Foreign words in E. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea: semantics, functions, frequency

Foreign wordsin E. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea:semantics, functions, frequency


The paper is devoted to Ernest Hemingway’s story The Old Man and the Sea. It discusses vital problems of the characters as well as foreign words in the novella.

It consists of the introduction, 3 chapters, the conclusion, and the list of literature used.

The first chapter is devoted to Ernest Hemingway and his last life-time publication The Old Man and the Sea which brought him the Nobel Prize. The second chapter focuses on borrowings in English and the historical process of their entering the language. Chapter 3 touches the foreign words in the novella The Old Man and the Sea and their division into semantic groups.

The list of works used in the preparation of this paper consists of 16 entries. Theoretical sources constitute 1, reference sources – 6, the researched text – 114 pages.

1. Earnest Hemingway and his novella "The old man and the sea"

Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American novelist, short-story writer and journalist. Many of his stories reflect his rich life experiences as a war correspondent, outdoor sportsman, and bullfight enthusiast. His writing style is simple yet vivid, and his characters embody the idea of «grace under pressure.» His works are regarded as classics in the canon of American literature as essayist Joan Didion, Poet Derek Walcott, Poet Russell Banks say. (16). Some have even been made into motion pictures.

Hemingway was born in the quiet town of Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, on July 21, 1899. His father was a physician, and Ernest was the second of six children born to Dr. and Mrs. Clarence E. Hemingway. His mother, a devout, religious woman with considerable music talent, hoped that her son would develop an interest in music. Instead, Ernest acquired his father’s enthusiasm for guns and for fishing trips in the north woods of Michigan.

Earnest was educated at Oak Park High School. After graduating in 1917, he became a reporter for the Kansas City Star, but he left his job within a few months to serve as a volunteer ambulance driver in Italy during World War I. He later transferred to the Italian infantry and was severely wounded.

After the war he served as a correspondent for the Toronto Star and then settled in Paris. While there, he was encouraged in creative work by the American expatriate writers Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. After 1927 Hemingway spent long periods of time in Key West, Florida, and in Spain and Africa. During the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), he returned to Spain as a newspaper correspondent. In World War II (1939–1945) he again was a correspondent and later was a reporter for the United States First Army. Although he was not a soldier, he participated in several battles. After the war Hemingway settled near Havana, Cuba, and in 1958 he moved to Ketchum, Idaho.

Hemingway drew heavily on his experiences as an avid fisherman, hunter, and bullfight enthusiast in his writing. His adventurous life brought him close to death several times: in the Spanish Civil War when shells burst inside his hotel room; in World War II when he was struck by a taxi during a blackout, and in 1954 when his airplane crashed in Africa. He led a turbulent social life and was married four times (16).

The Old Man and the Sea led to numerous accolades for Hemingway, including the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He also earned the Award of Merit Medal for the Novel from the American Academy of Letters that same year. Most prestigiously, the Nobel Prize in Literature came in 1954, «for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.» He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. In 1961, at age 61, he committed suicide, as his father did before him (10).

While Hemingway was living in Cuba, beginning in 1940 with his third wife Martha Gellhorn, one of his favorite pastimes was to sail and fish in his boat, named The Pilar. General biographical consensus holds that the model for Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea was, at least in part, the Cuban fisherman Gregorio Fuentes (8). Hemingway hired him to look after his boat. During Hemingway's Cuban years a strong friendship formed between Hemingway and Fuentes. For almost thirty years, Fuentes served as the captain of The Pilar. Fuentes died in 2002 when he was 104 years old. Prior to his death, he donated Hemingway's Pilar to the Cuban government. He never read The Old Man and the Sea.

A great deal has been written about Ernest Hemingway’s distinctive style as Journalist Jim Wolf, Journalist Steve Paul, Writer James Nigel, Novelist Annie Proulx say (7). From almost the beginning of his writing career in the 1920’s, he has been the subject of lavish praise and sometimes savage criticism. Critic Harry Levin pointed out the weakness of syntax and diction in Hemingway’s writing, but was quick to praise his ability to convey action (9).

