GLOSSARY OF GRAMMATICAL, RHETORICAL, AND OTHER LANGUAGE-RELATED TERMS abbreviation. 1. A shortened form of a word or phrase, created by omitting certain letters or words <New York = N.Y.> <received = rec’d>, or by substituting a symbol for a word <and = &>. • Common types of abbreviations include contractions <you’d = you would>, clipped words (e.g., lab from laboratory), acronyms, and initialisms. See acronym; initialism; clipping. 2. The process of shortening a word or phrase by omitting or substituting letters. ablative case. See case. ablaut /ab-lowt/. The variation in the vowels of related words, usu. indicating a change in meaning or use. • This is typical of irregular verbs when they are conjugated <sing– sang–sung>. (See irregular verb under verb.) Ablaut may be a change in a vowel’s sound, or its omission, shortening, or lengthening. — Also termed gradation; vowel gradation. absolute, n. A word that ordinarily functions as a sentence in itself, or as the nucleus of a sentence, but not as a component within a clause <ouch> <hello> <yes>. absolute adjective. See uncomparable adjective under adjective. absolute comparative. See dangling comparative under comparative. absolute construction. A phrase grammatically independent of the rest of the sentence. • Such a construction functions as a sentence adverb or sentence modifier and may consist of (1) a nominative subject <They having gone out of their way to see the monument, the hosts knew that the tour shouldn’t be rushed>; (2) an infinitive phrase <To be honest, I didn’t like the cake much>; (3) a participial phrase with an express subject <The play having been produced, all that remained was to hope for positive reviews>; or (4) a prepositional phrase <In isolation, their actions might seem justified>. absolute degree. See degree. absolute form. A form of a possessive pronoun that stands alone without a noun <Mine is the one on the right> (mine being an absolute form) <This book is hers> (hers being an absolute form). — Also termed independent form. abstractitis. Undesirable lack of concreteness in writing; vapid airiness in style. • Sir Ernest Gowers, who seems to have invented the word in his second edition of H.W. Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1965), characterized and described overused abstract language as a disease (hence the suffix -itis). He noted that afflicted writers habitually use polysyllabic, abstract words, convoluted syntax, and circumlocutions because of cloudy thinking that gets worse with time, until neither readers nor the writer can tell what a sentence means. But abstractitis can be effectively used in contexts such as parody. George Orwell mocked the trend toward abstractitis by “translating” a passage from Ecclesiastes into “modern” English. The original, in Elizabethan English, read: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Orwell parodized it as “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.” abstract noun. See noun. academese /ә-kad-ә-meez/. The style typical of scholarly writing; esp., a mode of discourse that typifies the least appealing qualities of academic writing, namely, obscurity, pedantry, and pomposity. • Academese is characteristic of academicians who are writing for a highly specialized but limited audience, or who have a limited grasp of how to make their arguments clearly and succinctly. accent. 1. A distinctive set of pronunciation features that characterize a region or social group; a distinctive manner of utterance <a Boston accent>. Cf. dialect. 2. A special emphasis or stress placed on a particular syllable of a word <accent on the first syllable>. • The accent may shift when a word changes form. In photographer, the second syllable takes the accent. But in photographic, the accent shifts to the third syllable. 3. A diacritical mark (commonly ´) used in writing to show how a syllable should be stressed in pronunciation. acute accent. In pronunciation, a diacritical mark (´) indicating that the 877 letter or syllable is stressed or given a rising inflection. • In a loanword, esp. those from French, the mark also indicates that the final letter or syllable is not silent <flambé>. Both stress and a nonsilent final vowel are shown by the acute accents in résumé. See diacritical mark. grave accent. A diacritical mark (`) indicating a falling pitch on a vowel (as in the French père) or that a final syllable is pronounced separately (as in Shakespeare’s perturbèd spirit). • This mark most often appears in a word ending with -ed. It’s uncommon in prose, although it’s occasionally useful to distinguish an adjective (as in learnèd friend, meaning a well-educated lawyer) from a verb (the friend learned, meaning that a person acquired knowledge). See diacritical mark. accidence. 1. The field of grammar dealing with how word forms vary to express and distinguish number, case, person, mood, tense, and so on. • Affixes are one form of accidence. — Also termed inflectional morphology. See inflectional affix under affix. Cf. morphology; syntax. 2. The system of inflection in a language; specif., the set of inflections, esp. suffixes and prefixes, that distinguish grammatical categories and relationships. For instance, the suffix -ed often shows that a verb is in the past tense (as in jog–jogged), and the prefix uni- indicates that there is only one of something (as in unicycle). See inflection. accident. Grammar. A property attached to a word but not essential to it, as case, gender, or number. accismus /ak-siz-mәs/, n. Rhetoric. A feigned refusal of something ardently desired. • When people receive gifts or honors, they may use accismus by modestly declaring something like, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly accept this!” or “I’m flattered, but I’m really not worthy of the honor.” Political candidates and appointees sometimes engage in something like this tactic by declaring that they would really rather be doing something else than being involved in public life. accusative case. See objective case under case. acquisition. See language acquisition. acrolect /ak-roh-lekt/. The most prestigious variety of a particular language; a standard dialect. Cf. basilect. 878 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms acronym. 1. A word formed using the initials of a full name or phrase and spoken as a whole word. • For example, CALL is an acronym for Computer Assisted Language Learning. But not all acronyms are written with capital letters: laser is an acronym of light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. An acronym is a type of abbreviation. Cf. initialism. 2. Loosely, a word formed from the first few letters of a series of words (as in Benelux, from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). 3. Loosely, initialism. action verb. See verb. active voice. See voice. actor. The doer of an action. • Usually the actor is the subject and precedes the action. But in passive voice, the actor comes after it, usually in a prepositional phrase beginning with by. — Also termed agent. See active voice and passive voice under voice. acute accent. See accent. additive coordinating conjunction. See copulative conjunction under conjunction. adjectival /a-jik-ti-vәl/, adj. Of, relating to, or having the import of an adjective. adjectival clause. See clause. adjectival phrase. See phrase. adjective. A word or phrase that describes or qualifies a noun or pronoun. • An adjective is usually placed before the noun it modifies <a blue lamp>, though sometimes it comes after the noun <court-martial>, or predicatively after a verb, such as a beverb <It is hot> or a verb expressing a sense <The water looks choppy>. An adjective can also complement a noun <The options make the car expensive>. Many adjectives have a distinctive suffix such as -able <commendable>, -al <frontal>, -ary <legendary>, -en <golden>, -ful <helpful>, -ible <possible>, -ic <prolific>, -ish <squeamish>, -ive <preventive>, -less <pointless>, -like <rocklike>, -ous <tremendous>, -some <wholesome>, and -y <windy>. Most adjectives have three forms: positive <skillful>, comparative <more skillful>, and superlative <most skillful>. See prepositive; postpositive. absolute adjective. See uncomparable adjective. attributive adjective. A usu. descriptive adjective that precedes the noun it qualifies or modifies; an adjective within a noun phrase <a golden thread> <the tattered envelope>. compound adjective. 1. An adjective formed from two or more conjoined words <bedridden> <hardscrab- ble> <roughhewn>. 2. See phrasal adjective. coordinate adjective. An adjective that appears in a sequence with one or more related adjectives to modify the same noun. • The adjectives are separated by a comma or joined by and <calm, understanding manner> <a highly skilled and longtime employee>. definitive adjective. An adjective that limits a noun by specifying “which one” or “how many”; an adjective that quantifies an exact or definite number <four people> <the first three editions> <He gave a fourth example>. • Definitive adjectives include ordinal and cardinal numbers <first class> <five toes>, definite and indefinite articles <the photograph> <a photograph>, and words such as many, much, and some <some keys won’t work>. Other types of adjectives, including demonstrative adjectives such as this and those <those wands in the cabinet> and possessive adjectives <my cast-iron skillet>, may function as definitive adjectives. See demonstrative adjective; possessive adjective. Cf. determiner. demonstrative adjective. An adjective that modifies a noun merely by pointing to it, as opposed to describing it <this jewel>; an adjective that points to an antecedent. • The demonstrative adjectives are this, that (singular); these, those (plural); and such (preferably meaning “of that kind” and not “the very one just mentioned”) <Such pages should be put into that pile over there>. See definitive adjective. descriptive adjective. An adjective that defines the quality, type, or condition of something <positive outlook> <dry, hard soil> <nervous witness>. distributive adjective. A type of adjective that qualifies a noun as one of a group <each person> <neither player>. indefinite adjective. An indefinite pronoun used attributively for an indefinite number or quality of persons or things; an adjective that is the same as an indefinite pronoun in form but that modifies a noun <any college> <other people> <many years> <another day>. • Among the indefinite adjectives are another, any, both, each, either, neither, one, other, and some <Both arguments are debated> <She interviewed other candidates>. interrogative adjective. The interrogative pronoun what, which, or whose when used as a determiner to pose a question or to identify a particular noun or noun phrase. • An interrogative adjective is identical in form to its corresponding interrogative pronoun, but the pronoun stands alone whereas the adjective is coupled with a noun or phrase. For example, what is an interrogative pronoun in What do you want? and an interrogative adjective in What color are the tomatoes? irregular adjective. An adjective that has comparative and superlative forms that are not formed by the normal rules <good–better–best> <bad–worse–worst>. nongradable adjective. See uncomparable adjective. phrasal adjective. A phrase that functions as a unit to modify a noun <the no-service-can-be-declined policy> <high-school cheerleader>. • With rare exceptions, phrasal adjectives are hyphenated. — Also termed compound modifier; compound adjective; unit modifier. possessive adjective. An adjective that denotes ownership or possession and modifies a noun or noun phrase. • In form, a possessive adjective appears similar to a possessive pronoun, but possessive adjectives cannot stand alone. For instance, in response to the question, Whose car is parked in the driveway?, you could use the possessive pronoun mine <It’s mine> or the possessive adjective my plus the noun <It’s my car>. The possessive adjectives are my, your, his, her, its, our, your, and their. See definitive adjective. predicate adjective. An adjective that modifies the subject, but comes after a linking verb and is not followed by a noun <Vanya seems happy>. — Also termed predicative adjective. predicative adjective. See predicate adjective. pronominal adjective /proh-nomә-nәl/, n. A pronoun—other than a personal pronoun, who, or none— that modifies a noun <my> <your> <his> <her>. • A pronominal adjective specifies a person, place, or thing. For example, in his choice, the pronoun his functions as an adjective and identifies who has the choice. — Also termed adjective pronoun. proper adjective. An adjective that is derived from a proper noun and begins with a capital letter <American history> <the London Underground>. qualitative adjective. A gradable adjective identifying a quality of a noun; specif., an adjective that tells Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 879 what type, kind, class, or feature applies to a noun it modifies <tall cabinet> <green grass>. quantitative adjective. An adjective that defines the quantity or order of a noun <First Amendment> <few leaders>. relative adjective. An adjective that has the form of a relative pronoun but that qualifies a noun and introduces a relative clause; specif., an adjective introducing an adjectival clause or a noun clause <without checking who was at the door> <in late winter, by which time the snow will be deep>. • The relative adjectives are which, that, who, whom, whose, and where <He knew which way to go> <the writer whose book I read>. uncomparable adjective. An adjective that defines a state or condition that cannot be intensified or diminished because it is absolute; an adjective that denotes a quality that cannot be graded <unique> <unanimous>. — Also termed absolute adjective; nongradable adjective. adjective clause. See clause. adjective complement. See complement. adjective phrase. See phrase. adjective pronoun. See pronoun. adjunct. 1. In some grammatical systems, an adverb that adds detail to the action denoted by the verb, specifying such ideas as time <yesterday> <tomorrow> <nowadays>, place <abroad> <here> <upstairs>, manner <well> <swiftly> <sluggishly>, and extent <partly> <wholly> <mostly>. Cf. conjunct; disjunct; subjunct. 2. A word or group of words having secondary importance in a phrase or sentence. — Also termed (in sense 2) circumstance. adnomination /ad-nom-i-nay-shәn/, n. Punning; paronomasia. adoxography /ad-ahk-sahg-rә-fee/, n. Brilliant, elevated writing about a base, stultifying subject. adverb. A word that modifies a verb <She wrote quickly>, an adjective <a very kind gesture>, or another adverb <uttered quite thoughtfully>, by expressing time, place, manner, degree, cause, or the like. • It is often distinguished by the suffix -ly and typically refers to the circumstances or way in which an action occurs. Like adjectives, adverbs have three forms: positive <skillfully>, comparative <more skillfully>, and superlative <most skillfully>. Adverbs traditionally fall into five categories: (1) adverbs of place or motion, such as here, there, up, down; (2) adverbs of time, such as now, then, sometimes, never, always, often, ever; (3) adverbs of manner or quality, such as so, well, entirely, fully, sincerely; (4) adverbs of measure or degree, such as less, much, more, enough, sufficiently; and (5) adverbs of modality, such as certainly, not, maybe, perhaps, therefore. bare adverb. See flat adverb. conjunctive adverb. An adverb (such as therefore and whenever) indicating a logical relationship between two clauses; specif., a connective word that combines the functions of a conjunction and an adverb by connecting two clauses while also qualifying a verb. • For example, in the sentence <I don’t know when the concert is supposed to begin>, when qualifies the verb phrase is supposed to begin. A conjunctive adverb can have relative or interrogative force. — Also termed connective adverb; adverbial conjunction; illative conjunction; introductory adverb; relative adverb. connective adverb. See conjunctive adverb. consequential adverb. An adverb denoting inference, conclusion, or result. flat adverb. An adverb that has the same form as its corresponding adjective <hard> <fast>. • Compare the examples Go slow and Go slowly, either of which is permissible (one with a flat adverb and one a normal -ly adverb. — Also termed bare adverb. introductory adverb. See conjunctive adverb. locative adverb. An adverb that indicates place or direction <The car moved forward>. numeric adverb. An adverb indicating order or position <He played first>. relative adverb. See conjunctive adverb. sentence adverb. An adverb that modifies an entire independent clause, often connecting a sentence with the preceding one <fortunately> <moreover>. simple adverb. A single-word adverb that qualifies a single part of speech <hardly visible> <entering now>. adverb complement. See complement. adverbial, adj. Of, relating to, or functioning as an adverb. adverbial clause. See clause. adverbial conjunction. See conjunction. adverbial objective. A noun in an adverbial position after a verbal <He works nights>. adverbial phrase. See phrase. adversative /ad-vәr-sә-tiv/, adj. 1. Expressing contrast, antithesis, or opposition <Although we were late for the wedding, we had to stop for gas> (the adversative although shows that the dependent clause it introduces was a hindrance to the action in the independent clause). • In professional writing, the most common adversative word is the sentence-starting But. 2. disjunctive. — adversative, n. adversative conjunction. See conjunction. affirmative. (Of a clause or phrase) positive, without any markers for negation. affix, n. One or more letters or syllables attached to the beginning or end of a word, or inserted within a word, to modify the word’s meaning; a bound morpheme attached to a root. See infix; prefix; suffix; synthetic language. derivational affix. An affix that, when added to a root, changes its part of speech. inflectional affix. An affix that conveys grammatical information and does not change the root’s part of speech. agency comparative. See dangling comparative under comparative. agent. See actor. agent noun. See noun. agglutination /ә-gloo-tә-nay-shәn/. 1. The process of compounding or combining several words into a single word, with minor or no changes to the forms or meanings of the constituent words. 2. The addition of a suffix to a root to denote the word’s grammatical function. 3. The addition of affixes to a word’s root. • The affixes produce new words with various functions. In some languages, especially some Native American languages, a word that has undergone agglutination may serve as a sentence. agreement. The matching of words or word classes in terms of number (singular or plural), gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter), and person (first, second, or third). — Also termed concord; congruence. See concord. formal agreement. The conventional matching of nouns, demonstratives, personal pronouns, and verbs to mark them as singular or plural, as animate or inanimate, and as first-, second-, or third-person references <That sailor has made his bed> <Those sailors have made their beds>. notional agreement. The matching of nouns and verbs according to sense as opposed to conventional grammar 880 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms <A number of people were [not was] there>. See synesis. proximity agreement. The mismatching of a verb with a noun that intervenes between the grammatical subject and the verb and that differs in number from that subject <The state of the Olympic Games were [read was] uncertain>. Cf. false attraction. alliteration. Rhetoric. The repetition of a sound or letter at the beginning of consecutive or nearby words <a maker and model of melodious verse> <Her robe was ringed with rich, red ribbons>. • Alliteration can help make something memorable, but it can also look artificial or careless in prose. It is typically used in elevated oratory and in poetry. See euphony. Cf. assonance; consonance. — alliterative, adj. allomorph. A variation on a morpheme. • Only the sound of the morpheme changes, not the meaning. For example, the morpheme -ed indicates that a verb is in past tense. But it is not pronounced the same each time it appears. For example, it is /әd/ in scolded, but /d/ in farmed, and /t/ in finished. See morpheme. allophone /al-ә-fohn/. A variation of a phoneme that is spelled the same but pronounced differently. • For instance, the k in kit is aspirated, but the k in skit is not; in these words, the k is an allophone of the phoneme k. See phoneme. allusion /a-loo-zhәn/. A brief, usu. indirect reference to something or someone. • An allusion is effective only when the reader is familiar with the reference. Stating that someone is “as tightfisted as Scrooge” presumes that the reader knows the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol. alphabetism. See initialism. altiloquent /al-til-ә-kwent/, adj. Pompous; highfalutin; high-sounding. — altiloquence, n. ambages /am-bә-jiz/, n. Indirections of speech; language characterized by quibbles, ambiguities, and circumlocutions <The weird sisters of Shakespeare’s Macbeth are constantly mouthing ambages>. • Although the singular ambage exists, the plural form is customary. ambiguity. 1. Uncertainty of meaning; the state of being equivocal or otherwise obscure. 2. Language that can be reasonably interpreted in two or more ways; a linguistic structure that is susceptible of more than one meaning. • A single word may be ambiguous if it has several meanings and the context does not make it clear what meaning applies. The statement pain-relieving medicines are sold by frightening people is ambiguous because frightening might mean “scary” or “putting fear into.” — ambiguous, adj. grammatical ambiguity. An ambiguity that results when a noun or noun phrase can be interpreted as having more than one grammatical role <The lamb is ready to eat> (meaning either that the meat is well cooked or that the animal is ready for feeding). grouping ambiguity. An ambiguity that results when adjacent words can be grouped in different ways to impart different meanings <We decided on the airplane> (meaning either we decided while on the airplane or we chose the airplane). lexical ambiguity. An ambiguity that results when a word has more than one plausible meaning in a sentence <That house is cold> (meaning either that the temperature is too low or that the feeling is artificial and unwelcoming). linguistic ambiguity. Ambiguity in which an entire sentence may have more than one interpretation <Visiting relatives can be fun> (meaning either it is fun to visit relatives or it is fun to have relatives visit). modification ambiguity. Ambiguity that results when a modifier can be interpreted as describing more than one part of the sentence <We looked at the huge president’s portrait> (What was huge? The president? The portrait?). structural ambiguity. Ambiguity that results from different possible analyses of grammatical structure <She can’t bear children> (meaning either that she dislikes children or that she cannot give birth to a child). amelioration. See melioration. amphibology /am-fi-bahl-ә-jee/, adj. 1. The use of an ambiguous statement. 2. The ambiguous statement itself. — Also termed amphiboly. amphiboly. See amphibology. amphigory /am-fi-gor-ee/, n. Nonsensical writing; a meaningless composition that has the semblance of sense. — amphigoric, adj. ampollosity /am-pә-lahs-i-tee/, n. A bombastic, inflated prose style. anacoluthon /a-nә-kә-loo-thon or -thәn/. Rhetoric. A construction in which grammatical cohesion is lacking within a sentence, characterized by a change from one grammatical form to another, disharmonious form. • An anacoluthon usually occurs when the speaker suddenly changes the thought or point of view <He was warned that he had to shape up or what could he expect to happen?>. Sometimes it occurs as an instance of aposiopesis to heighten the rhetorical effect <If I don’t find my keys in the next ten minutes—well, you don’t want to know what will happen!>. See aposiopesis. anadiplosis /an-ә-di-ploh-sis/. Rhetoric. The repetition of a key word in consecutive clauses or sentences, appearing esp. at the end of one and the beginning of the next <It all comes down to money—money we don’t have>. • Francis Bacon (1561–1626) used this device when he wrote, “Men in great places are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business.” — Also termed epanastrophe. analogy /ә-nal-ә-jee/. 1. Rhetoric. The comparison of two different things by pointing out correspondences, usu. several of them, esp. to augment conceptual clarity. 2. Philology. The influence of the general pattern of a language (e.g., a plural ending in -s) to make an individual item (such as woman) conform to the pattern (making the plural form womans). • Analogy is often at work in children’s speech (e.g., That stinked!) until the children master irregular forms. Sometimes analogy arises well past the stage of children’s speech. Although dive and drive are similar in appearance, Standard English inflects them differently (dive–dived–dived vs. drive–drove–driven). Through analogy, dove is often used as the past tense of dive. (Yet nobody says, “I’ve diven in that pool before!”) analytic language. Grammar. 1. A language in which every word has only one form and syntactical relationships such as tense, case, and number are shown by function words and word-order. • Context and pragmatic considerations are essential for understanding the meanings of words and sentences in analytic languages. A word or syllable may express a certain concept when it stands alone but express something else when combined with another. Chinese and Vietnamese are analytic languages. To some degree, English is also an analytic language. — Also termed isolating language. Cf. synthetic language. 2. More loosely, a language that depends more on wordorder than on inflections to indicate grammatical relationships, as English differentiates between “Man eats fish” and “Fish eats man.” ananym /an-ә-nim/, n. A name written backward (as with Renrag for Garner, or Retsle for Elster). Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 881 anaphora /ә-na-for-ә/. 1. Rhetoric. The emphatic repetition of a sound, word, or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses, verses, or sentences. • Martin Luther King’s repetition of I have a dream in his most famous speech is a kind of largescale anaphora. — Also termed epanaphora; epibole. — anaphoric, adj. See symploce. Cf. cataphora; epistrophe. • • • Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20) The heart of an Irishman is by nature bold, and he confides; it is tender, and he loves; it is generous, and he gives; it is social, and he is hospitable. (John Philpot Curran [1750–1817]) We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. (Winston Churchill [1874–1965]) 2. Grammar. The use of a word that refers to or substitutes for a word or group of words <Here are some books; read one>. anaphoric /an-ә-for-ik/, adj. 1. Of or relating to anaphora. See anaphora. 2. Of, relating to, or denoting reference to a preceding word or group of words. Cf. cataphoric. anaptotic, adj. (Of a language) characterized by deterioration and loss of inflected terms, as in English. anaptyxis /an-ap-tik-sis/, n. Vowel epenthesis; the insertion of a superfluous vowel into the middle of a word or phrase <ellum> <thataway>. See epenthesis. anastrophe /ә-nas-trә-fee/. 1. Rhetoric. An inversion of the usual order of words in a sentence <Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown> <echoed the hills>. • This device is most common in poetry. For example, T.S. Eliot used it in “The Journey of the Magi” (1927): the ways deep and the weather sharp. Anastrophe is sometimes seen in literary prose, too. See inversion. 2. metathesis. Anglo-Saxon. See old english. animate, adj. (Of an entity) conscious and able to act of its own will, or at least perceived as being able to do so. • In Indo-European languages (the family from which English descends), nouns were classified as animate (usu. referring to living creatures but also to some nonliving things) and inanimate (usu. referring to immobile things, esp. ones that were never alive). In many languages, animate nouns were later subdivided into masculine and feminine genders, and inanimate nouns were assigned neuter gender. See feminine gender, masculine gender, and neuter gender under gender. Cf. inanimate. animate noun. See noun. antanaclasis /ant-ә-nak-lә-sis/. Rhetoric. 1. A rhetorical tactic whereby a word or phrase appears twice in the same statement but in different senses <The lot I chose for my house is a lot bigger than I’d realized>. • Vince Lombardi (1913–1970) used this device when he said, “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” Cf. zeugma. 2. The repetition of a word or phrase after a parenthesis <I was saying—before I was so gently interrupted—I was saying how glad I am to be here>. antanagoge /ant-ә-nag-ә-jee/, n. See tu quoque. antecedent. A noun or noun phrase to which a personal pronoun, a relative pronoun, or a pointing word refers. • The antecedent must agree in number with the referring word. In although Alan left on time, he arrived late, the singular masculine Alan is the antecedent with which the pronoun he agrees. And in there were a dozen pictures to choose from, and those three are the best, the plural pictures is the antecedent of those. See pointing word under word; relative clause under clause. Cf. pronoun. antepenult /an-tee-pi-nәlt/. The third from the last syllable of a word. Cf. penult. anthimeria. See functional shift. anthorism /an-thә-riz-әm/, n. Rhetoric. A counterdefinition; a rhetorical technique of redefining something differently from how one’s adversary has defined it. anthypophora /an-thi-pahf-ә-rә/, n. Rhetoric. A rhetorical tactic of refuting an objection with a contrary inference or allegation <My opponent says that grammar is difficult to learn. That is so. But its uses are infinite.>. anticlimax. Rhetoric. A sudden transition from a substantive or significant idea to one that is nonsensical or trivial, esp. after building up the importance of something. antimetabole /an-tee-mә-tab-ә-lee/. Rhetoric. An inversion of the same words or ideas, usu. with a clever, ironic, or profound twist <a wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits (Alexander Pope [1688–1744]> <Never kiss a fool, and never let a fool kiss you>. See antistrophe. antiphrasis /an-tif-rә-sis/. Rhetoric. The use of a word in a sense opposite to its established one. • For example, in teenage slang and some dialectal varieties of English, He’s bad! Real bad! can mean “He’s good.” — antiphrastic, adj. antistrophe /an-tis-trә-fee/. Rhetoric. The repetition of words in a transposed order; a reversal of the order of repeated words or phrases <the student of the professor and the professor of the student> <Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country (President John F. Kennedy [1917–1963])>. — Also termed antimetabole. — antistrophal, adj. antithesis. Rhetoric. The placement of contrasting or opposing ideas in a parallel construction <The prodigal robs his heir, as the miser robs himself>. • Examples: • • • Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar) To err is human, to forgive divine. (Alexander Pope [1688–1744]) Taste consists in the power of judging, genius in the power of execution. Taste appreciates; genius creates. (George Campbell [1719–1796]) antonomasia /an-ton-ә-may-zhә/. Rhetoric. 1. The use of a proper noun in place of a common noun, as when a traitor is called an Arnold, a speaker a Demosthenes, a lawmaker a Solon, or a patriot a Washington. 2. The use of an epithet or official title instead of a person’s proper name (as in Mr. Chief Justice for Chief Justice John Roberts). antonym. A term with a meaning directly opposed to another, with which it can be paired by way of contrast; an opposite. • Many antonyms, such as white–black; slow–fast, are very different in appearance. But many words become antonyms of themselves by the addition of a negative prefix such as in-, non-, or un- <capable–incapable> <entity– nonentity> <happy–unhappy>. Cf. synonym. aorist /ay-ә-rist/, n. In Greek grammar, the simple past tense without limitations of aspect (e.g., completion or continuation) belonging to other past-tense forms. • The aorist corresponds to the simple past tense of English, as in He sang. apagoge /ap-ә-goh-jee/, n. Logic & Rhetoric. Indirect proof; an argument based on establishing the contrary of a thesis to be impossible or absurd. — apagogic, adj. aphaeresis /ә-fer-ә-sis/. The dropping of a word’s unaccented initial letter 882 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms or syllable, as in coon for raccoon, mid for amid, possum for opossum, and squire for esquire. • This commonly occurs in speech (as when because becomes ’cause, and especially becomes ’specially) and in some types of writing, such as poetry (as when it was becomes ’twas). Some names undergo aphaeresis (e.g., Bert, Gene, Rita, Trina, Zandra). — Also spelled apheresis. — Also termed front-cut. — aphaeretic, adj. aphasia /ә-fay-zhә/, n. The loss or impairment of the ability to use or understand language. — aphasic /ә-fay-zik/, adj. apheresis. See aphaeresis. aphesis /af-ә-sis/. The gradual loss of a short, unaccented vowel that begins a word. • Aphesis is a common type of aphaeresis—it might be termed historical aphaeresis. For example, the word esquire evolved into squire. — aphetic /ә-fet-ik/, adj. — aphetize, vb. aphetism /af-ә-tiz-әm/. An aphetized word; a form resulting from the loss of a weak initial vowel (e.g., possum from opossum). aphthong /af-thong/, n. One or more letters that are customarily silent in the pronunciation of a word <in good speech, the t in often is an aphthong>. • Examples: the first d in Wednesday /wenz-dee or wenz-day/, the p in psychology /si-kahl-ә-jee/, the p in pterodactyl /ter-ә-dak-til/, the th in isthmus /is-mәs/, and the ue in tongue /tung/. apocope /ә-pah-kә-pee/. The loss of the final sound, syllable, or letter in a word. • Quite a few English words have resulted from apocope, among them cinema (from cinematograph) and photo (from photograph). Names often undergo apocope (e.g., Barb, Ben, Deb, Steph, Theo, Vince). — Also termed end-cut. — apocopate, adj. — apocopate, vb. See hyphaeresis. Cf. clipping. apodosis /ә-pahd-ә-sәs/. In a conditional sentence, the clause containing the consequence or result. • The apodosis is not always the last clause as in if you want to have a picnic, we’ll have to go to the market; it may be the first. In you can return the jacket if it isn’t the right color, the apodosis is you can return the jacket because that clause states the consequence of the mismatch. — Also termed consequence clause; consequent; conclusion. See protasis. apophasis /ә-pahf-ә-sis/. Rhetoric. The denial of an intention to mention something even while mentioning it <I won’t even mention the fact that local and state officials failed to do their jobs>. • Several set phrases in our language signal apophasis, such as not to mention and to say nothing of. Cf. paraleipsis. aporia /ә-pohr-ee-ә/, n. Rhetoric. 1. The suggestion or profession of uncertainty about how to begin, what to say, or what course to take <This may not be the best choice of words, but . . . >. 2. An equivalency of reasons for and against a proposition. aposiopesis /ap-ә-si-ә-pee-sis/. The leaving of a sentence unfinished as a result of some powerfully intruding emotion or perception; esp., the breaking off of a thought as if from an inability or unwillingness to complete the sentence. Examples: • • Ye winds, whom I—but it is better to calm the billows. (Virgil [70 b.c.–19 b.c.]) I admit you are right. I myself . . . You see, a person I knew used to divide people into three categories: those who prefer nothing to hide rather than being obliged to lie, those who prefer lying to having nothing to hide, and finally those who like both lying and the hidden. (Albert Camus [1913–1960]) apostrophe /ә-pahs-trә-fee/. 1. Rhetoric. The act or an instance of addressing an absent or dead person, or an abstract idea or imaginary object <Death, be not proud>. 2. The mark [’], which indicates (1) the omission of one or more letters <can’t>, (2) the possessive case <Caroline’s book>, or (3) the plural of a letter or abbreviation <mind your p’s and q’s>. — apostrophize, vb. greengrocer’s apostrophe. British English. An apostrophe mistakenly placed before a plural s (as in orange’s or tomato’s). • Occasionally, the term refers to other blunders, such as the supposed plural asparagu’s. — Also written (appropriately enough, there is no agreement on the point) greengrocers’ apostrophe. appellative /ә-pel-ә-tiv/, n. A name, esp. a common noun for a class of things. apposition, n. 1. The use of an adjunct word or phrase beside a principal word or phrase for reasons of identification, explanation, or commentary; esp., the setting of a noun or noun phrase beside another noun or noun phrase in a synonymous or identifying way, usu. with the force of a condensed clause <Margaret, his mother, . . .>. 2. The relation of such an adjunct word or phrase to the principal word or phrase. appositive, n. A word, phrase, or clause that follows another and gives more information about its predecessor; one used in apposition to another <Edward, King of England> <the river Thames>. • For example, in My friend Leslie will visit in April, the name Leslie is an appositive to My friend; it is not set off by commas because it is restrictive (the speaker has more than one friend). In Mel Brooks, the writer and comedian, took a cabana just beside ours, the phrase the writer and comedian is an appositive to Mel Brooks; it is set off by commas because it is nonrestrictive. appositive relative clause. See nonrestrictive relative clause under clause. aptote /ap-toht/, n. In Greek grammar, an undeclinable noun; a noun that does not change its form depending on its case. See monoptote. Cf. diptote; triptote. archaism /ahr-kay-iz-әm/. 1. An oldfashioned or quaint word, phrase, or style. 2. The revival of obsolete or obsolescent words to achieve some special literary effect. argot /ar-gәt or ar-goh/. A secret language or dialect that is unique to a certain group within a society. • The term often has a pejorative taint, since argot is especially associated with people in lower social strata or regard, such as thieves or hobos. Originally, the term denoted language used for purposes of disguise or concealment. — Also termed cant. See dialect. Cf. jargon. argument. 1. A statement or series of statements calculated to persuade or convince. 2. A disagreement or dispute, esp. a heated one. 3. Linguistics. The complement of a verb (as, e.g., subject, direct object, or indirect object). • A verb must have at least one argument, because the argument distinguishes the verb grammatically. An intransitive verb requires only one argument, the subject <Paul writes and Dianne paints> <He laughed heartily>. A transitive verb needs at least two, the subject and a direct object, perhaps also an indirect object <The catcher dropped the ball> <You should send him a gift>. arrestive, adj. (Of a conjunction such as but) tending to arrest. article. A word such as a, an, or the, used before a word to limit it or to make it more or less definite; a limiting adjective that precedes a noun or noun phrase and determines the noun or phrase’s use to indicate something definite (the) or indefinite (a or an). • An article might stand alone or be used with other adjectives (as in a road vs. a brick road vs. the yellowbrick road). Articles are also called determiners because they restrict or specify a noun in some way. Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 883 definite article. The word the. • It refers to a particular person or thing that (1) is understood without additional description (e.g., the flowers are here is a shortened form of the flowers you ordered from Ecuador are here); (2) is a thing that is about to be described <the hotel on Congress Street>; or (3) is important <the big one>. • The definite article can be used to refer to a group <the basketball team> or, in some circumstances, a plural <The ideas just kept flowing>. indefinite article. The word a or an. • Each of these points to a nonspecific object, thing, or person that is not distinguished from the other members of a class. These things may be singular <a city in Texas>, or uncountable <a horde>, or generalized <a notion of truth>. A and an can’t be used with plural nouns. Euphony governs which one should be used in speech and writing. If a word’s first letter sounds like a consonant, use a <a unicycle> <a hammer>. If it’s a vowel sound, use an <an unusual place> <an hour>. See euphony. zero article. An article that is implicitly present, usu. before a mass or plural noun <The salespeople refolded shirts that shoppers had tried on> (the is implicit before shirts). articulation. Phonetics. 1. The use of movements of the organs of speech to produce sound. 2. The resulting sound or utterance; esp., a consonant that affects syllabic division. ascensive. See intensive. aspect. A feature of a verb marked by an auxiliary form, changes in an internal vowel, or the addition or subtraction of an affix to express the duration and type of activity that a verb denotes. — aspectual, adj. See mood; tense; voice; form. aorist aspect. A verb aspect that expresses past action as having occurred at some indefinite time, without implication of continuance or repetition. • This term is primarily used in reference to Greek and Sanskrit grammar. — Also termed punctual aspect; momentaneous aspect. continuous aspect. See progressive aspect. durative aspect. See progressive aspect. frequentative aspect /free-kwen-tәtiv/. A verb aspect expressing frequent recurrence or intensity of an action, state, or situation. • Unlike other languages, Standard English has no inflected forms for this purpose. But -le is a frequentative particle (e.g., in chuckle, fizzle, and sparkle). — Also termed iterative. imperfective aspect. A verb aspect that expresses action as (1) incomplete (or having no reference to completion), (2) continuing, or (3) repetitive <Thelma was singing>. iterative aspect. A verb aspect that expresses action as being repeated several times. momentaneous aspect. A verb aspect that expresses action as having been begun and terminated in an instant. — Also termed aorist aspect; punctual aspect. perfective aspect. A verb aspect that expresses action as complete—or implies that it is so <Juan has collected seven witness statements>. progressive aspect. A verb aspect (formed with a be-verb plus the main verb’s present participle) showing that an action or state—past, present, or future—was, is, or will be unfinished at the time referred to. • For example, I’m cooking dinner is a current unfinished action. And in I was reading a book when the package came, reading was an unfinished action at the time the event took place. — Also termed continuous aspect; durative aspect. See main verb under verb; participle. punctual aspect. See aorist aspect; momentaneous aspect. aspirate /as-pә-rәt/, n. 1. A consonant that is articulated (h in half ) or followed (p in poo) by a puff of air. 2. The sound of the letter h. • Uneducated speakers of English in Great Britain often drop their aitches and are sometimes said to be weak in their aspirates. — aspirate /as-pәrayt/, vb. aspiration. An articulated sound that consists of a puff of breath, such as the h-sound in how or the slight puff following the p-sound in pot. Cf. allophone. assimilation. Phonetics. The influence of one sound on another that results in the two becoming more similar or even identical. • The word assimilate itself derives from Latin ad-similo, commission derives from L. con-missio, correlative derives from L. con-relativus, irrelevant derives from L. in-relevant, etc. In grandma, the -nd- is assimilated to the following -m-, hence the pronunciation /gram-mә or gram-maw/. assonance. The close resemblance or correspondence between vowel sounds in different syllables or words (e.g., dimwit’s inhibition); the repetition of a sound, esp. a vowel sound, in adjoining or nearby words. • In My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins used assonance (a long a sound) as part of Eliza Doolittle’s speech lessons: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” Often assonance consists of imperfect or partial rhymes—that is, a repetition of vowel sounds with different consonant sounds, as in lady and baby, golden and molten, squealing and bleating, and penitent and reticent. Cf. alliteration; consonance. asteism /as-tee-iz-әm/, n. Rhetoric. Politely clever mockery. • The garrulous brother of the taciturn Holy Roman Emperor Charles V once tried to cajole Charles into dinner conversation. Charles used asteism when he replied, “What need that brother, since you have words enough for us both.” asyndeton /ә-sin-dә-ton/. Rhetoric. The omission of conjunctions that normally join coordinate words, phrases, or clauses in a list. • Many great speakers have used asyndeton to produce memorable statements (e.g., Abraham Lincoln’s declaration in the Gettysburg Address, “But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.”). Cf. polysyndeton. atonic /ay-ton-ik or ә-ton-ik/, adj. (Of a syllable or word) unaccented <an atonic vowel>. attraction. See false attraction. attribute /at-tri-byoot/, n. A word or phrase that functions adjectivally; an adjective. attributive /ә-trib-yә-tiv/, adj. Functioning as an adjective; specif., of, relating to, expressing, or having the nature of an attribute <an attributive noun>. • An attributive adjective directly precedes the noun it modifies (for instance, the word lovely in lovely day). See attributive noun under noun. attributive adjective. See adjective. attributive noun. See noun. augmentative. See intensive. aureate diction. 1. The use of unusual words, usu. those borrowed from Latin or Greek, as a conscious stylistic flourish. 2. The words used for that purpose. • During the Renaissance, influential writers introduced many words, often based on Latin or Greek, into English. Aureate diction was considered a mark of erudition. Among the now-familiar words that first appeared in the Renaissance are alienate (from Latin), catastrophe (from Greek), encylopedia (from Latin & Greek), jocular (from French), vacuum (from Latin), and virus (from Latin). — Also termed aureate language. Cf. inkhornism. 884 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms autological, adj. (Of a modifying word) having the property denoted. • An autological word describes itself. Examples include polysyllabic (it has multiple syllables), lexiphanic (it’s an ostentatious word), sesquipedalian (it’s a long word), and small (it has only one syllable and five letters). Cf. heterological. auxesis /awk-see-sәs/. Rhetoric. The use of a high-sounding word instead of a plain word to exaggerate the importance of something <Multitudinous rationales are extant for incorporating a prolegomenon (= There are many reasons for including a preface)>. • This is a type of hyperbole. — auxetic /awk-set-ik/, adj. See hyperbole. auxiliary verb. See verb. back-formation. A word formed from another word that is erroneously thought to be a derivative; the creation of a wrongly supposed original form by subtracting a supposed affix from what appears to be a derivative (as with administrate from administration, liaise from liaison, or typewrite from typewriter). • Some back-formations become standard because no convenient word expresses the same meaning. For instance, the noun sculptor appeared in English in the early 17th century. The verb sculpt was derived from it almost two centuries later (possibly using the pattern of act/actor). But most back-formations are awkward and unnecessarily displace shorter established words. For example, the verb orient predates its derivative noun orientation by almost a century and is still in common use; the verb orientate was derived from orientation almost 50 years later. badinage /bad-[ә]-nahzh/. Playful banter. Cf. persiflage. bahuvrihi /ba-hyoo-vree-hee/, adj. [Sanskrit “having much rice”] 1. (Of a compound word) composed of an adjective plus a noun <redhead> <lazybones> <high-potency>. Cf. karmadharaya. 2. Forming a compound that is a part of speech different from its head <childless> <lice-ridden>. — bahuvrihi, n. barbarize /bar-bә-riz/, vb. 1. To speak or write like a barbarian. 2. To violate grammatical rules. bare adverb. See flat adverb under adverb. bare infinitive. See infinitive. base, n. See root. base form. The simplest uninflected variant of a morpheme. See morpheme. Basic English. A simplified version of the English language consisting of only 850 words and intended as a medium of international communication. • C.K. Ogden of Cambridge invented the system in the 1920s and wrote about it in such books as Basic English (1930). In this name, the word Basic was intended as an acronym for British American Scientific International Commercial (English). — Often shortened to Basic. basilect /baz-i-lekt or bas-i-lekt/, n. The least prestigious variety of a language; the lowest form of a language, typically spoken by the least well-educated members of society. — basilectal, adj. Cf. acrolect. bathos /bay-thahs/, n. Rhetoric. A humorous descent from the sublime to the commonplace. — bathetic /bә-thet-ik/, adj. battology /ba-tahl-ә-jee/, n. 1. Idle talk; babbling. 2. Needless repetition of words or ideas; tiresome repetitiousness. — battological, adj. — battologist, n. be-verb. See verb. bidialectal /bi-di-ә-lek-tәl/, adj. 1. (Of a person) conversant in two dialects of a language, usu. the standard form and one other. 2. (Of a speech community or teaching environment) using two linguistic varieties at different times, usu. the standard form and one other. bilingual /bi-lin-gwәl/, adj. 1. (Of a person) fluent or competent in two languages. 2. (Of inscriptions, government instructions, ballots, etc.) written in two parallel versions with different languages. 3. (Of an educational regime) involving instruction in two different languages. 4. (Of a region) having a population among which two languages are commonly spoken. bilingualism /bi-lin-gwә-liz-әm/, n. 1. The ability to use two languages; the habitual use of two languages. 2. The doctrine that promotes bilingual education. 3. The coexistence of two official languages within a given polity, as both French and English are used in Canada. billingsgate /bil-ingz-gayt/. Coarse and abusive language. • Originally, the term referred to the type of language one heard at the fish market formerly located in the Billingsgate area of London. blend. A word derived by combining portions of two other words and retaining some of each word’s essence. • Blends are relatively common in English. For example, we have scurry from scatter and hurry, and smog from smoke and fog. — Also termed portmanteau word. bloviate /bloh-vee-ayt/, vb. To speak garrulously, usu. with inflated rhetoric. — bloviation, n. bound morpheme. See morpheme. brachylogy /bra-kil-ә-jee/. 1. Brevity; conciseness; condensed expression. 2. An expression in which one or more words essential to the grammar has been omitted. break Priscian’s head. To violate the rules of grammar. • In the 6th century, Priscian [a.d. 500] wrote an 18volume Latin grammar that was copied by almost every library in Europe and influenced writers for several centuries. He is reputed to have been so devoted to the study of grammar that making an error in his presence hurt him as much as a blow to the head. breve /breev or brev/. In pronunciation, a diacritical mark (˘) indicating that a vowel is short or unstressed. • For example, the mark shows that the vowel sound in bet is the short eh (/bět/). And in the pronunciation for cooperate, it indicates that the identical adjacent letters are not pronounced alike (/kōŏpәrāt/). The straight mark is a macron. See diacritical mark. Cf. macron. buried verb. See verb. by-form. A word that has an alternative form that is similar but less common <spelled–spelt> <apothegm– apophthegm>. • By-forms may have the same or nearly the same meanings unless they’ve undergone differentiation. See differentiation; needless variant. cacoepy /kak-ә-wә-pee or kә-koh-әpee/. Bad or incorrect pronunciation. Cf. orthoepy. cacoethes loquendi /kak-ә-wee-theez loh-kwen-di/. A mania for talking; esp., a morbid desire for gossip or speechmaking. cacoethes scribendi /kak-ә-wee-theez skri-ben-di/. A mania for writing; specif., a morbid desire for authorship. • The term derives from the satires of the Roman poet Juvenal (ca. a.d. 55–127). cacography /kә-kahg-rә-fee/, n. Bad writing; esp., poor spelling. — cacographic /kak-ә-graf-ik/, adj. cacology /kә-kahl-ә-jee/, n. 1. A bad use of words. 2. Vicious mispronunciation. caconym /kak-ә-nim/. An objectionable name or inappropriate term; esp., a term that violates the rules of a system for naming and should therefore not be used as a technical designation (for a start-up company, a newly discovered star, a newly developed drug, etc.). Cf. euonym. cacophony /kә-kahf-ә-nee/. Rhetoric. An unpleasant or dissonant coupling Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 885 of words; esp., harsh-sounding words; a harsh combination of sounds. Cf. euphony. cacozeal /kak-ә-zeel/. Inferior imitation in literary composition; an absurd affectation of writing. calque /kalk/. See loan translation. cant. See argot. cardinal number. A number denoting quantity rather than place in a sequence (e.g., three French hens). Cf. ordinal number. caritative. See hypocoristic. case. 1. A grammatical category for the inflection of nouns and pronouns to indicate their function in a sentence; a noun or pronoun’s change in form as a result of its change in function. • Nouns have two cases: common and possessive. Pronouns have three: nominative, objective, and possessive. (See declension.) Some older grammars, modeled on Latin grammars, recognized five cases: nominative (or subjective), genitive (or possessive), dative, accusative (or objective), and vocative. But modern grammarians have long held that clarity of analysis is gained by recognizing no more cases than the language’s inflectional system demands. 2. In an analytic language, as opposed to a synthetic one, the relation that a noun, adjective, or pronoun bears to some other word in the sentence—as opposed to its change in form. ablative case. A grammatical case that exists in Latin and certain other Indo-European languages, but not in English, to mark a noun as carrying the sense “by, with, or from” with it. • Among the ablative phrases that English has borrowed from Latin are ipso facto (= by the very nature of the case) and mutatis mutandis (= with the necessary changes having been made). accusative case. See objective case. common case. The case of a noun that retains the same form whether it functions as a subject, direct object, or indirect object; esp., the uninflected form of a noun or pronoun, as distinct from its genitive or possessive form. • In English, all nouns have the common case. Some grammarians say that they have no case at all. dative case. In some Indo-European languages, a case denoting the indirect object of a verb—that is, to whom or for whom we do a thing <Give the book to James>, or to which or for which we do a thing <Build a house for Jill>. The preposition is often omitted <Give me one good reason>. genitive case. The case used to show a thing’s source (as in the car’s exhaust), a trait or characteristic (as in women’s intuition), or possession or ownership (as in our new house). • In English, the genitive case is identical to the possessive case. With animate nouns, the genitive is generally indicated through inflection—the addition of -’s for a singular (e.g., boy’s) or -s’ for a plural (e.g., boys’). With inanimate nouns, the of-genitive is most common (e.g., the purpose of the remark). nominative case. The case for the subject of a sentence. • English nouns do not use inflections to show the nominative case, but languages such as Latin and Russian do. — Also termed subjective case. objective case. The noun and pronoun case denoting either (1) the person or thing acted on by a verb in the active voice <The computer contains the file> ( file is objective); or (2) the person or thing related to another element by a connective, such as a preposition <Slip the disk under the door> (under is a preposition, door is objective) <By whom was this done?> (by is a preposition, whom is objective). — Also termed accusative case. oblique case. Any case of a noun or pronoun other than the common case or the nominative case. possessive case. The noun and pronoun case denoting possession or ownership. • The possessive case is reflected in nouns by inflection (’s or s’) or by the periphrastic form [noun + of the + noun]. For example, in Rachel’s desk, the apostrophe-plus-s shows that Rachel’s is possessive; in the money is theirs, the form theirs is possessive. subjective case. See nominative case. catachresis /kat-ә-kree-sis/. Rhetoric. 1. The mistaken use of a word or phrase for another that is similar but does not have the same meaning. • Using luxurious (= elegant) for luxuriant (= profuse) is an example of catachresis. See malapropism. 2. The strained use of a word or phrase without concern for its accepted sense, as occurs in a mixed metaphor. • It is sometimes used for rhetorical effect. In his farewell address, General Douglas MacArthur undoubtedly puzzled many listeners when he said, “I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear.” 3. Any forced use of a word. 4. The use of a word falsely formed through folk etymology. See folk etymology. — catachrestic, adj. cataphora /kә-taf-ә-rә/. Rhetoric. The use of a substitute to refer to or stand for a later word or phrase <Although it might be a good investment, the stock is too expensive> (the pronoun it having no antecedent but instead referring to stock, which occurs later in the sentence). Cf. anaphora. cataphoric /kat-ә-for-ik/, adj. Of, relating to, or denoting reference to a word or group of words occurring later in the sentence. Cf. anaphoric. catastasis /kә-tas-tә-sis/, n. The part of a speech, toward the beginning, in which the speaker sets forth the subject of discussion. catenative verb. See verb. causerie /kohz-ree or koh-zә-ree/. An informal article, essay, or talk, usu. one of a series on a literary subject. cedilla /sә-dil-ә/. In some Romance languages (e.g., French and Portuguese), a diacritical mark that appears under the letter c to indicate that the letter is pronounced softly as an s rather than hard as a k. • Most loanwords used in English that had cedillas are now usually spelled without <soupçon–soupcon> <garçon– garcon> <façade–facade>. See diacritical mark. cheville /shә-veel/. A repeated or meaningless word or phrase used to fill out the end of a sentence when euphony or balance with other sentences is desired. • The device is often used in poetry, as in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky: “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” (in Through the Looking Glass 24 [1871; repr. 1993]). chiasmus /ki-az-mәs/. Rhetoric. The arrangement of adjoining parallel clauses or phrases with inverted wordorder <I do not live that I may eat, but I eat that I may live>. • Normally, parallel clauses have an “a-b-a-b” arrangement. In a chiasmus, the order becomes “a-b-b-a.” — chiastic, adj. • • • The children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. (2 Corinthians 12:14) To Adam paradise was a home; to the good among his descendants, home is a paradise. (Julius Hare [1795–1855]) Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always. (General Douglas MacArthur ) choplogic. 1. Contentious, complicated, and often illogical or false argument based on trivial points. • Shakespeare used the word effectively in both senses in Romeo and Juliet (Act 3, scene 5). When Juliet’s father announces he has chosen a husband for Juliet and she argues with him, her father dismisses her and her arguments as “choplogic.” 2. One who makes such an argument. circumflect, vb. To mark with the diacritical mark known as a circumflex. See circumflex. 886 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms circumflex. 1. A diacritical mark (ˆ) used over a vowel in a French word to show that a following s was elided <hospital–hôpital>. • Although French loanwords with circumflexes (such as hôtel) were used in the 19th century, the mark is uncommon today because so many loanwords have become naturalized. An exception is fête. It retains the circumflex in British English, but in American English it is a variant spelling of fete. See diacritical mark. 2. An accent or tone of voice in which a higher or acute tone is followed by a lower or grave tone within a single syllable. circumlocution /sәr-kәm-loh-kyooshәn/. Roundabout speech or language, or the use of many words where one or two would suffice. — circumlocutory /sәr-kәm-lok-yәtohr-ee/, adj. circumstance. See adjunct. clausal /klaw-zәl/, adj. Of, relating to, or consisting of a clause. • The word dates from the early 20th century. Cf. phrasal. clause. A sentence part that contains a subject and verb. • While a clause has two essential elements (subject and predicate), a phrase consists of a group of two or more words not containing both of those elements. See phrase; word. adjectival clause. A dependent clause that is used to expand a noun or noun phrase <She was delighted with the letter that informed her of her admission to college> <The evening when we arrived was eerily foggy>. — Also termed adjective clause. Cf. relative clause. adverbial clause. A clause that indicates time, place, manner, degree, cause, or the like. • An adverbial clause can modify an adjective, an adverb, or a verb in the independent clause <I came as soon as I knew you’d arrived> <I went to see the spot where we met> <Because you were still sleeping, I waited before I started practicing my flute>. In the category of adverbial clauses some grammarians include (1) tag questions <He didn’t go to the movie, did he?>, (2) interjected clauses <The dog, he has declared, must be fed promptly at 3:00 pm>, and (3) dependent clauses introduced by such words as whoever and whichever <Whenever the play begins, the children will settle down>. appositive relative clause. See nonrestrictive relative clause. comparative clause. A clause containing (and usu. introduced by) a comparative conjunction. See comparative conjunction under conjunction. conditional clause. See protasis. consequence clause. See apodosis. coordinate clauses. The individual clauses of a compound sentence, or the independent clauses of a compound–complex sentence; specif., clauses of the same rank. defining relative clause. See restrictive relative clause. dependent clause. A clause that, because it does not express a complete idea, must be joined with an independent clause to make sense, typically by a subordinating conjunction such as before, though, or when. • For example, in the sentence I left after the mail arrived, the clause following after is dependent. And in I learned to drive when I was 16, the clause beginning with when is subordinate. Dependent clauses may function as nouns <That I am interested should be obvious>, adjectives <Caroline, who had never before been deep-sea fishing, caught a shark>, or adverbs <Because Alexandra scored two points, the family celebrated>. — Also termed subordinate clause; subclause. See subordinating conjunction under conjunction. Cf. independent clause. elliptical clause. A clause in which some of the words have been omitted as being understood <When [you are] hitting a golf ball, focus on just one “swing thought”>. embedded clause. A sentence that changes into a relative clause when combined with another sentence. • For example, the sentences The boy is defending the goal well. The boy is my son. can be combined into The boy who is defending the goal so well is my son. The relative clause who is defending the goal so well was derived from the first sentence. independent clause. A clause that can stand alone as a complete sentence. • For example, in the sentence I was present when the teacher walked in, the clause I was present could stand alone. — Also termed main clause; principal clause; matrix clause; superordinate clause. Cf. dependent clause. main clause. See independent clause. matrix clause. See independent clause. nominal clause. A dependent clause that functions as a noun or noun phrase. • Nominal clauses may begin with an interrogative (such as who, when, how) or a conjunction (such as that, if, which). For example, in the sentence I couldn’t imagine who would send an invitation, the nominal clause who would send an invitation functions as the direct object. And in The fact that he confessed is in his favor, the nominal clause that he confessed is an appositive of the fact. Nominal clauses aren’t as syntactically malleable as nouns because they have no plural form and can’t take all the determiners and complements that a noun can. — Also termed noun clause. nondefining relative clause. See nonrestrictive relative clause. nonrestrictive relative clause. A clause beginning with which, who, or whose and adding nonessential information about the noun it modifies; a relative clause that narrows and identifies the head phrase. • The clause is always set off by commas <My aunt, who published a book recently, will be lecturing tonight>, and could be omitted without affecting the sentence’s meaning (in the preceding example, My aunt is the subject of the complete sentence and the who-clause adds nonessential information). — Also termed nondefining relative clause; appositive relative clause. noun clause. See nominal clause. principal clause. See independent clause. reduced relative clause. A relative clause that has lost either a relative pronoun plus a be-verb or an object relative pronoun. relative clause. A dependent clause that modifies an antecedent and is most often expressly introduced by a relative pronoun such as which, who, whose, or that. See antecedent. restrictive relative clause. A clause beginning with that, who, or whose that contains essential information about the noun or noun phrase it modifies; a relative clause that gives additional information about a head that has already been identified. • It is never set off with commas. If the clause was deleted, the meaning of the sentence would be affected. Compare The room that I slept in was tastefully decorated with The room was tastefully decorated. The restrictive relative clause that I slept in identifies a particular room. A restrictive clause never begins with which. — Also termed defining relative clause. subordinate clause. See dependent clause. superordinate clause. See independent clause. cledonism /klee-dә-niz-әm/, n. The practice of using euphemisms; the avoidance of seemingly ominous words. Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 887 cleft construction. See cleft sentence under sentence. cleft sentence. See sentence. cliché. A trite or hackneyed phrase that has been repeated so often as to have become meaningless. • Clichés can also be irritating. Consider this passage: We chased a red herring and got the wool pulled over our eyes. Few writers can turn one to effective use, although it can be done <let him who has never used a cliché cast the first stone> <football is a game of inches>. Avoid them. See figure of speech; set phrase. Cf. idiom. climax. Rhetoric. The presentation of ideas or propositions so that each successive one is more forceful than the one preceding it—as in Caesar’s I came; I saw; I conquered. clipping. The process by which a word is shortened to produce a new word with the same meaning. • Clippings are abundant in English. For instance, auto comes from automobile, fax from facsimile transmission, and fridge from refrigerator. Cf. apocope. clitic /klit-ik/. An unstressed word that is pronounced and sometimes written as part of a neighboring word, often in contracted form (e.g., sanserif when so spelled, instead of sans serif ). • Although it is an independent word, it forms a phonological unit with the words that follow or precede it. There are two types of clitics: enclitics and proclitics. See enclitic; proclitic. closed syllable. See syllable. cognate /kahg-nayt/, adj. 1. (Of two or more languages) descended from the same original language; belonging to the same linguistic family. 2. (Of two or more words) deriving from the same root; representing the same original word, though having differences because of separate phonetic development <provenance is cognate with provenience>. cognate, n. 1. A word related to another by common origin, such as provenance (from French) and provenience (from Latin). 2. A related word in a different language, as French père and Spanish padre. • The English word mother, the German Mutter, and the Latin mater all have the same meaning, similar forms, and a common origin. It is possible to trace commonality of origin back much further than Classical Latin or Classical Greek and to say that brotherly and fatherly are cognates because they derive from the same Indo-European root. 3. Phonetics. A sound that is formed in the same place of articulation as another, such as p, b, and m (each formed with the lips). — cognate, adj. cognate object. See object. collective noun. See noun. collocation /kol-oh-kay-shәn/, n. 1. A customary phrasing; the habitual pairing of one word with others. 2. A group of words habitually grouped together in a particular order. colloquial, adj. (Of language) informal; conversational. • Although traditionally the word applied to everyday words not thought to be admissible in formal settings, today—in what in some ways is a more relaxed age— colloquial language is considered one of the hallmarks of an effective style. The word colloquial is often misunderstood to be equivalent to vulgar, low, or incorrect. In fact, it describes words and phrases that rightly and frequently occur in ordinary conversation. common, adj. 1. Of or relating to the individuals that make up a class or the species that make up a genus. 2. (Of a word) applicable to individuals of either sex <spouse> <humans>. See epicene. common case. See case. common gender. See gender. common noun. See noun. comparative, adj. Of or relating to a derived form of an adjective or adverb used, in the comparison of one thing to another, to show a higher degree of a quality or characteristic. See degree. comparative, n. 1. The middle of three degrees of comparison for gradable adjectives and adverbs, showing that something has more of a quality than something else to which it is compared; the form of an adjective or adverb used to compare two things. • A comparative adjective or adverb is usually signaled by an -er suffix or by more or less. For example, better is the comparative of good; more refreshingly is the comparative of refreshingly. A comparative adjective compares a specified quality possessed by two things (e.g., in Weekday newspapers are lighter than the Sunday edition, the adjective lighter is comparative). A comparative adverb compares a specified action or condition common to two things (e.g., in Lady Katherine speaks more eloquently than Ron does, the adverbial phrase more eloquently is a comparative). — Also termed comparative degree. See adjective; adverb; degree. Cf. positive; superlative. 2. A wording that implies comparison; esp., a statement that denotes a higher degree of a quality, relation, etc., from belonging to one object or set of objects as compared with another. dangling comparative. An unfinished comparative that does not state the criterion or referent of the comparison <We work harder!> (than whom?). — Also termed agency comparative; absolute comparative; hanging comparative; unfinished comparative. double comparative. A nonstandard construction such as more better or more higher. Cf. double superlative under superlative. periphrastic comparative. A comparative adjective or adverb that changes degree by taking more or less, esp. when a one-word form ending in -er is available. comparative clause. See clause. comparative conjunction. See conjunction. comparative degree. See comparative. comparative linguistics. See linguistics. complement. 1. A word or group of words completing a grammatical construction in the predicate and describing or being identified with the subject or object (e.g., long in The paragraph is long). 2. Any word or group of words that completes a grammatical construction, esp. in the predicate. • In sense 2, a complement may be an adverbial (e.g., the car in He left it in the car), an infinitive (e.g., to go in They wanted to go), or an object (e.g., the ball in She hit the ball). adjective complement. 1. An adjective that completes a clause after a linking verb such as appear, become, grow, prove, seem, etc. <Bob looks healthy>; a complement consisting of an adjective or adjective phrase. • As with a subject complement, the adjective complement modifies the subject <We are alone> <The water level is much higher>. 2. An element following an adjective in an adjective phrase and completing the meaning of the adjective <a healthy complexion>. — Also termed adjectival complement. adverb complement. An element following an adverb in an adverbial phrase and completing the meaning of the adverb <“Nonsense!” he furiously insisted> (in which insisted is the adverb complement). — Also termed adverbial complement. object complement. A complement that follows a linking verb and modifies or completes the sentence’s object. • Generally, a verb expressing a perception, judgment, or change can allow its direct object to take an object complement: I saw the driver sleeping. The object and its 888 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms complement can be rewritten as a sentence with a subject complement: The driver was sleeping. prepositional complement. A complement that is linked to the verb by a preposition <I wandered around the shops and along the streets>. subject complement. A complement that follows a linking verb and modifies or completes the sentence’s predicate; specif., a noun or an adjective that modifies the subject of a sentence, after a linking verb, and completes the sentence. • For example, in the statement the grass becomes greener in spring, the complement refers to the subject grass, not the linking verb becomes, and completes the grass’s description. complementary infinitive. See infinitive. complete predicate. See predicate. complete subject. See subject. complex–compound sentence. See compound–complex sentence under sentence. complex preposition. See phrasal preposition under preposition. complex sentence. See sentence. complex tense. See tense. composition. 1. The art of arranging words into sentences, of sentences into paragraphs, and of paragraphs into various types of discourse. 2. The production of written work. 3. The combination of two or more words into a compound word. compound. A grammatical unit composed of several independent elements. See compound word under word. compound adjective. See phrasal adjective under adjective. compound–complex sentence. See sentence. compound conjunction. See conjunction. compound indefinite pronoun. See pronoun. compound modifier. See phrasal adjective under adjective. compound negation. See negation (1). compound noun. See noun. compound personal pronoun. See pronoun. compound predicate. See predicate. compound preposition. See preposition. compound relative pronoun. See pronoun. compound sentence. See sentence. compound subject. See subject. compound word. See word. concessive, adj. (Of a preposition or conjunction) denoting a word, phrase, or clause that signals a reversal of an idea, opinion, viewpoint, or the like (e.g., introduced by although, even though, in spite of ). conclusion. See apodosis. concord. A grammatical relationship in which related parts of speech correspond in features such as number, gender, and person <I was> <you were> <they were>. • A subject and its verb must agree in person and number. A pronoun and its antecedent must agree in number, person, gender, and (sometimes, with linking verbs) case. — Also termed agreement. See also gender; singular; person. concrete noun. See noun. conditional clause. See clause. conditional conjunction. See conjunction. conditional sentence. See sentence. congruence. See agreement. conjugate /kon-jә-gayt/. To inflect (a verb) according to voice, mood, tense, number, and person. — conjugate /kon-jә-gәt/, adj. conjugation. 1. The changing of a verb’s forms to show voice, mood, tense, number, and person. 2. A list of a verb’s inflectional forms. • In some traditional grammars, the term conjugation applied not just to inflection but also to various sets of verb phrases— hence not just rings and rang but also will ring, has rung, had rung, and will have rung. This broader interpretation of conjugation was a holdover of Latin grammars. 3. A class of verbs similarly conjugated <Latin verbs of the second conjugation>. conjunct. In some grammatical systems, an adverb that connects one sentence or clause with another by expressing addition (e.g., and as a sentence-starter), contrast (e.g., but as a sentence-starter), or the like. • Although traditional grammarians use the term conjunction to cover both midsentence ands and sentencestarting ands, some modern grammarians call the former conjunctions and the latter conjuncts. Cf. adjunct; disjunct; subjunct. conjunction. A particle (such as and, or, or since) that joins words, phrases, clauses, or sentences, and that indicates their relationship to one another. additive coordinating conjunction. See copulative conjunction. adverbial conjunction. See conjunctive adverb under adverb. adversative conjunction /ad-vәr-sәtiv/. A conjunction that introduces a contrast or comparison to the first phrase or clause, e.g., but, still, and yet <The roof and the walls are finished, yet there is a lot of inside work to do>. — Also termed contrasting coordinating conjunction. comparative conjunction. A conjunction that expresses equality or difference of degree <as . . . as> <as if> <just as . . . , so . . .> <than>. See comparative clause under clause. compound conjunction. A conjunction formed from the combination of two or more words, such as nevertheless and notwithstanding. conditional conjunction. A conjunction that expresses contingency or some other condition <if> <unless>. contrasting coordinating conjunction. See adversative conjunction. coordinate conjunction. See coordinating conjunction. coordinating conjunction. A conjunction that joins two elements of identical construction and of equal grammatical rank, such as and <Tom and I are going> or or <She is deciding whether to fly or drive>. — Also termed coordinate conjunction; coordinator. copulative conjunction /kahp-yәlә-tiv or kahp-yә-lay-tiv/. A conjunction that joins two coordinate phrases or clauses <and> <also>; esp., one that states an additional fact related to the first clause, e.g., and, also, and moreover <She is an excellent swimmer; moreover, she knows CPR>. — Also termed additive coordinating conjunction. correlative conjunctions /kә-rel-әtiv/. Conjunctions that function as separable compound forms, occur in pairs, and have corresponding meanings <both . . . and> <either . . . or> <neither . . . nor>. disguised conjunction. A conjunction that has the form of a participle but is used to introduce clauses (e.g., considering, regarding, and supposing). disjunctive conjunction /dis-jәnk-tiv/. A conjunction that expresses opposed or contrasting ideas; esp., one that denotes separation from or an alternative to the first phrase or clause. • Examples are but, either, or, and nor. — Also termed separative coordinating conjunction. expletive conjunction /eks-plә-tiv/. A conjunction connecting two thoughts that are not expressed in the same sentence. • The conjunction refers back to a preceding thought or sentence (e.g., So in So they say and thus in May it always be thus). final conjunction. A coordinating conjunction that denotes an inference or consequence. • It introduces a clause that gives a reason or shows what has been or ought to be done in view of the first clause (e.g., consequently, hence, so, and therefore <I misread the map, hence my Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 889 wrong turn>). — Also termed illative conjunction. illative conjunction /il-ә-tiv or i-laytiv/. 