Archaisms in literature

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Content Introduction 1 General information about archaisms Archaisms Usage The process of words aging Alternative meanings Neologisms Retronym List of archaic English words and their modern equivalents 2 Analysis of ancient texts W. Shakespeare, Sonnet 2 “Love and duty reconcil’d” by W. Congreve 3 Archaisms in literature and mass media Deliberate usage of archaisms Commonly misused archaisms Conclusion References Introduction The word-stock of a language is in an increasing state of change. Words change their meaning and sometimes drop out of the language altogether. New words spring up and replace the old ones. Some words stay in the language a very long time and do not lose their faculty of gaining new meanings and becoming richer and richer polysemantically. Other

words live but a short time and are like bubbles on the surface of water — they disappear leaving no trace of their existence. In registering these processes the role of dictionaries can hardly be over-estimated. Dictionaries serve to retain this or that word in a language either as a relic of ancient times, where it lived and circulated, or as a still living unit of the system, though it may have lost some of its meanings. They may also preserve certain nonce-creations, which were never intended for general use. In every period in the development of a literary language one can find words which will show more or less apparent changes in their meaning or usage, from full vigour, through a moribund state, to death, i. e. complete disappearance of the unit from the language.

Usually we do not notice the change that takes place during our own time because it happens quite slowly. But if we take a look back over a considerable span of time, language change becomes more obvious. If we touch the problem of historical development we can not pass over in silence peculiarities of early English language, and comparison between initial and today’s English. Such line of investigation considers diachronic approach to the main question of this course work – archaisms in literature. It’s very important to reveal the notion of archaism, the sphere of usage, origin and many other essential components that are comprised by the word “Archaism”. Besides the direct investigation of archaisms I included information about neologisms, as contrary notion, and

also about retronyms. All the aspects stated above will be carefully investigated in this work; moreover there will be included olden text with and analysis of poetry. 1General information about archaisms Archaisms Archaisms are words which are no longer used in everyday speech, which have been ousted by their synonyms. Archaisms remain in the language, but they are used as stylistic devices to express solemnity. Most of these words are lexical archaisms and they are stylistic synonyms of words which ousted them from the neutral style. Some of them are: steed (horse), slay (kill), behold (see), perchance (perhaps), woe (sorrow) etc. An archaism can be a word, a phrase, or the use of spelling, letters, or syntax that have passed out of use. Because they are both uncommon and

dated, archaisms draw attention to themselves when used in general communication. Writers of historical novels, as well as historians and film makers, for example, do their best to represent time and culture accurately and avoid unintentional archaisms. Creating a fictional character from times past may require extensive research into and knowledge of archaisms. An example of a fairly common archaism involving spelling and letters is businesses that include Ye Olde in their name. The word Ye does not actually start with a y, as it may appear; it begins with the letter thorn which has passed out of use. Thorn was a letter used to spell the sound we now spell with the consonant digraph th. Hence, Ye is pronounced as and means the. Olde reflects a spelling from Middle English of the