To explain Hemingway’s style in a few paragraphs in such a manner as to satisfy those who have read his articles and books is almost impossible. It is a simple style, straightforward, modest and somewhat plain. Hemingway does not give way to lengthy geographical and psychological description. His style has been said to lack substance because he avoids direct statements and descriptions of emotion (3). He developed a forceful prose style characterized by simple sentences and few adverbs or adjectives. He wrote concise, vivid dialogue and exact description of places and things. He relates a story in the form of straight journalism, but because he is a master of transmitting emotion without embellishing it, the story is even more enjoyable (10).

When The Old Man and the Sea was published in 1952, it was a popular success. The novella first appeared as part of the September 1, 1952 edition of Life magazine. 5.3 million copies of that issue were sold within two days. The story won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953. A year later, Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Old Man and the Sea is generally considered by many to be his crowning achievement as The Nobel Prize Committee and Journalist Susan F. Beegel say (7). It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and published in his lifetime. The work was especially praised for its depiction of a new dimension to the typical Hemingway hero, less macho and more respectful of life. In Santiago, Hemingway had finally achieved a character who could face the human condition and survive without cynically dismissing it or dying while attempting to better it. In Santiago’s relationship with the world and those around him, Hemingway had discovered a way to proclaim the power of love in a wider and deeper way than in his previous works (2).

It is a heroic tale of man’s strength pitted against forces he cannot control. It is a tale about an old Cuban fisherman and his three-day battle with a giant marlin. The fisherman Santiago goes out and fights nature in the form of terrible forces and dangerous creatures, among them, a marlin, sharks and hunger.

He starts the story in a small skiff and moves out in a journey to capture a fish after a long losing streak of eighty-four days. Unfortunately his friend, a young boy called

Manolin, was not allowed by his parents to fish with Santiago anymore. Santiago is viewed as an outcast in his village. Yet the boy feels an irresistible amount of respect and loyalty for the old fisherman. Even Santiago doesn’t think of the boy as a child but as an equal. Age is not a factor in their relationship. Manolin does not even act as a young boy. He is mature and sensitive to Santiago’s feelings.

Manolin is present only in the beginning and at the end of The Old Man and the Sea, but his presence is important because Manolin’s devotion to Santiago highlights Santiago’s value as a person and as a fisherman. Manolin demonstrates his love for Santiago openly. He makes sure that the old man has food, blankets, and can rest without being bothered. Despite Hemingway’s insistence that his characters were a real old man and a real boy, Manolin’s purity and dedication elevate him to the level of a symbolic character. Manolin’s actions are not tainted by the confusion, ambivalence, or willfulness that typify adolescence. Instead, he is a companion who feels nothing but love and devotion. He even offers to go against his parents’ wishes and accompany Santiago on his fishing trips. In the story we can see Manolin’s loyalty to Santiago: even when his parents forbid him he wants to help his friend.

Hemingway hints at the boy’s resentment for his father, whose wishes Manolin obeys by abandoning the old man after forty days without catching a fish. This fact helps to establish the boy as a real human being, as a person with conflicting loyalties who faces difficult decisions. By the end of the book, however, the boy abandons his duty to his father, swearing that he will sail with the old man regardless of the consequences. He stands, in the novella’s final pages, as a symbol of uncompromising love and fidelity. As the old man’s apprentice, he also represents life that will ensure death. His dedication to learning from the old man ensures that Santiago will live on.

In the novel, Santiago is a master craftsman. He depends on himself only. While the other fishermen use motorboats, Santiago uses his skiff. While the other men have many workers and helpers to hold several lines, Santiago has three lines all operated by his own hand. He is an expert. He goes much farther out than the other fishermen and casts bait in much deeper water because he knows the waters and the movements of the fish. Although he is taking a greater risk by going out deeper, he has a better chance of catching the bigger fish.