1. See final conjunction. 2. See conjunctive adverb under adverb. separative coordinating conjunction. See disjunctive conjunction. simple conjunction. A single-word conjunction such as and, but, if, or, or through. subordinating conjunction. A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause. — Also termed subordinator. See dependent clause under clause. conjunctive /kәn-jәnk-tiv/, adj. Serving to connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences. Cf. disjunctive. conjunctive adverb. See adverb. connecting verb. See linking verb under verb. connective, n. A word that connects one sentence-part to another; specif., a conjunction, preposition, or conjunctive adverb. connective adverb. See conjunctive adverb under adverb. connotation. Secondary meaning implied by a word or phrase, though not part of its literal meaning; semantic suggestiveness. • For example, the word fire has emotional associations with both “warmth” and “danger,” depending on the context. Cf. denotation. consequence clause. See apodosis. consequent. See apodosis. consequential adverb. See adverb. consonance. The repetition of a consonant sound in stressed syllables of two or more words <Catch and fetch, my dear pooch!>. • Consonance denotes especially the harmony of final consonant sounds, with unlike vowel sounds, as in pull and call, black and fleck, or come and home. Cf. alliteration; assonance. consonant. 1. One of a class of speech sounds (such as g, l, n, and s) that are enunciated by constricting or closing one or more points of the breath channel; a letter that represents such a sound (such as g, l, n, and s). See phoneme. 2. An alphabetic element other than a vowel. Cf. semivowel; vowel. constative /kon-stә-tiv/, adj. 1. Of or relating to the aorist tense. 2. (Of a statement) capable of being true or false. constituent. A sequence of words grouped together and functioning as a grammatical unit. constructio ad sensum /kәn-strәkshee-oh ad sen-sәm/. See synesis. construction. 1. The syntactic arrangement of words in a sentence. 2. The connection between verbs and their objects or complements, between adjectives and their extensions, between prepositions and their objects. 3. The explanation or interpretation of a statement or text; sense. construe /kәn-stroo/, vb. 1. To combine a verb, adjective, preposition, or other word with other words to which it is syntactically related <oblivious may be construed with of or to>. 2. To analyze or explain the grammatical construction of a sentence. 3. (Of a series of words) to be subject to grammatical analysis or interpretation. 4. To explain the meaning of (a sentence, text, etc.); to interpret. content word. A word that has intrinsic meaning in a lexicon. Cf. empty word. continuant. See fricative. continuous aspect. See progressive aspect under aspect. contraction. 1. The combining of two words into one by shortening either or both of the words or by replacing letters with a symbol. • In Standard English, many contractions consist of a verb + not, such as when do not becomes don’t and will not becomes won’t. Auxiliaries often appear in contractions after personal pronouns <I’ve> <you’d> <mustn’t>. 2. Any word resulting from such a combination. contrasting coordinating conjunction. See adversative conjunction under conjunction. conversion. See functional shift. coordinate, adj. Having the same order or rank with something else; equal in degree or importance <coordinate clauses>. Cf. subordinate. coordinate adjective. See adjective. coordinate clauses. See clause. coordinate conjunction. See coordinating conjunction under conjunction. coordinating conjunction. See conjunction. coordination. The process or result of linking two parts of speech of equal status by using coordinating conjunctions. • Only words in the same class (e.g., nouns or verbs) can be properly coordinated <cup and glass> <run and jump>—not words in different classes <beautiful and oversee>. See coordinating conjunction under conjunction. coprolalia /kahp-roh-layl-yә/, n. The use of extremely coarse or disgusting language, esp. as a result of a mental disorder. copula. The part of a proposition that connects the subject and the verb; esp., a be-verb employed as a sign of predication. — copulative, adj. See linking verb under verb. copular verb. See linking verb under verb. copulative conjunction. See conjunction. copulative verb. See linking verb under verb. copyediting. See line-editing. correlative /kә-rel-ә-tiv/, adj. (Of a pair of words or phrases) having reciprocal or corresponding functions and typically being used together (but not side by side) in a sentence. See correlative conjunctions under conjunction. correlative conjunctions. See conjunction. count noun. See noun. crasis /kray-sis/. The blending of two vowels belonging to two different words that come into contact with each other (as in th’oar for the oar). — Also termed syncresis. See synaloepha. creole /kree-ohl/. A language that began as a pidgin but has become the first language for some speakers; specif., a language that has developed from a standard language, first being used as the second language of a group and then becoming the group’s usual language, with changes in sounds, grammar, and vocabulary. Cf. pidgin. cryptolect /krip-tә-lekt/, n. A secret language used by a particular group or a segment of society. dangler. A participle or participial phrase that is not syntactically connected to the noun it is meant to modify; a nonfinite predicate that cannot be properly linked to a noun or noun phrase in the rest of the sentence. • For example, in Waving in moderate winds, the golfer took dead aim at the flag, the action of the introductory phrase wants to attach to the closest noun (golfer rather than flag). — Also termed dangling modifier. See dangling participle under participle. dangling, adj. (Of a participle or other modifier) not part of a proper grammatical construction. dangling participle. See participle. dative case. See case. declarative /di-klair-ә-tiv/, adj. Characterizing a sentence in which the speaker makes a statement (e.g., Our nieces are visiting from Bangkok). Most sentences are declarative. See declarative sentence under sentence. declarative mood. See mood. declarative sentence. See sentence. declension. 1. The inflection of nouns or pronouns, depending on how they are used; esp., the deviation of a noun or pronoun’s form from that of its nominative case. • In English, declension does not play a major role because there are no case endings on nouns (as there are in Latin and Romance 890 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms languages). English has only seven pronouns that are declined as follows (for each, the nominative, objective, possessive, and absolute forms are shown [possessives and absolutes are different only in the first set and the last two sets]): I–me–my–mine; you–your–yours; he–him–his; she– her–hers; it–it–its; we–us–our–ours; and they–them–their–theirs. — Also termed paradigm. 2. A listing of the inflected forms of a noun or pronoun; the rehearsing of a noun or pronoun’s inflections. — decline, vb. declinable, adj. Having inflections. Cf. undeclinable. decussation /dek-ә-say-shәn/. See chiasmus. deep structure. In transformational grammar, the set of underlying semantic and syntactic relationships in a sentence. Cf. surface structure. defective, adj. (Of a noun, verb, etc.) lacking some of the usual forms of declension or conjugation. defective verb. See verb. deferred preposition. See terminal preposition under preposition. definiendum /di-fi-nee-en-dәm/. A word, phrase, or symbol that is defined. definiens /di-fin-ee-enz/. A definition; the words or symbols used in defining something. defining relative clause. See restrictive relative clause under clause. definite article. See article. definitive adjective. See adjective. degree. An indicator of the extent to which gradable adverbs or adjectives compare in intensity. • In their changing forms, gradable adverbs and adjectives display greater or lesser intensity in each of three degrees called positive or absolute (the base degree), comparative (the second degree), and superlative (the third degree) <lively– livelier–liveliest> <bad–worse–worst>. — Also termed grade. See positive; comparative; superlative. degree modifier. See intensifier. deictic /dik-tik or dayk-/, adj. (Of a word) showing or directly pointing to something, esp. something’s identity or a time or place. • The referent is determined by the context of the surrounding words. For example, in today, I need you here, the words today, I, you, and here are deictic. Identifying the referent for each word depends on who speaks or writes the sentence, who is being spoken to, and when and where it is said. For example, the word I points to the person who produces the sentence, and you to the person receiving it. See pointing word under word. deictic pronoun. See demonstrative pronoun under pronoun. deictic term. See pointing word under word. deletion. The suppression of one or more sounds in the pronunciation of a word (hence probably becomes /prob-lee/ or even /prol-ee/). demonstrative /dә-mon-strә-tiv/, adj. (Of an adjective or pronoun) distinguishing a referent based on its location relative to the speaker, esp. this, that, these, and those. • A demonstrative word can be used as a determiner (a type of adjective) <Please take those papers> or as a pronoun <Give him that>. demonstrative adjective. See adjective. demonstrative pronoun. See pronoun. denotation. The literal meaning of a word or phrase, unaffected by emotion, attitude, or color. • For example, the denotation of red rose is a brightcolored flower that grows on a prickly shrub. But it also has symbolic meanings that are not suggested by its definition, such as an expression of love. Cf. connotation. dependent clause. See clause. derivation. The process of forming new words from other words or the roots of words by adding an affix; affixation. • For example, an affix can be added to change a noun into an adjective <inspiration–inspirational> or a verb into a noun <deliver–deliverance>. And different words are formed when different affixes are added to a root such as graph: phonograph (n.) and graphic (adj.). derivational affix. See affix. derivative, n. A word in some way formed from another word, as by adding an affix. descriptive adjective. See adjective. descriptive grammar. 1. The study of linguistic structures focusing on a language’s actual use by speakers. • Descriptive grammar assumes that the acid test of acceptability in language is whether native speakers of the language actually use a particular wording. It is not concerned with standardizing rules or applying rules to all speakers—only with determining what rules are actually used by native speakers. See grammar. Cf. prescriptive grammar. 2. A book that systematically records the findings of such a study. descriptive linguistics. See linguistics. descriptivism /di-skrip-ti-vi-zәm/. An approach to language study that forswears value judgments in deciding what is correct or incorrect, effective or ineffective, and instead describes how people use the language without ever disapproving of the forms they use. Cf. prescriptivism. determiner. A type of adjective that limits how a noun phrase applies, including articles (a, an, and the), demonstrative adjectives (this, that, these, and those), and indefinite adjectives (e.g., all, any, each, every, some, few). Cf. definitive adjective under adjective. deverbal, adj. (Of a word, esp. an agent noun) derived from a verb. See deverbative. deverbative, n. A word derived from a verb; a deverbal word <runner> <skier>. diachronic /di-ә-kron-ik/, adj. Of or relating to the historical development of a language over time. • The historical approach to linguistics is often called diachronic because it looks at linguistic phenomena through previous ages to see how the current language, or a particular element in it, has evolved. Cf. synchronic. diachronic linguistics. See historical linguistics under linguistics. diacope /di-ak-ә-pee/. See tmesis. diacritic. See diacritical mark. diacritical mark. An orthographical character indicating that a letter or syllable has a special phonetic quality; specif., a dot, line, or other mark added to or nearby a letter usu. for one of four reasons: (1) to distinguish it from another, similar letter; (2) to give it a different phonetic value; (3) to show some particular accent, emphasis, or tone; or (4) to indicate the exact pronunciation of words, as in a dictionary. • Diacritical marks are usually seen in pronunciation guides or loanwords. A breve (˘) indicates that a vowel is short or unstressed. When first adopted into English, some loanwords had diacritical marks <hôtel> <façade> <coördinate> <résumé> but the marks tend to fall into disuse. — Also termed diacritic. See acute accent and grave accent under accent; breve; cedilla; circumflex; diaeresis; macron; okina; tilde; umlaut. diaeresis /di-er-ә-sis or di-eer-ә-sis/. 1. A diacritical mark consisting of two dots (¨) placed over a vowel that adjoins another vowel to indicate that the marked vowel should be sounded separately from the adjacent vowel <naïve> <Chloë> rather than merged into a diphthong or left silent. • In modern American English, the diaeresis is often dropped, even in proper names, although the pronunciation does not change <coöperate–cooperate> Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 891 <Brontë–Bronte>. Any vowel can take a diaeresis, but e, o, and i are the most common in English. — Also spelled dieresis. See diacritical mark. Cf. umlaut. 2. The evolution of one syllable into two, esp. through separating the vowel elements of a digraph or diphthong. • For example, medieval is usually pronounced /med-ee-vәl/, but sometimes /med-i-ee-vәl/. Cf. synaeresis. diagramming. The use of lines and words to break a sentence down into its component parts and show their relationships for analytical or pedagogical purposes. — Also spelled diagraming. dialect. A linguistic variety peculiar to a particular geographical area or used by members of a specific social class or group; specif., the linguistic features of a particular locality or class, esp. as distinguished from the speech of educated people. • It may differ from the standard form in characteristics such as accent, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammatical structures. See accent; argot; idiolect; jargon; nonstandard english; patois; provincialism; slang. Cf. standard english. dialectology /di-ә-lek-tahl-ә-jee/, n. The study of dialects; esp., branch of linguistics concerned with understanding and describing dialects. — dialectologist, n. diallage /di-al-ә-jee/, n. Rhetoric. An advocate’s presentation of arguments from various points of view, concluding with the argument that one particular point of view is soundest and should govern the outcome. dialogism /di-al-ә-jiz-әm/, n. 1. Rhetoric. The use of dialogue to explain a subject, with characters to whom the author imputes various ideas and feelings. • Plato’s Dialogues are a prime example. 2. A conversational phrase; a colloquialism. 3. A conversational style. diasynthesis. See syntax (2). diasyrm /di-ә-sәrm/, n. Rhetoric. Rhetorical disparagement or ridicule. dieresis. See diaeresis. differentiation. Linguistics. A process by which similar words, esp. by-forms (e.g., derisive and derisory), diverge in meaning, so that each word becomes distinctly useful. • For example, the verb estimate was once used to mean (1) “to assess” or (2) “to regard highly.” Meanwhile, esteem was used to mean (1) “to regard highly” or (2) “to assess.” Today the differentiation between these words is complete, and sense 2 of each is obsolete. If by-forms don’t undergo differentiation, prescriptiv- ists are likely to label the less widely used form a “needless variant.” See byform; needless variant. diglossia /di-glahs-ee-ә/, n. The coexistence of two languages within a speech community, usu. standard form and a regional dialect. Cf. monoglossia; triglossia. digraph /di-graf/. 1. A combination of two letters to represent one sound, such as the initial and final consonant sounds in thrush or the two vowels in boat. 2. A ligature of two vowels that are not diphthongs but are written together as a single character, such as æ (ae) and œ (oe). Cf. diphthong. diminutive, n. A word that expresses youth, endearment, or a diminished size or status, usu. through a suffix. • The principal diminutive suffixes in English are -et, -ette, -ling, -ock, -in, -y, -ie, -kin. — Also termed hypocoristic. dimorphism /di-morf-iz-әm/, n. The existence of a word in two or more forms called doublets <dent–dint> <fat–vat> <church–kirk>. • To be a true dimorphism, the source of the two words must be identical. See doublet. diphthong /dif-thong/. A pair of vowels blended into one syllable to produce a single sound; specif., a succession of two vowels joined in a single syllable by a continuous glide of the tongue and lips from one vowel position to another <loud> <noise>. • In a proper diphthong, both vowels are pronounced, but they are blended so as to form one syllable. In an improper diphthong (not really a diphthong at all), two or more vowels appear in one syllable to make a simple sound <each> <people>. Formerly, writers such as Samuel Johnson (1709–1784) used the term diphthong for what modern writers call a digraph (e.g., the ae in aesthetic or the oe in oenology). The word is sometimes mispronounced /dip-thong/. diptote /dip-toht/, n. In certain Indo-European languages, a noun having only two cases. Cf. aptote; triptote. direct object. See object. discourse. 1. A sequence of statements that together constitute a unified communication. • Examples include conversations, lectures, letters, newspaper articles, short stories, and novels. direct discourse. Direct quotation involving the repeating of someone else’s precise words. • In print, direct discourse is marked by quotation marks or by an extended quotation that is set off by indenting it <He asked, “Do you feel bad?”>. — Also termed oratio recta. indirect discourse. The reporting of an earlier utterance without the use of direct quotation <He asked whether I felt bad>. — Also termed oratio obliqua. 2. Traditionally, a formal discussion of a subject; a dissertation or treatise. discourse analysis. Linguistics. 1. The close study of texts or utterances longer than one sentence for the purpose of understanding linguistic content or sociolinguistic context. 2. The result of such study. disguise d conjunction. S e e conjunction. disjunct. In some grammatical systems, an adverb that affects the interpretation of the whole clause or sentence by expressing either attitude toward the thought of the sentence <unfortunately> <regrettably> or the likelihood of something’s occurrence <perhaps> <possibly>. Cf. adjunct; conjunct; subjunct. disjunction. 1. A coordinating conjunction that signals a choice between conjoined elements. 2. The grammatical structure created by such a coordinating conjunction. disjunctive, adj. 1. Signaling a relationship of alternatives, contrast, or opposition <rough but good> <neither wholly right nor wholly wrong>. 2. adversative. Cf. conjunctive. disjunctive conjunction. See conjunction. dissimilation. Phonetics. 1. A process by which two nearby consonant sounds that are identical or similar gradually become less alike. • In English, l and r are the letters whose sounds are most often affected by dissimilation. Two nearby r sounds can be difficult to articulate, so dissimilation may change the second r to l. This process produced the English word marble from the French marbre. And in colonel, although the word is spelled with two l’s, the first l is pronounced as though it were an r (/kәr-nәl/). Many words are still written with certain consonants that are often dropped altogether in speech <listen>. 2. The dropping of a consonant sound when a similar or identical sound is repeated within a word. • For example, the first r in governor is usually dropped and the word pronounced /gәv-ә-nәr/ instead of /gәv-әr-nәr/. In government, the n is often dropped (/gәv-әr-mәnt/). Those pronunciations are widely accepted, but others with dropped sounds are not. For example, failing to articulate the first r in library (e.g., saying /li-bair-ee/) is considered dialectal. — dissimilate, vb. distributive /di-strib-yә-tiv/, adj. Referring to things individually, not 892 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms collectively, so as to express separation or emphasize individuality. • Adjectives such as each, either, and every are distributive. — distributive, n. distributive adjective. See adjective. distributive pronoun. See pronoun. ditransitive, adj. (Of a verb) taking both a direct and an indirect object. ditransitive prepositional verb. See verb. ditransitive verb. See verb. dittography. The unintentional repetition of a written letter, syllable, word, or series of letters, syllables, or words, esp. when copying. • A person may copy mechanically, without thinking about what he or she has just copied, and so write “wizzard” for wizard and “competitition” for competition. double comparative. See comparative. double-dash construction. A grammatical construction in which a pair of long dashes sets off part of a sentence to emphasize or distinguish its content. • This construction is stronger than using parentheses or a pair of commas. Compare we saw—and understood—the message left on Roanoke with we saw (and understood) the message or we saw, and understood, the message. double entendre /dәb-әl ahn-tahn-drә or doob-lә ahn-tahn-drә/. 1. A word or phrase having two meanings, one of the two usu. being ribald or offcolor. 2. Ambiguity arising from the double sense of a word or phrase. • The phrase double entendre isn’t native to French, the closest expression being mot à double entente “a word (or phrase) with a double meaning.” The English phrase, dating from the late 17th century, appears to have originated as bungled French. double negative. 1. A construction in which two negative words are used, usu. in dialect <I don’t never get asked to do chores>. • Among the most common double negatives are combinations of n’t with hardly <couldn’t hardly think> and n’t with no <I can’t get no satisfaction>. Double negatives are one characteristic of nonstandard language. 2. A type of understatement (litotes) in which two negatives express a kind of positive or neutral thought. • Your argument is not unjustifiable contains not and the negative prefix -un, yet the sense is close to (but not quite as strong as) Your argument is justifiable. doublespeak. Language intentionally used to deceive, esp. by concealing or misrepresenting facts. • Contrary to popular belief, this word wasn’t used by George Orwell (1903–1950) in 1984; it first appeared in the 1950s. But Orwell was the first to use -speak as a suffix, as in newspeak and oldspeak, and used the word doublethink. Doublespeak is most often used by bureaucracies, businesses, and the military. Doublespeak is present, for example, in euphemisms such as physical persuasion (meaning “torture”) and ethnic cleansing (meaning “genocide”). double superlative. See superlative. doublet. Philology. One of a pair of words that have similar meanings, forms, or origins. • Doublets are quite common in English today. They typically share the same root but may have entered the language by different paths. Some are nearly synonymous, but not all are interchangeable because the words are distinguished by subtle differences in application. For example, royal (“descended from monarchs; of or related to the monarchy”) and regal (“of, relating to, or suited for a monarch”) ultimately share the Latin root word regalis, but the royal family may not be at all the same thing as a regal family. As a historical matter, doublets usually consist of an older form (e.g., benison [14th c.], malison [13th c.], and provenance [18th c.]) and a more recent form (e.g., benediction [15th c.], malediction [14th c.], and provenience [19th c.]). Sometimes doublets are accidental variations of one original, with or without a differentiation in meaning (e.g., alarm, alarum; unbeknown, unbeknownst). And sometimes doublets consist of a standard literary form <lord> and a dialectal one <laird>. do-verb. See verb. dual /d[y]oo-әl/, adj. Of or relating to an inflection expressing two or a pair. dual, n. The grammatical form, midway between singular and plural, indicating that a word applies to precisely two people or two objects. • It is used in addition to the singular and plural forms in some languages, such as Old English, Arabic, and many Polynesian languages—but it is not a part of Modern English. dummy subject. An expletive (such as there and here in <There is . . .> and <Here are . . .>) that is in subject position at the beginning of a sentence but is not the subject itself. dummy word. See expletive. durative aspect. See progressive aspect under aspect. dvandva compound /dvan-dvә/. [Sanskrit] A compound word consisting of elements that are related to each other as if joined by and <princeconsort> <teacher-writer> <Dallas– Fort Worth>. dysphemism /dis-fә-miz-әm/. 1. An offensive word or phrase used in place of one that is neutral (e.g., gerundgrinder for grammarian). 2. The act of making such a substitution. Early Modern English. The English language used from about 1500 to about 1700. ecbatic /ek-bat-ik/, adj. (Of a conjunction or clause) denoting a result or consequence, as opposed to a purpose or an intention. • This term is used primarily in reference to Greek grammar. echo question. An interrogative that retains the structure of a declarative statement that precedes it. ecthlipsis /ek-thlip-sis/. The suppression of one or more sounds in a word (as in the [correct] two-syllable pronunciation of Wednesday). editorial we. The use of the first-person plural pronoun by an individual who is speaking on behalf of a group, such as an editorial board of a newspaper or other publication. eisegesis /i-sә-jee-sis/. A textual interpretration into which the reader has injected his or her own ideas. elenchic. See elenctic. elenchus /i-leng-kәs/. Rhetoric. 1. That which must be proved to refute an opponent’s argument. 2. A refuting argument; a refutation. Socratic elenchus. The Socratic method of disproving a falsity by posing a series of questions that lead to the truth. 3. Loosely, a sophistical or fallacious refutation. Cf. ignoratio elenchi. — Also termed elench. Pl. elenchi. elenctic, adj. (In logic) serving to refute; refuting. — Also spelled elenchic. elision, n. 1. The omission of a vowel or syllable from a spoken word, usu. in poetry for metrical reasons <th’embattled warriors> or in rapid, casual speech <wuzzup?>. • All contractions involve elision. Weak vowels are sometimes elided, so history is often pronounced /his-tree/, and suppose becomes /spohz/. In some words, consonants are elided. For example, Christmas becomes /krismәs/. In some words a syllable is sometimes dropped, so library comes out /li-bree/. Elision is the general term for all the types of phonological reduction, such as apocope, haplology, hyphaeresis, paresis, synaeresis, syncope, etc. — Also termed paresis. Cf. hyphaeresis. 2. In writing, the striking out of a word or phrase. — elide, vb. Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 893 ellipsis. 1. The omission of one or more words that are understood and necessary to make a construction grammatically complete <Who steals my purse steals trash> (the phrase he who being collapsed into who by ellipsis). • The reader or listener is expected to supply the full form. This figure of speech often enhances the vividness and energy of prose. Examples: • • • • I must to England. (William Shakespeare [1564–1616]) And so to bed. (Samuel Pepys [1633–1703]) This party objects, and that. (Thomas Carlyle [1795–1881]) Liana walked out on Cambridge and in on me. (Anthony Burgess [1917–1993]) 2. The three dots < . . . > showing that some portion of written text has been omitted, usu. in a quotation. • The dots, which are typographically identical to periods, each have a space before and after. An ellipsis always consists of only three dots. When the omitted material is inside a sentence, only the ellipsis appears <Micah received many . . . awards for his art>. When the omitted material appears between two sentences, the ellipsis is preceded or followed by a period, depending on whether part of the first sentence or part or all of the following sentence (or sentences) has been omitted. If the first sentence is complete and its last word is before the dots, then the period is in its usual place and followed by the three ellipsis dots <Those were good days. . . . We had time to enjoy life.>. If it is not, then the first three dots are ellipsis dots and the last is the sentence’s period <Some people are committed to achieving their personal goals . . . . But are they too focused on the future?>. — Also termed ellipsis dots; period dots. — elliptical, adj. ellipsis dots. See ellipsis (2). elliptical clause. See clause. elocution. The art of training to improve public speaking, as by teaching a person to use a socially acceptable accent and to speak clearly and effectively. — elocutionist, n. — elocutionary, adj. embedded clause. See clause. embolophasia /em-boh-loh-fay-zhә/, n. Rhetoric. The use of sonorous but meaningless words. empty word. A word that has little or no intrinsic meaning but primarily serves some grammatical function, such as a particle. — Also termed form word; function word; grammatical word. Cf. content word. enallage /i-nal-ә-jee/. See functional shift. enantiosis /i-nan-tee-oh-sis/, n. See irony. enclisis /eng-kli-sis/, n. The pronunciation of a phrase in such a way that a word is compounded with an immediately adjacent (usu. preceding) word (as in follow-up, n.). • In speech, the enclitic part of the compound often, but not always, loses its emphasis. Cf. proclisis. enclitic /en-klit-ik/, adj. (Of a word) leaning or dependent on what precedes; esp., of or relating to an unstressed word that follows a stressed word (as in stop him! [him is unstressed] or piece of cake [piece is stressed, of is not]). • Sometimes, an enclitic word becomes joined with the preceding word (as with thee in prithee [pray + thee] or not in cannot). — enclitic, n. See clitic. Cf. proclitic. end-cut. See apocope. enthymeme /en-thә-meem/. Logic. A syllogism in which one of the premises is unexpressed, as in Because it is autumn, the leaves are falling from the trees (implying that leaves fall from trees in the autumn). — enthymematic, adj. Cf. syllogism. enthymeme of the first order. An enthymeme with an unexpressed major premise <Because Socrates is a man, he is mortal> (implying that all men are mortal). enthymeme of the second order. An enthymeme with an unexpressed minor premise <Because all men are mortal, Socrates is mortal> (implying that Socrates is a man). epagoge /ep-ә-goh-jee/, n. Logic & Rhetoric. 1. Inductive reasoning; the drawing of a general conclusion from particular instances. 2. An argument that relies on inductive reasoning. — epagogic, adj. Cf. apagoge. epanadiplosis /ep-ә-nә-di-ploh-sis/. Rhetoric. Emphasis produced by repeating a word or phrase at the beginning and end of a sentence or clause <severe to his servants, to his servants severe> <an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth>. • This is a subspecies of epanalepsis. Examples: • • • • Believe not all you can hear; tell not all you believe. (American Indian proverb) In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these. (Paul Harvey [1918–2009]) A minimum wage that is not a livable wage can never be a minimum wage. (Ralph Nader [1934–]) Justice—that’s all I ask—justice. (delivered by Denzel Washington in the movie The Hurricane ) epanados /e-pan-ә-dohs/. Rhetoric. 1. A recapitulation of topics, item by item, often in reverse order. 2. Inverted repetition. 3. A return to the subject of discussion after a digression. epanalepsis /ep-ә-nә-lep-sis/. Rhetoric. The repetition of a word, phrase, or clause after intervening words <It was both a curse and a blessing—a curse in that . . .>. — epanaleptic, adj. • • • Weep no more, woeful shepherds weep no more, for Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead, sunk though he be beneath the watery floor. (John Milton [1608–1674]) Control, control—you must learn control! (delivered by Frank Oz in the movie The Empire Strikes Back ) Inflation was reduced the old-fashioned way—with a recession; two years of massive unemployment; more hungry, in this world of enormous affluence, the United States of America, more hungry. (Mario Cuomo [1932–]) Cf. epanadiplosis. epanaphora. See anaphora. epanastrophe. See anadiplosis. epanorthosis /ep-ә-north-ә-sis/, n. A figure of speech in which a writer or speaker uses a word and then takes it back to substitute a more accurate term <There was a clear reference to Marilyn Monroe—well, I suppose allusion would be more accurate because she was not actually named>. epenthesis /i-pen-thә-sis/. In speech, the insertion of a sound or an unetymological letter into the body of a word. • Epenthesis commonly occurs in the mispronunciation of the words athlete and realtor, both of which are often mispronounced with an additional vowel sound in the middle (/ath-ә-leet/ instead of the correct /athleet/, and /reel-ә-tәr/ instead of /reeltәr/). Children and others sometimes say fambly for family. One-syllable words are also subject to epenthesis, especially in dialect, so that words such as elm, film, and chimney are spoken /el-әm/, /fil-әm/, and /chim-ә-nee/. Historically, of course, epenthesis has been commonplace in the English language, and no sensible person objects to forms established long ago. All of the following resulted originally from epenthesis: the internal n in messenger, nightingale, and passenger; the g in impregnable; the internal d in jaundice, kindred, and thunder; and the second r in bridegroom. For subspecies of epenthesis, see anaptyxis and pleophony. — epenthetic, adj. epeolatry /ep-ee-ahl-ә-tree/, n. Wordworship. — epeolatrous, adj. Cf. grammatolatry. eperotesis. See rhetorical question. epexegesis /e-pek-sә-jees-әs/. 1. The addition of a word or words to clarify meaning. 2. The word or words so added. — epexegetical, adj. 894 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms epibole /ee-pib-ә-lee/, n. 1. anaphora. 2. The use in successive clauses of initial words that have a similar or (occasionally) the same meaning. epicene /ep-ә-seen/, adj. (Of a word) having only a gender-neutral form. • For example, a blonde is a woman (blonde is a female-specific form), but a redhead could be a man or a woman, so redhead is an epicene word. Similarly, a stallion is understood to be a male horse, but horse alone is epicene. In languages in which nouns typically have gender, epicene means that a word has the same form for the masculine and feminine genders. — Also termed common. epigram. 1. A concise, pointed, and usu. clever saying <If you haven’t anything nice to say about someone, come sit by me—attributed to Alice Roosevelt Longworth> <A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing—Oscar Wilde>. 2. A short, witty poem. — epigrammatic, adj. epigraph /e-pә-graf/. 1. A thematic quotation at the beginning of a book, chapter, etc. 2. An inscription, esp. on a building or statue. epiphonema /ep-i-foh-neem-ә/, n. A strikingly expressed thought in the conclusion of a discourse to sum up what has preceded. epiphora. See epistrophe. epiplexis /ep-i-plek-sis/, n. Rhetoric. The use of rebuke or reproach to convince someone of an argument. — Also termed epitimesis. epiploce /i-pip-lә-see/, n. Climax; specif., the adding of one striking circumstance after another to culminate in a resounding argumentative finale. epistrophe /i-pis-trә-fee/. Rhetoric. The emphatic repetition of a sound, word, or phrase at the end of successive clauses, verses, or sentences <Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things>. • One of the best-known examples of epistrophe in American rhetoric is in the concluding sentence of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” It’s also used in the statement, “Many people spend their lives pursuing power, consolidating power, and enjoying power.” — Also termed epiphora. — epistrophic, adj. See symploce. Cf. anaphora. epithesis /ee-pith-ә-sis/, n. See paragoge. epithet /ep-i-thәt/. 1. A particularly apt description or label, whether the quality denoted is favorable or unfavorable. 2. A verbal obscenity; a profane word or phrase. epitimesis. See epiplexis. epitrope /i-pit-rә-pee/, n. Rhetoric. 1. A rhetorical tactic whereby one concedes the force of an opponent’s claim in an attempt to gain an advantage, usu. by suggesting that the claim, though sound, is irrelevant to the debate at hand. 2. A declaration of willingness to let disinterested others (e.g., a judge and jury) decide the merits of one’s case, usu. made with the intention of showing that a favorable judgment is inevitable. epizeuxis /ep-ә-z[y]ook-sis/. Rhetoric. The immediate, emphatic repetition of a word <All you care about is me, me, me!>. • Cf. ploce; palilogy. Examples: • • • Why are we going to fight? Why, why? (Esther Forbes [1891–1967]) A monument . . . was erected to the memory of one of the best husbands by his “wretched widow,” who records upon the marble that there never was such a man on the face of the earth before, and never will be again, and that there never was anybody so miserable as she—no, never, never, never! (Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. [1809–1897]) Writing is at its best—always, always, always—when it is a kind of inspired play for the writer. (Stephen King [1947–]) eponym /ep-ә-nim/. 1. A person, real or fictional, from whose name a person, thing, or place derives (or is believed to derive) its name. • Surnames are the most common source of eponyms. Examples are boycott (from Irish landlord Captain Charles Boycott), sousaphone (from American bandmaster and composer John Philip Sousa), and malapropism (from Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play The Rivals). But some are drawn from personal or other names, such as the month August (from Augustus Caesar), cereal (from Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain), and America (from Amerigo Vespucci). — Also termed eponymous person. 2. A name that is so derived. eponymous person. See eponym. equational /i-kway-zhә-nәl/, adj. Of or relating to a construction showing that two elements have the same referent. • Equational elements in a sentence are interchangeable without affecting meaning (e.g., in Mike’s son is my daughter’s teacher, the nouns son and teacher refer to the same person, so the subject and the complement could be switched: My daughter’s teacher is Mike’s son). equational verb. See linking verb under verb. equative /ek-wә-tiv/, adj. Of or relating to a construction showing that two separate things are equivalent in some way. • An as . . . as construction is equative (e.g., the air smells as sweet as perfume). ergative verb. See verb. erotesis /er-oh-tee-sis/. See rhetorical question. Esperanto /es-pә-rahn-toh/, n. An artificial language invented for universal use, with stems common to European languages and regularized endings. • Dr. Ludovik Lazarus Zamenhof (1859–1917), a Polish linguist whose pseudonym was Dr. Esperanto (= Dr. Hoping-One), invented the language in his 1887 book Langue Internationale. Cf. interlingua; pasigraphy. etymology /et-ә-mahl-ә-jee/. 