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Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

The English language has ambled into the twenty first century at its common meditative tempo, reluctant to sacrifice its dignity and majesty to the promptings of progress and but, maybe with a languorous and regretful sigh, compelled to concede that the advances of expertise have rendered large swathes of vocabulary out of date virtually in a single day. We now stay within the period of e-mail and textual content messages, the place nouns are wrenched into service as verbs; the place punctuation is a tangled thicket of slashes, dots, arrows and angle brackets; the place full sentences have been bundled off into exile, and mysterious abbreviations disclose hidden doorways to data at a mere contact.

And but, one has to admire the capability of the English language to adapt itself to the urgent calls for of expertise and science. These are ever-changing realities that can not be ignored and any language should hold as its major objective the power to speak if it needs to keep up its forex.

What then of the unchanging realities, the internal experiences and realisations that stay basically the identical for humankind era after era? Right here we can’t declare that new circumstances have arisen that might validate the enlargement of the language; the clever have ever been so. “Excessive ideas should have excessive language,” mentioned Aristophanes within the 4th century B.C.

And but, it’s undeniably true that writers over the centuries have been confronted with what can solely be known as the constraints of the English language within the area of emotional and religious expertise. “Phrases kind the thread on which we string our experiences,” wrote Aldous Huxley, however sadly, one is compelled to confess that beside among the different world languages, significantly these of the East, the English language is singularly impoverished on this area.

For the phrases we do have, we owe an awesome deal to Shakespeare, who’s reputed to have coined over 1,000 new phrases to fulfill the wants of his dramatic dialogue. Barbara Wallraff, in her guide Phrase Fugitives, attributes such verbs as “besmirch”, “impede” and “rant” to the bard. Within the latter half of the nineteenth century, the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins coined compounds resembling “wind-walks”, “silk-sack”, “dapple-dawn-drawn” and “fathers-forth”.

“Little question my poetry errs on the aspect of oddness,” Hopkins confessed to Robert Bridges in a letter dated February fifteenth, 1879. The truth that Hopkins’ improvements haven’t handed into common parlance doesn’t diminish the beautiful great thing about his poems, the urgency of a soul looking for essentially the most excellent technique of expressing the divine.

The famend Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore asserted, “When previous phrases die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the guts.”

The reality of his assertion is mirrored by a small group of writers within the English language who’ve spontaneously improvised their very own phrases for sure perceptions, experiences and internal realities. Probably the most prolific of those is the up to date Indian poet Sri Chinmoy who has made compound nouns his lingua franca.

Though born in Bengal, Sri Chinmoy has been writing in English for greater than half a century. He’s not thought of a newcomer to the language, however in some ways his ease of innovation displays the enjoyment of discovering the language afresh. Think about being the primary particular person ever to say something, invitations Barbara Wallraff. And Virginia Woolf vividly footage “the word-coining genius, as if thought plunged right into a sea of phrases and got here up


Listed here are some samples of Sri Chinmoy’s distinctive type. They’re drawn from a small number of his poems entitled The Caged Hen and the Uncaged Hen:

My coronary heart is burdened with many issues,

However one factor haunts me

At every hush-gap,

And that’s the mountain-burden

Of world-sorrow.



Past the sunrise-sky.


The Pinnacle-Aim

Earlier than the sunset-cry.


The day is quick approaching

When the hope-caravan of the seekers

Shall efficiently and gloriously

Go by way of the frustration-desert.


My soul-fire,

The place can I discover you, the place?

My ignorance-mire,

When can I rework you, when?


The thoughts

Is a world-peace-stranger


A world-peace-strangler.

Clearly the poet has developed these compound noun variants with a view to focus his expression into the fewest potential phrases. It’s thus a method of brevity and of energy. He has eradicated any connecting phrases which, in a poetic context, could also be perceived as weakening the impression of a phrase. “The mountain-burden/Of world-sorrow” carries far better drive, for instance, than “The mountainous burden of the sorrow of the world.”

Whereas it’s not frequent to make use of compound nouns in such abundance, Sri Chinmoy’s method is unquestionably acceptable inside the bounds of the English language. Furthermore, his compound nouns have the benefit of the acquainted. The phrases themselves aren’t novel; it’s their mixing collectively that impresses itself upon the creativeness of the reader with singular newness and freshness. We all know, as an example, what “hush” and “hole” imply individually; it’s the new portmanteau “hush-gap” that evokes a unique form of power within the poem. It fuses an aural and a spatial picture to create one thing intensely alive. Right here then is unquestionably what Virginia Woolf known as thought that “plunged right into a sea of phrases and got here up dripping.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, talking from his personal huge expertise as each a author and thinker, claimed, “There isn’t a selection of phrases for him who clearly sees the reality.” It’s this crucial feeling that pervades Sri Chinmoy’s writing and compels him to explain the thoughts, for instance, as “a world-peace-stranger” and “a world-peace-strangler.” Each are extraordinarily robust photographs, made much more so by the exact parallelism of the triple compounds. There may be nothing cryptic or obscure about these references. In reality, the phrase order of every compound and their proximity within the

poem enable us to comply with the poet in his inventive course of, to hint their formation. In reality, the compounds spotlight and illuminate his thought course of to an uncommon diploma.

Sri Chinmoy could be very fond of those comparative compounds to produce the important thing to understanding his poems. Thus the “hope-caravan” passes by way of the “frustration-desert.” The intangible high quality of hope is allied to a tangible picture (“caravan”) that’s progressing, albeit slowly, throughout the arid wastes. In the identical approach, the intangible high quality of “frustration” is linked with the desert, a strong picture of infinite and unrelieved dryness and vacancy. Collectively, the 2 compounds compose a remarkably vibrant portrait of religious despair infused with a glimmer of hope.

One abiding characteristic of Sri Chinmoy’s compound nouns is that they aren’t intelligent in a purely mental approach. He doesn’t make his two phrases right into a pastiche (resembling “ignoramire” for “ignorancemire”). Slightly he chooses to construct photographs and footage from previous phrases whereas permitting these phrases to retain their integrity. His method is extra akin to the Chinese language calligrapher who combines the characters for (1) tree, (2) massive and (3) sighing with admiration right into a pictogram denoting a chair. Working with an analogous form of craftsmanship, Sri Chinmoy breathes new life into among the oldest phrases in our language — soul, sky, fireplace, cry, tree, flower.

Writing within the late nineteenth century, Alexander Smith mentioned, “Memorable sentences are memorable on account of some single irradiating phrase.” Sri Chinmoy’s poems are ceaselessly memorable due to some single irradiating compound noun and I might not be shocked if many of those compounds enter into the English language as a matter after all and endow it with a wholly new religious dimension.

Dr. Vidagdha Bennett


  • Chinmoy, Sri. The Caged Hen and the Uncaged Hen. New York: Aum Publications, 1998.
  • Jacobs, Alan, ed. Mvstical Verse. Massachusetts: Factor Books, 1997.
  • Wallraff, Barbara. Phrase Fugitives. New York: Harper Collins, 2006.

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