HOW AND WHY ARE NEW WORDS INVENTED?


Languages grow and change because they need to. New words are invented when new ideas or articles require a name. Usually, new words are based on earlier ones. When the television was invented, the word chosen to describe it was a combination of an ancient Greek word, meaning “far” and a Latin word to do with “seeing”. Sometimes a writer takes delight in inventing words. Lewis Carroll wrote a poem about a creature he called the “Jabberwock”, for example.



Sometimes a “new” world simply borrowed from another language. “Chocolate” came into the English language as a version of the Aztecs used to describe a drink made from the cocoa bean. This drink was unknown in Europe until the Spaniards discovered the Aztecs in South America. Once it was known, it had to be named! Borrowing the local name for it was an easy solution.



Many of the new words added to the ever-growing lexicon of the English language are just created from scratch, and often have little or no etymological pedigree. A good example is the word dog, etymologically unrelated to any other known word, which, in the late Middle Ages, suddenly and mysteriously displaced the Old English word hound (or hund) which had served for centuries. Some of the commonest words in the language arrived in a similarly inexplicable way (e.g. jaw, askance, tantrum, conundrum, bad, big, donkey, kick, slum, log, dodge, fuss, prod, hunch, freak, bludgeon, slang, puzzle, surf, pour, slouch, bash, etc.).



Words like gadget, blimp, raunchy, scam, nifty, zit, clobber, boffin, gimmick, jazz and googol have all appeared in the last century or two with no apparent etymology, and are more recent examples of this kind of novel creation of words. Additionally, some words that have existed for centuries in regional dialects or as rarely used terms, suddenly enter into popular use for little or no apparent reason (e.g. scrounge and seep, both old but obscure English words, suddenly came into general use in the early 20th Century).



Sometimes, if infrequently, a "nonce word" (created "for the nonce", and not expected to be re-used or generalized) does become incorporated into the language. One example is James Joyce's invention quark, which was later adopted by the physicist Murray Gell-Mann to name a new class of sub-atomic particle, and another is blurb, which dates back to 1907.




Picture Credit : Google



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