1. The study of the origin or derivation of words and how their meanings develop and change over time. • In dictionaries, the etymology of a term is shown after the pronunciation, part of speech, and variant spellings, or at the end of an entry. 2. The history of a particular term, usu. including an account of its various forms and meanings. — etymological, adj. etymon /et-ә-mahn/. 1. An earlier form of a word, in the same language or an ancestral language. 2. A word in a foreign language that is the original form or source of a loanword. 3. root. euonym /yoo-ә-nim/, n. A good name or appropriate term; esp., a term that conforms to the rules of a system for naming and is therefore available as a technical designation (for a start-up company, a newly discovered star, a newly developed drug, etc.). Cf. caconym. euphemism. Rhetoric. 1. The use of a more or less neutral word or phrase in place of an expression that is considered disagreeable in some way. 2. An expression so substituted. • Euphemisms are often intended to prevent or soften negative responses. But they should be used only after careful consideration. To call a used car “preowned” is a semantic sleight of hand. But it is understandable for a hospital to have a “special-care clinic” where patients with sexually transmitted diseases are treated. — euphemistic, adj. — euphemize, vb. euphony. The quality of having a pleasing sound or harmonious combination of sounds. • Euphony guides word choices, but it is not an objective concept. One listener may find the phrase notorious notations amusing, while another finds it irritating. — euphonious, adj. See alliteration. See also Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 895 indefinite article under article. Cf. cacophony. euphuism /yoo-fyoo-iz-әm/. 1. A pretentious, highly artificial literary style characterized by alliteration, highflown words, antitheses, and strange expressions. 2. Concocted elegance of language. — euphuistic, adj. Cf. gongorism; periergia. exclamation. 1. An utterance expressing anger, pain, anguish, or surprise; a sentence used to express a feeling with added emphasis. — Also termed exclamative. 2. interjection. exclamative, n. See exclamation; exclamatory sentence under sentence. exclamatory sentence. See sentence. excrescent /ek-skres-әnt/, adj. (Of a sound in a word) not etymologically part of a word but instead appearing for reasons of euphony or ease of pronunciation. • Excrescent sounds occur in many common English words. For example, the b sound in thimble is not found in its Old English root word thymel, nor is the d sound of thunder part of its etymological precursors, thoner (Middle English) and thunor (Old English). exegesis /ek-sә-jee-sis/. 1. An expository discourse; specif., a critical analysis or interpretation of a passage or text. 2. An explanatory note. — exegete, n. — exegetical, adj. exempla /ig-zem-plә/. Rhetoric. Illustrations, esp. by way of anecdote, used to sustain an argument or to point to a moral. • Although the singular exemplum sometimes appears, the plural exempla is far more common in discussions of rhetoric. expletive. 1. A word that serves as a noun in idiomatic expression but bears none of the lexical meaning that nouns usually bear; specif., a “dummy” constituent of a sentence with no inherent semantic content, such as it or there <It was raining> <There were celebrities present>. — Also termed dummy word; prop word. 2. An exclamatory word or phrase, often profane. • Sense 2 is an extension of sense 1, profanities having once been considered as irrelevant words used to fill up space. expletive conjunction. See conjunction. expression. 1. The manifestation of an idea in words. 2. A phrase or saying. extrinsic modality. See epistemic modality under modality. factitive /fak-tә-tiv/, adj. (Of a transitive verb or a clause) expressing an action that leads to a result, esp. a change in a thing’s state of being. • Verbs such as appoint, build, destroy, elect, and make are factitive (e.g., in Munchie built a playhouse out of scrap lumber, the action verb built is factitive because the lumber was transformed into a playhouse). The object of a factitive verb is sometimes called the factitive object. Some grammarians use the term result or resultative as a synonym for factitive. The word is sometimes spelled (through syncope) factive. factitive object. See factitive. factitive verb. See verb. factive. See factitive. false attraction. The influence exerted by a word on another word that causes it to take the incorrect form; esp., a mismatch between the number of a subject and its verb occurring when a phrase intervenes between the subject and the verb and misleads the writer into believing that the noun in the intervening phrase is the subject. • For example, when a subject is followed by a prepositional phrase with an object of a different number, the verb is often influenced by the closer noun. In the correction of papers are a tough assignment, the singular subject correction requires the singular verb is, but the plural papers influences the choice of the plural form are; it is incorrect because papers is a prepositional object, not the sentence’s subject. — Also termed attraction. feminine, adj. (Of a noun, pronoun, or suffix) indicating that the person or animal named is female. • In English, only the personal pronoun she, certain nouns such as girl and doe, and a few adjectives are feminine. — feminine, n. See gender. figurative, adj. Rhetoric. 1. Involving a rhetorical figure of any kind. 2. Expressing an idea in words that normally denote another thing, as by analogy, simile, or metaphor. Cf. literal. figure of speech. Rhetoric. A special use of words; esp., the use of an expression in which a word or words are used for stylistic effect rather than for their literal meaning. • The expression “I’m starving!” means “I’m very hungry,” usually not “I’m dying of hunger.” “Starving” heightens the effect of the statement; it does not literally describe the person’s condition. Figures of speech include metaphors and similes. The names of most figures of speech derive from ancient Greek and Latin. See cliché; hyperbole; metaphor; simile. Cf. trope (2). final conjunction. See conjunction. finite /fi-nit/, adj. (Of a verb) not in the infinitive mood—that is, limited by person and number. finite verb. See verb. first person. See person. flat, adj. Not having a distinctive ending characteristic of a particular part of speech (e.g., an adverb that has the same form as an adjective or noun, or a noun used adjectivally without a change in form). flat adverb. See adverb. flection. See inflection (1). folk etymology. 1. A widespread but false notion about the origin of a word or phrase. 2. The tendency of popular and mistaken beliefs about a word’s origins to affect its use or form. • The adjective posh is a good example. It appeared relatively recently, in 1903, but its origins are unclear; it might have been derived from the slang noun posh, meaning money or a dandy. But according to folk etymology, wealthy people who traveled by ship between England and India paid more for cabins on the cooler side of the ship, port on the journey to India, and starboard returning. Thus posh was said to be an acronym for “port outward, starboard home.” The story is entertaining, but researchers have not found any evidence that prices for cabins differed by which side of the ship they were on. 3. A change in an unusual-looking word’s form to a more usual form— based on a misunderstanding of the word’s origin. See catachresis (4). form. The way a word is spelled and pronounced according to how it is used in different tenses, cases, number, etc.; one of the inflected variations of a word. See aspect. form word. See empty word. fossil. An old word or expression that persists only in certain set phrases or idioms (e.g., hue in the phrase hue and cry). fragment. A sentence that lacks some essential component (esp. a predicate) to make it complete. • One way to determine whether a sentence is a fragment is to rephrase it as a yes/no question. If you can’t, it’s not a complete sentence. A sentence fragment may result because the main clause doesn’t have a main verb <peppers of all colors rolling down the slope>. Adding the verb are or were before rolling finishes the sentence. Incorrect punctuation may also create a fragment, especially when a dependent clause is separated from the main clause by a period instead of a comma: The new doorknob came off in my hand. Which shouldn’t have happened. — Also termed nonsentence. free morpheme. See morpheme. frequentative aspect. See aspect. Freudian slip. The inadvertent substitution of a wrong word for the 896 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms intended word and presumably therefore revealing a subconscious thought or feeling. • The famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) first described the phenomenon, which he called “faulty action,” in 1901. Classically, Freudian slips suggest that the speaker’s true thoughts have been exposed. For example, a speaker may intend to say “I’d like to thank all of you” but instead says “I’d like to spank all of you,” before launching into a tirade. — Also termed parapraxia. See heterophemy. fricative. A consonant sound made with a partial obstruction of the breath stream. — Also termed continuant. front-cut. See aphaeresis. full passive. See passive voice. functional shift. The use of a word or phrase that normally functions as one part of speech in a different way so that it functions as another part of speech. • Using fun (traditionally a noun) as an adjective (as in This is a fun trip!) is an example of functional shift. The most common types are noun-to-adjective shifts (a hotel car), verb-to-noun shifts (an assist), and noun-to-verb shifts (to office on a particular floor of a building). A noun, for example, may function as a verb <A truck jackknifed>. It may also function as an adjective <law report> <book report>. An adjective may also function as a verb <crimson’d with flowers> or as a noun <the poor>. — Also termed functional change; conversion; enallage; anthimeria. function word. See empty word; word. fused participle. See participle. future-perfect tense. See tense. future tense. See tense. garrulity /gә-rool-i-tee/, n. Severe overtalkativeness; logorrhea. — garrulous, adj. gemination /jem-i-nay-shәn/, n. 1. The doubling of a consonant sound in a word. 2. The doubling of a letter in the spelling of a word. • Many English words, such as baggage and saddle, have doubled letters, but only one is pronounced distinctly and the second only marginally, if at all. Often when gemination occurs in speaking a word such as bottle or button, and the second -t- is pronounced distinctly, the speaker is using a nonstandard pronunciation. gender. A grammatical category by which a noun or pronoun is classified as masculine, feminine, or, in some languages, neuter, and articles and adjectives must take the masculine, feminine, or neuter form that agrees. • Although in some languages nouns have gender, in English most nouns have no set gender. Exceptions include animal names <buck–doe> <bull– cow> <cock–hen>, and the traditional use of feminine pronouns when referring to ships or boats. Only nouns and personal pronouns that expressly refer to a male or female person or animal are masculine or feminine. Personal pronouns (he, she) are most commonly affected by a noun’s gender, but a very few adjectives are as well. For example, blond and blonde refer to yellow-haired males and females, respectively. Some nouns that once referred exclusively to a man (e.g., actor, waiter) now apply to both men and women. The noun still requires a masculine or feminine pronoun, but which one depends on the sex of the person referred to <George Clooney is my favorite actor>. Meanwhile, the sex-specific actress still lingers in some contexts <the Best Actress category>. See also concord. common gender. The gender of an inanimate noun or of a neutral classification of animate nouns. • Most English words are of common gender (e.g., a doctor may be a man or a woman), though there are many exceptions (e.g., a father is a man, a mother is a woman). Cf. neuter gender. feminine gender. The gender of a noun or pronoun denoting a female person or animal (e.g., daughter, doe, filly). • Traditionally, many words were masculine in gender and changed to feminine by adding a suffix such as -ess (e.g., steward– stewardess). Many of those words are disappearing in favor of genderneutral substitutes. (See sexism.) In other languages, nouns assigned the feminine gender have some semantic correlation with animation and the female sex. See animate; inanimate. Cf. masculine gender. grammatical gender. Gender that depends on the form of a word and not primarily on its meaning, as in highly inflected Indo-European languages. Cf. natural gender. masculine gender. The gender of a noun or pronoun denoting a male person or animal (e.g., buck, ram, son). • In other languages, nouns assigned the masculine gender have some semantic correlation with animation and the male sex. See animate; inanimate. Cf. feminine gender. natural gender. Gender that depends not on the form of a word but on the sex of the thing denoted by the word, as in English. • According to this type of gender, only animate parts of speech have the notion of sex attached to them. So inanimate words are said to have no gender at all. See common gender. Cf. grammatical gender. neuter gender. The gender of a noun or pronoun denoting an inanimate thing (e.g., highway, shrub, weather). In some languages other than English, the neuter gender is assigned to a noun or pronoun that has no semantic correlation to something animate (such as a human or higher animal). See animate; inanimate. Cf. common gender. generalization. 1. The process by which a word with a fairly narrow meaning takes on a broader meaning. • For example, barn derives from Old English roots meaning “barley house,” but has generalized to refer to a farm building for all kinds of storage. Cf. specialization. 2. The extension of a linguistic feature from one item to a whole class. • Overgeneralization occurs when the feature is extended indiscriminately to all items in the class when the feature does not in fact apply to everything. Irregular verbs, for example, form the past tense by changing a vowel rather than taking an ending <sing–sang>. general semantics. A field of study developed during the 20th century as a way to improve how people use language and other symbols, as well as their environment more generally. • It was developed by Alfred Korzybski (1879–1950) and popularized by S.I. Hayakawa (1906–1992) and Stuart Chase (1888–1985). Its basic tenets are that (1) a word is not the thing it represents (“the map is not the territory”); (2) words cannot say everything about anything (“a map does not represent the entire territory”); and (3) words are self-reflexive in the sense that explaining them requires other words, and others, and others (“a map would have to include a map of the map, which in turn would have to include a map of the map of the map, etc.”). Cf. semantics. genitive case. See case. gerund. A present-participial form that functions as a noun; a verbal noun. • A gerund is distinguishable from a participial verb, which is used only after a be-verb and functions as a main verb. A gerund can be the main verb’s subject or object <Dancing is good exercise> <I like dancing>, and also the object of a preposition <I exercise every morning by walking two miles>. gerundive, n. In Latin grammar, a future passive participle (e.g., aman- Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 897 dus = to be loved) functioning as a verbal adjective to express necessity of performance. See participle. gerundive phrase. See gerund phrase under phrase. gerund phrase. See phrase. gloss /glahs/, n. 1. A word inserted into a text, esp. a historical one, by way of explanation or simplification. • Often a gloss makes explicit something that the original text left implicit. 2. An explanatory statement in a reference book, such as a dictionary or glossary. 3. More broadly, a comment, explanation, or interpretation. 4. In a negative sense, a disingenuous “spin” on something; a tendentious interpretation. glossary. 1. A partial dictionary that lists the definitions of technical terms in a field. — Also termed (rarely) glossology. 2. A collection of glosses. See gloss. glossology /glah-sahl-ә-jee/, n. 1. The scientific study of language. • This is an old-fashioned word for linguistics. — Also termed glottology. 2. The marshaling and defining of the terminology used in any field of study. 3. glossary (1). glottal, adj. Phonetics. Of a sound, produced in the glottis, the upper part of the larynx between the two vocal cords. glottal stop. Phonetics. A sound produced with complete closure of the glottis followed by an explosive release of breath. • You can hear a glottal stop in the middle of the interjection uh-oh. See okina. glottochronology. A method of calculating the rate at which dialects and languages diverge by analyzing the rate at which vocabulary changes. glottology. See glossology (1). gobbledygook. Complicated, pompous, and obscure verbiage, particularly that used by governments, businesses, or professions. • Gobbledygook was coined in 1944 by Maury Maverick, a former Congressman who was serving in FDR’s wartime government. He claimed that his inspiration was the turkey: “always gobbledy gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity. At the end of his gobble, there was a sort of gook.” It’s not hard to find examples of gobbledygook, although they can be hard to comprehend <Forwardlooking companies invest in quality asset projections> <We can revitalize the economy with regenerated policy innovations>. — Also spelled gobbledegook. Cf. legaldygook. gongorism /gon[g]-gә-riz-әm/, n. A pretentious, ornate writing style reminiscent of the 16th-century Spanish poet Góngora y Argote (1561–1627). — gongoristic, adj. govern, vb. 1. (Of a word, esp. a verb or preposition) to require (a noun or pronoun) to be in a certain case or (a verb) to be in a certain mood <Both verbs and prepositions govern pronouns that follow them as objects>. 2. (Of a mood or case) to be required by a certain type of word <The genitive is governed by certain adjectives>. 3. (Of a word) to be necessarily followed by (a specified case or mood) <The verb governs the objective case>. government. The effect of one word on another according to usage, esp. in determining the case of a pronoun or the mood of a verb. gradable, adj. Capable of being compared. See degree. gradation /grә-day-shәn/. Inflection produced by changing a vowel in the root word (e.g., drink–drank–drunk). — Also termed ablaut. See strong verb under verb. grade. See degree. grammar. 1. The structural pattern of a language learned unconsciously by a child while acquiring his or her native tongue. 2. A systematic, comprehensive description of this structural pattern. 3. A pedagogical book in which a language is partially described, focusing primarily on the needs of native speakers. 4. A book that seeks to describe a language comprehensively, as if to an alien, without reference to the pedagogical needs of native speakers. See descriptive grammar; prescriptive grammar; transformational grammar; linguistics. grammarian. 1. The author of a book on grammar. 2. A teacher of grammar. 3. One versed in grammar; a philologist. grammatical, adj. 1. Of or relating to grammar. 2. According to the rules of grammar. grammatical ambiguity. S ee ambiguity. grammatical function. The syntactic role that a word or phrase serves in a sentence (e.g., a noun or noun phrase may serve as subject or object) and the part of speech in which the word or phrase operates. — Also termed grammatical relation. grammaticality, n. Correctness according to the rules of grammar. • Grammaticality is not a strict concept. Some forms of construction may be acceptable to all speakers of a particular dialect, while others may never be acceptable. But some forms may have more or less acceptance by at least some speakers. grammatical relation. See grammatical function. grammatical word. See empty word. grammatolatry /gram-ә-tahl-ә-tree/, n. The worship of grammar; an undue regard for the letter as opposed to the spirit of what is written. Cf. epeolatry. grapheme /graf-eem/. The smallest distinguishable unit in a writing system. • Letters <A, c>, punctuation marks <?, !>, symbols <+, %>, and numbers <4, 7> are all types of graphemes. grapholect /graf-ә-lekt/. A standard written language. graphology /gra-fol-ә-jee/, n. 1. The study of handwriting. 2. The analysis of handwriting as an index to personality, intelligence, and other characteristics. 3. The study of the written symbols or printing systems in various languages. — graphologist, n. — graphological, adj. grave accent. See accent. Great Vowel Shift. In the development of the English language, the period (c. 1400–1700) when the pronunciation of stressed vowel sounds changed. • During this period, the pronunciation of stressed vowel sounds became systematically “raised,” that is, pronounced higher in the mouth. So the word each in Chaucer’s time was spelled ech and pronounced /ech/. grouping ambiguity. See ambiguity. guideword. The word (or words) at the head of each page in an alphabetically arranged reference work such as a dictionary or encylopedia, indicating typically the first or last word on the page. guttural /gәt-әr-әl/, adj. (Of a spoken sound) produced far back in the mouth (e.g., g, k). Guttural is often misunderstood as meaning “produced in the throat,” but guttural sounds are actually produced in the mouth, with the root of the tongue and the soft palate. hanging comparative. See dangling comparative under comparative. hapax legomenon /hap-aks lә-gahmә-nәn/, n. 1. A word or phrase found only once in the written record of a language. 2. A word or phrase found only once in the work of a particular author. Pl. hapax legomena. haplography. The unintentional omission of a written, repeated letter, syllable, word, or series of letters, syllables, or words, usu. while copying or reading. • In English, the word idolatory was derived from the Greek idololatreia; the repeated -ol was lost through either haplography or syncope. (See syncope.) Haplography seems the more likely source of that shortening 898 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms because the word probably appeared mostly in written contexts when the change occurred. Many instances of haplography result from the reader’s eye jumping forward over similar symbols and seeing “endontics” instead of endodontics, and “tillate” instead of titillate. Cf. dittography. haplology /hap-lahl-ә-jee/. The contraction of a word by omitting syllables when the word is spoken. • For example, probably is often pronounced /prob-lee/ in rapid speech; in dialect, the haplology is taken even further: /prol-ee/. head. 1. The most important word in a group of syntactically related words because it governs how the group performs in the sentence; the core word in a phrase. • In a relative clause, the head is the noun phrase to which the relative pronoun refers. • For example, in the tall man in the front row, the word man is the head of the noun phrase. — Also termed headword. 2. In typography, a headline, esp. one that summarizes a writing’s topic. headword. 1. The word that begins an entry in a reference work such as a dictionary or encyclopedia. 2. head (1). helping verb. See auxiliary verb under verb. hendiadys /hen-di-ә-dәs/. Rhetoric. The use of two words connected by and to express the same idea as might be expressed with a single word and a qualifier; the separation of what is really one thing into two things <They drank from goblets and from gold> (they drank from golden goblets). hermeneutics, n. The art or science of interpreting texts. • The term is commonly used to refer to techniques of interpreting scripture, but it applies to any kind of text. — hermeneutic, adj. heteroclite. A word of irregular inflection; esp., a Latin noun irregular in declension. — heteroclite, adj. heterography /het-ә-rahg-rә-fee/, n. 1. A misspelling. 2. Irregular or inconsistent spelling (as in the orthography of English). Cf. homography. heterological, adj. (Of a modifying word) not having the characteristic denoted. • A word that is heterological never describes itself. Examples include long (it has only four letters and one syllable) and monosyllabic (it has five syllables). Cf. autological. heteronym. 1. A word that is spelled like another word but has a different meaning and is pronounced differently. • For instance, lead can mean “to guide” (/leed/) or “a metallic element” (/led/). Similarly, alternate can mean “the next choice” (/awl-tәr-nit/) or “to switch back and forth” (/awltәr-nayt/). 2. A phrase referring to a thing that is called by an entirely different name in a different geographical area. For example, an apple coated with hardened red-sugar syrup is called a candy apple in New York and a taff y apple in Pennsylvania. 3. A synonym; specif., a word that has the same meaning as another but is not written similarly and has a different origin. Bucket and pail, for instance, refer to the same object, but bucket derives from Anglo-Norman while the origin of pail is unknown. heterophemy. The inadvertent use of a word or phrase when another is meant. • Heterophemy usually results from a momentary lapse in concentration (as when a server writes an order for white wine instead of white rum). In speech, it is also called a slip of the tongue (lapsus linguae) and in writing a slip of the pen (lapsus calami). Freudian slips are a type of heterophemy. See freudian slip. hiatus /hi-ay-tәs/. A break in pronunciation between two adjacent vowels or vowel sounds that are not in the same syllable (e.g., coowner; residuum) or in different words (e.g., to irritate; draw out). historical linguistics. See linguistics. historical present tense. See tense. Hobson-Jobsonism. The modification of a foreign word or phrase to fit the sound-system of the borrowing language. • Hobson-Jobson is an anglicized corruption of the Shi’ite Muslim cry Ya Hasan! Ya Hosain!—used during the Festival of Muharram. The term became the popular name for the Glossary of Anglo-Indian Colloquial Words and Phrases, published in 1886. At the time, many of the hybrid terms in the Glossary were unique to British India. But some have become Standard English (e.g., shawl, veranda, pajamas, and shampoo). holograph /hahl-ә-graf/, n. An entirely handwritten document—and all in one hand. — holographic, adj. holophrasis /hoh-lahf-rә-sis/, n. The combination of many ideas in a single word, esp. a verb. — holophrastic, adj. homeophony /hoh-mee-ahf-ә-nee/. Similarity in sound. — homeophonic, adj. homograph. A word that has the same spelling as at least one other but has a different meaning. • It may be pronounced differently. Depending on the context, fair can mean an amusement <noun: the county fair>, attractive <adjective: a fair lady>, or just <adjective: a fair decision>. In all senses, the pronunciation is the same. Similarly, lead can be “to go first while others follow” <verb: I’ll lead you home> or a metal <noun: a lead sinker>; if the word is spoken, it is differentiated by its pronunciation. If homographs have identical pronunciations, they are also classified as homonyms. — homographic, adj. See homonym. homographic /hahm-ә-graf-ik/, adj. 1. Of or relating to a homograph. 2. Of or relating to homography. homography /hә-mahg-rә-fee/, n. The representation of a language’s sounds so that each sound is expressed by a single character, and no character represents more than that one sound. • The International Phonetic Alphabet is perhaps the best-known system of homography. Cf. heterography (2). homonym. 1. A word that is spelled identically with another but has a different pronunciation or meaning, and usu. a different origin; homograph. • The word mood, for example, in the sense of an emotion or state of mind derives from German (Mut) and Dutch (moed). But mood in the grammatical sense of verbs derives from Latin (modus). 2. homophone. — homonymous, adj. homophone. A word that is pronounced the same as another but has a different meaning and usu. spelling <rain–rein–reign> <rite– write–right–wright>. • Many nouns are homophones, such as pair–pear. Other parts of speech can also be homonyms. The verb lie means either (1) to say something that is not true, or (2) to be at rest, usu. (esp. of a living thing) in a horizontal position. The distinction becomes obvious when lie is conjugated in each sense: lie–lied–lied and lie–lay–lain. Homophones that have identical spellings are also homographs. — Also termed paronym. — homophonous, adj. — homophony, n. hybrid. Philology. A word formed by combining elements of different languages. • For example, amoral is formed from the Greek negative prefix a- and the Latin root moral. Hyperdrive has the Greek prefix hyper- and the English drive. hypallage /hi-pal-ә-jee or hi-/. Rhetoric. The reversal of the usual syntactic or semantic relationship of words; esp., the transference of an adjective from the person who has the quality denoted to some object (person or thing) with reference to which the person manifests that quality <flattering offer>. • A memorable example occurs in Byron’s lines: “The night- Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 899 winds sigh, the breakers roar, / And shrieks the wild seamew.” (In the final clause, the subject–verb sequence is inverted to create a strikingly unparallel phrasing.) In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar appears this example: “His coward lips did from their color fly.” Shakespeare might have written, more ordinarily (and less memorably), “The color did fly from his coward lips.” On a more down-to-earth level, hypallage frequently occurs in phrases such as caring home (it’s not the home that’s caring, but the people in it), glad tidings, hopeless efforts, friendly glance, jealous look, joyful news, wise counsel, and treacherous plots. — Also termed transferred epithet. hyperbaton. See inversion. hyperbole /hi-pәr-bә-lee/. Rhetoric. Overstatement; specif., exaggeration to distort facts by making them appear much more significant than they really are. • Hyperbole may be used to entertain or for serious purposes. Either way, it should be used with care. For example, calling a referee’s poor decision “the crime of the century” is excessive. — hyperbolic, adj. See auxesis; figure of speech. Cf. irony; litotes; sarcasm. hyperbolism /hi-pәr-bә-liz-әm/, n. 1. Addiction to hyperbole. 2. An instance of hyperbole. hypercorrect, adj. 1. (Of an expression used by an imperfectly educated person) incorrectly formed from an erroneous attempt to use a prestigious form of language. 2. (Of an ill-educated speaker or writer) using erroneous expressions in a mistaken attempt to mimic educated usage. — hypercorrection, n. Cf. hyperurbanism. hypernym /hi-pәr-nim/, n. A genusword; a broad term that denotes something for which the language contains many more particular terms (as red is the hypernym for crimson, oxblood, rubicund, ruddy, scarlet, etc.). — hypernymy, n. hyperurbanism /hi-pәr-әr-bә-niz-әm/, n. 1. An affected manner of speech or writing intended to avoid sounding rural or uneducated. 2. A hypercorrect phrasing used by someone who wants to sound sophisticated but instead achieves the opposite result. — hyperurban, adj. Cf. hypercorrect. hyphaeresis /hi-fer-ә-sis or hi-feer-әsis/. Philology. The omission of a letter, syllable, or sound from the body of a word. • For example, whene’er drops the v of whenever and thereby loses a syllable. Essentially, this word is synonymous with apocope. Cf. elision. hypocorism /hi-pahk-ә-riz-әm/, n. A pet name or familiar name (e.g., Billy for William, Lexi for Alexandra). hypocoristic /hi-pahk-ә-ris-tik/, adj. 1. Of or relating to pet names or familiar names. 2. diminutive. — Also termed caritative. hyponym /hi-poh-nim/, n. A speciesword; a narrow term whose meaning is embraced within a broad category of meanings carried by a more general term (as daisy, gladiolus, marigold, rose, stargazer, tulip, and violet are hyponyms of the word flower). — hyponymy, n. hypophora /hi-pahf-ә-rә/. Rhetoric. The posing and answering of questions, often at length; esp., the practice or an instance of raising and answering one or more questions that an opponent might raise about one’s argument. Cf. prolepsis (2). hypotaxis /hi-pә-tak-sәs/. The subordination of one clause to another to show the logical relationship between ideas <We’ll have to do the marketing tomorrow because I forgot to make a grocery list> (the conjunction because subordinates the dependent clause I forgot to make a grocery list). Cf. parataxis. hypozeuxis /hi-poh-z[y]ook-sis/. The use in one sentence of three or more parallel clauses in succession, each one with a subject and a verb. hysteron proteron /his-tәr-on prohtәr-on or prot-ә-ron/. Rhetoric. A construction in which the natural order of the elements is inverted to stress the more important event, even though it must occur later in time. • The command put on your shoes and socks, though literally absurd, is meant to put the emphasis on shoes over socks. — Also termed hysterosis. hysterosis. See hysteron proteron. ideogram /id-ee-ә-gram/. A symbol that represents an idea rather than a particular word (e.g., the numeral 8 in contrast with the word eight). Cf. logogram; pictogram. idiolect /id-ee-ә-lekt/. An individual’s distinctive language; a personal dialect. • Every person’s language reflects word choices and other features that characterize that individual’s speech and writing. See dialect; slang. idiom /id-ee-әm/. 1. A phrase that has a meaning greater than its constituent parts might suggest and that must therefore be learned independently of the traditional definitions of its constituent parts (e.g., break wind, put up with, raining cats and dogs, top-shelf ). • For example, kick the bucket means “die,” and red herring means “something brought up to divert attention from the real issue.” 2. An expression that is widely used and accepted despite being illogical or formally ungrammatical (e.g., a life-and-death situation is illogical and it’s me! is technically ungrammatical). — idiomatic, adj. Cf. set phrase; cliché. ignoratio elenchi /ig-nor-ay-she-oh i-leng-kee/, n. Rhetoric. The fallacy of arguing the wrong point. • Literally, this Latin phrase means “ignoring the refutation”—meaning that the advocate wastes time by trying to establish something not at issue. See elenchus (3). ignotum per ignotius /ig-noh-tәm pәr ig-noh-shәs/. [Latin “the unknown by the more unknown”] An attempt to explain something obscure in terms even more obscure <What does habitation mean? Why, it means “commorancy”!> <For those of you who don’t understand the term extirpate, it’s equivalent to deruncinate>. • The term is often applied when a word is defined opaquely or to an argument in which something that is not well understood is explained in terms even more arcane. illative conjunction. 1. See final conjunction under conjunction. 2. See conjunctive adverb under adverb. illeism /il-ee-iz-әm/. Reference to oneself in the third person, either by the third-person pronoun (he, she) or by name or label. Two examples. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (1598), the eponymous character consistently uses illeism, saying at one point: “Caesar should be a beast without a heart / If he should stay at home today for fear” (2.2.42–43). In the 1996 presidential election, the Republican candidate, Bob Dole, was widely lampooned for his illeism (“Let me tell you what Bob Dole thinks.”). illocution /il-loh-kyoo-shәn/, n. Speech or writing that itself constitutes an action, as by ordering, warning, or promising. Cf. perlocution. imperative /im-per-ә-tiv/, adj. (Of verbs) expressing a command (come here), prohibition (don’t touch that), request (help me a minute), warning (stay out or else!), or the like. A synonym is jussive, but jussive has a second sense that is narrower than imperative. Cf. jussive (2). See imperative sentence under sentence. imperative mood. See mood. imperative sentence. See sentence. imperfective aspect. See aspect. improper diphthong. See diphthong. inanimate, adj. Of, relating to, or being a thing that lacks consciousness or is inherently immobile, although it may 900 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms be a living thing such as a plant. See feminine gender, masculine gender, and neuter gender under gender. inanimate noun. See noun. inceptive /in-sep-tiv/. See inchoative. inchoative /in-koh-ә-tiv/. (Of a verb) showing that an action, state of being, or the like has begun. The term is also used as a noun to denote such a verb. — Also termed inceptive; ingressive. indefinite adjective. See adjective. indefinite article. See article. indefinite pronoun. See pronoun. independent clause. See clause. independent form. See absolute form. indicative /in-dik-ә-tiv/, adj. (Of a verb) expressing a plain statement. indicative mood. See mood. indirect object. See object. indirect-object inversion. The placement of an indirect object before the direct object (as in John gave her the book as opposed to John gave the book to her). indirect question. See question. indirect speech. See reported speech. infinitive. A verb in its unconjugated form that can function as a noun but retains certain verb features, such as taking an object and being modified by adverbs. • The infinitive is usually preceded by “to” <to dance> or by an auxiliary or modal verb <You can take the camera>. The subject of an infinitive is always in the objective case <For him to prepare any less diligently would have been shocking>. bare infinitive. An infinitive in which to is omitted. It almost always follows an auxiliary verb such as should. — Also termed plain infinitive; pure infinitive; unmarked infinitive. complementary infinitive. An infinitive that functions as the principal verb <I am going to revise the manuscript next week> (in which am going has a modal quality). marked infinitive. A verb form preceded by the word to. plain infinitive. See bare infinitive. pure infinitive. See bare infinitive. split infinitive. An infinitive verb composed of to followed by one or more modifiers before the verb <to fully explain> <to deliberately split an infinitive>. unmarked infinitive. See bare infinitive. infinitive phrase. See phrase. infinitive verb. See infinitive. infix /in-fiks/, n. 1. A sound element, such as a letter or syllable, inserted within a word. • In a string of suffixes, as in cleanliness where -ly and -ness are both suffixes, some grammarians treat all but the last-added syllable as infixes. Otherwise, infixes are comparatively rare in English. 2. A word inserted between the parts of a compound word, often typical of slang (e.g., some-damn-where, absobloodylutely). See affix. Cf. prefix; suffix. inflecting language. See synthetic language. inflection. 1. The change of form that a word undergoes to distinguish its case, gender, mood, number, voice, or other characteristics. • Nouns, pronouns, and verbs are inflected either by affixation or by internal vowel change. Nouns are inflected to show that they are plural <goose–geese> <clock–clocks>. Verbs are inflected when conjugated <I have–it has> <jog–jogged>. — Also spelled inflexion. — Also termed flection. 