Barbarism (bar’-bar-ism): The use of nonstandard or foreign speech (see cacozelia); the use of a word awkwardly forced into a poem’s meter; or unconventional pronunciation.  Like solecisms (elements of speech or writing that are incorrect grammatically), barbarisms are possible according to each of the four categories of change (addition, subtraction, transposition, substitution).

Addition, subtraction, transposition, and substitution comprise the four categories of change. These are fundamental rhetorical strategies for the manipulation and variation of discourse across a vast array of linguistic levels: word forms, sentences, paragraphs, entire texts or speeches, etc.

Addition: Today he is happy-ay!

Subtraction: I’m sad and he’s happ, specially when he’s took my bap!

Transposition: Happy was he.

Substitution: He was happy and so too was his pet weasel.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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