Archaisms in literature — страница 7

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subject-predicative system. Love and duty reconcil’d by W. Congreve (late 17th c). Being come to the House, they carried him to his Bed, and hav­ing sent for Surgeons Aurelian rewarded and dismissed the Guard. He stay'd the dressing of Claudio's Wounds, which were many, though they hop'd none Mortal: and leaving him to his Rest, went to give Hippolito an Account of what had happened, whom he found with a Table before him, leaning upon both his Elbows, his Face covered with his Hands, and so motionless, that Aurelian concluded he was asleep; seeing several Papers lie before him, half written and blotted out again, he thought to steal softly to the Table, and discover what he had been employed about. Just as he reach'd forth his Hand to take up one of the Papers, Hippolito

started up so on the suddain, as surpriz'd Aurelian and made him leap back; Hippolito, on the oth­er hand, not supposing that any Body had been near him, was so disordered with the Appearance of a Man at his Elbow, (whom his Amaze­ment did not permit him to distinguish) that he leap'd hastily to his Sword, and in turning him about, overthrew the Stand and Can­dles. Here in this text we still observe the considerable remnants of German language influence – all the nouns are written with a capital latter. Verbal forms diverge from Modern English norms - being come instead of having come, clipping of the letter ‘e’ in the past form of regular verbs by means of apostrophizing etc. Comparing two texts, one – written approximately in 16th century and another – in

late 17th, I’ve made out that English has considerably changed during such a short period of time. It made a long way to its today’s analytical system. 3 Archaisms in literature and mass media Deliberate usage of archaisms Occasional archaism is always a fault, conscious or unconscious. There are, indeed, a few writers—Lamb is one of them—whose uncompromising terms, 'Love me, love my archaisms', are generally accepted; but they are taking risks that a novice will do well not to take. As to unconscious archaism, it might be thought that such a thing could scarcely exist: to employ unconsciously a word that has been familiar, and is so no longer, can happen to few. Yet charitable readers will believe that in the following sentence demiss has slipped unconsciously from a

learned pen: He perceived that the Liberal ministry had offended certain influential sections by appearing too demiss or too unenterprising in foreign affairs.—Bryce. The guilt of such peccadilloes as this may be said to vary inversely as the writer's erudition; for in this matter the learned may plead ignorance, where the novice knows too well what he is doing. It is conscious archaism that offends, above all the conscious archaisms of the illiterate: the historian's It should seem, even the essayist's You shall find, is less odious, though not less deliberate, than the ere, oft, aught, thereanent, I wot, I trow, and similar ornaments, with which amateurs are fond of tricking out their sentences. This is only natural. An educated writer's choice falls upon archaisms less

hackneyed than the amateur's; he uses them, too, with more discretion, limiting his favourites to a strict allowance, say, of once in three essays. The amateur indulges us with his whole repertoire in a single newspaper letter of twenty or thirty lines, and—what is worse—cannot live up to the splendours of which he is so lavish: charmed with the discovery of some antique order of words, he selects a modern slang phrase to operate upon; he begins a sentence with ofttimes, and ends it with a grammatical blunder; aspires to albeit, and achieves howbeit. This list begins with the educated specimens, but lower down the reader will find several instances of this fatal incongruity of style; fatal, because the culprit proves himself unworthy of what is worthless. For the vilest of

trite archaisms has this latent virtue, that it might be worse; to use it, and by using it to make it worse, is to court derision. A coiner or a smuggler shall get off tolerably well.—Lamb. The same circumstance may make one person laugh, which shall render another very serious.—Lamb. You shall hear the same persons say that George Barnwell is very natural, and Othello is very natural.—Lamb. Don Quixote shall last you a month for breakfast reading.—Spectator. Take them as they come, you shall find in the common people a surly indifference.—Emerson. The worst of making a mannerism of this shall is that, after the first two or three times, the reader is certain to see it coming; for its function is nearly always the same—to bring in illustrations of a point already laid