Barbarism (linguistics)

Barbarism (linguistics)

Barbarism refers to a non-standard word, expression or pronunciation in a language. [Usage note: the term "barbarism" is contrasted with "barbarity" as the two terms have different meaning. "Barbarism" specifically indicates a misuse of language, but also more generally indicates "culturally lacking in refinement or distinction." In contrast, "barbarity" indicates "a severity of cruelty or brutality" that is generally unacceptable among a civilized people. (See etymology note "infra").] The term is little used by linguists today, because of its pejorative tone, and the fact that it is not clearly defined.

The word "barbarism" was originally used by the Greeks for foreign terms used in their language. ("Barbarism" is related to the word "barbarian"; the ideophone "bar-bar-bar" was the Ancient Greek equivalent of modern English "blah-blah-blah", meant to sound like gibberish —hence the negative connotation of both "barbarian" and "barbarism"). [See "Barbarism" (etymology) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.] As such, Anglicisms in other languages, or Gallicisms (such as using the verb "to assist" to mean "to be present at", cf. the French "assister"), Germanisms, Hispanisms and so forth in English can also be construed as examples of barbarisms.

Note that a "barbarism" is an error of morphology, while a "solecism" is an error of syntax. [Livy's Patavinitas Kurt Latte "Classical Philology", Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jan., 1940), pp. 56-60]

List of common barbarisms in English

*"Aks" for "ask"
*"Comftable" for "comfortable"
*"Liberry" for "library"
*"Missippi" for "Mississippi"
*"Nucular" for "nuclear"
*"Probaly", "probly", or "prolly" for "probably"

Barbarisms in Russian language

In 18-19th centuries, the Russian language of noble classes was severely "barbarized" by French language. [Lev Uspensky, " [ A Word about Words] ", Ch. 8 ru icon] [Карский Е. Ф., О так называемых барбаризмах в русском языке (краткий отчёт Виленской 2 гимназии), Вильна, 1886:] During this period, speaking in French had become not only fashionable, it had become a distinction of a properly groomed person. One may see a prominent example of this in Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace". While the cream of the high society could afford themselves a genuine French "gouvernante" (au pair teacher), the provincial "upper class" had problems with this. Still, the desire to show off their education produced what Griboyedov in his "Woe from Wit" termed "the mixture of the tongues: French with Nizhegorodian" (смешенье языков: французского с нижегородским). The French-Nizhegorodian was often used for comical effect in literature and theatre.

ee also

*Fowler's Modern English Usage

Notes and references

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