Библиографическое описание:

Крюкова Н. Н. Ways of formation and translation of occasional words in fiction [Текст] // Филология и лингвистика в современном обществе: материалы II междунар. науч. конф. (г. Москва, февраль 2014 г.). — М.: Буки-Веди, 2014. — С. 175-177.

The paper touches upon the issue of such linguistic phenomenon as occasional words. Particular attention is paid to their unique character, ways of formation and translation from the source language into the target language.

Key words: occasional words, source language, target language, stem composition, affixation, conversion, cluster, abridgment, transcription, transliteration, loan translation, descriptive translation.

The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with some information on author’s neologisms (occasional or nonce words) and ways of their translation.

Emotionality and expressiveness of fiction depends on those lexical means which an author chooses. Such an interesting phenomenon as occasional words refers to emotional-expressive vocabulary.

Language experts began to consider the problem of nonce words as a separate topic quite recently, probably, because of its anomality and contradictive nature, although different authors’ innovations have always been of great interest to many researchers.

For the theory of translation occasional words are absolutely attractive as they are extremely difficult to render from one language into another.

The term “occasional words” was firstly introduced by N. Feldman in his article “Occasional words and lexicography” in 1957, where he underlined the following thing:”There is close connection between short-lived words and the context which makes them appear, also be relevant and especially emphatic, but at the same time they can not exist independently from this very context” [2]. Otherwise speaking, occasional words are new words which do not apply to the usage and language tradition. They are created and live only in a certain context and out of it they are not reconstituted.

They are in one way or another the violation of grammatical, word-forming or lexical-semantic norms of the language, so-called incorrectness. But this incorrectness is justified, it has an organized character. Occasional words are the facts of speech but not language, they are opposed to usual words. As distinct from the latter ones they have their own authors.

Their specific character is that being a part of a particular case or speech situation such kind of words do not tend to find their permanent position in a language or in a dictionary and to become widely used. Hence, there is one more essential property of nonce words: they retain their originality and are perceived as new ones irrespective of their coinage period.

From the translation point of view we refer above-mentioned words to untranslatables, it means that occasional innovations are fresh emotional, expressive words which appeared in some language and which have a definite aim [4]. This very aim is to attract readers’ attention to various events. Very often readers can observe vagueness and hints in the speech of some characters. They become witnesses of free and spontaneous play of words which acquire inconceivable appearance (girlgold, stonehorned). Nonce words are distinctive small parts of word fabric a work of literature is woven of. With their help authors try to code but by no means decipher characters’ thoughts.

We should take into account that these words do not have their own counterparts in the target language. Apart from it, it is very hard to translate them. The point is that when rendering such words from one language into another a translator should do his best to maintain this expressiveness. That is the main challenge.

As a rule, new words appear in a language on the basis of already known words and morphemes. With the help of their analysis a translator can understand the meaning of nonce words. For this purpose it is necessary to know the ways of word-building in the English language. They are the following:

Stem composition — one of the most ancient broad-based methods of word-formation in the English language and is rather pointful to the present days. More than one third of all English innovations are compounds. The process of compounding is combination of two stems. The perfect examples of it are “star-run”, “hyperspace”, “back-life”.

Affixation is all-ground means of word-building which supposes joining some affix with a stem. Herewith, affixes, prefixes and suffixes may not only take different position in a word but may have diverse degree of independence. Word-forming suffixes as certain parts of speech are intimately connected with a stem while prefixes change mainly word semantics and are more independent as lexical units [3, p. 65–66].

To understand properly the meaning of such new words a translator should be aware of the major English affixes and should divide words into appropriate constituents.

Conversion is the functional transition of a word from one part of speech to another that is the usage of one and the same word as different parts of speech. However, some scientists (A. Smirnitsky, V. Yartseva) consider conversion to be the process of word-building when newly-formed words act as homonyms to their main bases but differ from them by paradigms. The example of converted occasional word can be “to planet”.

Phonetic occasional words are made from separate sounds or their unique combination. For instance: grok, slan, kzin. The meaning of such words can be derived only from the context.

Cluster (so-called inserted word-formation or telescopy) is comparatively ‘young’ way of words’ coinage. Unlike other ways, a word-forming unit here is not a stem but its optional fragment (sometimes it coincides with a stem in terms of its volume). Such fragment does not exist in the language but appears only in the moment of word’s creation. It explains the absence of a single model in blending.