Another thing that makes Santiago a master craftsman is his experience. He has been a fisherman all his life. Therefore he has had much time to master this art. Though many fishermen might doubt him, he is great. He has skill and he applies it in order to succeed. He uses his hands and he uses his instincts to master the art of being a fisherman. Santiago uses himself, his physical and mental strength to catch the fish, and by doing these things, his difficult task becomes easier. He is a master craftsman not only through his skill, but also through his determination (4).

Although he has gone 84 days without catching a fish, he does not give up: «Tomorrow is going to be a good day with this current,» Santiago said. (9)*

Santiago's age does not mean anything to him. He believes that he can do anything he wants. He is very strong physically and mentally. He does not believe that he is getting old and it's time for him to relax as many old people believe. Santiago goes out to fish every day as he used to do when he was a young man.

He exposes himself to dangers by going out much farther and casting bait in deeper waters. He goes out on his 85th day with hope that he will catch a fish. This is what keeps him going. He knows that he still has the ability and strength to be a good fisherman. He never gives up: «How do you feel, fish? I feel good and my left hand is better and I have food for a night and a day. Pull the boat, fish.» (65)

All through the book Santiago dreams of the same thing, his pleasant dreams of the lions. The first time is the night before he departs on his three-day fishing expedition, the second occurs when he sleeps on the boat for a few hours in the middle of his struggle with the marlin, and the third takes place at the very end of the book.

In fact, the sober promise of the triumph and regeneration with which the novella closes is supported by the final image of the lions. Because Santiago associates the lions with his youth, the dream suggests the circular nature of life. Additionally, because

Santiago imagines the lions, fierce predators, playing, his dream suggests harmony between the opposing forces of nature – life and death, love and hate, destruction and regeneration.

When Santiago finally catches the marlin, he is proud of himself. He looks forward to showing the boy and the other fishermen that he is still strong. But he couldn’t imagine what was going to happen. Unable to tie the line fast to the boat for fear the fish would snap a taut line, the old man bears the strain of the line with his shoulders, back, and hands, ready to give slack should the marlin make a run. The fish pulls the boat all through the day, through the night, through another day, and through another night. It swims steadily northwest until at last it tires and swims east with the current. The entire time, Santiago endures constant pain from the fishing line. Whenever the fish lunges, leaps, or makes a dash for freedom, the cord cuts him badly. His whole body aches, he’s tired and hungry, but he doesn’t let go of the line. This shows his determination to win the battle and the fish. Although wounded and weary, the old man feels a deep empathy and admiration for the marlin, his brother in suffering, strength, and resolve.

Magnificent and glorious, the marlin symbolizes the ideal opponent. In a world in which everything kills everything else in some way, Santiago feels genuinely lucky to find himself matched against a creature that brings out the best in him: his strength and courage, his love and respect.

While Santiago struggles with the fish he also prays. He prays to God to give him strength to defeat the mighty fish: «Now that I have him coming so beautifully, God help me endure. I’ll say a hundred Our Fathers and a hundred Hail Marys. But I cannot say them now.» (78)

But faith is not the only thing that drives his perseverance. Santiago also draws upon his past victories for strength. After he hooked the Marlin he frequently recalled his battle with a native in what he called the hand game.

It was not just an arm wrestling victory for him it was a reminder of his youth: «And at daylight when the bettors were asking that it be called a draw and the referee was shaking his head, he had unleashed his effort and forced the hand of the negro down and down until it rested on the wood.»

His recollections of this event usually preceeded a frequent dream of his in which he saw many lions on a peaceful shore. These lions represented him when he was young and strong and could overcome any challenge. These thoughts helped him stay strong.

During the difficult hours in the skiff, Santiago started talking to the Fish. He deeply respects fish in general and this aspect of his relationship to the fish is clearly shown throughout the book: «Fish,» he said softly, aloud, «I’ll stay with you until I am dead.» (45)

There are many instances where Santiago displays his respect for fish. Hitting the fish on the head and kicking the fish is a sign of respect. Another example of Santiago's respect is when he describes the fish. He says that he has never seen a greater or more beautiful thing. Santiago describes the fish with adjectives that imply the greatest respect for the fish: «Fish,» he said, «I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.» (47)

Also, he calls the fish «brother» which means he has so much respect that he considers him a brother and family. Santiago doesn't look down on the fish as being inferior, he looks at the fish as an equal.

