Posted by: Kathleen Mix | May 13, 2013

Loving Neologisms

As a writer, I have a deep-seated love of words. I spend endless minutes with my dictionary and thesaurus spread on my desk while I compare subtle differences in meanings and connotations and search for that one perfect word.
When I read other author’s work, especially sci-fi or fantasy, I enjoy finding neologisms – new words or word combos that the author has created. Before J. K. Rowlings created muggle, quidditch, and quaffle, they weren’t part of our vocabulary. Before some unknown journalist or commentator coined Bradgelina and bridezilla, we didn’t hear them ad nauseam.
Some of these words are fun, and I’m sure the creator smiled and felt a jolt of pride when the new word jumped into their mind. Some are simply the shortening of a phrase or two-word term. Some were undoubtedly the product of hours of brainstorming. Combining two words for the best flow and in the most-catchy order is probably a daunting task. People who can imagine new words are truly artists.
Regardless of how they were created, new words are assimilated into our vocabulary every day. No one had ever heard of a robot or cyberspace until sci-fi writers coined the terms. Who’d ever heard of the verb to google before the advent of the internet (or the coinage of the word internet)?
The level of a book’s success influences how many people see the word and adopt its usage. But each word contributes to the total book, and an author’s word choice is representative of their writing style and level of craft. When writers create crazy, multi-syllable, consonant filled words we can’t pronounce, those words fade into obscurity. But the book probably faded into obscurity too. Writers who make us trip over ill-conceived words are probably also prone to building awkward sentences.
But when writers consider the word candidate carefully, roll it over their tongue, use the right accents and tone, and give us a letter combo that sparks an image in our mind, we embrace its ingenuity, want to use it ourselves, and adopt it as part of our language. We enjoy the book in which we discovered the word and are likely to make that book a bestseller, because the author has taken equal care with every other word he or she put on the page.
Have you heard or read a great new word lately? Please comment and share.
If you’re a word creator, keep up the good work. I’ll be smiling when I read or hear your contribution to my dictionary.

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Mandyevebarnett's Blog and commented:
    Today’s word – Neologism – a new word, meaning, usage or phrase. Kathleen has written a great post so I’m sharing it…
    Enjoy.

    Like


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