2. The study of how the endings of words may be used to show their relationship to one another; accidence. inflectional affix. See affix. inflectional morphology. See accidence. inflexion. See inflection. ingressive /in-gres-iv/, adj. See inchoative. initialism. An abbreviation made from the initial letters (or most important initial letters) of a name, each letter being pronounced separately, such as CPU, FBI, and r.p.m. • The American Broadcasting Company is typically reduced to its initials: ABC. An initialism is a type of abbreviation. — Also termed alphabetism. See abbreviation. Cf. acronym. inkhornism. Rhetoric. An arcane term; a bookish word. • An inkhorn was variously a portable case for holding writing materials or a portable ink bottle (originally made of horn). In the Renaissance, a pedantic, ostentatious writer would be said to “smell [or savor] a little of the inkhorn.” Hence inkhornism came to be used in reference to a word that typifies a style with that particular odor. Before moving to define intensifier, I must pause to acknowledge the irony that so many of the rhetorical terms in this glossary are essentially inkhornisms. In self-defense, I merely note that I didn’t make them up. I’m just reporting the linguistic facts. But in a glossary like this one, a little sesquipedality—for the right reader—can be some fun. Who’d have known that terms like epanadiplosis and hypophora even existed? — Also termed inkhorn term. intensifier /in-ten[t]-sә-fi-әr/. An adverb that emphasizes and height- ens an adjective or some other adverb. • Intensive adverbs and adjectives include extremely, fairly, quite, rather, so, too, very, and (as negative intensifiers) hardly and scarcely. — Also termed intensive or degree modifier. intensive, adj. Expressing intensity; emphatic. • The prefix in- can be either intensive (as in intense and incense) or negative (as in incredible and indefensible). — Also termed ascensive; augmentative. — intensive, n. intensive, n. See intensifier; reflexive. intensive pronoun. See pronoun. interjection. A word or short phrase uttered as an exclamation with no literal meaning and having no grammatical connection with anything; an expression used as an exclamation, usu. one expressing a strong feeling (e.g., Really? Oh, no! It can’t be!). • Interjections show emotion, particularly strong ones such as surprise and shock. They usually appear at the beginning of a sentence and are punctuated with a comma or an exclamation mark. Because an interjection has no grammatical function in a sentence, a meaningless utterance used as an introductory word can also be an interjection (e.g., Well, I’ll have to ask first). Cf. exclamation. Interlingua /in-tәr-ling-gwә/, n. An artificial language invented for universal use, esp. the one promoted since the 1920s by New York’s International Auxiliary Association. Cf. esperanto; pasigraphy. interrogative /in-tә-rah-gә-tiv/, adj. Expressing a question (as in Who is making that awful noise? or Why didn’t the mail come today?). • The word is also used as a noun to denote a question. See interrogative sentence under sentence. interrogative adje ctive. S ee adjective. interrogative mood. See mood. interrogative pronoun. See pronoun. interrogative sentence. See sentence. intervocalic, adj. Phonetics. (Of a sound) immediately preceded and followed by vowel sounds, as with p in occupy and d in idea. intonation /in-tә-nay-shәn or -toh-/. 1. The rise and fall in the pitch of a person’s speaking voice. • Questions are generally marked by a rising intonation at the end of the sentence. And certain words, such as only, may vary in sense according to the speaker’s intonation. Except for questions, exclamations, and the like, American English tends to sound more monotone, with less intonational variation than British English. 2. The system of Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 901 pitch and tone patterns of a spoken language. See pitch. intransitive verb. See verb. intrinsic modality. See deontic modality under modality. introductory adverb. See conjunctive adverb under adverb. inversion. 1. A change in the normal order or relationship of words or other elements; esp., the placement of a verb or some part of the verb phrase before its subject <“I’m coming,” calmly said he>. — Also termed hyperbaton; metaplasm. See anastrophe. 2. The transposition of the subject and the auxiliary verb for the purpose of posing a question (e.g., He is a golfer becomes Is he a golfer?). iotacism /i-oht-ә-si-zәm/. The conversion of other vowel sounds to that of iota (in English, a long e). ipse dixit. Rhetoric. An unsupported assertion; something stated but not proved. • An ipse dixit rests only on the speaker’s authority. Irish bull. A statement that is incongruous, ludicrous, or logically absurd, often unintentionally. • Irish bulls are usually found in speech, but they occasionally make their way into print. Examples: • • • It seems, from what I gather, to be one of those simple cases which are so extremely difficult. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [1859–1930]) I don’t like spinach, and I’m glad I don’t, because if I liked it I’d eat it, and I just hate it. (Clarence Darrow [1857–1938]) Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours. (Yogi Berra [1925–]) irony /i-rә-nee/. Rhetoric. A mode of speech in which the literal or implied meaning of the words is opposite that of the intended meaning; esp., a suggested meaning that differs from the apparent meaning. • A classic example of irony is Mark Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Although Antony declares, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him,” and declares that the assassins are “honorable men,” he means just the opposite. Irony can be used for many purposes, such as humor or to be rude without being directly confrontational <Of course the bride won’t mind if you wear ripped jeans to her formal wedding>. — Also termed enantiosis. Cf. hyperbole; litotes; sarcasm. irregular adjective. See adjective. irregular verb. See verb. isolating language. See analytic language. italic. 1. (adj). Of or relating to a sloping style of typeface. 2. (n.) (usu. ita- lics) In printing, the sloping typeface used for emphasis or distinction. iterative /it-ә-rә-tiv or -ray-/, adj. See frequentative aspect under aspect. iterative aspect. See aspect. jargon /jahr-gәn/. The special, usu. technical idiom of a social, occupational, or professional group, often intended to streamline communication and save time and space, but sometimes also to conceal meaning from the uninitiated. — jargonistic, adj. Cf. argot; dialect. Johnsonese. An inflated, stilted, or pompous literary style that displaces plain English with long words and Latinate diction. • This pejorative term derives from the name and style of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), the renowned lexicographer and writer. James Boswell recorded this example of how Johnson altered plain English: He seemed to take a pleasure in speaking in his own style; for when he had carelessly missed it, he would repeat the thought translated into it. Talking of the Comedy of The Rehearsal, he said, “It has not wit enough to keep it sweet.” This was easy; he therefore caught himself, and pronounced a more round sentence: “It has not vitality enough to preserve it from putrefaction.” (James Boswell [1740–1795]) Thomas B. Macaulay likewise noted how Johnson’s style changed when writing a private letter and recounting the same incident for the public: His letters from the Hebrides to Mrs. Thrale are the original of that work of which the Journey to the Hebrides is the translation; and it is amusing to compare the two versions. “When we were taken upstairs,” says he in one of his letters, “a dirty fellow bounced out of the bed on which one of us was to lie.” This incident is recorded in the journey as follows: “Out of one of the beds on which we were to repose started up, at our entrance, a man black as a Cyclops from the forge.” (Thomas B. Macaulay [1800–1859]) Yet another classic example occurs in Johnson’s definition of network in Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755): “any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.” jot. The least letter or character of any writing; hence, a minuscule part of anything. See tittle. jus et norma loquendi /jәs et nor-mә loh-kwen-di/. Collectively, the standards or rules of grammar, pronunciation, and other linguistic elements as established by the customs of the native users of the language. jussive /jәs-iv/, adj. 1. Same as imperative. 2. Expressing a command directed to a third person (e.g., let them eat cake; have them submit suggestions). Cf. imperative. justification. In printing, the alignment of text so that one or both margins form a straight edge. karmadharaya /kahr-mә-dahr-ә-yә/, n. [Sanskrit] A compound consisting of an adjective plus a noun <blackbird> <supernova> or an attributive noun plus a noun <fireworks> <lamppost>. Cf. bahuvrihi. kernel sentence. In transformational grammar, a simple sentence that results from the application of a few required transformations, and that with further transformations can be expanded into more complicated sentences. • A kernel sentence is the stripped-down nucleus of a sentence of any complexity <Young people are often exceptionally polite even though the general coarsening of society has resulted in the lack of emphasis on good manners> (the kernel sentence being People are polite). — Also termed simplex. kerning, n. In printing, the adjustment of spacing between characters or letters. kinesics /ki-nee-siks/, n. The study of how body movements and gestures convey nonvocal meaning; the examination of body language as a part of communication. koine. 1. A literary dialect. 2. lingua franca. 3. A regional dialect or language that becomes the standard language for a wide area and loses its most pronounced local characteristics. • The term comes from the name of an ancient Greek dialect that eventually became the common language of the eastern Mediterranean countries under the Greek and Roman empires. lallation /la-lay-shәn/. 1. Baby talk. 2. lambdacism (3). lambdacism /lam-dә-siz-әm/. 1. The overuse or overfondness of the letter l in speaking or writing. 2. The mispronunciation of l. 3. The erroneous substitution of l for r in pronunciation. • In sense 3, lambdacism is synonymous with rhotacism. See rhotacism; lallation (2). language. 1. The expression of human thought or emotion in words, whether written or spoken. 2. The set of habits by which the members of a nation are accustomed to communicating with one another; the sum of a population’s means of communicating information, including words and syntax as well as gestures and customs of behavior (as in the English language). 3. The manner or style of writing or speech (as in pompous language). 902 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 4. The vocabulary and phraseology of a group of people in a profession, industry, or the like (as in medical language). language acquisition. The process or result of learning language, either as a whole or certain aspects of it. — Sometimes shortened to acquisition. langue. Linguistics. Language as an abstract system, the principles of which make speech possible. • The elements of langue include subsystems such as spelling, syntax, and grammar. These elements create meaning according to the principles by which they are arranged and how they relate to one another. Cf. parole. lapsus calami /lap-sәs kal-ә-mi/. [Latin] A slip of the pen. See heterophemy. lapsus linguae /lap-sәs lin-gwee/. [Latin] A slip of the tongue. See heterophemy. leading, n. In printing, the amount of blank space between every two lines of text. left-branching sentence. A complicated sentence that has most of its complexity—the conditions, exceptions, etc.—before the principal verb; one that has a majority of its constituents on the left side of the tree diagram. Cf. right-branching sentence. legaldygook. A combination of legalese and gobbledygook; unclear or overtechnical legal language. See gobbledygook; legalese. legalese. 1. The jargon used by members of the legal profession. 2. Language marked by the overuse of legal terms. See legaldygook. letter. 1. A symbol in an alphabet, such as Z. 2. A character representing a speech sound or sounds. lexeme /lek-seem/. Linguistics. A word or phrase taken as a lexical unit in the abstract, without considering the forms it takes in specific constructions. — Also termed lexical unit. lexical, adj. 1. Of or relating to a word or words. 2. Of or relating to the vocabulary of a language. 3. Of or relating to a dictionary or to lexicography. lexical ambiguity. See ambiguity. lexical category. See part of speech. lexical meaning. The essential meaning of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs—i.e., of the words that carry the bulk of the semantic burden in any utterance. lexical unit. See lexeme. lexicographer /lek-si-kog-rә-fәr/. The writer or compiler of a dictionary. • In his great English dictionary of 1755, Samuel Johnson’s famous definition read as follows: “a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge.” lexicography /lek-si-kog-rә-fee/. The art or process of compiling a dictionary or lexicon. — lexicographic /leksi-kә-graf-ik/, adj. lexicology /lek-si-kol-ә-jee/. The study of words and their derivation and signification. lexicon. 1. The vocabulary of a language, group, or individual. 2. A dictionary; wordbook. lexiphanic /lek-si-fan-ik/, adj. Using many hard, pretentious words. — lexiphanicism, n. lexis. Linguistics. The total vocabulary of a language, as distinct from the grammar. ligature /lig-ә-chuur or -chәr or -tuur or -tyuur/. A written character made up of two or more joined letters, such as æ and ffi. light verb. See verb. line-editing. The spotting and fixing of problems in a manuscript—whether one’s own or someone else’s. • Several things can go wrong when you’re editing: (1) you might miss a problem and fail to eliminate it; (2) you might spot a problem and propose a flawed solution, perhaps even a “solution” that worsens the text; or (3) you might misidentify something as a problem when in fact it’s perfectly correct, so that your “solution” mars what was an unblemished text (rarely in such a situation is the editorial hand benign). So a good editor is surefooted, but the surefootedness depends on accurate knowledge of editorial problems and their solutions. — Also termed copyediting. lingua franca /ling-gwә frang-kә/. A language that is spoken commonly, esp. for business purposes, by people in many different lands. • In ancient times, Latin was spoken throughout the Roman empire and continued to be used in former Roman possessions as a trade language after the empire crumbled. By the Renaissance, French had become the lingua franca in Europe. Today, English is the global lingua franca. linguistic ambiguity. See ambiguity. linguistics. The scientific study of language. See grammar; morphology; morphophonemics; phonetics; phonology; pragmatics; semantics; stylistics; syntax. comparative linguistics. The branch of linguistics that focuses on the mutual relationships of languages believed to have a common origin or the historical development of a language between periods. descriptive linguistics. A field of study that investigates how people actually use language, both in particular groups and broadly. Cf. prescriptive linguistics. diachronic linguistics. See historical linguistics. historical linguistics. The study of how one or more languages develop over time. — Also termed diachronic linguisitics. prescriptive linguistics. The study of language to derive or develop common rules and guide users in the use of standardized rules that aid communication. Cf. descriptive linguistics. psycholinguistics /si-koh-ling-gwistiks/. The study of how people learn, understand, and produce language. sociolinguistics /soh-see-oh-linggwis-tiks or soh-shee-oh-linggwis-tiks/. The study of language in relation to society. • Social factors that affect language include class, region, occupation, etc. structural linguistics. The analytical study of language as a system and the functions of linguistic units such as sounds, words, and sentences within the system. linking verb. See verb. literal, adj. 1. (Of a word or phrase) having the usual or most basic sense. Cf. figurative. 2. Unembellished. literarism. 1. The use of unusual words by the literary or erudite. 2. An addiction to literary language; an expression of literary language. 3. A literary idiom or expression. literatim /lit-ә-ray-tim/, adv. [Latin] Letter for letter. literation. The representation of sounds or words by letters. litotes /li-tә-teez or lit-ә-teez/. Rhetoric. 1. Understatement achieved by denying the opposite of an idea; affirmation of a thing by denying the truth of its opposite <a citizen of no mean city>. • Litotes is used to increase effect or to reduce censure. It’s a very old tool in English rhetoric; examples are found in Anglo-Saxon literature right up to modern times. For example, he’s not the friendliest person means he’s unfriendly. And it’s not inconceivable that there will be a pop quiz means you’d better study: there will probably be a pop quiz. Cf. hyperbole; irony; sarcasm. 2. An instance of such understatement. loan translation. A word or phrase borrowed from another language by literally translating the components. • English has borrowed many terms from many languages, including Spanish (blue-blood = sangre azul), French (merciless = sans pitié), German (superman = Übermensch), and Latin (wisdom tooth = dens sapientiae). — Also termed calque. Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 903 loanword. Philology. A word borrowed or adopted from another language and partly or wholly naturalized. • Few or no changes are made to some adopted words such as hotel (from Fr. hôtel) and kindergarten (Ger.). For others, naturalization is evident. For instance, extravert was adapted from the German form extravertiert, which itself was compounded of the Latin extra- and vertere. The word evolved into extrovert when patterned on the established word introvert, derived from the Latin introvertere. locative /lahk-ә-tiv/, adj. Expressing location; answering the question where or in (at) what place. Some examples of locative words include directional words (e.g., north; southwest) and adverbs (e.g., above; everywhere; here; inside). locative adverb. See adverb. logocracy /lә-gahk-rә-see/, n. Government by the power of words. — logocratic, adj. logodaedaly /log-ә-ded-ә-lee/, n. 1. Skill in wordplay; verbal legerdemain. 2. Wordplay. logogram /log-ә-gram/. A written character such as a letter (e.g., c. for century) or a symbol (e.g., $ or %) that represents a whole word, as in shorthand writing. — Also termed logograph. Cf. ideogram; pictogram. logograph /log-ә-graf/. 1. A written word. 2. logogram. logology /lә-gahl-ә-jee/. The study of words with an emphasis on features such as length and letter patterns rather than meaning. logomachy /lә-gahm-ә-kee or lahgahm-ә-kee/, n. 1. A dispute about words. 2. A war of words; wordy strife without accompanying deeds. — logomachist, n. logomania /log-oh-may-nee-ә/, n. Uncontrollable garrulity; extreme loquacity. logophobia /log-ә-foh-bee-ә/, n. A persistent fear, distrust, or dislike of words. — logophobic, adj. logorrhea /log-ә-ree-ә/, n. Diarrhea of the mouth; excessive, often incoherent talkativeness. Cf. garrulity; loquacity. longueur /long-guur/. A long or boring passage, esp. in a writing. • This term originally applied to writings alone but is now extended to performing arts, including plays, music, and speeches. It almost always carries a hint of insult or disdain. loose, adj. Of or relating to a syntactical element that is inessential to the meaning or grammatical construction <loose clause> <loose apposition>. loquacity /loh-kwas-i-tee/, n. Talkativeness; fluency to a fault. Cf. garrulity; logorrhea. — loquacious, adj. lurry, n. 1. Something recited by rote or delivered in a monotone; boilerplate speech. • John Milton (1608–1674), who disapproved of the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, wrote that one effect of its use was “to turn prayer into a kind of lurry.” 2. A babble of voices; a hubbub. macrolinguistics. 1. The study of all types of human communication, verbal or symbolic. • Defined most broadly, it includes both microlinguistics and prelinguistics. Cf. microlinguistics; prelinguistics. 2. The statistical analysis of largescale linguistic phenomena, esp. involving more than one language. macron /may-kron or mak-ron/. In pronunciation, a diacritical mark (ˉ) indicating that a vowel sound is long. • For example, the mark shows that the vowel sound in beet is a long ee (/bēt/). And in cooperate, it indicates that the identical adjacent letters are not pronounced alike (/kōŏpәrāt/). The curved mark is a breve. See diacritical mark. Cf. breve. main clause. See independent clause under clause. main verb. See verb. malapropism /mal-ә-prop-iz-әm/. A grotesque misuse of a word, often one with some similarity in sound or stress pattern to another; the word so misused. • This sort of misuse is named for Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play The Rivals (1775), who frequently used words that sounded like the ones she meant to say, as in, “His physiognomy [phraseology] is so grammatical!” See catachresis. marked infinitive. See infinitive. masculine, adj. (Of a pronoun or noun) indicating that the person or animal named is male. • In English, only the personal pronoun he, certain nouns (such as rooster), and a few adjectives are masculine. Unlike in the feminine gender, masculine nouns and adjectives are not distinguished by suffixes. — masculine, n. See gender. mass noun. See noun. mataeology. Pointless or unproductive conversation or questioning; fruitless discourse. — mataeologian, n. matrix clause. See independent clause under clause. mechanics. Devices that lend clarity to writing, such as spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. meiosis /mi-oh-sis/, n. Rhetoric. A figure of speech in which something’s importance is intentionally understated or implied to be less significant or substantial than it really is. • The understatement actually heightens the force of the statement. For example: • • • One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. Today, my wife left me, my dog bit me, and I lost my job, so I’m feeling a little down. I was somewhat worried when the psychopath ran toward me with a chainsaw. — meiotic, adj. melioration. Linguisitics. The process by which over time a word elevates in meaning or gains a more positive connotation, so that a negative or derogatory word takes on a positive or favorable meaning. • For example, Old English hlāford “keeper of the bread” was simplified and underwent melioration to Modern English lord. — Also termed amelioration. In Middle English, luxury and lasciviousness were synonyms. Today luxury means “something highly desirable but not a necessity,” and lasciviousness refers to unrestrained sexual desire. Cf. pejoration. melliloquence. Pleasant-sounding speech; charming eloquence. — melliloquent, adj. merism /mer-iz-әm/, n. Rhetoric. A type of synecdoche in which a totality is expressed by two contrasting parts <head-to-toe search> <come old and young alike>. — Also termed merismus. metabasis /mә-tab-ә-sis/. Rhetoric. A transitional summary that links different sections of a writing; esp., a brief summing up of what has already been covered, followed by a précis of what will follow. — metabatic, adj. metalanguage. Linguistics. Technical language used to describe or analyze an object of study, such as mathematics, philosophy, and esp. other languages. • When language is studied, it is called an object language. A metalanguage may be a natural language or a formal one that uses specific terms or formal models to discuss the elements or use of an object language. For example, the English sentence “Andrew shouts” might be rendered in a formal metalanguage as “S(a),” where S = shouts and a = Andrew. When addressing a natural language that is the same as the object language (e.g., English), writers conventionally use typographical means to distinguish between the metalanguage and the object language, usu. by italicizing statements in the object language or surrounding them with quotation marks. See object language. 904 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms metalepsis /met-ә-lep-sis/, n. Rhetoric. 1. The uniting of two or more figures of speech in one word or phrase. 2. A word or phrase in which two or more figures of speech are united. — metaleptic, adj. metalinguistics. 1. The study of language and its relationship to other elements within a culture or society. 2. The study of linguists’ methods of investigation and analysis. metanalysis /met-ә-nal-i-sis/, n. The analysis of words or groups of words into new elements (e.g., historically an ewt became a newt, and a napron became an apron). — metanalytical, adj. Cf. prosthesis. metaphor. Rhetoric. An implied comparison between two things by figuratively using a word or phrase in a sense analogous to its literal denotation <The fog creeps in on cat’s feet> <a volley of words>. See figure of speech; trope. Cf. simile. Examples: • • Language is the amber in which a thousand precious thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. (Richard Chenevix Trench [1807–1886]) Style is the gossamer on which the seeds of truth float through the world. (George Bancroft [ca. 1800–1891]) metaplasm /met-ә-plaz-әm/. 1. Grammar. A change in a word’s syllables or letters. 2. Rhetoric. inversion. metastasis /mә-tas-tә-sis/. 1. Grammar. The change of tenses, such as the use of the historical present tense. 2. Rhetoric. A sudden change of subject; an abrupt transition. metathesis /mә-tath-ә-sis/. Transposition of the usual sequences of letters, syllables, or sounds of a word (e.g., aksed for asked, or irrevelant for irrelevant). • Over time, metathesis may produce a permanent change in the language. Cf. anastrophe. meter. 1. Poetic rhythm; esp., the technique by which such rhythm is achieved. 2. The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in lines of poetry. metonymy /mә-tahn-ә-mee/. Rhetoric. The use of a word or phrase to represent not just what it denotes but something it is closely associated with; specif., a metaphor by which something related to another thing becomes the word for that other thing. • For example, the Beltway refers to political Washington; Broadway refers to the New York theater; the Crown refers to a monarchy; gray hairs refers to old age; Wall Street refers to investments or American stock markets. — metonymic, adj. — metonym, n. See trope. microlinguistics. 1. The direct study of a particular aspect of language, such as phonology, semantics, or grammar. Cf. macrolinguistics; prelinguistics. 2. The study of one particular linguistic system and its peculiarities. Cf. macrolinguistics. Middle English. The English language used from about a.d. 1100 to 1500. misword, n. An ill-advised word used harshly or angrily. misword, vb. To express erroneously; to word badly. mixed construction. A phrasing that fuses two or more idiomatic constructions <as much or more than>. modal, adj. Of, relating to, or imparting grammatical mood—that is, the distinct form of the verb that expresses factuality, command, question, counterfactual assertion, etc. See mood. modal auxiliary. See modal verb under verb. modality. 1. The condition, fact, or quality of expressing mood or of otherwise being modal. 2. A special linguistic attribute or emphasis that marks a statement in some way. deontic modality. Modality that expresses permission or obligation <You may go> <You must go>. — Also termed intrinsic modality. epistemic modality. Modality concerned with the truth of a proposition <You might be right> <You may be right>. — Also termed extrinsic modality. modal verb. See verb. mode. See mood. Modern English. The English language in use since about 1500. modification ambiguity. See ambiguity. modifier. 1. Grammar. A qualifying word, such as an adjective or adverb. — Also termed qualifier. 2. Phonetics. A diacritical sign used with a symbol to indicate that the marked word’s sound is modified only by the symbol. compound modifier. See phrasal adjective under adjective. momentaneous aspect. See aspect. mondegreen /mahn-di-green/. A misheard lyric, saying, catchphrase, or slogan that is then repeated erroneously. • Sylvia Wright coined this word in a 1954 Harper’s Magazine article entitled “The Death of Lady Mondegreen.” She explained how, as a child, she had listened to a Scottish ballad called “The Bonny Earl of Moray,” in which one line is “They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray and laid him on the green.” She heard it as “They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray and Lady Mondegreen.” Mondegreens often arise in popular songs, such as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and the misinterpreted reference to “Olive, the other reindeer” (for “all of the other reindeer”). Some mondegreens become widespread, though not accepted, in speech (e.g., ✳for all intensive purposes in place of for all intents and purposes). monogenesis /mon-oh-jen-ә-sis/, n. The theory that all languages have a single ancestral origin. Cf. polygenesis. monoglossia /mon-oh-glahs-ee-ә/, n. The existence of only one language within a speech community. Cf. diglossia; triglossia. monoglot. A person who speaks and understands only one language. monophthong /mahn-әf-thong/. A single, simple vowel sound, formed with the organs of articulation in a fixed position; a pure vowel. • An example is the e-sound in the word set. monoptote /mon-әp-toht/. A word that has only one case; esp., in Greek or Latin, a word that occurs only in a single oblique case. • Essentially, this term is synonymous with aptote. See aptote. monosemy /mә-nah-sә-mee/, n. The quality of having a single meaning. • Something characterized by monosemy is unambiguous. Cf. polysemy. monosyllable. A word or utterance that has only one syllable. Cf. plurisyllable; polysyllable. monotransitive, adj. (Of a verb) taking only a direct object, not an indirect one as well. Cf. ditransitive. monotransitive verb. See verb. mood. The characteristic of a verb’s form that shows the speaker’s attitude, and expresses whether the action or state it denotes is a fact, command, possibility, or wish. — Also termed mode. See modal. Cf. aspect; tense; voice. declarative mood. The normal mood of a verb, in contrast to the imperative, interrogative, and subjunctive moods. imperative mood. The mood used to express a command, or to instruct, incite, or encourage. • Imperatives are typically uninflected verbs used to state something firmly <Start now>, but they are tempered when trying to be polite or show respect <Bring that file here, please>. indicative mood. The mood used to express an idea as objective fact. interrogative mood. The mood used to show that something is a question. • Some grammarians consider this not to be a separate mood in English; they classify it as indicative. optative mood. A mood that expresses a desire or hope. • Languages such Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 905 as classical Greek have optative verb forms, but in English the subjunctive is used in expressions such as Heaven help him! subjunctive mood. The mood that expresses an action or state not as a reality, but as a mental conception. • The subjunctive mood is not often used in modern English apart from a few expressions such as if I were you. morpheme /mor-feem/. The smallest meaningful unit of a language; a word or part of a word that cannot be divided into smaller parts. • For instance, outgoing can be broken down into the preposition out, the verb go, and the suffix -ing, but none of those components can be further broken down, so they are morphemes. The word girls consists of two morphemes: girl and the plural suffix -s. But mahogany cannot be divided into smaller meaningful units. — morphemic, adj. See base form. Cf. phoneme. bound morpheme. A morpheme that cannot stand alone but must be attached to another morpheme. • Most prefixes and suffixes are bound morphemes. All inflectional morphemes are bound morphemes. free morpheme. A morpheme that can occur as a stand-alone word. • Nouns such as rule and place are free morphemes. inflectional morpheme. A morpheme that is added to a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb to change its grammatical role in some way. • Nouns have two inflectional suffixes (plural -s and possessive -’s); verbs have four of them (-s, -ing, -ed, and -en); and some adjectives and adverbs have two (-er and -est). morphology /mor-fahl-ә-jee/. 1. Linguistics. The study of how sounds are grouped into words, and how the constituents are arranged to signal meaning; esp., the study of how words are made from morphemes. 2. The form and structure of words; word-formation. — morphological, adj. Cf. accidence; syntax. morphophonemics /mor-foh-fә-neemiks/. Linguistics. The analysis of grammatical and phonological facts that determine the forms of phonemes. — Also termed morphophonology. See phoneme. morphophonology. See morphophonemics. mouillé /moo-yay/, adj. (Of a consonant) sounded with the tongue touching the palate (as with l and n). mumpsimus. 1. A persistent adherent to an erroneous tenet or linguistic form, despite irrefutable correction. • The story runs that in the Middle Ages, an old priest was saying a prayer in Latin. The word sumpsimus (= we have received) he mispronounced as mumpsimus. When corrected, he insisted that he’d been saying mumpsimus for 30 years and would not change his “old mumpsimus” for the “new sumpsimus.” In our own day, Former President George W. Bush persisted in /noo-kyә-lәr/ for /nooklee-әr/ despite a deluge of corrections in the press. His pronunciational pertinacity might have earned him the title of mumpsimus. 2. An erroneous tenet or linguistic form that someone tenaciously adheres to. mutation. 1. The gradual, systematic change of a sound in a given language. 2. The substitution or disappearance of a letter to form a new word. 3. A change of vowel sounds, esp. as influenced by other sounds in the word or neighboring words. • The chief types are consonant mutation and vowel mutation (e.g., umlaut). Mutation accounts for shifting vowel pronunciations over time, and for irregular inflections as shown in spelling (e.g., foot–feet; man–men) and heard in pronunciation (e.g., the -i- in child– children; the -o- in woman–women). See great vowel shift. mute, adj. (Of a letter) not pronounced. mycterism. Rhetoric. Subtle mocking; a scornful gibe; an instance of sarcasm or irony. See sarcasm; irony. narrowing. See specialization. nasal /nay-zәl/, adj. (Of a spoken sound) produced by resonating air in the nose and mouth; of or relating to a speech sound made with air exiting the nose. needless variant. An unnecessary deviation from the standard form of a word. • A writer or speaker who uses a needless variant may mislead the reader into believing that there is a distinction in the words. See byform; differentiation. negation /ni-gay-shәn/. 1. The act or an instance of making what would otherwise be an affirmative statement into a negative one. compound negation. The negation of a compound construction using neither . . . nor. 2. A negative statement. negative, adj. Of or relating to a clause or phrase that contains a marker for negation. neologism /nee-ahl-ә-jiz-әm/. A newly coined word or expression. — Also termed neology. — neologist, n. — neologistic, adj. neurolinguistics. The branch of linguistics that studies the relationship between language and the structure and functioning of the human brain. neuter gender. See gender. nominal. A word, phrase, or clause that is functionally equivalent to a noun. • The category embraces nouns, pronouns, noun phrases, and noun clauses. Cf. noun phrase. nominal clause. See clause. nominalization. The conversion of a part of speech into a nominal, as by making false into falsity, or authorize into authorization. See buried verb under verb. nominal phrase. See noun phrase. nominative /nah-mә-nә-tiv/, n. The case of a sentence’s subject or of a noun complement that follows a linking verb. • Only personal pronouns have a distinct nominative form (e.g., the first-person pronouns in I lost my keys again and that’s what we wanted). — Also termed subjective. nominative absolute. A phrase containing a subject and a participle that adverbially modifies the main clause of a sentence and has no other grammatical relation to that clause. • A nominative absolute is not part of the sentence it qualifies by time, condition, cause, or circumstance. In essence, the nominative absolute (or absolute phrase) is a parenthetical comment (e.g., Dinner having fizzled, we sat and watched television. Or: He being a friend of mine, I shouldn’t comment publicly on his actions.). See absolute construction. nominative case, n. See case. nonce-word. A word invented “for the nonce,” that is, for one occasion only. • The first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, James A.H. Murray (1837–1915), invented this expression for use in the Dictionary’s entries. There are related terms such as nonceborrowing (= a word borrowed from a foreign language only for one occasion), nonce-compound, nonce-expression, and nonce-meaning. noncount noun. See mass noun under noun. nondefining relative clause. See nonrestrictive relative clause under clause. nonfinite verb. See infinitive. nongradable adjective. See uncomparable adjective under adjective. nonrestrictive, adj. (Of the modifier of a noun or phrase) adding information that is parenthetical but does not help identify the referent. • For example, in The tents, which are on aisle 3, are on sale, the clause which are on aisle 3 is nonrestrictive because it does not identify which tents are on 906 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms sale—presumably they all are. Similarly, in Orrin Hatch, the Utah senator, spoke next, the phrase the Utah senator is not needed to identify the person named, so it is a nonrestrictive appositive. Nonrestrictive matter is always set off from the rest of the sentence by commas. Cf. restrictive. nonrestrictive relative clause. See clause. nonsentence. See sentence. non sequitur. 1. An absurd statement that produces a comic effect; esp., a statement or thought that does not logically follow what was just said. • In social situations, a non sequitur may indicate a misunderstanding or lack of attention, or it may be an effort to get away from an uncomfortable subject. 2. A sudden, illogical turn in the dialogue or plot. • Would-be world-famous author Snoopy, the creation of Charles Schulz (1922–2000), committed non sequiturs repeatedly in his attempts at writing: “It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.” 3. A fallacious argument in which the conclusion does not follow from the premise or premises. • A classic example is the argument, “If A, then B. B is true. So A is true.” But the conclusion is not necessarily related to the premises. For instance, “Dogs don’t drink beer. I don’t drink beer. Therefore, I am a dog.” This doesn’t exclude the possibility that the speaker is a human. Similarly, an if–then statement may be a non sequitur: “If I see four dachshunds today, then I’ll have good luck tomorrow.” Cf. anacoluthon. nonstandard, adj. (Of usage) not found in educated speech or writing. nonstandard English. Informal English not used for educated speech or writing; colloquial English or dialects. See dialect. Cf. standard english. non-U. The language characteristically used by people who are neither in the upper social echelon nor among the better-educated in society. Cf. U. nonverbal, adj. Without the use of words. nonword. 1. A word that is not recorded in most major dictionaries <conversate>. 