Neologisms at historical turning points: Czech example

  • Tena Šinjori


Neologisms that had never entered official dictionaries present valuable research topic, proving the velocity of social changes. Several such examples are mentioned by V. Dvořáčková in an article about supplements (Dodatky) to the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Czech Language (PSJČ). Supplements had never been published (mostly because of the fact the vast majority of changes it contained were included in the SSJČ, a new dictionary being prepared simultaneously with supplements to PSJČ). Among neologisms Dvořáčková had sorted out were words which had never become dictionary entries, such as a pejorative term černoprdelník, meaning the priest, that reflects attitudes of political regime of the time towards the Church. Dvořáčková states that words such as černoprdelník are of great significance in exploring social changes in the Czech society of the time (1940–1950). Having in mind the iconic connection of lexicographic work and ideology, T. Dickins points out that not only the users of language understand the importance of dictionary of their national language, but so do the governing structures. Dictionaries are not only a window into the patriotic thought, but also in the dynamics of power. Therefore dictionaries are social facts filled with traces of influence (and pressure) of political regimes and also of attitudes (and resistance) towards them. The analysis of neologisms occurring during the turning points of a nation's history provides a valuable insight into the users' attitudes towards their language and nation. In the first part of my paper I will discuss this claim based on the examples from Czech lexicography throughout the 20th century by using relevant monolingual dictionaries, dictionaries of neologism published within Czech Language Institute and chosen examples of neologism and neosemanticism. In the second part of my paper an analysis of Czech neologism published in the database of Czech neologism Neomat will be presented. The published database contains of corpus excerpted 2013–2018. Special attention will be dedicated to the words belonging to political discourse (e.g. those containing prefix euro- or words whose meaning is related to the question of migrant crisis).

Chosen examples of Czech neologisms occurring during the historical turning points of 20th century.
Analysis of Czech neologisms published in the database Neomat 2013–2018 concerning political changes of current time.

Perspectives: Abstracts of the conference Language.Literature.Politics