Lewis Carroll and Dr Seuss have contributed many new words to the adult lexicon, such as snark, nerd, and grinch because they had an awareness of the fun-hunger surrounding readers.
In Seuss's book The Tooth Book, Pam the Clam craves "Pizza! Popcorn! Spam!" Spam owes its popularity to Monty Python's Flying Circus that features it in a skit involving Vikings who sit in a cafe singing "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, lovely Spam, lovely Spam," making it impossible for anyone else to talk. Spam became the go-to term for online junk mail.
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During an 1833 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, a spirited discussion took place to determine what to call those who worked in the different branches of their profession.
William Whewell suggested the word scientist, an obviously superficial suggestion that could not be considered seriously for a moment. Six decades later, it is still used.
Many useful words and phrases start as a quip, wisecrack, or throwaway line. Andy Warhol once said that eventually "everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes," but it inspired a useful and lasting expression. Today, the key words "fifteen minutes" refer to a short period in the public eye.
A playful spirit can promote word creation. Hoosegow is more fun to say than jail, and flimflam feels better than swindle. OK began as an inside journalists joke, an abbreviation for the misspelling "oll korrect."
During the Sixteenth Congress, representative Felix Walker of Buncombe County, North Carolina, often said that he was "only talking for Buncombe." His earnestness amused his colleagues, who began to use it themselves.
"Talking for Buncombe" morphed into "talking Bunkum" and was shortened to bunk, a synonym for "nonsense." In 1923, William Woodward published a farcical takedown of American business practices as Bunk. A protagonist of Woodward's novel determined to "take the bunk out of things." He became a professional de-bunker.
Certain languages and cultures have words that are hard, or even impossible to translate, as a whole lot of stories and mythology have gone into the particular meaning of the word.
Translating these words does away with the true meaning and intent of the original word.
In times past, when circumstances demanded new ways of expression, it was often female writers who invented new words.
The word 'frustrating' makes its first appearance in print in George Eliot's novel Middlemarch, when she describes "the hampering threadlike pressure of small social conditions, and their frustrating complexity."
Taking inspiration from George Eliot and Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Dorothy Wordsworth, we can find some helpful principles for sculpting a vocabulary to describe the surreal realities in these tense and trying times.
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