Every day we use the language in order to express our opinion and in order to understand what we hear from others. The conventional use of language involves the knowledge of grammar, spelling, language in use, etc. However, sometimes the general rules are violated with different purposes. One of the cases is a word play.
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Word play can often be met in our daily life. For example, in the television show “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, the cartoonist Charlez Schulz presented a scenario, in which Linus tells Charlie Brown: “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.” This sentence is with no doubt an example of excellent sense of humor. However, what is more obvious, Charlez Schulz is a professional writer, who knows how to use all the tools offered by language to achieve the desired stylistic effects.
For instance, in this concrete example the writer used some morphemes in order to make the sentence sound funny. The first proof is the word “Browns”. The author used the morpheme “s”, which in English language is applied to denote the plurality.
Despite the fact that the sentence was addressed to a concrete person, and there is no other person similar to the addressee, the writer points to the plurality of the name. Such paradox emphasizes the uniqueness of the person, meaning that there is a little chance for existence of many Charlie Browns in the world.
Another unusual use of morphemes is observed in the second mentioning of the name. Charlez Schulz uses the phrase “the Charlie Browniest”. Here the morpheme “est” at the end of the surname is added by the author. This morpheme is traditionally used in the English language in order to show the highest level of comparison.
Thus, the message of this morpheme is that the addressee has the most characteristic features and qualities of Charlie Brown. Instead of writing a long explanation, the author preferred to use one morpheme to express this idea.
Interestingly, the use of the morpheme “est” plays one more role in this sentence. The personal noun, which denoted the name of a personal, changed its grammatical category into general. Indeed, while “Charlie Brown” is a personal noun, the word phrase “the Charlie Browniest” means that there are other Charlie Brown, or people having more or less qualities of Charlie Brown. This changed “Charlie Brown” into a general notion.
Another peculiar detail about using the morpheme “est” in this case is that it is used with a noun. In fact, such use of this morpheme is unacceptable, as far as this morpheme can only be used with adjectives. If so, than what does the word “Charlie Brown” mean? If the author wants us to treat this word combination as an adjective, than what qualities should it represent? In any case, the listeners are left to decide.
The author was directed not with the grammar rules but with his own vision of the words and their meaning. As a result, words changed their grammatical categories, subcategories, properties, and changed their lexical meaning. All these transformations helped the cartoonist to achieve the desired effect in the sentence.
As we can see, the role of morphemes in the English language cannot be underestimated. Being the smallest part of the spoken and written language, it can have a huge impact on the meaning of the words and sentences, make them either sophisticated or witty, formal or jargon, etc. The example of Charlez Schulz’s scenario proves the stated above information.