Santiago cared for each fish he caught and treated them with the utmost care. He respected the fish and always showed his respect by thanking him. In conclusion, Santiago and his relationship with fish in general was made up of caring, respect, and the idea of fish being equal: «I wish I could feed the fish, he thought. He is my brother.» (51)

Because Santiago is pitted against the creatures of the sea, some readers choose to view the tale as a chronicle of man’s battle against the natural world, but the novella is, more accurately, the story of man’s place within nature. Both Santiago and the marlin display qualities of pride, honor, and bravery, and both are subject to the same eternal law: they must kill or be killed.

As Santiago reflects when he watches the weary warbler fly toward shore, where it will inevitably meet the hawk, the world is filled with predators, and no living thing can escape the inevitable struggle that will lead to its death.

In Hemingway’s portrait of the world, death is inevitable, but the best men and animals will nonetheless refuse to give in to its power. Accordingly, man and fish will struggle to the death, just as hungry sharks will lay waste to an old man’s trophy catch.

The novel suggests that it is possible to transcend this natural law. In fact, the very inevitability of destruction creates the terms that allow a worthy man or beast to transcend it. It is precisely through the effort to battle the inevitable that a man can prove himself. Indeed, a man can prove this determination over and over through the worthiness of the opponents he chooses to face (1). Santiago finds the marlin worthy of a fight, just as he once found the great negro of Cienfuegos worthy. His admiration for these opponents brings love and respect into an equation with death, as their destruction becomes a point of honor and bravery that confirms Santiago’s heroic qualities.

In the story he manages to catch a flying fish and a dolphin which he eats raw. This way he tries to keep up his strength, the strength that the marlin steals from him little by little. He struggles in order to remain undefeated. He has fought these battles hundreds of times before, he suffered, but he won. Still, this battle is different. He fights in a way he had never fought before and he suffers. He wishes the boy to be by his side, to help him with the difficult task.

The contemporary fishermen go out to fish with nets, which is a commercially profitable practice. It, however, requires little skill. It is nothing more than a chore. After 84 days without catch, Santiago sustains himself on what little food a bartender sends him out of pity. Yet he still waits for his big fish. It is more important to him than hunger. And the big fish finally arrives.

Santiago ignored hunger to prove his fishing prowess, but he is not entitled to keep his catch. His amazing fortune is balanced against his material loss. While being able to come out on top in his struggle against the fish and against the pain and frailness of his own body, this is to be his only reward. His fortunes turn when he refocuses from passion for catching the fish to greed for profiting from it. The sea does not reward greed.

On the third day the fish tires, and Santiago, sleep-deprived, aching, and nearly delirious, manages to pull the marlin in close enough to kill it with a harpoon thrust. Dead beside the skiff, the marlin is the largest Santiago has ever seen. He lashes it to his boat, raises the small mast, and sets sail for home. While Santiago is excited by the price that the marlin will bring at market, he is more concerned that the people who will eat the fish are unworthy of its greatness.

On his way home sharks attack the fish. As the sharks tear apart the marlin bit by bit, it is as they are tearing apart his dignity bit by bit. Through all this suffering, he fights the sharks, for he alone has to endure the sufferings to fulfill his destiny. This is his mentality, he knows what he must do and so he does it. He never lets down his guard and he fights with consistent strength. That is why Santiago could not stand to look at the grisly remains of the marlin. Everything he worked for, everything he gambled his life for, everything he endured pain for was going down to deep depths in the sea in the mouths of the sharks he so furiously killed. Although the sailing became much easier without the marlin attached to the skiff. There was nothing left of the marlin but its skeleton.

