Posted by: Jack Henry | July 1, 2021

Editor’s Corner: New Word Thursday

Good morning! Here on the West Coast, it is still early. We’ve got the whole day ahead of us, and it feels like a good one.

I heard a word the other day that is new to me, so I’m going to share it today. If you already know this word, you get brownie points for one-upping the editor.

The word is holophrase.

This word came into English in the 1800s, and it has Greek roots: ­holos meaning “whole entire” and phrásis meaning “diction, style, speech.” Any guesses about what it means?

It’s early, don’t tax yourself too much. I’ll share what I learned. A holophrase is a single word used to express a complete, meaningful thought—the word OK is a good example.

Babies who are learning to talk start with holophrases; in fact, this stage of childhood is called the holophrastic stage. For example, a child will say “Up” instead of “Please pick me up.” Children use holophrases when they are not yet able to put together different parts of speech to make grammatical sentences. Other examples of common childhood holophrases are more, again, down, out, off, food, etc.

These one-word phrases are understood by adults because of the context of the situation along with the child’s body language and tone of voice. After the holophrastic stage, babies begin to use telegraphic speech, which usually consists of two words, for example, “Doggy bark” for “The dog is barking.”

You may see these two stages again during the teen age years. J

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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