Thursday, December 4, 2008


The other day, one of my college students asked if she could coin a word for the article she was writing. "The words to say what I need to say don't exist," she said.

I told her that she didn't have the ethos to coin words and to get out her thesaurus.

Of course, she accused me of crimping her creativity.

You know I wouldn't do that without good reason. Aspiring writers need to learn to write within the rules before they can write outside the rules.

We need to learn how to put words together according to existing standards before we can creatively push past the standards.

Maybe someday, we'll be that wordsmith who invents a word.

Last week, I read a list of words that have recently been added to the dictionary. My favorite word new word? Frugalista: someone who is frugal but not frumpy. Thrifty but not threadbare.

I like that word.

If you had the chance to invent a word, what would it be?


Joanna said...

I recently wrote a journal entry for one of my classes and took a little risk by coining a new form of a word. I commented parenthetically to my prof that if it wasn't a word, it should be. She marked out/corrected my invented word and wrote in the margin: "It isn't."

And guess what? I didn't accuse her of squelching my creativity, because in my day, we never argued with our professors.