Santiago’s pride also motivates his desire to transcend the destructive forces of nature. Throughout the novel, no matter how baleful his circumstances become, the old man exhibits unflagging determination to catch the marlin and bring it to shore. When the first shark arrives, Santiago’s resolve is mentioned twice in the space of just a few paragraphs. First we are told that the old man was full of resolution but he had little hope. Then, a few sentences later, the narrator says: He hit the shark without hope but with resolution. (91)

The old man meets every challenge with the same unwavering determination: he is willing to die for bringing in the marlin, and he is willing to die fighting the feeding sharks. It is this conscious decision to act, to fight, to never give up that enables Santiago to avoid defeat. Although he returns to Havana without the trophy of his long battle, he returns with the knowledge that he has acquitted himself proudly and manfully. Hemingway seems to suggest that victory is not a prerequisite for honor. Instead, glory depends upon one having the pride to see a struggle through to its end, regardless of the outcome. Even if the old man had returned with the marlin intact, his moment of glory, like the marlin’s meat, would have been short-lived. The glory and honor Santiago accrues comes not from his battle itself but from his pride and determination to fight.

Santiago, a noble hero, accepts his defeat. The fish was eaten and he has returned home with its remains. He realizes that he went out too far and that he made a mistake. He fought a tough battle and in the end, he was defeated. He even admits to himself that he has been beaten: He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy….

Although through most of the novel he has great strength in fighting the fish and he is determined to succeed, in the end he knows what had happened. Throughout his life he had struggled and suffered and won but this was his final battle. And though he lost, he lost while fighting. He realized now that it is over for him.

He is over fighting and it doesn't matter anymore. He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy. He knows also, that it is his fault. He realizes his mistake and that he cannot change what had already happened. He went out too far and although this caught him the biggest fish, it also caused him failure. He says it to himself, he was careless and he was responsible for his own failure. He tried to do more than he was capable of doing. He couldn’t change anything. He was defeated.

After his voyage was completed Santiago was exhausted and weak. While carrying the mast from his boat he stumbled three times under the weight of it resting upon his shoulders. He also stopped five times to take a rest before he reached home. When he was back in his shack he fell asleep on his bed.

The next morning, a crowd of amazed fishermen gathers around the skeletal carcass of the fish, which is still lashed to the boat. Knowing nothing of the old man’s struggle, tourists at a nearby cafй observe the remains of the giant marlin and mistake it for a shark. Manolin, who has been worried sick over the old man’s absence, is moved to tears when he finds Santiago safe in his bed. The boy fetches the old man some coffee and the daily papers with the baseball scores, and watches him sleep. When the old man wakes, the two agree to fish as partners once more. The old man returns to sleep and dreams his usual dream of lions at play on the beaches of Africa which were a symbol of his youth and strength.

Santiago realizes that he had completed his last challenge and that his time as a fisherman was up. He passed on the sword from the great fish to Manolin for the continuation of the skills he had taught his apprentice.

Santiago proves to be a noble hero in the eyes of Hemingway. He is a master craftsman in his enduring strength, skill, and knowledge of fishing. He knows tricks and occupies himself with improving his ability to fish. He struggles and suffers in order to stay undefeated. He beats all odds and fights all battles with the thought that he can and will win. And so he does. He goes far out and acts on what he thinks is right. He does not fear his actions nor does he regret them. He fights every battle as if it were his last and therefore comes out on top. Finally, he accepts defeat. This is the most honorable characteristic. No matter how hard he had fought, once it is over, he does not look back wishing he could have acted differently. He accepts his mistakes and recognizes that he had overstepped the boundary of man's finite and limited nature. His actions and the consequences of them are easily noticed and should not be looked down upon. In the long run, Santiago answered his calling, fought his battles, and when he was finally defeated by his own pride, he recognized it and accepted it. This makes Santiago a noble hero.

The action of the novella takes place in Cuba, and all the characters are Spanish-speaking.

To convey the atmosphere of Spanish speech (in the dialogues of Santiago, in his monologues – both verbalized and interior) the author occasionally uses Spanish words.

According to the English language literary tradition, foreign words are printed in italics which immediately emphasizes them on the page.

To find out their functions in the text, their structure and frequency, we have carried out our research of unassimilated borrowings (foreign words, barbarisms) in The Old Man and the Sea. To proceed, we will introduce a short survey of the study of borrowings in the English language.

