The chutnification of English: An examination of the lexis of Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children".
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Midnight’s Children has been variously described as a Postmodern novel, Post colonial novel, and a novel which uses techniques of magic realism, metafiction and historiography. Having won the Booker Prize, the novel has attracted the attention of many critics for its remarkable use of language and the blending of history and story, fact and fiction and, reality and sur-reality. While the novel has been acclaimed as one of the most ingenious and fascinating piece of writing in the modern age and Rushdie has been described as a “juggler of words” (Narasimhaiah:1995), not many critics have focused on the use of lexical items in the novel. It is my argument that an examination of the lexis of Midnight’s Children within the ambit of Stylistics, will yield a rich dividend, and an analysis and a study of this kind will add new insights not just to the novel but also to the field of lexicology. Lexicologists are mainly concerned with word-formation and multi word expressions in natural language processing. While the analysis and application of lexicology studies tend to revolve around teaching and transfer of culture, an analysis of the kind suggested above would not only extend the field of Stylistics, but also lexicology as well. Salman Rushdie‟s use of the expression 'chutnification' epitomizes his use of language in the novel. “Chutney” is an Indian dish, which is a side dish and tangy, adding flavour to the main course of any meal. “Chutney” is a noun form and is understood as such in English. By adding “-fication”, Rushdie changes an Indian word into an English one to stand for transformation. Therefore “Chutnification” in the novel means transformation of English having an additional connotation of making the language used in the novel tangy and more flavoursome and exciting. An examination of the lexis of Midnight’s Children will, therefore, be a useful exercise in comprehending Rushdie‟s inimitable style, as well as understanding the ways by which a language grows. The study, in other words, will contribute to, in particular, a critique of Midnight’s Children, and also to the fields of lexicology and morphology.
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