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What Is a Paragoge?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Paragoge is the addition of a letter or syllable to the end of a word. The word comes from Greek para, which means beyond, and goge, which means carrying. This term is generally applied to various kinds of vowel or consonant additions that are not true suffixes, but generally decorative additions meant to add emphasis, but that do not change the common meaning of the word.

Some experts explain certain kinds of paragoge as changes to a word because of “nativization.” Some of these changes occur in translating a word between different languages. A word that ends with a simple consonant in one language may receive an additional vowel in other languages, sometimes to indicate gender, add emphasis, or simply conform the construction of the word to an existing lexicon.

Other experts define paragoge as a specific type of metaplasm. This word generally refers to alterations of words. In some definitions, these changes are made to help the word fit better into the flow of particular language. In some cases, paragoge may help a word to fit with the meter of a poem or other literary construction. In other cases, paragoge might be a resource for making the words sound right in a language that has specific vowel and consonant forms. These sorts of general word changes are an example of how language is dynamic and changes over time, where common usage typically determines correctness within a language community, regardless of technical grammar and rules.

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One example of paragoge in English is the tendency to add additional consonants to words. For example, adding letters to the word “among” for the resulting word “amongst” does not greatly alter the meaning of that word. It does help to conform the word to a specific lexical and language style. Poets and writers have produced many other examples of this type of word change, mainly in the aid of making language sound better, or innovating the spoken word to help it appeal to a specific audience.

Looking at the various kinds of paragoge helps linguistic experts to understand how language is used in a given era or societal context. These changes, whether they are ornamental or functional, reveal more about how the dynamic of language changes over time. Learning about these changes can also benefit poets and writers as artists.

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