How to add words to English

In former times adding new words to the language was an everyday affair; just look at the archetypal English wordsmith Wiliam Shakespeare.

So here’s the thing, this blog, website, entity, spuriform is in the main written in English. However, there are times when I feel that the vocabulary afforded to me through the OED diktat can’t convey the subtlety of meaning that I am attempting to communicate.

So can we just add to English? What is the negative if we do? What’s the benefit of doing so? So many questions. By the way, did you notice we have added to the lingua-popular in this post already?

Photography of an English Dictionary
Photograph by Flickr user – Tom Hynds – used under Creative Commons.

So you spotted our inclusion of “spuriform” or “lingua-popular”? Well, these inventions of ours were placed in your way as a bridge to understanding the point of this content. I’m willing to bet you instantly knew what “lingua-popular” was dropped in to convey. What about “spuriform”? Well, this may need some explanation; it’s a construction of a word stem, “form”, and a well-known sound mimicking the action of vomiting.

In former times adding new words to the language was an everyday affair; just look at the archetypal English wordsmith Wiliam Shakespeare. He has the accolade of the first attribution of many words including “dishearten”, “multitudinous”, and “bedazzled”. Charles Dickens was another major contributor to our tongue coining “flummox” and “lummy” amongst many others. I will leave you to determine their meanings.

In contemporary times, we have Amy Winehouse to thank for “Fuckery”. A particular favourite of mine as in the context of her song “Me and Mr Jones”, it completely conveys her thoughts, which is indeed the purpose of language. We can’t confirm with all certainty that Shakespeare, Dickens, and Winehouse were the inventors of these terms, but they are certainly amongst the first to write them down.

So how do you claim a word and thus achieve immortality as a wordsmith? One way would be to be the first referenced user of the word. Take “lovey”; according to the OED, its first utterance was by the actor, writer, and TV presenter Stephen Fry.

Unfortunately staking your claim on a new word these days may not be that simple, but one sure fire way would be to get your word into print. For me, I an going to try and claim the words I have added to the English language in the recursive use of this very blog post. So to rewrite René Descartes; I have written the word. Therefore, I claim the word. In this instance “spuriform” and “lingua-popular” are my stakes in the game of immortality.

Well perhaps not, you see it’s not that easy. The OED, in their infinite wisdom, have strict criteria for adding new words. The online portal to the journey of imprinted celebrity for a new word is the contributions page at the OED. Take a look, there’s a long form to fill in, and you need a lot of proof.

So what else is left to say? Well, let us define our new words. Defining new words is by definition a full-time job at the OED, but I will attempt the task here.

“spuriform”: To produce a gushing word flow, most likely in digital media, or by oratory means.

“lingua-popular”: The contemporary use of language to convey communications in a manner that the general populous of the time fully understands which may include words that have not yet been included in the OED.

I think you will agree that no one at the OED will be redundant on my account anytime soon. So dear reader, if you have come across a new addition or are feeling particularly inventive, why not make a submission. It could be your long lasting legacy. I wish you pompanarity!