Cluster is combination of either apocopic root of one word with the whole word or combination of two apocopic roots: organlegger (the word is created by Lary Niven from the following words — “organ” and “bootlegger” — a person who sells and kills people to get their inner organs).

Abridgment is cutting off some part of a stem which either coincides with the word or is word combination united by general meaning. For example: eetee (E.T.) — extraterrestrial. This occasional word has been used since 1956 to name aliens shortly.

It is a known fact that occasional words are creation of new meaning and new form which undoubtedly leads to some difficulties in translation.

As a rule, ways of occasional words’ translation are preconditioned by their form (for example: unwish, teleputers). Trying to explain new meanings translators take something known into consideration, namely, word-building model which is the basis for nonce words. They can divide a word into constituent elements and using grammatical meaning of a word parts presuppose the meaning of the whole word proceeding from its grammatical structure. However, it should be noticed that it concerns mainly occasional words having completely concise structure. More complex innovations stipulate various methods of translation.

The next methods of nonce words’ translation can be listed below:

Transcription and transliteration. These are so-called quasiuntranslatable methods of occasional words’ rendering. In this case the act of translation is replaced by the act of borrowing sound (in transcription) or graphical form (in transliteration) of a word together with the meaning from the source language into the target language. Nevertheless, untranslatability of this technique is only seeming: as a matter of fact, borrowing is made exactly for translation as a pivotal factor for its realization. The borrowed word becomes an integral part of the target language and serves as the synonym of the source language word. Transcription and transliteration are used when one has to maintain the lexical order of notation, accentuate singularity of some object or concept.

Loan translation takes the mediate position between fully translatable and untranslatable means of occasional words’ rendering. Its untranslatability shows keeping the inner form of the word unchanged. Loan translation suggests bilateral interlanguage correspondence between lexical items which function as a building block for reproduction of inner form of the word which is borrowed or translated [1].

Loan translation as the way of counterparts’ coinage is similar to word for word translation. The whole synonym appears from simple adding of its elements’ synonyms. Hence, loan translation is applicable only to compound nonce words. For instance, the word “precrime” consists of two elements — “pre” and “crime”.

Descriptive counterparts. Descriptive translation is an explanation of the English word’s meaning. There are two ways of above-mentioned translation. The word “humanoidist” can be translated into Russian with the help of transliteration (гуманоидист). Yet, such kind of translation does not provide the clear meaning of the word. In this case the most appropriate means of translation would be descriptive one (борец за права гуманоидов).

We call such example of descriptive translation explicative one because the essential elements of the word’s meaning are explained by the synonym in the target language. Explicative translation is closer to the interpretation of the word, none the less, it is translation and it is suitable in a definite text.

Another way of descriptive translation is substitution translation. It is the means of nonce word’s rendering when a word or a word combination of the target language with a very similar meaning is used [2]. In particular, the word “uplift” means attempts of any clever race to change genofond of animal species. It can be translated as возвышение”.

It must be admitted that if any of the above-named ways of nonce words’ translation are irrelevant we should use descriptive translation.

To sum up the chief points we may say that occasional words are exclusive speech phenomenon having the following characteristics: functional single-use, expressiveness, belonging to speech, dependence on a definite context, word-formative reproduction. Such words do not correspond to conventional language norms and they are determined by a specific context of usage. In the process of occasional words’ perception word-formative model, context and erudition of a receiver come particularly strongly. Occasional words are compound innovations, and in order to render them from one language into another we have to display all our creativity and make extraordinary decisions.


1.        Babenko, N. G. Occasional Words in Fiction. Structural-Semantic Analysis: tutorial/ N. G. Babenko. — Retrieved from http://www.gumer.info.

2.        Uvarov, V. E. Translation of Neologisms in English Economic Texts/ V. E. Uvarov. — Retrieved from http://www.ref.by.

3.        Chetina, M. M. English Occasional Words and Neologisms in Fiction and Peculiarities of Their Translation//VII Interuniversity Scientific Conference of Students-Philologists, April 12–16, 2004: Theses of reports/ M. M. Chetina. — St. Petersburg: Publishing house of St. Petersburg State University, 2004. — P.65–66.

4.        Chetina, M. M. New-Coined Words in Modern British-American Literature: Cognitive Aspect of Nonce-Words// IX International Scientific Conference, December 7–8, 2007: Theses of reports/ M. M. Chetina. — Retrieved from http:// elibrary.finec.ru.


Социальные комментарии Cackle