2. Borrowings in the English language and in the old man and the sea

In its 15-century-long recorded history, the English language happened to come in long and close contact with several other languages, mainly Latin, French, Old Norse (Scandinavian). The great influx of borrowings from these sources can be accounted for by a number of historical causes. Due to the great influence of the Roman civilization Latin was for a long time used in England as the language of learning and religion. Old Norse was the language of the conquerors who were on the same level of social and cultural development. French was the language of later conquerors who brought with them a lot of new notions of a higher social system – developed feudalism, it was the language of upper classes, of official documents and school instruction from the middle of the 11th century to the end of the 14th century (5).

In the study of borrowed elements in English the main emphasis is as a rule placed on the Middle English period. Borrowings of later periods became the object of scholarly interest only in recent decades and research has shown that the flow of borrowings has been steady and uninterrupted. The greatest number of them has come from French. They refer to various fields of social-political, scientific and cultural life.

The number and character of borrowed words tell us of the relations between the peoples, the level of their culture, etc. It is for this reason that borrowings have often been called the milestones of history (5). Thus if we go through the lists of borrowings in English and arrange them in groups according to their meaning we shall be able to obtain much valuable information with regard to England’s contacts with many nations. Some borrowings, however, cannot be explained by the direct influence of certain historical conditions, they do not come along with any new objects or ideas. Such were the words air, place, brave borrowed from French (5).

It must be pointed out that while general historical reasons for borrowing from different languages have been studied with a considerable degree of thoroughness, the purely linguistic reasons for borrowing are still open to investigation (5).

The number and character of borrowings do not only depend on the historical conditions, but also on the nature and length of the contacts. The closer the languages the deeper and more versatile is the influence.

Borrowings enter the language in two ways: through oral speech (by immediate contact between people) and through written speech (by indirect contact through books etc.).

Though borrowed words undergo changes in the adopting language, they preserve some of their former peculiarities. In some cases the pronunciation of the word (strange sounds, sound combinations, position of stress etc.), its spelling and the correlation between sounds and letters are an indication of the foreign origin of the word. Such as the case of waltz (G.), psychology (Gr.), soufflй (Fr.)The initial position of the sounds (v), (dz), (z) or of the letters x, j, z is a sure sign that the word was borrowed.

The morphological structure of the word and its grammatical forms may also bear witness to the word being adopted from another language. Thus the suffixes in the in the words neurosis (Gr.) and violoncello (It.) betray the foreign origin of the words.

These criteria are not always helpful. Some early borrowings have become so thoroughly assimilated that they are unrecognizable as adoptions without a historical analysis, e.g. chalk, mile (L.), ill, ugly (Scand.), enemy, car (Fr.).

It must also be taken into consideration that the closer the relation between the languages, the more difficult it is to distinguish borrowings.

The volume of borrowings in English left its imprint upon the language. The first effect of foreign influence is observed in the growth of the vocabulary. Due to its history the English language, more than any other modern language, has absorbed foreign elements in its vocabulary (5).

It has been mentioned that when borrowed words were identical in meaning with those already functioning in English, the adopted word very often displaced the native one. In most cases, however, the borrowings and synonymous native words both remained in the language, becoming more or less differentiated in meaning and in use – for instance the sphere of application and meaning of feed and nourish, try and endeavour, meet and encounter. As a result the number of synonymic groups in English greatly increased. This brought about a rise in the percentage of stylistic synonyms.

As said earlier, many borrowings have undergone changes and have adapted themselves to the peculiarities of the English language. All the changes that borrowed elements undergo may be divided into two large groups.

On the one hand there are changes specific of borrowed words only. These changes aim at adapting words of foreign origin to the norms of the borrowing language. Thus the combinations (pn), (ps), (pt) in the words pneumatics, psychology of Greek origin were simplified into (n), (s), (t), since the consonant combinations (pn), (ps), (pt), frequent at the end of English words (as in sleeps, stopped, etc.), were never used in the initial position.