2. A word that, even though it may be recorded in some dictionaries, is regarded by many as illegitimate because of its spurious origins <irregardless>. • Nonwords arise from many sources. They may be back-formations <orientate>, malapropisms <unmercilessly>, common misspellings <forebearance>, or neologisms <jumblicious>. Some move out of their shadowy existence if they prove to be useful or at least popular (e.g., donate, stick-to-it-iveness). But there is no sure way to tell whether a nonword will fade away or become standard. The term nonword itself was first coined in the 1890s and became standard only in the 1960s. normative, adj. Concerned with the accepted standards or norms of usage. normative grammar. See prescriptive grammar. nosism. 1. An individual’s use of the word we when speaking of or for himself or herself. 2. The self-centered attitude of a group of people. • This is the collective form of egotism. noun. A word that names something, whether abstract (intangible) or concrete (tangible). abstract noun. A noun referring to something that has no physical existence, such as a feeling, quality, concept, or state of being. • Examples of abstract nouns are education, fortune, love, quandary, and shamelessness. Although an abstract noun is intangible, it may be countable <noises> <meetings> or uncountable <music> <happiness>. Sometimes the meaning of an abstract noun changes from singular to plural <kindness– kindnesses>. Cf. concrete noun. agent noun. A noun that denotes a person who performs some action. • Agent nouns often have the suffix -er <traveler> or -or <collector>. animate noun. A noun that refers to an animal or human. attributive noun. A noun functioning as a modifier, usu. as an adjective. • An attributive noun may be a word or a noun phrase. When it is a phrase, it is hyphenated to prevent it from being mistaken for the subject or predicate object. • For example, satellite dish and healthcare costs begin with attributive nouns. — Also termed noun adjunct. collective noun. A noun that names a group of people, animals, objects, or concepts; a noun that is grammatically singular but has a plural sense. • Some collective nouns may be singular or plural. You can usually tell which by looking at how the members of the group behave. If they act as a unit or in unison with one another, then the collective noun is singular <The jury retires to deliberate>. But if the members behave as individuals, then the noun is plural <The jury disagree on a verdict and have told the judge they are deadlocked>. In American English, some collective nouns have distinct singular and plural forms (e.g., team and teams) and the accompanying verbs match them in number (e.g., the team is and the teams are). In British English, you’ll often hear collective nouns, such as team, treated as plural <The team are playing very well today>. common noun. A general name for a person, place, or thing, capitalized only under certain circumstances, as when it begins a sentence or appears in a title. • Common nouns include teenager, girl, police officer (people); restaurant, office building (places); and tractor, microwave (things). A noun may function as a common noun when used in a general sense <times> <manor> and a proper noun when used for something specific <The Times> <Manor House Realty>. Common nouns ordinarily have singular and plural forms and are used with articles. Cf. proper noun. compound noun. Two or more words that are joined (or, sometimes, hyphenated) to make a single noun <boyfriend> <landowner> <airplane>. concrete noun. A noun referring to a person or thing that is perceptible through at least one of the five physical senses. Cf. abstract noun. count noun. A noun that denotes an item that can be counted. • Count nouns have both singular and plural forms, usually made by adding -s or -es. In the plural, they frequently appear in constructions such as two ———, several ———, and a large number of ———. Cf. mass noun. inanimate noun. A noun that refers to neither an animal nor a human. mass noun. A noun that denotes an item that cannot be individually counted. • Examples: meat, sugar, water. Some mass nouns can also be count nouns on occasion <choose only the best meats>. But mass nouns do not usually have a plural form. — Also termed noncount noun; uncountable noun. Cf. count noun. noncount noun. See mass noun. proper noun. The name of a specific person, place, or thing, always written with a capital letter. • Proper nouns include Jean Valjean (character); Jamaica, Abacus Restaurant (places); and the Eiffel Tower, Monday, the Fourth of July (things). The names of holidays, days of the week and months, historical documents, Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 907 organizations, religions, and the like are all proper nouns. — Also termed proper name. Cf. common noun. recipient noun. A noun that denotes a person who receives some thing or action, or for whom something is done. • Recipient nouns often have the suffix -ee <honoree>. noun adjunct. See attributive noun under noun. noun-banging. See nouniness. noun clause. A clause that functions as a noun or noun phrase <When the car was dented is irrelevant>. Cf. nominal. object noun clause. A noun clause that plays the role of direct object in a sentence. subject noun clause. A noun clause that plays the role of subject in a sentence. noun-equivalent. See substantive. nouniness. The excessive use of nouns, noun phrases, and noun clauses, esp. in close succession. — Also termed noun plague; noun-banging. noun phrase. A phrase with a noun as its head; a noun cluster that may include a determiner <the goat> and one or more adjectives <an old barn>. — Also termed nominal phrase. Cf. nominal. noun plague. See nouniness. number. A quality of a word that shows whether one object or more than one object is referred to; the grammatical marking of quantity. • In English, the two numbers are singular and plural. numeric adverb. See adverb. obelize /ahb-ә-liz/, vb. 1. To mark (part of a text) with an obelus (†) or other mark to indicate that it is spurious or doubtful. 2. More broadly, to stigmatize (a word or expression) as being ungrammatical or unidiomatic. object. A word denoting either (1) the person or thing acted on by a transitive verb in the active voice <The balloon carried a pilot and a passenger> (pilot and passenger are objective) or (2) the person or thing related to another element by a connective, such as a preposition <Place the slide under the microscope> (under is a preposition, microscope is objective). • Objects may be direct or indirect. cognate object. An object that is derivationally related to the verb <Sing a song> <Die an untimely death>. direct object. The noun or noun phrase that receives the action of a transitive verb or shows the result of that action <Brian enjoys golf>. • It answers the question What? or Whom? after an action verb. indirect object. The noun or noun phrase representing the person or thing with reference to which the action of a ditransitive verb is performed; the noun or noun phrase that follows the verb and receives the action. • It answers the question To whom? or For whom? In English, an indirect object usually comes between the verb and the direct object. You can paraphrase it as the object of a preposition, often to or for (e.g., He sent me a book can be paraphrased as He sent a book to me). Although there can be a direct object without an indirect object, there must always be a direct object if there is an indirect object. Indirect objects are usually found with verbs such as brought, give, offer, show, and take. object of a preposition. The noun or noun phrase that follows a preposition in a prepositional phrase. retained object. An object that continues to function as an object when a passive sentence is rewritten in active voice. • For example, in the passivevoice sentence He was given money by many trusting people and the activevoice rewrite Many trusting people gave him money, money is the direct object. The passive-voice sentence a gold watch was given to my father will have two objects when rewritten in active voice, The company gave my father a gold watch, but only one, my father, is a retained object. In the passive sentence, it was the object of a preposition. In the active sentence, it is an indirect object. object complement. See complement. objective /ahb-jek-tiv/, n. The case in which the object of a transitive verb or preposition is expressed. • In presentday English, only the first- and thirdperson pronouns and who have an objective form that is different from the nominative form (i.e., I–me, he– him, she–her, we–us, they–them, and who–whom). Apart from those words, syntax determines the relationship that a word has to other words (e.g., in the apple fell from the tree, the word tree is the object of the preposition from, so [in the view of some traditional grammarians] it is in the objective case). Some grammarians call this the accusative case. objective case. See case. object language. Linguistics. A language that is being described, analyzed, or discussed. See metalanguage. object noun clause. See noun clause. object of a preposition. See object. obligative /ә-blig-ә-tiv/, adj. (Of a modal auxiliary) expressing a necessity or requirement (as with must). Cf. permissive. oblique case. See case. obnubilation /ahb-n[y]oo-bi-layshәn/. The beclouding of ideas; the act of making something obscure or indistinct. — obnubilate, vb. obsolescent, adj. (Of a word or expression) gradually disappearing; becoming obsolete. obsolete, adj. (Of a word or expression) no longer used; out of date. occupatio /ahk-yә-pay-shee-oh/, n. See paraleipsis. officialese. The inflated, pompous, obscure language considered typical of bureaucrats’ work, esp. in official documents and letters. • With effort, officialese can usually be translated into plain English. For instance, “The aforementioned office will, in its economic treatment, cease and terminate the distribution of moneys commencing as from May 1, 2007” becomes “Our office will stop making payments on May 1, 2007.” See plain english. okina /oh-kee-nә/. A diacritical mark resembling a right-facing apostrophe (‘), used in the Hawaiian language to indicate a glottal stop or a consonant. • In Hawaiian, the name of the island group (and the biggest island) is sometimes written Hawai‘i. See diacritical mark; glottal stop. Old English. The Anglo-Saxon language, used in England from around a.d. 450 to 1100. • Unlike Middle English, Old English had a fully inflected grammar and had relatively few words borrowed from Latin and French. — Also termed Anglo-Saxon. onomastics /on-ә-mas-tiks/. 1. The study of the origins and forms of proper names. 2. The system that underlies the formation and use of proper names or of names used in a particular field. — onomastic, adj. onomatope /ә-nahm-ә-tohp/. An onomatopoeic word. onomatopoeia /on-ә-mat-ә-pee-ә/. 1. The formation of a word by imitating the sound it represents. • For example, buzz approximates the sound made by a flying insect, and quack is similar to a duck’s voice. Other examples are belch, crack, fizz, flutter, meow, plop, screech, smash, splash, squish, wham, and zoom. 2. The use of a word whose sound suggests its sense. — onomatopoeic or onomatopoetic, adj. Cf. synaesthesia. open syllable. See syllable. operator. 1. A grammatical element, such as a negative or determiner, that affects another element in a sentence. 2. The first auxiliary verb in a verb phrase when the verb can be placed in front of the subject in order to change the mood of the sentence from 908 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms declarative to interrogative (e.g., Dan has been calling becomes Has Dan been calling?). optative /ahp-tә-tiv/, adj. (Of a verbal mood) expressing a hope or wish, esp. one that is realizable <may the best team win>. optative mood. See mood. oracy /or-ә-see/, n. 1. Proficiency in speech; the ability to express oneself fluently and appropriately in speech. • Linguists have used this term since the mid-1960s. 2. The oral transmission of information, esp. of cultural traditions and the like. oral. 1. Of or relating to the mouth. 2. Of or relating to the spoken word. 3. Of or relating to a speech sound made with no air exiting through the nose. oratio obliqua /or-ray-shee-oh oh-blee-kwә/. See indirect discourse under discourse. oratio recta /or-ray-shee-oh rek-tә/. See direct discourse under discourse. ordinal number. A number that denotes a position in a series rather than a quantity of things (e.g., first; second; third). • Ordinal numbers may function as adjectives (e.g., first place) or nouns (e.g., Eustace is second). Cf. cardinal number. orismology /or-is-mahl-ә-jee/. 1. Technical terminology. 2. The explanation of technical terms. — orismologic, adj. orthoepy /or-thoh-ә-pee or or-thә-wәpee/. 1. Correct or accepted pronunciation; the art of pronouncing words correctly. Cf. cacoepy. 2. The field of grammar concerned with pronunciation; specif., the study of how a writing or spelling system relates to the pronunciation of a language. orthography /or-thahg-rә-fee/. 1. The field of grammar that focuses on letters and spelling; the study of spelling and how letters are combined to represent sounds. 2. The collective methods by which a language is conventionally reduced to its written form. 3. The set of conventions that account for correct spelling. orthophony /or-thahf-ә-nee/. Correct pronunciation and articulation. otosis /oh-toh-sis/, n. 1. The alteration or misuse of a word resulting from an erroneous impression of its sound. • Otosis was originally at work in the misrendering of home in (what homing pigeons do) as the increasingly widespread but erroneous hone in. 2. The mishearing of spoken sounds. overgeneralization. See generalization. oxymoron /ok-si-mor-on/. 1. A pairing of contradictory or incongruous words; a paradoxical phrasing, usu. in two words <living death> <clingingly aloof>. 2. Rhetoric. A paradox producing by juxtaposing words that seem contradictory <You must be cruel to be kind>. palatal /pal-ә-tәl/, adj. (Of spoken sounds) made by flattening the front of the tongue against or near the hard palate, as for the y in yield. palilogy /pә-lil-ә-jee/, n. Rhetoric. The immediate repetition of a word or phrase, usu. for emphasis. Cf. epizeuxis. palindrome. A word, phrase, or sentence that reads the same backward and forward (e.g., Hannah; name no one man). • Perhaps the most famous example is the one attributed to Napoleon when asked whether he could have invaded England: “Able was I ere I saw Elba.” paradiastole /per-ә-di-as-tә-lee/, n. The use of a euphemism to advance an argument by replacing an unfavorable term with a more favorable one— often one that fallaciously disregards part of the truth. • For example, in the debate over illegal immigration into the United States, those opposed to border control often replace illegal alien with undocumented worker (or even worker) and replace illegal immigration with immigration to obscure the illegality of the border crossings under debate. paradigm /pair-ә-dim/. 1. A pattern, exemplar, or prototype. 2. Grammar. A model for the inflection of a class of words, as of verb conjugations or noun declensions <woman–woman’s– women–women’s> <ring–rings–rang– rung–ringing>. See declension (2). 3. Rhetoric. An example or illustration of a point. paradox. 1. A seemingly selfcontradictory statement or belief; a seemingly absurd expression <never less alone than when alone>. 2. Rhetoric. A figure of speech used to teach a lesson or evoke an impression by an unexpected or surprising turn of expression. 3. A puzzling fact, observation, or person. paragoge /pair-ә-goh-jee/. The addition of a sound or syllable at the end of a word <idea → idear> <unbeknown → unbeknownst>. • This term embraces not just vulgarisms such as oncet, but also more legitimate variations such as amongst for among. — Also termed epithesis. — paragogic, adj. paragraph. A group of sentences in which a single topic is developed; a sequence of structurally related sentences. • A paragraph is traditionally begun on a new line, with a space separating the first word from the margin. Ideally, a paragraph is a unified statement of a particular point in the analysis or narrative. paralanguage. In communication, the nonverbal elements used to modify meaning and convey emotion, such as intonation, volume, expressions, and gestures. • In written communications, particularly informal types such as e-mail and chatrooms, paralanguage appears in emoticons, capitalization, choice of fonts, and the like. — Also termed paralinguistic features. paraleipsis /pair-ә-lip-sis/. Rhetoric. A brief reference to something done in such a way as to emphasize the suggestiveness of the thing omitted <I’ll just mention a few of the outrages committed by the Spanish Inquisition>. — Also spelled paralepsis /pair-ә-lep-sis/. — Also termed preterition; pretermission; occupatio. Cf. apophasis. paralepsis. See paraleipsis. paralinguistic, adj. Of or relating to paralanguage; relating to or designating nonverbal speech elements. See paralanguage. paralinguistic features. See paralanguage. paralinguistics. A branch of linguistics concerned with the nonphonemic aspects of speech, such as silence, tone of voice, facial expressions, gesticulation, body postures, and tempo. Cf. kinesics. parallelism. 1. The structural similarity of adjacent phrases, clauses, or sentences; esp., the presentation of ideas bearing equivalent weight by putting them into identical grammatical structures. 2. A sentence or passage that illustrates such structural similarities. paramoion /per-ә-moy-әn/, n. Alliteration of the initial sounds of two or more words in a sentence. paraph /pә-raf/. A penned flourish at the end of or under a signature, sometimes used as a protection against forgery. paraphrase, n. 1. The restatement of a thought, passage, or text in words different from the original statement, and often with greater clarity and either more or less detail; an alternative wording that is faithful to the sense of another, earlier expression. 2. Another wording of a grammatical structure to reveal its ambiguity. — paraphrastic, adj. paraphrase, vb. To use one’s own words to express the substance of what another writer or speaker has said (e.g., To paraphrase Shakespeare, no matter what you call a rose, it still smells nice). Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 909 parapraxia. See freudian slip. parasitic vowel. See svarabhakti vowel. parasynesis /pair-ә-sin-ә-sis/, n. The misconception of a word that results in a faulty form (as when home in [originally based on what homing pigeons do] becomes, through error, hone in). parasyntheton /pair-ә-sin-thә-tahn/. A derivative word that consists of a root compounded with a particle <bylaws> <downtrodden> <uplifting>. parataxis /pair-ә-tak-sәs/. Rhetoric. The coordination of successive, equal clauses without expressly showing their syntactic relationship, so that the reader must infer how they are related <I’m ready; let’s go>. Cf. hypotaxis. — paratactic, adj. parathesis /pә-rath-ә-sis/. Apposition; the placement of a word or phrase beside another with which it is syntactically parallel <my brother the flutist>. — parathetic /pair-ә-thet-ik/, adj. See apposition. paregmenon /pә-reg-mә-nahn/, n. Rhetoric. The use of a word in the same construction as another to which the first is cognate <die a death> <the victor’s victory>. parembole /pair-em-bә-lee/. Rhetoric. An inserted phrase that modifies or explains the thought of a sentence. • A parembole differs from a parenthesis by having a more integral connection with the context. — Also termed paremptosis. parenthesis. 1. A word, phrase, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought; an aside inserted into a sentence or paragraph. • In writing, it is usually set off by commas, emdashes, or the curved brackets known as “parentheses” (see sense 2). 2. A punctuation mark that sets off such a word, phrase, clause, or sentence—[(] as the opening mark and [)] as the closing one. paresis /pә-ree-sәs or pair-ә-/. See elision. parisology /pair-i-sahl-ә-jee/, n. Ambiguous or equivocal language. — parisologist, n. parison /pair-i-sәn/, n. 1. An even balance of clauses, words, syllables, or other elements in a sentence. 2. A clause that balances another, as in an antithesis. parlance. A manner of speaking or of using words, esp. within a particular social or professional group. • Parlance is usually combined with an adjective such as common, film, legal, medical, military, or vulgar. parole. Linguistics. The actual use of language by speakers; written or spoken utterance. • Parole depends on the existence of a language and its systematic principles, but is not a system itself. Cf. langue. paromology /pair-ә-mahl-ә-jee/, n. Rhetoric. The concession of minor points in a debate as a way of enhancing one’s credibility and strengthening one’s position. — Also termed paromologia. paronomasia /pair-ә-noh-may-zhә/. Rhetoric. The deliberate and humorous use of the double meanings of words and phrases; esp., a play on words in which the similarity of sound is a prominent characteristic; a pun <The best of all acids is assiduity>. — Also termed paronymy. — paronomastic, adj. paronym /par-ә-nim/. 1. A derived word having but a slight change in form from one in another language; esp., a word formed by adapting a foreign word (e.g., civil from Latin civilis, or egality from French égalité). 2. A word derived from another in the same language (e.g., analytical from analysis, or parasitic from parasite). 3. homophone. — paronymous, adj. paronymy /pair-on-ә-mee/, n. 1. The introduction of a word into a language by borrowing from another language and slightly changing it. 2. The relationship between cognate words with related meanings. 3. paronomasia. parrhesia /pә-ree-zhә/, n. 1. Candor and frankness; bold outspokenness. 2. The practice or an instance of seeking permission to be boldly outspoken. parrotry /per-ә-tree/, n. The mindless repetition of others’ words or sayings; psittacism. parse, vb. 1. v.t. To determine the parts of speech of and the relationship between (the individual parts of a sentence). 2. v.t. To describe (a word or phrase) by classifying its part of speech, its composition, its inflection, and its relation to other words in the sentence. 3. v.i. (Of a sentence) to meet the standards of good grammar. parsing. 1. The act or process of separating out the elements of a sentence so that the relationships between them can be analyzed. 2. The grammatical analysis and description of a word, showing what part of speech it is and its relation to other words. participial phrase. See phrase. participial preposition. S ee preposition. participle. A verb form inflected for perfective aspect (for past participles such as written, sold, or shrunk) or progressive aspect (for present participles such as carrying, flying, or lecturing); esp., a word derived from a verb but having characteristics of both a verb and an adjective. • English participles are the verb forms used with a be-verb <am writing> or a form of have <had written>. A participle functions as an adjective when it modifies a noun or pronoun <walking stick>. — Also termed gerundive. See also progressive aspect under aspect. dangling participle. A participle that is not properly connected to the sentence’s subject. Seeing is a dangling participle in seeing that there was a traffic jam ahead, the taxi turned left because seeing logically cannot refer to taxi; the taxi’s driver did the seeing. — Also termed dangler; misrelated participle. fused participle. A gerund used after a noun or noun phrase that would more properly be a possessive adjective. • In The author having full rights to the work means you must ask the author for permission, the participle having is fused with the preceding noun to form the subject the author having. Traditional grammarians prefer The author’s having full rights to the work means . . . . misrelated participle. See dangling participle. past participle. A nonfinite verb form ending usu. in -ed, -en, or -t and used in verb phrases <has believed> <have taken> <has wept> to signal a perfective aspect. • Although past participles are often part of a verb phrase, they may also function adjectivally <proven fact> <used books>. present participle. A nonfinite verb form ending in -ing and used in verb phrases to signal the progressive aspect <be + -ing> <was browsing> <am shopping>. • Although present participles are often part of a verb phrase, they may also function adjectivally <prevailing notions> <unremitting violence>. particle adverb. See particle (2), (3). partitive /pahr-tә-tiv/, adj. Setting off or referring to a particular part of a whole (e.g., some money) or only some portion of a collection (e.g., most voters). • The so-called partitive genitive indicates the whole of which the head of the construction is a part <a slice of bread> <a piece of pie>. part of speech. One of a class of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on) that is distinguished by its normal function in a sentence. • Grammarians have traditionally recognized eight parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. 910 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms The traditional definitions of these classes are based sometimes on meaning, sometimes on function or use. Modern linguists have therefore tended to abandon these eight labels in favor of other labels more theoretically “pure.” — Also termed word class; lexical category. pasigraphy /pә-sig-rә-fee/, n. An international system of writing; a universal written language. — pasigraphic, adj. Cf. esperanto; interlingua. pasilaly /pas-i-lal-ee/, n. An international system of speaking; a universal spoken language. passive voice. The voice that makes the recipient of the verb’s action the subject of the verb. • Compare the tree was knocked down by the truck (passive voice: the tree didn’t knock but was the recipient of action) with the truck knocked down the tree (active voice: the truck is doing the knocking). Cf. active voice under voice. full passive. A passive-voice construction that includes the doer of the action. truncated passive. A passive-voice construction that omits the doer of the action. past participle. See participle. past-perfect tense. See tense. past tense. See tense. pathopoeia /path-ә-pee-ә/, n. 1. A speaker’s or writer’s arousal of an audience’s or reader’s emotions. 2. A passage designed to arouse listeners’ or readers’ emotions. — Also spelled pathopeia. patient. Whatever is denoted by the word that is directly affected by the action of a verb (e.g., the object of a transitive verb). patois /pat-wah or pah-twah/, n. 1. A regional dialect that differs markedly from the standard language. See dialect. Cf. standard english. 2. The jargon of a particular age group, profession, or other discrete and insular group. patrial /pay-tree-әl/, n. A noun derived from a country’s name and denoting an inhabitant of that country <American> <Iraqi>. — patrial, adj. pedant /ped-әnt/. One who makes an ostentatious display of learning, esp. of superficial erudition. — pedantic, adj. pedantry /ped-әn-tree/. 1. An excessive display of or reverence for learning, usu. characterized by close attention to details, however trivial. 2. An instance of pedantic behavior or a pedantic form of expression. — Also termed pedanticism. pejoration /pee-jә-ray-shәn/. A change in the meaning of a word from one that is positive or neutral to one that is negative or borders on the negative. • For example, notorious once meant “widely known” and implied nothing about reputation, but now it means “infamous.” Cf. melioration. pejorative, n. A linguistic form, such as a word or morpheme, that expresses disparagement. — pejorative, adj. penult /pi-nәlt/. The next-to-last syllable of a word. Cf. antepenult. perfective aspect. See aspect. perfect tense. See present-perfect tense under tense. periergia /per-i-әr-jee-ә/, n. The use of ornate, embellished language to discuss a commonplace thing; pompous, bombastic language. Cf. euphuism; gongorism. period. 1. The full stop that marks the end of a sentence. 2. A grammatically complete sentence. 3. A paragraph; a series of sentences that make up a unit of thought. period dots. See ellipsis (2). periodic sentence. Rhetoric. A sentence in which a complete thought is not expressed until the main clause and other rhetorical balancing devices are all read. • By using the opening clauses to give context and delay, the speaker slowly builds to a climax. periphrasis /pә-rif-rә-sis/. 1. Rhetoric. The use of a roundabout expression in place of a direct one; circumlocution <an elongated yellow fruit = banana>. 2. Grammar. A phrase used to express what might otherwise be expressed in one inflected word (e.g., did go = went; more tight = tighter). — periphrastic /pair-ә-fras-tik/, adj. periphrastic comparative. See comparative. perissology /per-i-sahl-i-jee/, n. The use of more words than necessary; superfluity of expression; pleonasm. perlocution /pәr-loh-kyoo-shәn/, n. Speech or writing intended to persuade or convince; language designed to bring about an action not itself constituting that action. Cf. illocution. perlocutionary, adj. Linguistics. Of or designating an act of speech or writing intended to produce an effect on the audience, such as persuading, convincing, inspiring, scaring, insulting, or motivating. • This word appears most frequently in the term perlocutionary act. permissive. (Of a modal auxiliary) expressing permission or exhortation (as with may or should). Cf. obligative. persiflage /pәr-si-flahzh/. Banter that is a mixture of frivolity and mockery, sometimes sardonic or contemptuous in tone. Cf. badinage. person. A characteristic of a noun or pronoun that identifies it as the speaker (first person), the thing spoken to (second person), or the thing spoken of (third person). • In English, I (singular) and we (plural) are the first-person pronouns; you (singular and plural) is the second-person pronoun; and he, she, and it (singular) and they (plural) are the third-person pronouns. See also concord. personal pronoun. See pronoun. personification. Rhetoric. The representation of an object, esp. an inanimate one, or an idea as having a personality or human attributes. • Examples: • • • Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618) referred to flowers as “you pretty daughters of the earth and sun.” The Pyramids, doting with age, have forgotten the names of their founders. (Thomas Fuller [1608–1661]) England expects every man to do his duty. (Lord Horatio Nelson [1758–1805]) — Also termed prosopopoeia. phatic /fat-ik/, adj. Of or relating to communication used for polite social interaction rather than to elicit or convey information; characterized by small talk. phatic exchange. A rudimentary, superficial conversation made only for general purposes of social interaction and not for literal meaning (e.g., Hey. How’s it going? Great. And you? Fine, thanks. Nice weather. Yeah. Have a great day.). philologaster /fi-lol-ә-gas-tәr/, n. An inept or blundering philologist. philology /fi-lol-ә-jee/. 1. The study of literature from many points of view, including metaphor, criticism, grammar, etymology, and so on. 2. The study of language apart from its literature. 3. The love of learning and literature. phoneme /foh-neem/. The smallest unit of sound in a language. • Phonemes are represented in writing by single letters for many consonants, such as p in pot and rip. See allophone; consonant; morphophonemics. phonemics /foh-nee-miks/. Linguistics. The study of a language’s sound system, focusing on analyzing and classifying the language’s phonemes. phonetic, adj. Representing speech sounds. phonetics. Linguistics. The study of the properties of speech sounds, how they are made by the human voice, how they are combined with one another, and the acoustic effect that they produce. — phonetician, n. phonocentrism /foh-nә-sen-triz-әm/, n. A bias in favor of speech over writ- Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 911 ing in linguistic analysis; the view that the spoken language is paramount over the written language. • This view had its most prominent origins in the work of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857– 1913). — phonocentric, adj. phonology /fә-nol-ә-jee/. Linguistics. The study of the sound structure of a language; specif., the study of the sounds found in any one language or group of related languages. — phonological, adj. phonotactics, n. 1. The branch of linguistics that studies the rules for phoneme sequences in a language or in languages generally. 2. The rules themselves. phrasal /fray-zәl/, adj. Of, relating to, or consisting of a phrase. • The word dates from the mid-19th century. Cf. clausal. phrasal adjective. See adjective. phrasal preposition. See preposition. phrasal verb. See verb. phrase. A combination of words that make sense but do not make a complete sentence; in modern linguistics, a constituent consisting of a single word (the “head”) plus all its modifiers. Cf. clause; word. adjective phrase. 1. A prepositional phrase that functions as an adjective, qualifying a noun <the ambassador from Brazil>. 2. A phrase with an adjective as its head <My teddy bear is afraid of the dark> (the adjective phrase being afraid of the dark). 3. Loosely, a phrasal adjective. See phrasal adjective under adjective. — Also termed adjectival phrase. adverbial phrase. Two or more words in a sentence jointly having the force of an adverb <They do that work every day> <By the way, he was not found guilty>. gerundive phrase. See gerund phrase. gerund phrase. A noun phrase with the gerund as its head. — Also termed gerundive phrase. infinitive phrase. A noun phrase with an infinitive as its head. • An infinitive phrase may be either (1) an infinitive and its accompanying complements or adverbs <to strike a bargain> <to think deeply> or (2) a sequence such as to be tapped, to be tapping, to have been tapped, or to have been tapping. participial phrase. A phrase consisting of a participle and a modifier or complement and functioning as an adjective. • The phrase may appear before or after the subject. In The monarch butterflies migrating from Mexico look fragile but are quite hardy, the participial phrase migrating from Mexico modifies the subject, monarch butterflies. Likewise, hiding behind the curtains modifies the subject burglar in Hiding behind the curtains, the burglar planned his next move. A participial phrase may also be appositive: The lecture, delivered as a favor to the president, drew an enthusiastic audience. prepositional phrase. A constituent that consists of a preposition followed by a noun phrase. verb phrase. A phrase composed of the main verb plus the complement, objects, and adverbs. • In I bought her a new necklace, I is the subject and the other words make up the verb phrase. phrasemonger. A person who seeks to impress others by coining or using grandiose phrases, usu. to excess. pictogram. A character that represents an idea or object independently of words, as with ancient cave paintings. — Also termed pictograph. Cf. logogram; ideogram. pictograph. See pictogram. pidgin /pij-әn/, n. A language developed from elements of dissimilar languages (e.g., English and Tagalog) and using a simplified grammatical form so that people without a common language may communicate. • The vocabulary is usually limited. A pidgin language may be local (in the sense that it has elements of the local language), but it is not a native language; it is a product of contact between speakers of different languages. (Cf. creole.) The word pidgin is a corruption of the Chinese word for “business.” One of the first recorded pidgins was an amalgam of English and Chinese words arranged according to Chinese syntax and used to conduct trade. pied-piping, n. The habit or convention of avoiding a terminal preposition by putting it right before the relative or interrogative pronoun that it relates to (or, to illustrate the habit itself, the relative or interrogative pronoun to which it relates). • The term was first used in J.R. Ross’s 1967 Ph.D. dissertation at MIT and since has appeared in many other linguistic contexts. The allusion, of course, is to the way charmed rats follow the piper in the fairy tale. pilcrow /pil-kroh/, n. A paragraph marker (¶). pitch, n. The high or low tone of a spoken sound produced by the vibrational frequency of the vocal cords; spoken stress. See intonation. pivot-pun. A pun that implies one meaning with the words preceding it, another with the words following it. • The term originated to denote a device in classical Japanese poetry. pivot word. 1. A word central to the meaning or syntax of a sentence or paragraph. 2. The word on which a pivot-pun turns. See pivot-pun. 3. One of the core words that a child acquires at an early stage of linguistic development. placeholder. A word or phrase that is required by syntax but that carries little or no semantic information; esp., the impersonal pronoun in a sentence in which the subject clause occurs after the verb <Do you believe it?>. place of articulation. The point in the mouth where two organs form an obstruction to form a speech sound. plain English. Straightforward, simple, easy-to-understand English. • Although few people would seriously wish someone a Jubilant Natal Anniversary instead of Happy Birthday, many writers seem to fear that they won’t appear intelligent unless they routinely use complex language. In their view, the bigger and more obscure the words, the more convoluted the statement, the better the impact. In fact, writers who express their ideas in plain English tend to be more highly regarded than those who don’t. There are four reasons for this. First, clear writing reflects clear thinking. And clear thinking means understanding what you intend to write about. If you don’t have a clear idea, your prose will be obscure; so will its meaning. Second, plain English is easy to read and understand quickly. It makes the reader feel smart. Third, plain English reflects a greater intellect because using it requires more brainwork. Albert Einstein once said that his goal in stating an idea was to make it as simple as possible but no simpler. He also said: “Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.” Yet few achieve that type of expression. Fourth, using plain English marks a writer as a professional whose subject is open to and approachable by all readers, specialists or not. Complication and obscurity often reflect insecurity on the part of the writer or speaker. plain infinitive. See infinitive. plain language. 1. A simple, direct style of speech or writing. 