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Focusing by means of different groups of English word-stock


When a speaker/writer focuses on certain characteristics of the referent, in particular those different from the common ones, it gives rise to nonce-words. They represent a new language unit which finds itself at the periphery of the language system, and proves to be an instance of individual word-formation due to certain pragmatic reasons. Nonce-words are not widely used in communicative acts and are limited to certain contexts, and thus, they are not widespread within a restricted social group. Individually generated words are characterized by some purpose and dominance of a certain pragmatic function, as in:

  • - Mr. Harrington...
  • - Don’t “Mr. Harrington” me, with your smarmy voice and bowing from the waist. You had the gall to patronize me—tell me what’s wrong with my house . (P. Shaffer)

“It’s on at the What-do-you-call-it Theatre” (P. G. Wodehouse)

“The usual arty sort, Ruskin-cum-William Morris set of people ...

(R. Aldington)

Just tell Miss Nancy Whatnot to keep her mouth shut in future (J. Symons)

We believe that nonce-words are created for meeting the necessities of communication and so they do not enter the system of language at a certain time point. These units are characterized by a specific nature, usage irregularity and freshness in the process of perception, expressiveness and contextual dependency. All these features contribute to meet the demands of the focusing strategy of representation.

Kveselevich (1985) distinguishes “occasional words” created by means of integration of a word combination for the purposes of economy and integrity of designation: The only time he looked lively and brisk and up-

to-the-minute was when Mr Golspie came in and asked him to do something ... (J. B. Priestley); “situational words”, integrating a speaker’s selection of words in an utterance: “My dear, ” began the Cave-man. “Don’t you my-dear me!” she answered (S. Leacock); “You had ”one over the eight”, as I believe the saying goes, and then you remained in your room the whole evening (J. Symons); “occasional conversive compound words”: “Go on, say I sandbagged you into it,” said Mrs. Tremaine (sand bag^sandbag (n) -^sandbag (v)) (J. Lindsay)

(Kveselevich 1985: 202-207). Moreover, the core of the last group can be represented by some phraseological units: “I promise you. I’ll Dutch- oyster the whole thing ...” (J. Galsworthy).

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