On the other hand we observe changes that are characteristic of both borrowed and native words. These changes are due to the development of the word according to the laws of the given language.

When the highly inflected Old English system of declension changed into the simpler system of Middle English, early borrowings conformed with the general rule. Under the influence of the so-called inflexional levelling borrowings like disc, (MnE. dish), strжt (MnE. street) that had a number of grammatical forms in Old English: common case and possessive case singular and plural (street, streets).

It is very important to discriminate between the two processes – the adaptation of borrowed material to the norms of the language and the development of these words according to the laws of the language.

Since the process of assimilation of borrowings includes changes in sound-form, morphological structure, grammar characteristics, meaning and usage most linguists distinguish phonetic, grammatical and lexical assimilation of borrowings.

Phonetic assimilation, comprising changes in sound-form and stress, is perhaps the most conspicuous.

Sounds that were alien to the English language were fitted into its scheme of sounds. Familiar sounds or sound combinations, the position of which was strange to the English language, were replaced by other sounds or sound combinations to make the words conform to the norms of the language. Substitution of native sounds for foreign ones usually takes place in the very act of borrowing.

In words that were added to English from foreign sources, especially from French or Latin, the accent was gradually transferred to the first syllable. Thus words like honor, reason were accented on the same principle as the native father, mother.

Usually as soon as words from other languages were introduced into English they lost their former grammatical categories and inflexions and acquired new grammatical categories and paradigms by analogy with other English words as in:

Com. sing. Sputnik

Poss. sing. Sputnik’s

Com. pl. Sputniks

Poss. pl. Sputniks’

All borrowings that were composite in structure in their native language appeared in English as indivisible root-words, unless there were already words with the same morphemes in it. Thus in the word saunter the French infinitive inflexion – er is retained (cp. OFr. s’auntrer). But they have changed their quality, preserved in all other grammatical forms of the word (cp. saunters, sauntered, sauntering), which means that it has become part of the stem in English.

When a word is taken over into another language, its semantic structure as a rule undergoes changes. In the process of its historical development a borrowing sometimes acquired new meanings that were not to be found in its former semantic structure. As a rule, the development of new meanings takes place 50–100 years after the word is borrowed.

The semantic structure of borrowings changes in other ways as well. Some meanings become more general, others more specialized etc. For instance, the word terrorist, that was taken over from French in the meaning of «Jacobin», widened its meaning to «one who governs, or opposes a government, by violent means.» The word umbrella, borrowed in the meaning of a sunshade or parasol (from It. ombrella < ombra – «shade») came to denote similar protection from the rain as well. Usually the primary meaning of a borrowed word is retained throughout its history, but sometimes it becomes a secondary meaning. Thus the Scandinavian borrowings wing, root, take and many others have retained their primary meaning to the present day, whereas in the Old English fēōlaze(MnE. fellow) which was borrowed from the same language in the meaning of «comrade, companion», the primary meaning that appeared in New English only «a man or a boy». Sometimes change of meaning is the result of associating borrowed words with familiar words which somewhat resemble them in sound but which are not at all related. This process, which is termed folk etymology, often changes the form of the word in whole or in part, so as to bring it nearer to the word or words with which it is thought to be connected. Thus the French verb sur(o) under had the meaning of «overflow». In English r(o) under was associated by mistake with round – круглый and the verb was interpreted as meaning «enclose on all sides, encircle».

Folk-etymologization is a slow process. People first attempt to give the foreign borrowing its foreign pronunciation, but gradually popular use evolves a new pronunciation and spelling.

Even a superficial examination of borrowed words in the English word-stock shows that there are words among them that are easily recognized as foreign (such as dйcolletй, graffito, Zeitgeist, voile) and there are others that have become so firmly rooted in the language, so thoroughly assimilated that it is sometimes extremely difficult to distinguish them from words of Anglo-Saxon origin (these are words like pupil, master, city, river, etc).

It is the first group that makes the focus of our attention in the following chapter.

