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November 1, 2005

Are You Confuzzled About Vocabularians?

The English language has a frighteningly large number of words in it, as anyone looking at the old-fashioned printed version of the Oxford English Dictionary can tell at a glance.

By virtue of the history of the occupation of the British Isles, English has a threefold linguistic history on top of its native Celtic roots: Latin, Germanic (Saxon) and Norman French. This means that English usually has at least two words for everything. To paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, the choice is usually between the intestinal Latin word and the gutsy German one.

And still our hungry tongue is unsatisfied, and devours words from other languages when given the slightest excuse. As if this weren't enough, English speakers are devoted neologists, inventing new words at the drop of the proverbial hat.

Merriam-Webster OnLine received thousands of submissions when they invited vocabularians to send in their favorite non-dictionary words. Their selections are funny.

If Merriam-Webster's offerings are insufficient to satisfy your verbivoracity, check out listing of neologisms.

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Posted by Diane Prange at November 1, 2005 10:45 AM
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» For A Mother Tongue, English Can Be A Real S.O.B. from Much Ado About Marketing
No one takes words more seriously than the Strategic Name Development Blog and I, for one, am grateful. Check out this recent post about the history of English and, maybe more importantly, our penchant for making up new words when given just the slig... [Read More]

Tracked on November 2, 2005 11:02 PM


#8 on the list, "slickery," was used (and defined -- "It's slick, it's slippery... it's slickery!") in a TV ad for a cough drop. Do you think some marketers may have contributed to the list?

I love language and this blog is one of the best for making the distinct connection between what we mean, the words we use and the impact those words have on people. Thanks for this post and your blog, in general.

Please keep it up.

I've added you to our review of blogs on marketing at "Much Ado About Marketing" for tomorrow (11/3).


Mike Bawden
Brand Central Station

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