2. The expertise involved in preparing documents in clear, accessible language that accurately embodies the intended sense. pleonasm /plee-ә-naz-әm/. Rhetoric. The use of more words than necessary to express an idea; a superfluity of words (e.g., continues even today to remain obstinate for remains 912 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms obstinate). • Pleonasms may be used for effect, but are frequently produced through ignorance. In would you repeat that again, please?, again is unnecessary. And since your ears are permanently attached, ears pierced while you wait! states the obvious. — pleonastic, adj. Cf. tautology; perissology. pleophony /plee-of-ә-nee/, n. Vowel epenthesis in which the inserted vowel sound is the same as that of the preceding syllable (as when substantive is pronounced /sәb-stә-nә-tiv/, with a superfluous schwa sound in the penultimate syllable). See epenthesis. Cf. anaptyxis. ploce /ploh-see/. Emphatic repetition of a word, esp. with the sense of conveying some special connotation. Cf. epizeuxis; symploce. pluperfect tense /ploo-pәr-fikt/. See past-perfect tense under tense. plural, n. & adj. The inflectional form of a word denoting more than one person or thing. Cf. singular. plurale tantum /pluu-ray-lee tan-tәm/, n. A noun that in a particular sense is invariably plural in form <clothes> <riches> <scissors> <thanks>. Cf. singulare tantum. plurisyllable. A word with two or more syllables. Cf. monosyllable; polysyllable. pointing word. See word. polygenesis /pol-ee-jen-ә-sis/, n. The theory that there is more than one independent source of languages. Cf. monogenesis. polyglot /pol-ee-glot/. A person who speaks and understands more than one language. polyphone /pahl-i-fohn/, n. A written character that represents more than one sound (as c in Celtic may be pronounced either as /s/ or as /k/). polyptote /pahl-ip-toht/. (Of a noun or pronoun) having many cases <I–me–mine–my>. polyptoton /pahl-ip-toh-tahn/. The repetition of a word in a different case or inflection. • This is a species of paregmenon. English literature provides many examples: • • • • • I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart. (1 Corinthians 1:19) With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder. (Shakespeare [1564–1616]) And dying rise, and rising with him raise. (John Milton [1608–1674]) Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. (Robert Frost [1874–1963]) A good ad should be like a good sermon: it must not only comfort the afflicted; it also must afflict the comfortable. (Bernice Fitz-Gibbon [1892–1982]) polysemous /pah-lee-seem-әs/ adj. (Of a word) having more than one sense, usu. many senses (e.g., bank can mean “a financial institution,” “the earth beside a river,” or “a billiard shot that bounces off the edge of the table”). polysemy /pә-lis-ә-mee/. A word’s quality of having multiple similar meanings. • For instance, a foot may refer to the base or bottom of two different things <We’ll set up camp at the foot of the mountain> <That shoe is too tight for my foot>. — polysemous, adj. Cf. monosemy. polysyllable. A word with many syllables, usu. more than three. Cf. monosyllable; plurisyllable. polysyndeton /pol-ee-sin-dә-ton/. Rhetoric. The repetitive use of conjunctions between elements in a sentence, such as words, phrases, or clauses. • This device can make a speaker or writer sound breathless. Examples: • I said, “Who killed him?” and he said, “I don’t know who killed him but he’s dead all right,” and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Bay and she was all right only she was full of water. (Ernest Hemingway [1899–1961]) Cf. asyndeton. polysynthesis /pahl-ee-sin-thә-sis/, n. The combination of several words that often go together into one word <insofar> <inasmuch>. popularized technicality. A technical term that has come into widespread use outside the field where it originated, usu. having acquired an extended meaning. • When H.W. Fowler (1858–1933) first coined this term in his 1926 book A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, the phrase acid test was the leading example. In its original scientific context, it referred to using nitric acid to test for gold. It was popularized by President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), who used it figuratively to mean “a severe or conclusive test” when he stated, “The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will.” Many specialized subjects have contributed popularized technicalities to English, among them law <leading question>, medicine <cancerous>, logic <dilemma>, chess <gambit>, physics <quantum leap>, and sailing <under way>. Often purists object to a popularized technicality when it is new, but they tend to have little say in its linguistic fate. portmanteau word /port-man-toh/. See blend. positive, adj. & n. The ordinary condition of a gradable adjective or adverb; the lowest degree of comparison. • The positive degree does not express a comparison to any other thing <strong—not stronger (comparative) or strongest (superlative)>. — Also termed positive degree; absolute degree. See adjective; adverb; degree. Cf. comparative; superlative. possessive /pә-zes-iv/, n. The case used to show possession, ownership, or close relationship. In English, most nouns form the possessive by adding -’s to the singular and irregular plural forms, and an apostrophe alone to regular plural forms. second possessive. A personal pronoun commonly used in a nominal position (mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, and theirs). possessive adjective. See adjective. possessive case. See case. possessive pronoun. See pronoun. postclitic /pohst-klit-ik/, n. An unemphatic word that is accented as if it were part of the preceding word (as one in good one or it in Post-it note). Cf. proclitic. postmodification. The placement of a modifier after the word it modifies (such as a man with blue eyes instead of a blue-eyed man). postmodifier, n. A word that qualifies or limits the sense of a preceding word; a postpositive qualifier. — postmodification, n. See postpositive. postpositive, n. A modifying particle or word that is placed after the word it modifies. • In he was the man chosen for the job, chosen is a postpositive because it modifies man, clarifies which man is referred to, and comes after the word modified. — Also termed postmodifier. See adjective. Cf. prepositive. postverbal, adj. Following the verb. — postverbal, n. pragmatics /prag-mat-iks/. Linguistics. The study of how language is used in the context of certain communications, such as the beliefs of the speaker and his relationship to the audience. precatory /prek-ә-tor-ee/, adj. Expressing a desire that something be done, but in a nonmandatory way <precatory words in a will>. precisian /pri-sizh-әn/. A person who rigidly and precisely observes established rules, forms, or standards. — Also termed precisionist. predicate. A syntactic unit consisting of a finite verb and all the words modifying it or governed by it, such as are ready to go in the sentence We are Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 913 ready to go. — Also termed complete predicate. compound predicate. A predicate consisting of two or more verbs connected by and. simple predicate. The verb or verb phrase in a sentence without its objects, modifiers, etc. predicate adjective. See adjective. predicate nominative. A predicate noun in the nominative case, such as he <This is he> and I <It was I who called their attention to that fact>. — Also termed predicate noun. predicative, adj. Of or relating to a noun or adjective that follows a linking verb to form a predicate, or is contained within a predicate. • In the sentence His mentor called him a failure, yet he became a well-respected businessman, the noun phrase a failure is the predicative object of the linking verb called, and the noun phrase a well-respected businessman is the predicative complement of the linking verb became. predicative adjective. See predicate adjective under adjective. prefix. An affix attached to the beginning of a word to modify its meaning. • Prefixes serve many functions. Some, such as im-, in-, and un-, change a word’s meaning to its direct opposition <possible–impossible> <comfortable–uncomfortable>. See affix. Cf. suffix; infix. prelinguistics. The study of biological and physiological aspects of speech. Cf. microlinguistics; macrolinguistics. premodifier. See prepositive. preoccupation. See prolepsis (2). preposition. An uninflected word or a phrase that indicates relationships of location, direction, means, agency, etc. between a noun and other words in the sentence. • The preposition’s object is usually a noun or pronoun, which is always in the objective case (e.g., in that sounds good to me, the pronoun me is the object of the preposition to, so it is in the objective case). Although the preposition usually appears immediately before its object, it can also follow it (e.g., we have a serious problem to talk about). Prepositions frequently serve as particles in phrasal verbs. See particle & object of a preposition under object. complex preposition. See phrasal preposition. compound preposition. A singleword preposition formed from two or more words <outside> <notwithstanding>. deferred preposition. See terminal preposition. participial preposition. A participial form that functions as a preposition <barring injury, he should win the tournament>. phrasal preposition. Two or more separate words that function as a preposition <in front of> <next to>. — Also termed complex preposition. terminal preposition. A preposition that appears at the end of a clause because its object has been moved elsewhere in the sentence. — Also termed deferred preposition. prepositional complement. See complement. prepositional phrase. See phrase. prepositive, n. A modifying particle or word that is placed before the word it modifies. • In the gray squirrel stole the bread, gray is a prepositive because it comes before squirrel, the word it modifies. — Also termed premodifier. See adjective. Cf. postpositive. prescriptive grammar. 1. The field of grammar concerned with guiding users to make the most effective use of language through common rules. • Prescriptive grammarians are concerned with preventing heedless departures from Standard English. 2. A book that lays out such grammar. — Also termed normative grammar. See grammar; standard english. Cf. descriptive grammar. prescriptive linguistics. See linguistics. prescriptivism /pree-skrip-ti-viz-әm/. An approach to language study that embraces the role of value judgments in deciding what is linguistically effective or ineffective, better or worse, and therefore guides people toward mastering a standard language. Cf. descriptivism. present participle. See participle. present-perfect tense. See tense. present tense. See tense. preterition. See paraleipsis. preterit tense. See past tense under tense. preverbal, adj. 1. (Of a word or phrase) preceding the verb. Cf. postverbal. — preverbal, n. 2. Preceding the development of speech in an individual or in humankind. 3. Preceding the moment when a statement is formulated in the mind. primary verb. See verb. principal clause. See independent clause under clause. principal parts of a verb. The uninflected form of a verb, its past tense, and its past participle. • A verb’s complete conjugation can be given if these principal parts are known. principal verb. See main verb under verb. Priscian. See break priscian’s head. privative /pri-vә-tiv/, adj. Showing that something has been lost, negated, or removed; esp. (of a particle or affix), expressing negation or privation. • The prefix a-, from Greek, is called the alpha privative; it is used in such words as amoral and apolitical. An -nis inserted in the alpha privative for euphony when a vowel sound follows (as in anaerobic). procatalepsis /proh-kat-ә-lep-sis/. See prolepsis (2). prochronism. See prolepsis (1). proclisis /proh-kli-sis/, n. The pronunciation of a word or phrase in such a way that an unaccented syllable is combined with an accented word coming after it (as when to day evolved into the one-word form: today). Cf. enclisis. proclitic, adj. (Of an unaccented word) leaning forward; esp., dependent in pronunciation on a word that follows. • Among the most prominent examples in English are the articles a and the and monosyllabic prepositions. — proclitic, n. See clitic. Cf. enclitic. proclitic /proh-klit-ik/, n. A onesyllable word so closely associated in pronunciation with the word that follows as to have no accent of its own (e.g., an in an inch, for in for research purposes, the in the nation, or to in to compose). Cf. postclitic. pro-form. A word that substitutes for another, as a pronoun stands in for its noun antecedent. See pro-verb under verb. progressive aspect, n. See aspect. prolative /proh-layt-iv/, adj. Serving to extend or complete predication. prolepsis /proh/lep-sәs/. Rhetoric. 1. A figure of speech that expresses something yet to occur as if it has already occurred, as by using a past participle to modify a noun before the action has been done; an anticipatory reference. • Through prolepsis, the speaker may represent something as existing before it actually comes into existence <precolonial United States>, anticipate the circumstance or act that makes a description applicable <the dry lake they drained>, or link a present condition to a consequence <If you don’t turn that music down, I’m calling the police>. — Also termed prochronism. 2. Rhetorical anticipation, as by answering a potential objection before it has been raised, or anticipating and answering a counterargument before it is made; the refutation of possible objections to an argument <“Aha!” you say, “that can’t be right!” Here’s the proof.>. In sense 2, cf. hypophora. — Also termed (in 914 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms sense 2) procatalepsis; preoccupation. — proleptic, adj. promotion. In transformational grammar, the translation of words from an embedded clause into a main sentence. pronominal, adj. Of, relating to, or being a pronoun. pronominal adjective. See adjective; adjective pronoun under pronoun. pronoun. A word used as a substitute for a noun or, sometimes, another pronoun. • The definition is not entirely satisfactory, since it does not easily apply to undoubted pronouns such as I, you, and the relative who. But it is traditional. See demonstrative. Cf. antecedent. adjective pronoun. A pronoun that functions as a noun modifier. Other than who, none, and personal pronouns, all pronouns may serve as adjectives <what book> <those apples>. — Also termed pronominal adjective. compound indefinite pronoun. An indefinite pronoun that includes an element such as -body (anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody), -thing (anything, everything, something), or one/-one (anyone, everyone, no one, someone) <Nobody said a word> <The blast was heard by everyone nearby>. compound personal pronoun. A personal pronoun form with the suffix -self (singular) or -selves (plural) (e.g., myself, ourselves, itself ). compound relative pronoun. A relative pronoun formed with who, whom, which, or what plus the suffix -ever <Whoever committed the crime will be found out> <I will give the award to whomever I please>. deictic pronoun. See demonstrative pronoun. demonstrative pronoun. A pronoun that points to, instead of defining or describing, the object to which it relates <this> <that> <you>. • The demonstrative pronouns are this, that (singular) and these, those (plural). Also termed deictic pronoun. distributive pronoun. An indefinite pronoun that separates the objects referred to from others referred to nearby. • The distributive pronouns are each, either, and neither. indefinite pronoun. A pronoun that generally or indefinitely represents an object already identified or not needing specific identification. • Indefinite pronouns include another, any, both, each, either, neither, none, one, other, some, and such <From all the options you can select only one> <Play another from your repertoire>. intensive pronoun. A pronoun with the suffix -self (singular) or -selves (plural), used in apposition to its referent, that adds emphasis <I myself made the cake from scratch> <You must take the blame yourselves>. interrogative pronoun. A pronoun that introduces or asks a question; a pronoun used to elicit the identity of an unknown noun or noun phrase. • The interrogative pronouns are who (nominative; objective whom and possessive whose), what, and which <Who did the talking?> <To whom am I speaking?> <Which is the right way?>. personal pronoun. A pronoun that refers to a particular person or thing and changes form to indicate person, number, gender, and case. • This chart lists the personal pronouns and the forms they take in different cases: Singular Subjective: I, you, he, she, it Objective: me, you, him, her, it Possessive: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its Plural Subjective: we, you, they Objective: us, you, them Possessive: our, ours, your, yours, their, theirs possessive pronoun. A type of pronoun used esp. as a limiting adjective to qualify a noun and denote possession. • The possessive pronouns include mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, and theirs. See also absolute form. reciprocal pronoun. A singular pronoun that refers to a plural subject <The buildings are close to each other> <The family members are all fond of one another>. • The only reciprocal pronouns in English are each other and one another. reflexive pronoun. A pronoun formed with the suffix -self (singular) or -selves (plural) and used to reflect the action of the verb and refer to the subject <She drove herself to work> <They created trouble for themselves>. relative pronoun. A pronoun that can link dependent and independent clauses <I will develop whichever idea is the most popular> or join a clause with its antecedent <The boy who delivered our newspaper has moved away>. • The relative pronouns are who, whom, that, and which. The compounds whoever, whomever, and whichever are also relative pronouns. Who and whoever refer to the subject of a clause or sentence; whom and whomever refer to the objects of a verb, a verbal, or a preposition. universal pronoun. A pronoun that represents all-inclusive noun phrases (such as each, all, and compounds consisting of every plus one, body, or thing. • Grammatically, universal pronouns (apart from all) are singular, even though the meaning is plural. pronunciation /prә-nәn-see-ay-shәn/. The manner or act of articulating words. proper adjective. See adjective. proper diphthong. See diphthong. proper name. See proper noun under noun. proper noun. See noun. prop word. See expletive. prose /prohz/. Spoken or written language without metrical structure, rhythm, or other characteristics of poetry; language in its ordinary form. prosiopesis /proh-si-ә-pee-sis/, n. An ellipsis at the beginning of a grammatical structure <Thank you> (the subject I being habitually omitted through ellipsis). • Prosiopesis is especially common in the informal writing found in e-mail, journal entries, and the like <Went to a movie. Liked it. Thought that Meg Ryan was delightful.>. prosody /pros-ә-dee/. 1. The intonations and rhythms of spoken language. 2. The study of those intonations and rhythms. 3. The study of poetic meters and their use. — prosodic, adj. prosopopoeia /prә-soh-pә-pee-ә/. See personification. prosthesis. See prothesis. protasis /prah-tә-sis/. In a conditional sentence, the clause that lays down the condition. • It typically begins with the word if or unless, but it may also be introduced by although, though, or despite. — Also termed conditional clause; condition. Cf. apodosis. prothesis /prahth-ә-sәs/. The addition of an extra sound or syllable at the beginning of a word <splatter → besplatter>. • By this process, an ewt became a newt. — Also termed prosthesis. — prothetic /proh-thet-ik/, adj. Cf. metanalysis. pro-verb. See verb. provincialism. A regional word, phrase, pronunciation, or usage that differs from the standard language. See dialect. psellism /sel-iz-әm/, n. Defective pronunciation, esp. as a result of lisping, stuttering, or stammering. psittacism /sit-ә-siz-әm/. The thoughtless, parrot-like repetition of other people’s ideas and words without any personal understanding of or Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 915 appreciation for what one is saying; parrotry. psychobabble. 1. Language loaded with terms from psychology and psychotherapy, esp. those improperly used by laypeople. 2. Meaningless psychological jargon, esp. terms from popular rather than mainstream psychology. • In either sense, this term is highly pejorative. It emerged in the popular culture when it appeared in the title of R.D. Rosen’s 1977 book, Psychobabble: Fast Talk and Quick Cure in the Era of Feeling. psycholinguistics. See linguistics. pun. See paronomasia. punctual aspect. See momentaneous aspect under aspect. punctuation. 1. The system of marking sentences to help readers understand their structure and the relationship between their parts. 2. The marks used in that system. pure infinitive. See infinitive. purism. 1. The view that linguistic changes should be halted or undone; the attitude that change should not occur in a language. • In its classic form, purism, among other things, promotes strict adherence to the rules of grammar and speech and bars neologisms and borrowed foreign words from the language. In practice, self-described “purists” are often ill informed about what actually constitutes good usage. 2. The view that a language should be made up only of homegrown words, not words borrowed from other languages. — purist, n. — puristic, adj. purple prose. A highly ornate, brilliantly colored passage in a literary composition. • The phrase derives from the Latin phrase purpureus pannus, which appears in the Ars Poetica of Horace (65–8 b.c.). qualifier. A word that modifies or intensifies an adjective or adverb <rather> <very>. See modifier (1). qualititative adjective. See adjective. quantitative adjective. See adjective. question. An interrogative sentence or clause; a sentence that seeks to elicit information. indirect question. A noun clause that reports a question or asks it indirectly <She asked me where the convenience store is>; esp., a dependent clause or a sentence containing a dependent clause that expresses an implied question. • In the sentence Tell me who you are, the question is implied by who you are. If asked directly, the sentence would be Tell me, who are you? quotation. One or more words taken from another person’s writing or speech and repeated verbatim (e.g., a quotation from Shakespeare). recipient noun. See noun. reciprocal, adj. Indicating that an action, process, or relationship is mutual (e.g., Paul and Diane have a reciprocal relationship: Paul likes Diane and Diane likes Paul). reciprocal pronoun. See pronoun. reduced relative clause. See clause. redundancy /ri-dәn-dәn-see/. 1. The use of more words than necessary to impart an idea; the inclusion of superfluous words in an expression. 2. A word or phrase that adds nothing to the meaning of a passage because its sense has already been expressed (as in cash money or entirely unanimous). reduplication. The formation of a double-barreled word or phrase by having the second part repeat some of the first part, as in flim-flam, helterskelter, namby-pamby, okey-dokey, shilly-shally, and willy-nilly. referent. A person or thing referred to; specif., the physical entity or abstract concept represented by a spoken or written symbol. • Exactly what a referent denotes depends on the context in which it appears. For instance, sun may refer to the gaseous celestial body that provides heat and light to our planet <orbiting the sun> or just to the heat and light <playing outdoors in the sun>. reflexive, adj. Indicating that a verb’s action reflects back on the subject or agent. reflexive, n. 1. A part of speech used for emphasis by repetition. • A reflexive often immediately follows the subject, but it may also follow the verb <I myself believe she lied> <She completed the survey herself>. 2. Any construction in which two words or noun phrases are understood to have the same referent. See intensifier; intensive. reflexive pronoun. See pronoun. regimen /rej-i-mәn/, n. One word’s governing another; the relation that one word in a sentence has to another one that depends on it. register, n. 1. A type of language, esp. in a range of formal–informal, appropriate to a certain social setting. 2. Phonetics. The range of tones made by a voice. regular, adj. Conforming to a grammatical norm or standard. regular verb. See verb. relative adjective. See adjective. relative adverb. See conjunctive adverb under adverb. relative clause. See clause. relative pronoun. See pronoun. remote relative. A relative pronoun that is separated from the noun to which it refers by several intervening words. • A remote relative is typically ambiguous <the doctrine that nations are sovereign entities not to be interfered with by outside forces, which . . . > (where which might refer to doctrine, nations, entities, or forces—but probably either doctrine or forces). Remote relatives are often the source of readers’ miscues. remplissage /rahn-pli-sahzh/, n. Literary padding; the act or practice of filling out paragraphs and even pages with matter of little value. reported speech. A person’s indirectly quoted words, as in Sharon told us we had to arrive before 6 pm, meaning that Sharon said, “You must arrive before 6 pm.” — Also termed indirect speech; oratio obliqua. See indirect discourse under discourse. restrictive, adj. (Of the modifier of a noun or phrase) adding information that more positively identifies the referent. • For example, in The tents that are on aisle 3 are on sale, the clause that are on aisle 3 is restrictive because it identifies which tents are on sale— tents on other aisles may not be. Similarly, in The senator–songwriter Orrin Hatch will perform, the name Orrin Hatch specifically identifies which senator–songwriter is being referred to, so it is a restrictive appositive. Restrictive modifiers are never set off from the rest of the sentence by commas. Cf. nonrestrictive. restrictive relative clause. See clause. retained object. See object. retronym. A word or phrase invented to denote what was originally a genus term but has now become just one more species in a larger genus (e.g., solid-core door came to describe what all old doors used to be until the advent of the hollow-core door). rhematic /ree-mat-ik/, adj. 1. (Of word formation) derived from or based on a verb (as the noun preparation is derived from the verb prepare, or the adjective attributive is derived from the verb attribute). 2. Of or relating to word formation. rhetor /ri-tor/, n. 1. A teacher or professor of rhetoric. 2. A professional rhetorician. rhetoric. 1. The art of speaking suitably on any subject. 2. The art or practice of using sentence construction, figures of speech, etc. for elegant or persuasive effect. 3. High-flown language intended to stir listeners or readers. — rhetorical, adj. rhetorical question. Rhetoric. A question that is asked for effect only, and not for an answer; a question that 916 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms is intended to remain unanswered because the answer is self-evident. • Usually the speaker is making a point and doesn’t want a response, or the answer is obvious and can be left unsaid. The use of an unbroken series of rhetorical questions is called eperotesis or erotesis. rhotacism /roh-tә-siz-әm/. 1. The overuse of the letter r in speaking or writing; a disruption in pronouncing r, as in idea /idear/ and wash /wahrsh/. 2. The mispronunciation of r; esp., the erroneous replacement of an r-sound with the sound of some other letter. Cf. lambdacism. 3. The principle in Indo-European languages by which s is often systematically changed to r. — rhotacize, vb. right-branching sentence. A complicated sentence that has most of its complexity—the conditions, exceptions, etc.—after the principal verb; one that has a majority of its constituents on the right side of the tree diagram. Cf. left-branching sentence. root. The most basic part of a word, from which another word or words can be formed or derived; the form of a word to which affixes are attached. • The root or inflectional stem of a word constitutes the most meaningful part of an English word. — Also termed base; theme. See etymon; synthetic language. run-on sentence. A sentence in which two or more main clauses are used together without punctuation or a conjunction between them. • For example, Cyndi spoke highly of her new assistant she hired him last week. The run-on can be corrected by making two sentences <Cyndi spoke highly of her new assistant. She hired him last week> or by recasting and inserting an appropriate conjunction <Cyndi spoke highly of the new assistant that she hired last week>. sandhi /san-dee/, n. [Sanskrit “a placing together”] The change of the sound of a morpheme in a specific context (e.g., the in the woman vs. the elderly woman). sans serif. A style of typeface in which the letters do not have any projections. Sans serif type is considered more legible than serif type in headlines and short passages, but not in extended text. — Also spelled sanserif. Cf. serif. Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. The doctrine that the structure of one’s native tongue partly determines how one experiences reality and understands the world. • The hypothesis was first posited by Edward Sapir (1884–1939) in 1929 and was elaborated by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897– 1941) in books and articles. The names were coupled as Sapir–Whorf in learned journals beginning in the 1950s. sarcasm. Sharp, ironic, or humorous language intended to mock a person, thing, or situation by using words to show that the speaker intends the opposite meaning. • Sarcasm is more easily expressed in speech than in writing. In speech, vocal intonations help to convey the speaker’s real meaning when making a statement such as, “Well, isn’t that special?” when something isn’t. Sarcasm is more difficult to express in writing because there are few visual and no aural cues to the speaker’s meaning. In informal writing, people sometimes use emphatic fonts or capitalization, emoticons, or special characters to convey sarcasm. But since some of these devices are used for other purposes, such as expressing sincerity or excitement, misinterpretations are common. Cf. hyperbole; irony; litotes. scansion /skan-shәn/. The art or act of dividing verse into metrical feet. scesis onomaton. See synonymia. schriftsprache /shrift-sprahk-ә/. The written form of a standard language; literary language. schwa. A neutral vowel sound, spelled with various letters, such as the a in alone and the e in system. • In pronunciation systems, it is symbolized by an inverted, backward e: ә. second person. See person. second possessive. See possessive. semantic, adj. Of or relating to the meaning of words. semantics. The study of the ways in which languages (or a particular language) systematically structure meaning, esp. in words and in sentences; specif., the branch of linguistics dealing with the meaning of words, phrases, and clauses, together with the origins of and shifts of meaning. — Also termed semasiology. See linguistics. Cf. general semantics. semasiology /sә-may-zee-ahl-ә-jee/, n. See semantics. sememe. The meaning of a morpheme; the smallest possible unit of meaning. semivowel. A sound that functions as a consonant but has the resonance of a vowel. • The most common are w <water> and y <yellow>. Cf. consonant; vowel. sentence. A minimum complete utterance; a grammatical and rhetorical device for expressing relationships among the elements of an idea segment, which the writer or speaker wants to separate and present as a unit, and that the reader or listener can accept as capable of standing alone. • The old idea that a sentence is “a group of words expressing a complete thought” has been widely discredited—even though it contains a good deal of truth. But it is true that many single words can be sentences, as C.T. Onions (1873–1965) observed: “Many single words or self-contained groups of words, of any size, may perform the work of a sentence; e.g., Speaking; Thanks; Down!; Sh!; Out with it!; Farewell; Goodbye; What?; Murder!; Nonsense!; Splendid! Yes and no are long-established sentencewords; they are equivalent to sentences; e.g. Will you come?—Yes. I will come.”1 The grammarian James Sledd (1914–2003) wrote aptly that “no useful definition can be framed to include all and only the things [that] are often called sentences.”2 cleft sentence. In transformational grammar, a two-clause sentence made from a single clause in order to emphasize a specific element of the clause, so that the resulting sentence begins with it is or another be-verb <It is peanuts that we want> (resulting from the clauses We want peanuts and It is . . .). — Also termed cleft construction. complex sentence. A sentence that has an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses joined by a subordinating conjunction <I don’t know whether it will rain today>. compound–complex sentence. A sentence that consists of at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause <Either the cat goes or I go, whether you like it or not> <I don’t know if he’ll be allowed to watch the football game, but he hasn’t finished those chores that he was assigned>. compound sentence. A sentence that has at least two coordinate independent clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction <I told him to go away, so he left> <The cat goes or I go>. See coordinating conjunction under conjunction. conditional sentence. A sentence that states a condition and the consequence or outcome of that condition’s occurring. • Example: If we lose this game, we’ll be excluded from the tournament. The condition does 1 C.T. Onions, Modern English Syntax 1 (rev. B.D.H. Miller 1971). 2 James Sledd, A Short Introduction to English Grammar 246 (1959). Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 917 not have to be stated before the consequence: <We’ll be late unless we take a shortcut>. declarative sentence. A sentence that makes a statement or assertion <The day was long> <It’s wise not to fret about what cannot be changed>. — Often shortened to declarative. exclamatory sentence. A sentence that expresses surprise or other strong emotion. — Also termed exclamative sentence; exclamative. imperative sentence. A sentence that constitutes a command, order, or firm request <Get your gear and leave> <March down to the bank and tell the manager what you think!>. — Often shortened to imperative. interrogative sentence. A sentence that asks a question <Why did you agree on that price?>. — Often shortened to interrogative. simple sentence. A sentence consisting of only one independent clause and no dependent clauses <I called her> <I saw him only yesterday>. sentence adverb. See adverb. separative coordinating conjunction. See disjunctive conjunction under conjunction. sequence of tenses. The fixed pattern by which the tense of one verbal or the form of one verb phrase demands that another verbal or verb phrase be of a particular tense or form <When she arrived, I left> (the past-tense arrived demanding the past-tense left) <As I peruse books, I mark them> (the present-tense peruse demanding the present-tense mark). serif, n. A style of typeface in which the letters have slight finishing strokes, such as “feet.” The serifs enhance the readability of significant blocks of text. — serif, serifed, adj. Cf. sans serif. sesquipedality /ses-kwi-pi-dal-i-tee/, n. The use of long, arcane words. — sesquipedalian, adj. set phrase. A group of words in an arrangement fixed by long-standing usage. • Proverbs, catchphrases, and idioms are types of set phrases. — Also termed set expression. See cliché; idiom. sibilant. A hissing or hushing sound, as in /s/, /z/, or /sh/. — sibilance, n. simile. Rhetoric. An explicit comparison of two usu. quite different things, signaled by the use of a word such as like or as <like a gentle breeze> <as brave as a lion>. • Examples: • • Tall men, like tall houses, are usually ill furnished in the upper story. (Sir Francis Bacon [1561–1626]) The man who has not any thing to boast of but his illustrious ancestors is like a • potato—the only good belonging to him is under ground. (Sir Thomas Overbury [1581–1613]) She was like an apple pudding tied in the middle. (James Kirk Paulding [1778–1860]) See figure of speech. Cf. metaphor. simple. 1. Made up of a single grammatical element. 2. Having no modifiers, complements, or other elements. simple adverb. See adverb. simple conjunction. See conjunction. simple infinitive. See infinitive. simple predicate. See predicate. simple sentence. See sentence. simple subject. See subject. simple tense. See tense. simplex. See kernel sentence. singular, n. The form of a word that denotes or refers to one person or thing. See concord. Cf. plural. singulare tantum /sing-gyoo-lair-ee tan-tәm/, n. A noun that is invariably singular in form. • This term usually applies to mass nouns. Cf. plurale tantum. slang. Nonstandard language that has any two of these four characteristics: (1) it is informal, significantly lower in status than Standard English; (2) it first arises in the language of the street or popular culture; (3) it is more or less unacceptable in formal or polite settings; and (4) it displaces a conventional term with one that is vivid and may even be taboo. • Slang changes very quickly in English and is often used within groups, particularly small or close ones, to help keep the group together and strengthen ties. — slangy, adj. See dialect; idiolect. sociolinguistics. See linguistics. solecism /sol-ә-siz-әm or soh-lәsiz-әm/. An ungrammatical combination of words, noncompliance with the rules of syntax, or a deviation from standard usage. • The word solecism derives from the name of the ancient Greek colony of Soloi, in what is now called Cyprus. The original settlers spoke Attic Greek, but because the colony was far from Greece and infrequently visited, the language gradually drifted and became a local dialect. Greek travelers who stopped in Soloi considered the dialect a corrupt and substandard form of Greek. They coined the word soloikismos to describe it. The word was adopted into Latin as solœcismus, then passed into French as solécisme, and finally appeared in the English form, solecism, in the 16th century. sonant. See voiced. specialization. The narrowing of a word’s meaning over time. • For example, meat derives from Old English mete, meaning “food” (still reflected in the term nutmeat), but through specialization it came to refer to the flesh of animals as food. — Also termed narrowing. Cf. generalization. speech community. A defined group, esp. regionally or socially, identified by a shared spoken language or dialect. • A community can be as small as a few people to as large as a whole nation or supranational group, such as a Welsh-speaking community in Patagonia. spelling pronunciation. The pronunciation of a word according to its spelling, such as says with a long-a sound, or often as /awf-tәn/. See pronunciation. split infinitive. See infinitive. Spoonerism. A phrase in which the initial consonants of two words are swapped, usu. by accident, to create an amusing expression. • Spoonerisms are named for the Reverend W.A. Spooner (1844–1930), a don of New College, Oxford. He is reputed to have inadvertently uttered statements such as “The Lord is a shoving leopard,” and “It is kisstomary to cuss the bride.” But one can make Spoonerisms deliberately as a device to belittle or amuse. For instance, W.H. Auden (1907–1973), who had a low opinion of the poets Shelley and Keats, purposefully referred to them as “Kelly and Sheets.” And Shel Silverstein (1930–1999) wrote an entire book of poetry, Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook (2005 [published posthumously]), filled with Spoonerisms. sprachbund /sprahk-buunt/. 1. A linguistic community made up of speakers of mutually intelligible dialects and linguistic families having a common set of linguistic features as the result of geographic proximity. 2. The linguistic evolution that results in this type of community. sprachgefühl /sprahk-gә-fyuul/. 1. Language-feeling; an intuitive grasp of the genius and idiom of a given language. 2. The character of a language. stammbaum /shtam-bowm/. A family tree of languages, such as IndoEuropean languages. standard, adj. (Of usage) speaking and writing that is widely taught and learned as the correct form. Standard English. The substantially uniform type of English spoken and written by educated people. • It lacks regional and other variations that are considered ungrammatical or nonstandard. It is widely used in the media and by authority figures, and it is sometimes called “the prestige dialect.” Cf. argot; dialect; jargon; nonstandard english; patois; slang. 918 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms statement. A sentence that expresses an assertion (as opposed to an exclamation, a question, or a command); a sentence to which the most common response is continuing attention. stem. 1. The part of a word that remains unchanged when it is inflected. 