3. Foreign words in the old man and the sea

hemingway novella man sea

Unassimilated borrowings differ from assimilated ones in their pronunciation, spelling, frequency, semantic structure and sphere of application. However, there is no distinct borderline between the two groups.

So far no linguist has been able to suggest more or less comprehensive criteria for determining the degree of assimilation of borrowings. The latter depends in the first place upon the time of borrowing: the earlier it takes place, the more thoroughly it tends to follow normal English habits of accentuation, pronunciation etc. It is but natural that the majority of early borrowings have acquired full English citizenship and that most English speaking people are astonished on first hearing, that such everyday words as widow, chair, dish, box have not always belonged to their language.

However mere age is not the sole factor. Not only borrowings long in use, but also borrowed words of recent date may be completely made over to conform to English patterns if they are widely and popularly employed. Words that are rarely used in everyday speech, that are known to a small group of people retain their foreign peculiarities. Thus many 19th century French borrowings have been completely assimilated (clinic, turbine, exploitation, diplomat), whereas the words noblesse (no'bles), ennui (ã:nwi) (1667), éclat (eı'klб:) (1674) have not been assimilated even in point of pronunciation.

Another factor determining the process of assimilation is the way in which the borrowing was adopted into the language. Words borrowed orally are assimilated more readily, they undergo greater changes, whereas with words adopted through writing the process of assimilation is longer and more laborious.

Apart from borrowings in the vocabulary of the English language there is a considerable layer of words called barbarisms (12). These are words of foreign origin, which have not been assimilated into the English language. They bear the appearance of a foreign word and are felt as something alien to the native tongue, retaining their «foreignness» (6).

Barbarisms are, like archaisms, considered to be on the outskirts of the literary language. Most of them have corresponding English synonyms: e. g. chic (=stylish), bon mot (=a clever witty saying), en passant (= in passing), ad infinitum (= to infinity) and many other words and phrases.

It is very important for purely stylistic purposes to distinguish between barbarisms and foreign words proper. Barbarisms are words, which have already become facts of the English language. They are, as it were, part and parcel of the English word-stock, though they remain on the outskirts of the literary vocabulary (13).

Foreign words, though used for certain stylistic purposes, do not belong to the English vocabulary. They are not registered by English dictionaries, except in a kind of addenda which gives the meanings of the foreign words most frequently used in literary English, while barbarisms are generally given in the body of the dictionary. In printed works foreign words and phrases are generally italicized to indicate their alien nature. Barbarisms, on the contrary, are not made conspicuous in the text unless they bear a special load of stylistic information. There are foreign words in the English vocabulary, which fulfill a terminological function (11).

It is evident that barbarisms are a historical category. Many words and phrases which were once just foreign words used in literary English to express a concept non-existent in English reality, have little by little entered the class of words named barbarisms, many of which have gradually lost their foreign peculiarities, become more or less naturalized and have merged with the native English stock of words.

Foreign words in imaginative prose are used to create the effect of authenticity of the described locality, ethnic group, professional/social status of characters, i.e. foreign words fulfill the functions of characterization and emphasis.

The action of Hemingway’s story The Old Man and the Sea takes place in Cuba. All the characters in the book are Spanish-speaking, and Hemingway wants very much to convey the authenticity of Spanish speech in the monologues and dialogues of his characters. To achieve the effect he uses Spanish words.

They are mainly used by the main hero Santiago, in his speech at sea when referring to the fish, the sharks, the dolphins, the weather, and to his state. He also uses them on land when speaking with Manolin about baseball. So there are actually two topics which interest him, and, correspondingly, all Spanish words can be divided into two semantic groups: sea-oriented and sports-oriented. The first are mostly Spanish names for fishes, fishing equipment, and weather conditions. The second group contains Spanish names of baseball teams, games, and baseballers.

The first group is much larger, it consists of 10 lexemes, used 23 times. Their list, translation and frequency are presented in the table.

Table 1. The sea – oriented semantic group


Spanish Lexeme

English translation














Agua mala







Espuela de hueso


Mackerel (fish)

Jelly fish



Unlucky fellow

A kind of shark

Cramp, spasm


Bone spur