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I am a veriloquist. I love words.  I love the expression of words, the etymology, the use of them.  I love pulling long forgotten words up and using them.  I speak archaically, but with a southern-ish accent.

I also like making up words when there is no equivalent, of taking words from other languages and adapting for my tongue. I like playing with words.

Obviously, I am not the only one.

Erin McKean had an article in the NYT about undictionaried words. She won my heart by quoting The Princess Bride and linking to a You Tube of the quote.  

And then she talked about dictionaries and words and wordsmithing and lexicography and coining words and phrases and I found myself cheering her on. I even did a standing ovation at one point.

Yes, I know.  It surprised Xoco but Itzl thought it was quite dull and old hat and he merely yawned. Xoco gave me this incredulous look and "humphed" at me before walking over to the farthermost monkeybed and sitting in it to stare at me accusingly. She doesn't always approve of the things I do.

My children had difficulty in school because they had extensive and whimsical vocabularies composed of the words they learned from me, from the books I read them, from participating in rendezvous, renaissance fairs, SCA events, science fiction conventions, RPGs, comic books, and other such things. I always had to bring in dictionaries and treatises on word usage to them so they wouldn't misgrade their papers, and I had to have long discussions with them about how a word was a real word from its inception.  Dictionaries don't always have the latest words in them, and they sometimes drop perfectly good words that aren't in common usage anymore.  A word didn't have to be in the dictionary in order for it to be a real word. I did, however, caution my children to try to use words they could document in order to keep from frustrating their teachers.

I like saving obsolete words and my children have picked up the habit from me.  Now that my children are out of school, I don't have to educate teachers about language evolution anymore, but we still engage in discussions of word usage and meanings, and send new words to one another when we encounter them.

Without undictionaried words, there would be no evolution of the language. We wouldn't have words like "chortle" or "agasp" or "bionics"  or "polyamory" or "agritourism" or "affluenza" or "captcha" or "staycation" or "earworm" or "netizen" or "hoodie" or any of a number of awesome new words if we didn't portmanteau words and make up words needed to fill in gaps.

Playing with the language keeps it vital and relevant. Slanguage becomes language becomes obsolete to make way for newer words and sometimes, the obsolete words are restored (like "corrrade" which means to gather together from various sources - an article copy and pasted together from many sources, for example, would be corraded).

And this doesn't even encompass the seeping of words from other languages into ours.  Yaoi, manga, tartle, ilunga, duende, kokusaijin, lagom, cibosity, kindergarten, abseil, karabiner, flak, kitsch, zeitgeist, karaoke, otaku, bento, panko, ramen, kawaii, sensei, aloha, kahuna, hula, luau, taboo, wiki, chutney, curry, jungle, pundit, thug, shawl, verandah, loot, guru, calico, hickory, hominy, avocado, anorak, guano, jerky, kayak, mukluks, hammock, bayou, flannel, penguin, bagel, golem, klutz, maven, nosh, caddy, cozy, golf, glamour, galore, pet, shindig, spunk, trousers, and so many, many more.  

So, play with your words.  Don't hesitate to create a word where there needs to be one. Don't be afraid to use archaic or obsolete words, it might be time for a come-back.

Originally posted to Noddy and Itzl on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 08:19 AM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.

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