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Making up Words

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by pmmg, May 4, 2022.

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  1. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    So, we all know that many words in our language today were just made up by earlier writers as they became needed. And the beloved Shakespeare has added quite a few words to our lexicon, but...well...he was Shakespeare. The question is to you... Have you made up any words for any of your stories, and if so, what word and what was it to mean?

    Do you think it will ever catch on?
     
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I do it all the time. "Singlasses." Demons wear them. "Dudetastically." Fairly obvious. Stuff like that. The key to making up your own words is that they clearly communicate what you're trying to say, like all language.
     
  3. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I use the term "rager" to describe a warrior of a certain race that loses all inhibitions when they remove a certain talisman. They, in essence, become berserkers. The term "ragers" better fits with their unique understanding of life. Although "ragers" exist in our lexicon, it's meant to describe a crazy, intense party.
     
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Most terminology I use is world-specific, s it's unlikely to catch on, heh heh. Now, if I ever get around the Urban Fantasy tales in my head, then, maybe.
     
  5. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    No, it isn't quite the done thing in Swedish. As in France, there certain organisations with formal rules for controlling the development of Swedish, so making up your own words doesn't really work.

    But then I'm not sure why you'd want to create your own words when you write in English. It's such a nuanced language with such a wide range of words and expressions (certainly compared to Swedish) that I'd be amazed if you couldn't find a word to express what you wanted to say. I sometimes wonder if those who write in English appreciate how fortunate they are to be writing in that language.
     
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  6. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    English, as a language, is remarkably open to suggestion, which is how it's survived as a language through centuries of occupation by French-speakers who drove the language underground, spoken only by peasants, for about three-hundred years. English absorbs other languages like an amoeba, incorporating new words at a truly unprecedented scale. It's a language-killer, itself, and probably one of the worst.

    And yet, there's still room for more. Take "dudetastically," as an example. I needed to describe how a man who wore faded jeans looked from the perspective of a teenage girl who sees the man as a father-figure and protector. But, he's also gay and a Viking and a Vampire King, so it couldn't be too effeminate or swishy, because this man is not either of those things, but he's also fashionable. So, the teen thinks of his jeans as being dudetastically faded. It's all about context and nuance.

    Shakespeare, and indeed many other English-writing authors, had concepts and nuance he wanted to convey, but lacked the language, in an already expansive language, to do so, so he made up his own. English is brilliant, and I, at least for one, am deeply grateful to have grown up with it, because I really wouldn't do well trying to figure this Tibetan knot out from the outside.

    235180179_10226603427933153_5431411773997182205_n.jpg
     
  7. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    Except that English didn't exist as a language then, the Saxons spoke a form of Anglo-Saxon with influences from both Norse and the Celtic languages, and that language was modified by the Normans who brought with them Norman French. Later, Latin, Welsh and Gaelic helped enrich the language. The result is modern English and it's only when you speak a language like Swedish that you even begin to understand the subtleties and nuances of the English language.

    I have to say that it's only now that I'm supervising the translation of my books into English that I fully appreciate the possibilities. Because the English versions will have a depth of expression that I can only dream of achieving in Swedish in a popular book.
     
  8. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Teenagers are prone to making up their own words, anyhow, heh heh. I know we had a few even if my addled old brain doesn't recall them. My wife and I adopted an older Chinese girl about 6 years ago, and while learning English she's been flummoxed by the number of ways English speakers can say things with so many little twists and turns, but as I told her, that's what makes writing in English limitless in possibility. My Mandarin is horrible to nonexistent, but apparently, it's lacking that sort of literary flexibility.
     
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  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    When I played D&D in chatrooms, back in High School, I had a player compliment me for making up the word "quietude." I, err, didn't know what to say. I don't really invent words.

    Naming, though..... sheesh. Fantasy has a million things that all need names and I want to bang my head through the glass trying to do so.
     
  10. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Apart from the many names of people, places, things of a fantasy nature, of which there are many i have made up words at times (and sometimes user the wrong one inadvertently).

    one word i made up was ‘brusking’ to mean the sound an animal makes rummaging about in a bush.

    i dont think it will catch on but it fit well where it was used.
     
