Note on Archaism


Note on Archaism

Note on Archaism

Note on Archaism

Note on Archaism

‘Archaism’ is a term that means the use of words or phrases that have become out of date or old-fashioned. In any language the use of archaism is seen mainly in writing; not in speaking. Likewise, in the English language, archaic words or phrases are used when occasion needs or when an old-fashioned atmosphere is sought to be evoked.

But some English writers especially poets try to revive some archaic words through their writings. By the term ‘archaic’ in English we mean, especially the words or phrases used by English writers before the sixteenth century. Alexander Pope and his contemporaries made sparing use of archaism, but the contemporaries of Dr Johnson took shelter in the abundant use of archaic words because they turned their look back for inspiration. Spenser became their favourite poet and hence they adopted a great many of his words which had been long forgotten.

Among many, William Thomson is one in whose writings the archaic words and phrases have occupied a special status. His Hymn to May is full of such archaic words as: sheen (for shine), ne (for nor), been (for are), mead (for prize) etc.

Like Thomson, Gilbert West, another poet, also employed a number of archaic words in his writings, such as- sooth (for truth), prowess (for vigour), hight (for height) etc. But in favour of understanding, they had to explain those words to their readers.

In the 19th century Keats, Scott, Coleridge, Tennyson, and Morris, employed many archaic words which become familiar to modern readers and thus many old words have entered the Modern English Dictionary. Nowadays many English writers use many archaic words in order to impute highness in their poetry. But it is a matter of sorrow that the archaic words become objects of difficulty to readers who are not familiar with such words. In another hand, the use of archaic words may be called bliss in disguise because, in such a way, many out of dated words have got revival again and found their way into the modern vocabulary. 0 0 0

Note on Archaism

Read More: The History of -Ing’

N. B. This article entitled ‘Note on Archaism’ originally belongs to the book ‘A Brief History of the English Language‘ by Menonim Menonimus. Note on Archaism

Books on Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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