I do it without forethought…always with my daughter and husband. Funny sayisms that have no reason for existing, except to suit me. I concocted the name my daughter uses endearingly when calling me long distance, or when sending me a text message, or signing a greeting card…moodoes. My latest nonsensical endearment is pookah head. I use it with my daughter, my husband, and our menagerie of pets. Of course they return the favor, the humans, not the animals.
I can only excuse my affinity for slang words of my own invention by blaming it on my Hawaiian heritage. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the term pigeon english, a term describing how the islanders massacred the Queen’s English…like you fallahs for you guys…shakah bra for how’s it going…no mo pilikea for no more trouble…gunfunnit you! for confound it you!
According to a column in the Wall Street Journal recently, I’m not the only one in the business of making up new words.
EVERY WEEK, The Wall Street Journal’s writers and editors use dozens of new and interesting words in articles and blog posts. Some are outright neologisms, brand new and shiny; others are fascinating technical terms newly brought to the attention of a wider audience.
Erin McKean goes on to include the following word creations in her article.
metabolomics… tracking metabolic processes in cells by looking at their metabolites
handwiches… (can you guess?)
humanzee… (planet of the apes offspring?)
acquihire… acquisition plus hire: the practice of buying a company mainly for its employees.
unidoor… suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
Bronies… bro plus ponies: self-identifier used by adult male fams of My Little Pony.
solomo… combination of social networking, local commerce and mobile communications.
retailtainment… using a store as a place for recreation.
likeonomics… using social media to encourage customers to share their preference for your brand.
wikinomics… mass collaboration using electronic means.
Then there’s the import of foreign words…
gelehallon… raspberry jelly candies, introduced in the U.S. by Swedes
monozukuri… creativity and craftsmanship in manufacturing, handy business term shared with us by the Japanese
Snicko-meter… a device used by cricket umpires to help make calls
dead doubles… the practice of taking over the identities of people who have died, used in an article about Russian spies
And finally McKean, “a lexicographer and the founder of Wordnik, an online dictionary focusing on how words are used today,” gives us multi-word expressions which have “such strong cohesion that they, in effect, behave as single words.
reverse wealth effect… chilling repercussions of the decline in home equity value on consumer spending
runway excursions… accidents in which an airliner careens off the runway.
And in conclusion, McKean says…
What can we expect in the year ahead? The endless inventiveness of English writers and speakers means that the best prediction we can make about new words is that they will pleasantly surprise us.
So go ahead…make up your own words. They probably won’t make the pages of The Wall Street Journal. But in the blogosphere and in your home you’ve an audience who’s sure to applaud…your inventiveness, and perhaps…
…use a word or two…in your honor…