Barbarism (linguistics)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Barbarism refers to a non-standard word, expression or pronunciation in a language, particularly one regarded as an error in morphology, while a solecism refers to an error in syntax. The term is used mainly for the written language. With no accepted technical meaning in modern linguistics, the term is little used by descriptive scientists.


The word barbarism was originally used by the Greeks for foreign terms used in their language. ("Barbarism" is related to the word "barbarian"; the ideophone "bar-bar-bar" was the Ancient Greek equivalent of modern English "blah-blah-blah", meant to sound like gibberish — hence the negative connotation of both barbarian and barbarism). As such, Anglicisms in other languages, or Gallicisms (such as using the verb to assist to mean to be present at, cf. the French assister), Germanisms, Hispanisms, and so forth in English can also be construed as examples of barbarisms.

In the Russian language

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Russian language of noble classes was severely "barbarized" by the French language. During this period, speaking in French had become not only fashionable but also had become a distinction of a properly groomed person. One may see a prominent example of this in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. While the cream of the high society could afford themselves a genuine French gouvernante (governess, i.e., female live-in tutor), the provincial "upper class" had problems with this. Still, the desire to show off their education produced what Griboyedov in his Woe from Wit termed "the mixture of the tongues: French with Nizhegorodian" (смешенье языков: французского с нижегородским). The French-Nizhegorodian was often used for comical effect in literature and theatre.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Barbarism (linguistics)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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