Marcy Brook



Published 2019-04-05 20:02:26.200498 UTC

If you've ever used a random word generator (like mine), then you'll know that a comprehensive dictionary contains a ton of random and obscure words that likely haven't been used for anything other than fleshing out the dictionary itself. Take for example "aphetically", or "cornbinks". You can probably pronounce them and find a definition for them, but your chances of finding somebody who has keenly thrown them into casual conversation are next to none.

On the other side of the coin are words that have no reason not to exist. Any descriptivist linguist will tell you that the dictionary should only ever be used to document language, not regulate it; but even if you intend for that to be the case there is still the unfortunate effect that if a word is not in the dictionary, then people are sooner or later going to be dissuaded from using it for fear of speaking 'improperly'. This can be a real shame because there are words out there that could improve our vocabulary if they were accepted and taught onwards. Here are a few ideas for conceptual additions to the English language that could (and in my opinion should) be made:

  1. "Elsewhen"

    This is a word that I have accidentally coined in conversation before, just because any alternatives would be cumbersome. It is a sibling to the word "Elsewhere", which I think I can fairly say is in common usage. Without this word, only 3/4 dimensions that we live in are covered for describing points that are outside a contextually-defined point.

    This word could be used anywhere "Elsewhere" is. For example, just as "The meeting was moved elsewhere." is a valid sentence, "The meeting was moved elsewhen." should be too. The sort of context I would use this word the most is in a sentence like "You can contact me by phone during office hours and by email elsewhen.". Compare this with alternatives like " email at any other time", or " email outside of office hours" to see how it has a place to make important information more concise in the same way "Elsewhere" does.

    Extending this point, I also believe that "Somewhen", "Anywhen", "Everywhen", and "Nowhen" should be more commonplace as well.

  2. "Ignoration"

    As a rule, English direly needs to be more consistent. This noun means "The act of ignoring", and it could be used in sentences like "The teacher punished my ignoration", or "This article is a clear ignoration of facts.".

    Even if you might not have a use for it, the fact that this word doesn't exist in mainstream language shows that there is no standard way of making a verb event into a noun. This word follows the same rule used to make the noun "Deletion" from the verb "Delete", but just isn't an accepted derivation. You could use the word "Ignoring" in a similar vein as "The happening", but it just sounds messed up and weird given that it's not already in use like that.

  3. "Metaneologophilia"

    Okay, time to actually explain this word. It is a combination of "Meta" (self-referential), "neo" (new), "logos" (words), and "philia" (love of); so all together it means "Love of self-referential new words", so a metaneologophile would love the word "Metaneologophilia".

    I know, I am literally the only person to have used this word; but I'm not the first to use the word "Neologophile", and all I did was stick a prefix on it. The point I'm trying to make here is that you can construct words from prefixes, roots, and suffixes that have inherited meaning. I am ending the list on a high note since this practice does seem to be becoming more standard, and pretty much always has been the standard in particularly specialised fields where the demand for new words (and the ability to communicate the meaning of those words) is high. The tragic part is that to a majority of users of English, words are immutable. To most, the dictionary contains all words that are "valid", and not some slang or Frankensteinish horror, and as someone who is very familiar with syntax and formatting, I do think that this shouldn't be the case.

To make a disclaimer: I am not the first to come up with or use the words I advocate for here, but as long as I'm told they are a spelling mistake by my spellcheckers, there will still be a point to be made about what makes a word 'real' or 'correct'.