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Inventing Words

Discussion in 'Café Life' started by Paul Whybrow, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. Paul Whybrow

    Paul Whybrow Venerated Member

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    I always send a message to my subconscious before going to sleep, asking my grey cells about what to write next, or how to tackle a plot problem. Sometimes, my brain makes useful suggestions to me in the night, as I turn over in bed. Other times, I attempt to access nocturnal ideas in the transition state between sleep and full wakefulness.

    This morning, my mischievous noddle spat out one word—Thyssingness.

    Puzzled as to what the hell this archaic-sounding word could possibly mean, I roused myself and went online to check. You won't be surprised to learn that it doesn't exist, though there's a Thyssing Industrial Supplies in Victoria, Australia.

    I think that my brain's thesaurus got scrambled, but there have been plenty of authors who've invented words that have since entered the English language. Charles Dickens coined dozens of words, such as the creeps, devil-may-care and flummox.

    William Shakespeare: supposedly invented 1,700 words, including advertising, torture and summit.

    Children's authors have free rein to play with language. Lewis Carroll and Doctor Seuss invented plenty of nonsense words, as well as others that are commonly used. Dr Seuss is credited with inventing the word nerd, while Caroll thought of chortle for quietly laughing.

    Science-Fiction and Fantasy authors often create whole languages for their worlds.

    My Cornish Detective novels contain local expressions and words delivered in the local patois, which many readers won't be familiar with, but they're real words. For instance, holidaymakers who invade the county in summer, swarming around, are referred to as Emmets, which is Cornish for ants.

    Have any of you invented words?

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  2. Lex Black

    Lex Black Respected Member

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    My last failure/attempt at writing had, as a major part of the story, two psychic/expanded sensory type characters. One of them, a much older, mysterious-wizard-archetype sort, was heavily implied to have come from a background with a language that had terminology for what it's like to have such abilities; the other, a young woman living in a much more contemporary setting, was reduced to the sort of limited language that has always driven me crazy with regards to such things (i.e., Force-users in "Star Wars" talking about "sensing things" and "feeling things" for lack of more expanded verbiage). This led to me creating a vocabulary the mentor could teach his student, and thus the reader, and even gave me an excuse to make extremely "foreign"-sounding terminology to boot, so by the end of the story there was free talk about what it was like for them to skein the erko of a murder in an abandoned building.

    Since the setting itself was also non-Earth, I got to invent names like the setting (Ylelon, pronounced "Ih-Lay-Lawn"), the native people of that land ("Yd, strong Y sound, rhymes with "kid") and the hybrid people/culture resulting from the indigenous peoples intermingling with settlers of different races ("N'ydi", "Nih-Dee").

    And what's really funny, I never realized until writing this post how much I enjoyed coming up with words like that.
     
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  3. Katie-Ellen Hazeldine

    Katie-Ellen Hazeldine Venerated Member Founding Member

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    Twimbut. As in, stop being such a twimbut. Or twumbut. Means what it sounds like.
     
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  4. Robinne Weiss

    Robinne Weiss Venerated Member

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    I've invented a few choice words of Draconic, so the characters in my MG novels can swear without offending the human readers. ;)
     
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  5. Katie-Ellen Hazeldine

    Katie-Ellen Hazeldine Venerated Member Founding Member

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    Skein is a good word for that kind of sensing.
     
  6. Lex Black

    Lex Black Respected Member

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    Thank you. :)
     
  7. Lex Black

    Lex Black Respected Member

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    As a HUGE dragon fan (as in, there are no fewer than about fifteen dragon related objects just within easy reach of myself right now) I can't help but wonder: how did you come up with these? I.e., was there a theme to them you worked with? Did you have dragons consider the same sorts of things as offensive as we do (bodily functions, vulgar references to sexuality) or did they have different ideals?

    I ask because, as dragons are often portrayed as solitary apex predators, what they consider a swear word might seem odd to us ("Wait, why do you spew that word with so much bile when it just means 'trespasser?")

    Sorry, something that just ran through my mind. :)
     
  8. Robinne Weiss

    Robinne Weiss Venerated Member

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    Well, New Zealand dragons are as unique as their Kiwi counterparts in the avian world, so their social structure is somewhat different from Northern Hemisphere dragons. Some New Zealand species are a bit more social, though their personalities tend to fall on the autism spectrum, so their social interactions can be awkward and, at times, violent. So far, most of my swear words relate to insulting other dragons' personality traits. Of course, they're just as likely to torch someone they're irritated with as they are to swear at them...:)
     
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  9. Lex Black

    Lex Black Respected Member

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    I like that. :)
     
  10. James Marinero

    James Marinero Venerated Member Founding Member

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    psoff. That means 'no'.
     
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