of the new lexical unit and reveals its typical usage, as well as the conditions restricting the word’s usage, i.e. those conditions that cause a “pragmatic anomaly”.

This process depends to a large extent upon pragmatically relevant characteristics of the society members who use the new lexical unit, namely age, gender and education. As a rule, innovation is absorbed much faster by young and middle-aged members with a certain level of education, who actively participate in social interaction and have access to mass media.

Linguistic creativity reveals itself in the process of gradual reorientation of language units with a diverse level of specific meaning implementation. For instance, the unusual character of functional reorientation (not yet reflected in dictionaries) is distinctly noticeable in the following examples for the sake of focusing some bits of information: "... she would have said it to God-this the not all, since at least there was breathing left” (W. Faulkner); ”Do you know, the before and after(M. Puzo); ... he allowed himself to stop the car on the top of the downs in order to think (W. Collier).

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