2. A word that contains a root and one or more derivational suffixes but no inflectional suffixes <annoyance> <artist> <artistic>. stigmeology /stig-mee-ahl-ә-jee/, n. The art of punctuation. stop. 1. A punctuation mark. 2. A consonant sound made with complete obstruction of the breath stream. stress. See accent (2). strong verb. See verb. structural ambiguity. See ambiguity. structural linguistics. See linguistics. stylistics. Linguistics. The study of linguistic variation, often with special attention to the most conscious and complex uses of language in literature. subclause. See dependent clause under clause. subject. The noun or noun phrase about which something is said in the predicate of a simple sentence; esp., the doer of the sentence’s action or the person or thing that is in the state expressed by the predicate. complete subject. The simple subject together with all its modifiers. compound subject. A subject that consists of two or more nouns or noun phrases connected by a conjunction. simple subject. The particular noun or noun phrase about which something is said in the predicate. subject complement. See complement. subjective. See nominative. subjective case. See nominative case under case. subject noun clause. See noun clause. subject–verb agreement. The requirement that the subject and the verb of a clause must match in person and number. subjunct. In some grammatical systems, an adverb that affects the force of a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, usu. either by softening the statement <fairly> <rather> <relatively> or by strengthening it <extremely> <very> <so>. Cf. adjunct; conjunct; disjunct. subjunctive /sәb-jәn[g]k-tiv/, adj. (Of a verb) expressing a condition that is uncertain or contrary to fact (e.g., if I were you), including doubt, wishfulness, possibility, demand, and the like (e.g., the crowd demanded that she be heard ). subjunctive mood. See mood. subordinate, adj. Having an order or rank inferior to something else; lesser in degree or importance <a subordinate clause>. Cf. coordinate. subordinate clause. See dependent clause under clause. subordinating conjunction. See conjunction. subordination. The joining of words or word groups with dependent rank to other elements of the sentence. subordinator. See subordinating conjunction under conjunction. subsequent. The word to which an interrogative relative pronoun refers when it follows the pronoun. • For example, in <Whose car is that? The mayor’s.>, the pronoun Whose refers to The mayor’s. substantive /sәb-stәn-tiv/, n. A word, phrase, or clause that functions as a noun. • Included in the term are nouns <Mammals are a class of vertebrates>, noun-equivalents <To err is human>, and pronouns. — substantival /sәb-stәn-ti-vәl/, adj. substitution. A sound change produced by replacing a vowel or consonant with another. suffix. A particle attached to the end of a word to modify its meaning or change it into a different word class. • Some suffixes are widely used, such as -ly, which changes an adjective to an adverb <quick–quickly>. But others are rarely seen. For instance, to make child plural, the suffix -ren is needed. See affix. Cf. infix; prefix. suffixoid /sәf-ik-soyd/, n. A suffix-like ending that is not truly a suffix at all (such as the -er in badger, hammer, and shyster). superlative, adj. & n. The form of an adjective or adverb used to compare at least three things and show that one has a quality above or below the others. • For example, best is the superlative of good; most refreshingly is the superlative of refreshingly. — Also termed superlative degree. See adjective; adverb; degree. Cf. comparative; positive. double superlative. A nonstandard construction such as most best or most highest. Cf. double comparative under comparative. periphrastic superlative. A superlative adjective or adverb that changes degree by taking most or least, esp. when a one-word form ending in -est is available. superlative degree. See superlative. superordinate clause. See independent clause under clause. surd /sәrd/, n. An unvoiced consonant, such as f, k, p, s, or t. See unvoiced. surface structure. In transformational grammar, the set of semantic and syntactic relationships among the parts of a sentence as actually written or spoken. Cf. deep structure. suspensive hyphen. A hyphen used to connect a series of compound modifiers with the same base term <a five- to seven-year term>. svarabhakti vowel /swahr-ә-bahk-tee/, n. [Sanskrit “vowel separation”] A vowel sound inserted through epenthesis. — Often shortened to svarabhakti. — Also termed parasitic vowel. See epenthesis; anaptyxis. syllabication. The act or method of forming syllables or dividing words into syllables. — Also termed syllabification. syllable. A phonological unit consisting of one or more sounds, including a vowel sound. closed syllable. A syllable that ends with a consonant, as both syllables do in hip-hop. open syllable. A syllable that ends with a vowel (such as both syllables in oboe). syllepsis /si-lep-sis/. 1. Grammar. The use of a word to modify or syntactically govern two or more other words when it agrees with only one of them in number, voice, gender, and so on. 2. zeugma. syllogism. A logical argument composed of usu. three propositions from which one (the conclusion) is inferred from the others (the major and minor premises). • Each of the premises has a term in common with the conclusion. The major premise is stated first and contains the major term or predicate of the conclusion (usually the principle involved). The minor premise contains the minor term or subject of the conclusion (usually the fact involved). The major premise is general, and the minor is particular. Here are two classic syllogisms: Major premise (general): Minor premise (particular): Conclusion: Major premise (general): Minor premise (particular): Conclusion: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Socrates is mortal. All mortal things die. All humans are mortal. All humans die. — syllogistic /sil-ә-jis-tik/, adj. Cf. enthymeme. symploce /sim-plә-see/. Rhetoric. The repetition of one word at the beginning and of another at the end of two successive clauses <Spring clothes with leaves the trees; spring leads Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 919 back the birds of song to the trees>. • Symploce combines anaphora and epistrophe. See anaphora; epistrophe. Cf. ploce. synaeresis /si-ner-ә-sis or si-neer-әsis/. The drawing together or union in one syllable of two vowels that are normally not sounded together; esp., the coalescence of two sounds into a diphthong. • Through synaeresis, the local pronunciation of Louisville, Kentucky, becomes /loo-vәl/. And the Arabic al-Qaeda /ahl kah-ee-dә/ becomes, in English, /al ki-dә/ or /al kay-dә/. — Also spelled syneresis. — Also termed synizesis. See syncope; synaloepha. Cf. diaeresis. synaesthesia /sin-es-thee-zhә/, n. The association of a particular sound or group of sounds with a particular meaning (as with the fl- in flame, flare, and flicker). Cf. onomatopoeia. synaloepha /sin-ә-lee-fә/. The contraction of a syllable by blending of two vowels in adjacent syllables into one syllable, esp. by suppressing a vowel or diphthong at the end of a word when the next word also begins with a vowel or diphthong. • For example, the preferred pronunciation of extraordinary is /ek-stror-di-ner-ee/ (in five syllables, not six), blending the sounds of the a in extra and the o in ordinary. Synaeresis and crasis are types of synaloepha. — Also spelled synalepha. See crasis; synaeresis. synchronic /sin-krah-nik/, adj. Of or relating to language as it exists at a specific time. • A synchronic method of linguistic study isolates the present state of a language and tries to study this without the possibility of any preconceived notions suggested by a knowledge of the language’s history. Cf. diachronic. synchysis /sing-kә-sis/. A verbal disruption; the confusion of words in a sentence, so that the meaning is obscure. syncope /sing-kә-pee/. The loss or elision of one or more letters or sounds, esp. a vowel or syllable, from the middle of a word or phrase <ne’er> <Bosox>. • Among everyday examples in Standard English are chocolate /chawk-lit/, diaper /di-pәr/, grocery /grohs-ree/, vacuum /vak-yoom/, and vegetable /vej-tә-bәl/. The second word in San Francisco becomes, in slang (outside the Bay Area of California), Frisco. For a more learned example, the Greek word apophthegm (= a terse aphorism or maxim) became apothegm in medieval Latin—and only when Samuel Johnson expressed a preference for the original Greek spelling did the longer form come into any real currency in English. But the shorter form is standard. — Also termed syncopation. — syncopal, adj. — syncopate, vb. See synaeresis. syncresis. See crasis. syncrisis /sin-kri-sis/, n. Rhetoric. The comparison of opposites. syndeton /sin-di-tahn/, n. The use of a conjunction to join elements in a sentence. • This term dates only from the mid-20th century. Cf. asyndeton; polysyndeton. synecdoche /si-nek-dә-kee/. A metaphor by which a part of something refers to the whole of it, or the whole for a part <thou sacred head> <flesh and blood>. • Thus wheels can refer to a car, threads to a suit, blades to ice skates, and breaking bread to having a meal. — Also termed pars pro toto. syneresis. See synaeresis. synesis /sin-ә-sis/. A grammatical construction in which the elements are not governed by the rules of syntax but by the sense of the passage; esp., the construction of a collective noun in the singular with a plural verb because the noun denotes a plurality <A number of people were there> (in which the singular noun number might mistakenly be thought to require the singular verb was). — Also termed constructio ad sensum. synizesis /sin-ә-zee-sis/. See synaeresis. synoeciosis /si-nee-see-oh-sis/, n. A figure of speech in which contrary qualities are attributed to the same thing <Studying language can be both tedious and fascinating>. synonym. A word whose meaning is very similar to that of another word, although the two words may differ in tone, application, formality, etc. • For example, wealthy, well-off, and loaded are synonyms of rich, but users must choose the appropriate term for a particular context. Synonyms may be (1) words of consistently similar implication <assiduous–sedulous> <improbable–unlikely>; (2) words that only occasionally have a similar implication <unintelligent–slow> <perceptive–sharp>; (3) words that are broadly similar but have quite different applications <doctor–healer–medicine man>; or (4) words with nearly identical denotations but differentiating connotations <surgeon–sawbones> <crippled–mobility-impaired>. Cf. antonym. synonymia. Rhetoric. The use of several synonymous words or phrases to amplify or explain a term or subject, or to add force and clarity to a statement. • Synonymia can be used for dramatic or comic effect. — Also termed scesis onomaton /skee-sis ә-nahm-ә-tahn/. • • You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar) His metabolic processes are now history! He’s off the twig! He’s kicked the bucket, he’s shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!! (Monty Python, The Parrot Sketch) syntax. 1. Sentence structure; the orderly arrangement of words, phrases, and clauses into sentences. 2. The study of the rules governing how words relate to one other and how they are arranged into sentences. • Syntax deals with the meaningful relationships between words within strings, their function, and their modification. — Also termed (in sense 2) diasynthesis. See linguistics. Cf. accidence; morphology. synthetic language. A language in which syntactical relationships are shown by inflections and the use of affixes with roots; a language that relies heavily on affixation to signal meaning. • In synthetic languages, words change form to show their grammatical function, or when expressing new, especially abstract, concepts. Latin and Greek are synthetic languages. See affix; inflecting language; root. Cf. analytic language. tag question. An interrogative attached to the end of a declarative statement <It’s a good book, isn’t it?>. — Also termed confirmatory clause. tapinosis /tap-i-noh-sis/, n. The debasement of the dignity of something or someone by referring to it as something much less dignified than it is (as by calling the Mississippi River a streamlet or the Supreme Court of the United States a bunch of judges). • The columnist Molly Ivins (1944–2007) consistently used tapinosis; throughout the two terms of President George W. Bush, she referred to him in her columns as W. tatpurusha /tat-puur-ә-shә/, n. [Sanskrit “his servant”] A compound word in which the first element (usu. an attributive noun) qualifies the second, while the second (the head) determines the part of speech <bookcase> <yearbook>. tautegorical /taw-tә-gor-i-kәl/, adj. Expressing an idea in the same style but in different words. tautology /taw-tol-ә-jee/. 1. Repetition of something in words that are nearly synonymous and do not add anything <Many people are out of work when unemployment is high> <free gift>. 920 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 2. Rhetoric. Repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence <with malice toward none, with charity for all (Lincoln, second inaugural address)>. 3. Logic. A statement that must be true for all possibilities or by virtue of its logical form. — tautologize, vb. Cf. pleonasm. tenor. 1. Linguistics. The social roles and relationships between the participants in a channel of communication. 2. Semiotics. In a metaphor, the literal, primary subject. For instance: “Experience is a good school, but the fees are high” (Heinrich Heine [1797–1856]). In this case, the primary subject of experience is expressed in terms of the secondary subject of school. Typically, a metaphor expresses an abstraction in terms of a more well-defined model. Cf. vehicle. tense. A verb’s quality that shows the time in which an act, state, or condition occurs or occurred; the correspondence between a verb form and the concept of time. Cf. aspect; mood; voice. complex tense. A tense combined with the perfect or the progressive aspect. future-perfect tense. The tense denoting an act, state, or condition that will be completed before another specified future time or future action <I will have finished my degree before the end of summer>. • This term is borrowed from Latin grammar to apply to verb phrases such as will have said, will have been said, and will have been saying. future tense. The tense denoting an act, state, or condition that will occur <I will go tomorrow>. • Modern grammarians tend to define tense inflectionally—and therefore to limit the description of English to the present and past tenses—but it is conventional to speak of such constructions as will make, will be made, and will be making as being in the future tense. historical present tense. The use of present tense when referring to past events (or sometimes absent people) to add immediacy and drama to a narrative or discussion. • This tense is typically used in colloquial or nonstandard English. In writing, it is used only for narration, usually fictional. It is not used for formal writing. — Also termed historic present. • • • So this guy walks in and looks at me like I’m a freak or something. I’m just about to leave, when the lights suddenly go out. When he has Jack say, “I don’t go looking for trouble, trouble comes to me,” what is the author trying to tell us? past-perfect tense. The tense denoting that an act, state, or condition was completed before another specified past time or past action <I had begun to apologize, but she hung up the phone>. • Verb phrases such as had called, had been called, and had been calling are termed past-perfect tense. — Also termed pluperfect tense. past tense. A tense signaling an action or even a state that occurred at some previous time. • The past tense may signal the instantaneous past <Brad broke his leg> or the durational past <Ms. Williams tried for several years to get appointed as an ambassador>. — Also termed preterit (tense). perfect tense. See present-perfect tense. pluperfect tense. See past-perfect tense. present-perfect tense. The tense denoting an act, state, or condition that occurred at an unspecified time before now <We have gone there many times>. — Also termed perfect tense. present tense. A tense signaling that an action, event, or state is timeless or progressive <Life is hard> <The dogs are waiting>. preterit tense. See past tense. simple tense. A tense with no aspect: present, past, or future. terminal preposition. See preposition. theme. See base. thesis. 1. A proposition to be developed, proved, and maintained against attack; the point of a discussion. 2. A theme for a composition; a statement of the central idea of an argument or writing. 3. A dissertation of a specified length written to satisfy the requirements of a university degree, esp. a master’s degree. third person. See person. tilde /til-dә/. A diacritical mark (~) indicating that an n takes a palatized sound, as in señor. • Tildes are common in Spanish but are not used in American English. In written British English, the tilde character, typeset in the middle of a line and called a swing-dash, can substitute for words describing activities the reader can imagine. See diacritical mark. time. The indicator of when an action occurred in relation to the occurrence of the utterance itself: past, present, or future. tittle /tit-әl/, n. 1. The dot over the letter i. 2. A punctuation mark. 3. diacritical mark. • Sense 3 is the earliest, dating from the 14th century. The phrase jot or tittle dates from the early 16th century. See jot. tmesis /tmee-sis or mee-sis/. A separation of the parts of a compound word by one or more inserted words <what condition soever>. • For example, in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1913), Eliza Doolittle says absobloomin’-lutely. — Also termed diacope /di-ak-ә-pee/. Tom Swifty. A sentence in which a verb or adverb in the clause following a sentence of reported speech produces a pun related to that sentence. • Tom Swift is a fictional character, created by Edward L. Stratemeyer (1862– 1930) (using the pseudonym Victor Appleton), who is the hero of a series of adventure books. Almost everything Tom says includes a qualifying adverb, as in Tom added eagerly or Tom said jokingly. Tom Swifties use a pastiche of this pattern combined with speech. Two examples are the statements “ ‘I only have diamonds, clubs and spades,’ said Tom heartlessly” and “ ‘The castle walls are made of granite,’ Tom said stonily.” Although the name Tom usually appears, it isn’t necessary. For example, “ ‘Who discovered radium?’ asked Marie curiously.” A Tom Swifty is a subtype of Wellerism. See wellerism. toneme, n. The tone or set of tones constituting a morpheme. toponym /tahp-ә-nim/. A place name, esp. one derived from or describing a topographical feature (e.g., Death Valley, Palo Duro Canyon). transferred epithet. See hypallage. transformation. An operation by which one syntactic structure (as a deep structure) is changed into another (as a surface structure) through the application of linguistic rules. See deep structure; surface structure; transformational grammar. transformational grammar. A grammar that aims to establish rules for the generation of surface syntactic structures from deep structures; specif., a grammatical theory that seeks to account for the ability of native speakers to generate and understand the sentences of their language. transitive, adj. (Of a verb) requiring a direct object to complete the idea of showing what action the subject exerts. transitive verb. See verb. transliteration /tranz-lit-ә-ray-shәn/. In writing or printing, the use of the closest corresponding letters in a given alphabet or language to express a sound, word, or name in a different language. • For instance, the name of China’s leader from 1949 to 1976 was formerly transliterated into English as Mao Tse Tung but is now predomi- Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 921 nantly Mao Zedong (considered closer to the Chinese pronunciation). triglossia /tri-glahs-ee-ә/, n. The coexistence of three languages within a speech community, usu. standard form, a regional dialect, and an international lingua franca. trill. Pronunciation, esp. of the consonant r, with a rapid vibration of the tongue against the upper teeth, the hard or soft palate, or the uvula. • Trills are more common in BrE than in AmE. triphthong /trif-thahng/. A vowel sound in one syllable that requires the speaker to change the position of the speech organs twice, as in tire. triptote /trip-toht/, n. In certain IndoEuropean languages, a noun having three cases. Cf. aptote; diptote. trivium /triv-ee-әm/, n. In medieval times, three of the seven liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, and logic. trope /trohp/, n. Rhetoric. 1. The use of a word in a meaning different from its normal one, as when one thing is called another (metaphor), the name of part of something denotes the whole (synecdoche), or something is called by the name of something else with which it is closely associated (metonymy). • In this strict sense, the two categories of tropes are (1) metaphors, and (2) simple tropes—namely, synecdoche and metonymy. See metaphor; metonymy; synecdoche. 2. Loosely, any figure of speech; figurative language generally. truncated passive. See passive voice; voice. tu quoque /too kwoh-kwee/, n. [Latin “you’re another!”] Rhetoric. A retort in which one counteraccuses the adversary of the same offense of which one is accused. typeface. A design of type used in printing. In general, typefaces are either serif or sans serif. U. The language used by well-educated people in the upper social classes. • This term was coined in 1954 by British linguist Alan Ross (1907–1980), who applied it to the distinctive vocabularies and pronunciations in England. Cf. non-U. umlaut /uum-lowt or oom-lowt/. A diacritical mark consisting of two dots (¨) placed over a vowel to signal that the marked vowel has a modified sound. • Umlauts are often used in German words and names <Schäfer> but omitted in naturalized English equivalents, which may add an e after the formerly marked vowel <Schaefer>. Only three letters take an umlaut: a, o, and u. The mark is identical to a diaeresis in German; except for the combination äu (pronounced /oy/), an umlaut never appears over a vowel that is adjacent to another vowel. See diacritical mark; mutation. Cf. diaeresis. uncomparable adjective. See adjective. uncountable noun. See mass noun under noun. undeclinable, adj. Having no inflections. — Also termed indeclinable. Cf. declinable. understatement. The expression of an idea that is deliberately made to seem less important than it actually is. • Typically, the degree, number, or significance involved is purposely diminished, often for the sake of irony or of politeness. unfinished comparative. See dangling comparative under comparative. unit modifier. See phrasal adjective under adjective. universal pronoun. See pronoun. unmarked infinitive. See bare infinitive under infinitive. unvoiced, adj. (Of a spoken sound) produced without vibration of the vocal cords. — Also termed surd; voiceless. usage. 1. Collectively, the linguistic customs of some group of speakers, such as all native speakers <common usage>, dialectal speakers <nonstandard usage>, literary writers <literary usage>, the best writers and speakers <proper usage>, etc. 2. A particular linguistic custom of this kind. variant, n. A different form of a linguistic unit, such as an alternative spelling of a noun. vehicle. Semiotics. 1. In a metaphor, a figurative secondary subject that follows the primary subject. See tenor. 2. The form that a sign takes, such as sound or appearance. verb. A word that shows the performance or occurrence of an action or the existence of a condition or a state of being, such as an emotion. action verb. A verb that expresses the action of the subject <She moved the chair>. auxiliary verb. A verb that is joined with another verb to help express voice, mood, tense, person, or some other quality. • For example, will is an auxiliary expressing future tense in She will serve as a Senate intern this summer. Auxiliaries may be modal (can, will, may, ought, must, and shall in the present tense; could, would, might, ought, must, and should in the past tense). Or they may be nonmodal (do, have, be, and get). — Often shortened to auxiliary. — Also termed helping verb. be-verb. Any form of the verb to be— namely, am, are, be, been, being, is, was, and were—whether used as an auxiliary verb or as a main verb. buried verb. A noun formed from a verb by addition of a suffix such as -ance, -ity, or -tion <performance– perform> <realization–realize>. • The phrase “buried verb” is a purposeful misnomer, since it refers really to a noun in which a verb has been buried. Such nouns often require prepositional phrases to elicit their meaning, and can result in wordiness. Recasting the sentence to use the simple verb is a good solution. — Also termed nominalization. catenative verb /kat-әn-ә-tiv/. A transitive verb that can take a verbal as its object <I like to write> <I like writing>. copular verb; copulative verb. See linking verb. defective verb. A verb that lacks at least one of the typical forms of conjugation. • Auxiliary verbs are defective. ditransitive prepositional verb. A verb that takes both a direct and an indirect object, the direct object requiring an introductory preposition <The boss assured her employees of their job security> <My father recommended John Green for the position>. ditransitive verb. A verb that takes both a direct and an indirect object (e.g., gave in the sentence I gave her a book). Cf. monotransitive verb. do-verb. Any form of the verb to do—namely, did, do, does, doing, and done—whether used as an auxiliary verb or as a main verb. equational verb. See linking verb. ergative verb. A verb that can be used transitively or intransitively. • When used transitively, the subject performs the action of the verb; when used intransitively, the subject receives the action of the verb. For example, to melt can be intransitive <The butter melted> or transitive <The sun melted the butter>. factitive verb. A transitive verb having both a direct object and an object complement, the two of which are closely linked <They called him Joe> <I consider that theory preposterous>. • The most common factitive verbs are appoint, call, choose, consider, designate, elect, find, imagine, judge, keep, label, make, name, prove, and think. finite verb. A verb whose form shows that it is limited in number, person, and tense <I go, she goes, they went>. • A finite verb functions as the verb 922 Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms element in a clause and must agree in person and number with the subject of the clause. helping verb. See auxiliary verb. infinitive verb. See infinitive. intransitive verb. A verb that does not require an object to complete the thought; a verb that can stand alone in the predicate. • Intransitive verbs (e.g., arrive, differ, glow, lie) do not have a passive form. irregular verb. A verb whose past tense and past participle are not formed according to a predictable pattern. • Irregular verbs do not take a simple -d or -ed ending; they may undergo simple vowel changes <drink–drank–drunk> or change more extensively <go–went–gone> <hide–hid–hidden>. — Also termed strong verb. Cf. regular verb. light verb. A verb with relatively little semantic content in a given context (e.g., take in the phrasal verb take up or make in the phrasal verb make love). linking verb. A verb that connects a subject to the complement. • For example, in dinner smells good, smells links the subject with the adjective describing it. Among the common linking verbs are be-verbs, appear <She appeared confident>, become <They became incensed>, feel <It feels gooey>, go <The milk went sour>, grow <Some of them grew impatient>, prove <It proved impossible>, remain <They remained steadfast>, seem <He seemed happy>, smell <It smells rancid>, taste <It tastes bitter>, wax <She waxed eloquent>. — Also termed connecting verb; copula; copular verb; copulative verb; equational verb. main verb. The most important verb in a sentence, the one that is necessary to make the sentence complete. • Though sometimes combined with subordinate verbs, the main verb expresses the key idea. It is combined with an auxiliary verb to indicate mood, tense, or voice. — Also termed principal verb. See also progressive aspect under aspect. modal verb. An auxiliary verb that conveys the mood or mode of the action expressed in the main verb. • Modal verbs are typically used to express possibility, intention, obligation, or necessity <I can do that> <I would have done that, if you had told me to do it>. — Also termed modal auxiliary. monotransitive verb. A verb that takes only one object in a construction, as in the mountaineers reached the summit. Cf. ditransitive verb. nonfinite verb. A verb form that has no tense, person, or singular or plural form, and is not limited by inflection. • Nonfinite verbs are never the main verb in a clause. They are infinitives <Do you want to buy a new couch?>, bare infinitives <Should we run today?>, and present and past participles <The water is running> <The program has ended>. All verbs except auxiliaries have nonfinite forms. phrasal verb. 1. A verb–adverb or verb–particle combination that functions as a verb <put up with> <stand for>. 2. An idiomatic transitive verb phrase consisting of a verb and a particle (and distinguished, in this sense, from verb plus a preposition [which may be intransitive], such as make out or show up). primary verb. The first verb in a sentence, and the only verb that is affected by the subject. The primary verb can be a main verb (e.g., drive, run, think) or an auxiliary verb (e.g., be, have, do). principal verb. See main verb. pro-verb. A verb used to stand in for a previously stated predicate; specif., a word or phrase that substitutes for a verb or predicate to avoid repetition when referring to things or details already mentioned. • Verbs that take a bare infinitive, such as be, have, do, and most of the auxiliary verbs can function as pro-verbs. The first predicate may be the main verb in a complex sentence (e.g., in Behave as I do, the pro-verb do in the dependent clause stands in for the main verb behave); the first predicate in a compound sentence (e.g., in He won’t tell you, but I will, the pro-verb will stands for the predicate of the first clause, will tell you); or the predicate from a previous sentence (e.g., in the exchange Have you washed the car yet? Yes, I did, the proverb did stands in for the predicate of the first sentence, have washed the car). Further examples: • • • • Why can’t he do it? — He can [do it], but he won’t [do it] for free. I’ve finished my homework, and so have my friends [finished their homework]. Inga avoided looking at it, and so did we [avoid looking at it]. Who’s been borrowing my clothes without asking? — Mike has [been borrowing them]. (Alternatively, Mike has been or Mike’s been doing it would mean the same thing as Mike has.) regular verb. A verb whose past tense and past participle are formed predictably according to a rule, such as by appending -ed, -d, or -t. — Also termed weak verb. Cf. irregular verb. strong verb. A verb that is inflected (1) by internal vowel change, but not by affixation, (2) by no change at all, or (3) by radically changing in the past-tense and past-participial forms, which are not predictable from the root. • For example, the root verbs begin and drink might suggest that strong verbs with an i take an a in the past tense and a u in the participle (e.g., sing–sang–sung, stink–stank–stunk). But the pattern doesn’t apply universally (e.g., bring– brought–brought). Some strong verbs do not change at all (e.g., cast–cast– cast). And a few verbs, such as be and go, change radically (i.e., be–was– been, go–went–gone). Only about 165 verbs currently used in English are strong verbs. Some would say that the preceding paragraph is a discourse on irregular verbs, and that strong verbs are instead a subset of irregular verbs. That distinction goes back to the German philologist and folklorist Jakob Grimm (1785–1863), who coined the terms stark (“strong”) and schwach (“weak”). Following Grimm’s definitions to the letter, linguists who favor a third classification restrict the strong label to verbs whose vowels change in declension (e.g., swim–swam–swum) and exclude the ones that don’t change their form (e.g., quit–quit–quit) or that take a -t rather than an -ed ending (e.g., sleep–slept–slept). But the distinction is too fine (“inconvenient,” the OED put it) for most grammarians, who continue to accept the approach of W2 and use strong and irregular as synonyms. To them the idea of a “weak irregular verb” is fallacious. transitive verb. A verb that requires an object to express a complete thought; the verb indicating what action the subject exerts on the object. weak verb. See regular verb. verbal, n. 1. A nonfinite verb (e.g., a gerund, infinitive, present participle, or past participle)—so called because it does not carry a tense marker or signal person, number, or mood, and may never appear as the sole item in a verb phrase. • As a nonfinite verb, a verbal makes no assertion. 2. In some grammatical systems, a word or phrase that occupies a position typically occupied by a verb. — Also termed verbid. verbal noun. See gerund. verbiage /vәr-bee-әj/. Words that have little or no content and are therefore Glossary of Grammatical, Rhetorical, and Other Language-Related Terms 923 considered unnecessary; superfluous wording. — Often misspelled and mispronounced verbage. verbid. See verbal. verb phrase. See phrase. vernacular. 1. The language or dialect native to a particular region or country. 2. An individual’s native language. — vernaculate, vb. vocabulary. 1. The aggregate of words used in a work, in the works of a particular author, or in some other collection. 2. The body of words known to an individual speaker of a language, or used in a language. 3. A portion of a language’s body of words, used for particular purposes <business vocabulary>. 4. An alphabetical listing of words, as for a dictionary. vocative, adj. Of or relating to the act of calling or addressing directly; esp., in some synthetic languages, of or relating to the form and syntactic relation of a noun, pronoun, or adjective used as, for, or with the name of the person addressed. — vocative, n. voice. The quality by which a transitive verb denotes an action performed either by the subject (active voice) or on the subject of the clause (passive voice). • The test is whether the subject performs or receives the action of the verb. Cf. aspect; mood; tense. active voice. The voice that shows that the sentence’s subject is the actor. • For example, Jack drives an old car is in active voice because Jack is both the subject and the actor. Cf. passive voice. passive voice. See passive voice. truncated passive voice. Passive voice that does not retain the prepositional phrase of agency <The car was driven (omitting by Jack)>. voiced, adj. (Of a spoken sound) produced with resonance in the vocal cords, such as b, d, g, v, or z. — Also termed sonant. voiceless. See unvoiced. vowel. 1. A speech sound produced without blocking the breath channel. 2. A letter that represents such a sound. • Five letters—a, e, i, o, and u—are normally classified as vowels, but these are used to represent a multitude of sounds. Diphthongs, such as au, oo, and ou, also represent vowel sounds. The letter y behaves as a vowel when it takes on the sound of i or e. Cf. consonant; semivowel. vowel gradation. See ablaut. weak verb. See regular verb under verb. weasel word. An equivocal or ambiguous word that diminishes the force or meaning of a concept being expressed; esp., an intensive such as clearly or obviously, which, while intended to strengthen a statement, actually has the effect of weakening it by making its content more questionable. Wellerism. A humorous expression made by combining a metaphor with a literal sense, resulting in a punning play on words. • The name derives from the fictional character Sam Weller, Mr. Pickwick’s witty servant in Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers (1836–1837). See tom swifty. • • • • “We’ll have to rehearse that,” said the undertaker as the coffin fell out of the car. “It all comes back to me now,” said the captain as he spat into the wind. “That’s the spirit,” said the medium, as the table began to rise. “We are not what we seem,” as the needle said to the thread. whiz deletion. The reduction of a relative clause by omitting a relative pronoun plus a be-verb. wh- question. A question that seeks a specific piece of information <why?> <when?> <where?> <who?> <which?>. word. A minimum free linguistic form, consisting of one or more morphemes; a human vocal habit that has, or may have, the effect of evoking some idea in someone else’s mind. • If the definition seems a little opaque, take comfort in the observation of Richard Grant White (1822–1885): “What is a word? Everyone knows. The most ignorant child, if it can speak, needs no definition of word.”3 More than a century later, the noted British linguist Randolph Quirk (1920–) expressed a similar idea: “Words come to us so naturally that it takes a serious effort of imagination to realize what miraculous devices they are. Like so many other things that are basic and elemental in our lives, we take them for granted, and we are apt to be surprised to find how hard it is to say exactly what a word is.”4 Cf. clause; phrase. compound word. A word that is composed of two or more other words 3 Richard Grant White, Words and Their Uses, Past and Present 199 (1870). 4 Randolph Quirk, “Thinking of Words,” in The Linguist and the English Language 128, 128 (1974). <doorknob> or a word plus an affix <biodiversity>. See compound. function word. A word whose main role is to assist in the structure of a sentence. • Articles (a, an, and the) are examples of function words. So are prepositions. See empty word. pointing word. A word that points at something or someone either because it has a demonstrative quality (e.g., this, that, these, or those) or because it is a pronoun that requires an antecedent. — Also termed deictic term. See antecedent. portmanteau word. See blend. word class. See part of speech. word-formation. See morphology. word-order. The sequence in which words can or typically do appear in a sentence. • Because English is an analytic language, word-order is more important to English grammar than the other basic grammatical devices: inflection and function words. wordplay. An instance of verbal wit; a jocular use of language. yes–no question. A question that calls for an answer in the simple affirmative or negative. zero. The absence of an overt change in form where one might be expected or implied. zero article. See article. zero form. An unchanged form of a word or an unexpressed part of a construction. • Grammarians sometimes use zero forms to account for exceptions to rules. For example, if the rule is that all English nouns have plurals by adding some variety of the plural ending to the proper base, then we must recognize a zero ending for words that don’t change their form from the singular when used in a plural sense, such as trout <Many trout were in the stream>. If the rule is that all relative clauses are introduced by relative pronouns, then a zero relative appears in a sentence when the pronoun is elided <The putter you used needs a new grip>. zeugma /z[y]oog-mә/. 1. Grammar. A grammatical construction in which a word applies to two things but matches only one of them in number, gender, or some idiomatic quality <Either you or I am wrong> <waging war and peace>. Cf. antanaclasis. 2. Rhetoric. The use of a word in the same grammatical relation to two nearby words, one having a metaphorical sense and the other a literal sense <I lost my wallet and my temper>. — zeugmatic, adj. Cf. syllepsis.
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