‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be …‘ (William Shakespeare)
Words, words, words – so many words that we can be sure to run out of choice never. Yet let your words multiply like rabbits. Let them breed, that they may create a new generation of words – bigger, faster and stronger than the last.
Germans don’t create new words – they just stick the old ones together to make sentences without spaces. Until recently (2013), this was a German word: rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. It literally means ‘beef labelling supervision duties delegation law’. In England, we only have one word for this: stupidity!
Concatenation is obviously not what I mean when I say that we should create new words. I am thinking more of words like ‘fleek’. One syllable, easy to pronounce, memorable and with its own unique meaning. It just means (something like) fine and sleek and can refer to anything you like, although it originally referred to eyebrows after a particularly satisfying grooming session. (For the original use of fleek, watch this 13-second video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfBdBpr7KCo)
So you see – we don’t need to borrow old words and glue them together into new ones. We can create brand new words by taking components of older ones. New words formed by fusing together parts of existing words are known as blends or portmanteau words. Other examples of this are affluenza and labradoodle. I’ll let you work out what they mean.
I’m trying to think of the word for when someone has two words in mind for the same concept, but the brain can’t choose between them quickly enough. For example – instead of saying ‘fast’ or ‘speedy’ one might say ‘feedy’ or even ‘spast’.
When searching for this elusive word, I came across Spoonerisms, which are “verbal errors in which a speaker accidentally transposes the initial sounds or letters of two or more words, often to humorous effect, as in the sentence you have hissed the mystery lectures.” But, amusing though they are, that’s not what I’m looking for.
Nope – I can’t find a technical term for this, but I came across another definition and a great example: “I will combine two words into one because I will be thinking of both words but can’t choose which one to say before I actually say it. For example, I will say “troublems” because I was thinking about saying either “troubles or problems”.
Personally, I think that this is a beautiful way to refresh language and I would love for you to tell me about any examples of this that you may have. Or perhaps you know the proper term for this? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.