Describe Diction Essay

Describe Diction Essay-72
Literary criticism used to be, in great part, an attempt to define the distinctive character of “literary language.” The project preoccupied Russian Formalists and American New Critics, and dates back to the nineteenth century.

Literary criticism used to be, in great part, an attempt to define the distinctive character of “literary language.” The project preoccupied Russian Formalists and American New Critics, and dates back to the nineteenth century.

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The older part of the lexicon is more prominent in speech than in writing (as Bar-Ilan and Berman have shown), so it never declined in drama to the extent that it declined in prose.

When we initially explored the divergence of genres on we tried to show that the language of poetry and fiction became less like nonfiction prose, not just according to the particular metric described above (the ratio of pre- and post-twelfth-century words), but generally and absolutely.

As a result, the boundary between words with pre- and post-12th-century origins also tends to be a social distinction between relatively informal and learned/literate language.

This was true in the early modern period, and linguists Laly Bar-Ilan and Ruth A.

Those terms are used sparingly here, because the underlying social issue has less to do with nationality than with the divergent histories of spoken and written English.

Some Latin words, like “street” and “wall,” entered spoken English before the Norman invasion, and it has been more than a millenium since those “Latinate” words seemed recondite to anyone.This shift was not merely semantic: it tracked the emergence of new social distinctions between different kinds of status associated with literacy.The new, specifically aesthetic concept of literature supported a newly autonomous model of cultural distinction.As a result there was by the end of the nineteenth century a new, sharply marked distinction between literary and nonliterary diction: novels were using the older part of the lexicon at a rate almost double that of nonfiction prose.The question we are tracing is more commonly described as a tension between “Germanic” and “Latinate” diction.In each year, we have counted the number of words (tokens) that entered English before 1150, and divided it by the number of words that entered the language between 11.(We consider only the most common ten thousand words in the collection, and exclude function words: determiners, prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns.) Why do this? In English, etymology often has social implications, because the English language was for 200 years (1066-1250) almost exclusively spoken, while French was used for writing.But critics haven’t yet realized how concretely these new definitions of literature shaped writerly practice.From the middle of the eighteenth century through the end of the nineteenth, poetry, fiction, and drama acquired a new diction that dramatized the difference between literary cultivation and mere specialized learning.But it doesn’t make much difference whether we divide the lexicon by chronology or source language: the results are in practice similar.What does make a difference is the exclusion of function words.

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