  11. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Beowulf is in Old English, the language that the Normans shredded with what became their Middle French. Lazamon, a monk in Worchester in the13th century, wrote the first Middle English text, called The Brut, a history of England that covers the arrival of Aenis to the fall of Arthur and beyond. Chaucer wrote in Late Middle English. Shakespeare wrote in Early Modern English.

    As a former academic, I was an interdisciplinarian in Lang and Lit and History, specifically in this area. I've presented papers at conference on the subject and I can assure you, the Anglo Saxons of the Norman Conquest spoke English. Just not the form you're writing in now.
     
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  12. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    And I will gently point out that Old English = Anglo-Saxon, at least according to the linguist David Crystal who is an expert in the evolution of the English language. (Even here in Sweden we know of him. :) )
     
  13. bdcharles

    bdcharles Minstrel

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    I have a verb, piffed, which means "spoke in a dismissive fashion"
     
  14. Righmath

    Righmath Dreamer

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    Absolutely, Glyerium. Fine glass-like fragments, similar to gunpowder (and are pink). Probably some more also, I never really thought about it previously. But now I want to make sure I make up more!
     
  15. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    Okay, but then why did you say English didn't exist as a language back then?
     
  16. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    Like DemesnedenoirDemesnedenoir I can only think of words I made up that are world-specific, although I truly believe I threw words here and there that are a hybrid of different languages I speak. I just can't think of them right now.

    It would be a cool exercise to do, making up words that could make sense/be understood from context, even though they don't exist in the language.

    I feel fantasy and scifi authors do it quite often
     
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  17. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    David Crystal is good, and he says exactly what I said, only at length. And so, here, did you. I don't see what point you're trying to make.
     
  18. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    And this perfectly illustrates the dangers of an internet discussion, especially one which crosses national, linguistic and cultural boundaries. We risk talking past one another (to use a Swedish expression). :) You refer to it as Old English, but David Crystal uses the term Anglo-Saxon. And Anglo-Saxon is the term used here in Sweden, because that language doesn't originate in England and isn't close what is now English. It's like saying that Icelandic or Faeroic are the same as Old Nordic - they aren't, although they are closer than modern Norwegian or modern Swedish.

    As for Beowulf, It's written in Anglo-Saxon, but it isn't an Anglo-Saxon or even Germanic tale - it's a Norse tale, and the version known today is a translated and written version of something much older.
     
  19. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    Calling it Anglo-Saxon and a different language is a political move, meant to distance modern English from its origins. The difference between a language and a dialect is a political one, as the saying goes, a language is a dialect with an army and a navy. There's a neat YouTube channel called Ecolinguist I recommend you check out, which does mutual intelligibility tests between different languages within a family that really drives home how artificial that distinction is. Also, if we're going by the original homeland of the languages we speak, all Indo-European speakers save for Ukrainians are speaking a language that didn't originate in the place it is spoken.
     
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  20. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    But we're not talking about dialectal differences here. Anglo-Saxon (or Old EngIlish) is so different from modern English as to be incomprehensible to a modern English speaker. That isn't the case for Old Norse, Old Swedish and Modern Swedish - I can read and understand Old Swedish and most Old Norse, despite the differences between them and modern Swedish. As a linguist, my mother (who has an MA in Fornnordiska, Old Norse) takes the view that Anglo-Saxon (or Old English) is a different language from modern English, but that modern English is descended from Anglo-Saxon.

    A language is not a dialect with armed forces. Thats junk. Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are all comprehensible to someone who speaks one of the languages - in fact, you can only speak one of the languages because they are so similar. But as my mother points out, they aren't dialects of one language, they are different languages and thats in part because they originate in different variants of Old Norse.

    When it comes to languages and politics, you might want to reflect on the fact that Welsh is the closest to the Common Brythonic language spoken in the British Isles before the Romans, Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded. The later wars between the English and the Welsh weren't just about who was in charge, they also involved some very significant linguistic, cultural and legal differences. My mother would also add that dialects can be equally as political as different languages - and she often gives the main north and south Welsh dialects as an example, coupled to the history of the English conquest of Wales.

    In that sense, having linguistic differences in your story settings can be a way of developing and deepening the setting, its politics and cultures - which in turn gives many ways of starting and then developing the plot. It isn't just about making up words, you can do so much more...
     
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