1. sfr
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    sfr Contributing Member

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    Where do words come from?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by sfr, Jul 20, 2008.

    I have heard that they add new words to the OED every year, but the ones I've heard of usually have to do with technology or something and usually they are few. I was reading a review on a book that taked about the compilation of the OED and they said when they were compiling words they went through books to find them. I am just wondering where the words came from originally. Can anyone just make up a word and give it a definition. I don't think it works like that, but then how do new words ever come about?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's the branch of liguistic study is etymology. You can look up the etymology of many words, but often the origins are only traced back to origins in an older language.
     
  3. sfr
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    sfr Contributing Member

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    I have noticed it in the dictionary. I have heard that 90 percent of words are Greek but a lot seem to come from latin too, I guess that many are proto indo european as well. I guess my question is where did they come from in the first place? Obviously at some point they had to be made up, so I guess my real question is how do you go about making up words? But I'm not quite sure that is exactly at what I'm getting at. I really need to do some research.
     
  4. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do. I make up so many words, and within a few days of me saying them, I have half the school saying them. Like the word minging, it was slang a few years ago that everyone said, in England at least, and I heard somewhere they are considering adding it to the Oxford English Dictionary.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I think it's already there, heather...

    And yeah, a lot of the new words are slang, to reflect the changing nature of the english language, as words go from being used only by a select few, to a larger section of the population.
     
  6. sfr
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    sfr Contributing Member

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    Alright, I must know your English slang, what does minging mean? I couldn't find it on dictionary.com.
     
  7. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use UrbanDictionary.com

    Apparently it means either drunk, ugly, smelly, generally unpleasant, or a combination thereof. It seems that it has some connection to the British Army as well.
     
  8. Twigstar
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    Twigstar Member

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    Unpleasent, ugly, etc. Never known it to mean 'drunk'.

    "Although now more commonly used to define an extremely visually challanging appearance, the word minger originally came from scottish gaelic, meaning 'septic vagina'. "

    Never knew that, haha! That's brilliant!

    As for the making of new words - it's usually a combination of old words, or alterations to an established word, etc. As for the root of language - just a series of vocal spasms, and whenever necessary to make them coherent, they were. When complications arise, what with so many things to describe, and telling people what to do - What with the beginnings in human settlement, as achieved with animal husbandry and the likes. Necessity is the mother of invention, and all that clap trap. Communication, and our depth of it, is why the human race dominates this rock. Our progress is marked by it, and we our indeed in the communication era - What with mass media.

    Take my grossly vague history of human communication with a grain of salt - I'm not educated in it - It's just what sense tells me.
     
  9. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    BRITISH SLANG

    Minging: Unpleasant, ugly, disgusting
    Hanging: Unpleasant, ugly, disgusting
    Manging: Unpleasant, ugly, disgusting (a combination of the previous two words)
    Buzzing: Unpleasant, ugly, disgusting
    Humming: Unpleasant, ugly, disgusting

    Um...yeah. I actually don't think they use the word 'manging' in England, I think that's only in Wales.
     
  10. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Topics like this are why the book Frindle captivated me as a kid.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You also might find the nonfiction book The Story of English interesting. It was also a series on Public Television, which might possibly be available on DVD.
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm rather surprised that the OED would be so quick to solidify a slang term. The nature of slang is that it is transient (yes, there are always exeptions,) and not usually considered a strong effector on linguistic change. As Banzai has already noted, slang terminology starts within specific groups and is used by said groups as an identifier of belonging to the group. When the terms start being used by the general populace, they lose their capacity to act as identidfiers and new words are chosen by the origin group.

    Perhaps my viewpoint is overly American, where slang has a shelf-life of fifteen minutes before being chucked in the bin. In Puerto Rico, slang terms (of course in Spanish) tend to be more generational and stable within these generations groups.
     
  13. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here we actually use buzzing for when you are really excited, or gloating about something. Like if someone won another certificate and they were quite smug about it, you would say they are buzzing.
     
  14. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    The word "plutoed" was added last year. It means to demote....in honor of the ex-planet.


    Also, for the word buzzing, it could be in reference to being drunk/high.
     
  15. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Indeed etymology tells you from which roots a word is formed, but neologism or word coinage tells of a new word's creation.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday/archive/2000/11/18.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_coinage

    An extract from the Wikipedia article (in so far as it is to be trusted), tells us the following:

    Neologisms tend to occur more often in cultures which are rapidly changing, and also in situations where there is easy and fast propagation of information. They are often created by combining existing words (see compound noun and adjective) or by giving words new and unique suffixes or prefixes. Those which are portmanteaux are shortened. Neologisms can also be created through abbreviation or acronym, by intentionally rhyming with existing words, or simply through playing with sounds.

    Neologisms often become popular through memetics – by way of mass media, the Internet, word of mouth (including academic discourse, renowned for its jargon, with recent coinages such as Fordism, Taylorism, Disneyfication and McDonaldization now in everyday use). Every word in a language was, at some time, a neologism, ceasing to be such through time and acceptance.

    Neologisms often become accepted parts of the language. Other times, however, they disappear from common usage. Whether a neologism continues as part of the language depends on many factors, probably the most important of which is acceptance by the public. Acceptance by linguistic experts and incorporation into dictionaries also plays a part, as does whether the phenomenon described by a neologism remains current, thus continuing to need a descriptor. It is unusual, however, for a word to enter common use if it does not resemble another word or words in an identifiable way. (In some cases, however, strange new words succeed because the idea behind them is especially memorable or exciting; for example, the word 'quiz', which Richard Daly brought into the English language by writing it on walls all around Dublin.)

    When a word or phrase is no longer "new", it is no longer a neologism. Neologisms may take decades to become "old", however. Opinions differ on exactly how old a word must be to no longer be considered a neologism; cultural acceptance probably plays a more important role than time in this regard.​
     

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