Friday, March 16, 2007

What is the Good Word?

Most of us have, at one time or the other, faced a situation when we looked for a word that could effectively express what we had in mind but realised there wasn't any.

Like, a word for a song, a thought, a word or a phrase. Is there a word for that? No. How about `Cerebroredundogram'? Recall the words cerebral, redundancy and gram and the meaning can be inferred. What do you call the incessant and actual chanting of a `cerebroredundogram'? The word you are looking for is `humnausea' from hum and ad nauseam. Taking off in a different direction, the annoyance you feel when you're certain you set your alarm clock but it didn't go off is `indichronation' from indignation and chronometer. The word also applies to watch alarms and digital reminders on the computer.

If you want a list of such words, all you have to do is to refer to the `nonsensicon', an on-line dictionary/encyclopaedia (a `dictopedia'?) of words that don't exist (or the existence of which is in doubt). There are some words that have acceptability within certain limited geographical boundaries. Some are words that have been resurrected. Almost all other words are fabricated. Let us look at a few such examples.

The word `bloviate' is used for describing the way people talk verbosely and windily, like politicians. Believe it or not, the word was used in the 1600's. Take the verb `banjax'. To be `banjaxed' is to be unexpectedly prevented from achieving an objective. It is a word familiar, if not well-known, in Ireland, meaning `irretrievably broken', as in the usage - `this computer is banjaxed'. Some are brilliant examples of portmanteau words. Like `yurp', which is to let a burp slip out in the middle of a big yawn. Or `wobter', an airborne craft that causes severe motion sickness, from `wobble' and `copter'.

The fury that you experience when you open your e-mail box, only to find it full of useless forwarded e-mail, is called `spamger' from spam and anger. The telephone rings, as it inevitably does, when you are occupied in the bathroom. Your wife says, "Joe's on the line" and you reply, "Tell him I can't talk to him it right now. I'm `occupated'." The word comes from occupied and constipated.

Some are absolutely useless words, in the sense you may never get a chance to use them. The action of blowing over a pencil after having removed it from the sharpener is called `penciventilation'. And a `septopus' is an octopus with a birth defect.

There are fabricated words such as `xoox', the name for the centre box in a game of tic-tac-toe.
`Unobtainium' is the perfect material for the job, but does not exist, or cannot be had. You are writing an examination and you are just in the middle of a sentence. The professor says, "Time's up!" The sentence you were on and have to leave unfinished is called the `sente'.

One could trace the etymology of most of the words. There are some that defy any such rationale. `Thudgle' is one such. It is any quantity of a food which somehow gets on your body, as in the usage - "I have a thudgle of ketchup on my sleeve." Or `thwithy', which means sick to one's stomach, due to travel, as in -- "After riding on the rickety bus for three hours, I was bound to feel thwithy."

The condition when one giggles uncontrollably for no apparent reason especially during inconvenient times, is called `simples' as in, "about an hour into the meeting, she got the simples so bad she had to leave the room."

The need for these words is certainly felt, as demonstrated by the fact that some of these words have gained entry into the recent editions of some of the dictionaries.

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