Saturday, 10 November 2012

Making it up - Karen Bush

Are you sure it's only a figment of the imagination?
A gorgeous botanical drawing of a Triffid by Bryan Poole for the Science Fiction Classics (1998)

Dr Seuss allegedly invented the word ‘nerd’.
Lewis Carroll gave us Jabberwocks, slithy toves and vorpal blades. 
And no dinner service is complete without a runcible spoon, courtesy of Edward Lear.
Everyone has heard of robots - a word popularized by Karel Capek in 1920, although he credited his brother Josef with actually inventing it.


Following the discovery of a newly discovered particle called a positron, Isaac Asimov provided his robots with ‘positronic’ brains to help give the stories a more scientific feel, even though he admitted himself that it was a bit of spoofery. It was catchy, sounded right, and stuck, and has been used ever since by other writers - not to mention being incorporated into the names of any number of companies: even non-nerds will have come across the word.

Personally, my favourite invented word is ‘triffid’ from Wyndham’s classic novel.
  There are people who have never read this masterpiece yet who routinely refer to plants which are invasive or prickly or otherwise badly behaved, as triffids.

And then there are vampires: the first appearance of the word in English is credited to a
travelogue which appeared in 1734, and is probably derived from French or German. But thanks to writers such as Bram Stoker, Anne Rice and most recently Stephenie Meyer, everyone knows what a vampire is.

The Devil may have the best tunes, but whether invented or borrowed, writers definitely have all the best words.

Have you invented any?
What are your favourites?

The  Great Rosette Robbery
and other stories
With no complicated words at all.
 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Rosette-Robbery-stories-ebook/dp/B005NVRJKK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1340821626&sr=1-1

6 comments:

Susan Price said...

I like 'googleplex' from which our beloved Google takes its name. This is the Wikipedia definition: -
In 1938, Edward Kasner's nine-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, coined the term googol which is 10^{100}, then proposed the further term googolplex to be "one, followed by writing zeroes until you get tired". Kasner decided to adopt a more formal definition "because different people get tired at different times and it would never do to have Carnera be a better mathematician than Dr. Einstein, simply because he had more endurance and could write for longer". It thus became standardized to 10^{(10^{100})}.
Authors Electric - educates and entertains!

Lynne Garner said...

In our family to 'garnerise' is to 'tinker' with something even if it doesn't need it. Something my dad did to anything that was left in one place long enough.

Dan Holloway said...

I think my favourite all-around experience for neologism (or rather new coinings for old wand mangled words) would have to be A Clockwork Orange's Nadsat. I still use words like droog and horrorshow on a regular basis.

Kathleen Jones said...

My partner is very good at fixing things up and his name is Ferber. So anything that's been fixed up, repaired or re-furbished is now 're-ferbered' in our family!

Susan Price said...

Dan, old droog, you use nadsat too! We're always ittying off to viddy something, and creeching, and scratching the old gulliver. Oh, and bezoomy and grazzny get used a lot too.
It sticks with you, that nadsat.

madwippitt said...

Good to know that others have their own family names for repairs: my Dad always taught me thatr the art of great DIY was an ability to bodge skilfully.