English Malapropisms in the Original Works of W. Shakespeare and C. Dickens: the Role and Specificity of Usage

Keywords: English, malapropism, error, stylistic tool, fiction, role, features.


The article deals with the problem of studying an English malapropism as a stylistic device. Basing on the original works of W. Shakespeare and C. Dickens, the author defined the role of using malapropisms in English fiction, – malapropisms are used in the speech of different characters of a piece
of writing, usually to portray their illiteracy and ignorance of their social, literary status and affiliation, as this is indicated by the incorrect use of words,
especially complex and long words. An attempt to determine the specificity of English malapropisms in fiction, namely, six plays by W. Shakespeare and one novel by C. Dickens, has been made. Under the specificity of English malapropisms the author understands certain peculiarities at different levels of the English language: at the morphemic level – malapropisms are formed by the prefix and suffix method of word building; the main morphemic means of creating malapropisms are the suffix “-tion” and the prefixes “de-”, “dis-”, “ex-”, “re-”; at the morphological level – there is not only one, certain part of the language in the form of which malapropisms could always be used; at the syntactic level – all identified and analysed malapropisms were used in different syntactic functions in sentences (nouns were mostly used as objects of a sentence or predicatives (a nominal part of a compound predicate), adjectives as attributes or predicatives, adverbs as adverbial modifiers etc.; at the lexical level – there were identified the malapropisms which don’t exist in standard English, that is, words were either new or distorted by the speaker into a non-existent form (like the words «dissembly», «suffigance») in the works; there were also identified the malapropisms, which, although properly formed and spelled, are used instead of other words inappropriately, deprived of their own meanings. The author of the article has also noted that the same malapropisms can be used in different pieces of literature, like in the W. Shakespeare’s and C. Dickens’ works the words «defect», «infection»).


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Author Biography

Nataliia Serdiuk, Pereiaslav-Khmelnytsky Hryhorii Skovoroda State Pedagogical University

Ph.D. in Pedagogy,
Associate Professor

How to Cite
Serdiuk, N. (2020). English Malapropisms in the Original Works of W. Shakespeare and C. Dickens: the Role and Specificity of Usage. Theoretical and Didactic Philology, (31), 120-130. Retrieved from https://tdp-journal.com/index.php/journal/article/view/169