FICTIONARY.

I’m generally left cold by invented-word sites (English has plenty of words already—use them!), but for some reason The Oxford English Fictionary gets through my defenses. Maybe I just like “Anachronister (noun): a time-traveling spider.” Anyway, check it out, there’s some amusing stuff there. (Thanks, Paul!)

Comments

  1. The stuff of certain magazine competitions. My uncle got first prize once by defining the agony one feels on wearing blue jeans a few sizes too small as a Jordache.

  2. Useful and pleasant blog you run there, BWA !

  3. What about Urban Dictionary? There’s some really creative and funny stuff on there, I don’t see how anyone could not like that site.
    Oh, and by the way, it’s also by far the best resource I’ve ever found for looking up Spanish slang and cursewords, no other resource I’ve tried has even come close in comprehensiveness to Urban Dictionary.
    Cheers,
    Andrew

  4. Isn’t this a Jeopardy category?

  5. I know the word “Fictionary” as one name of that game where you try to stump your competitors by making up a fake definition of an actual word.

  6. Speaking of linguistic inventions, a friend just drew my attention to the concept of “esoterogeny”, the fabrication of linguistic difference and obscurity in order to establish in-groups:

    In New Guinea language differentiation is sometimes fostered even more deliberately. When we compare the Uisai dialect of Buin (1500 speakers), on Bougainville Island, with the other dialects of Buin (about 17000 speakers all up), we see that it has completely flipped over all its gender agreements:⁸ all the masculines have become feminine, and all the feminines have become masculine. Because no known mechanism of normal linguistic change could produce this effect, Don Laycock has suggested that “an influential Uisai speaker innovated a linguistic change to differentiate his community from the rest of the Buins”. Again we see how much influence a single individual can have in a small speech community. For another Papuan language, Selepet, we actually have a reported instance, witnessed by linguist Ken McElhanon, where one community decided at a meeting to replace the standard Selepet word bia, for “no”, with the word bunge, to differentiate themselves from other Selepet villages.

    This is from Evans’ Dying Words, which also quotes work from William Thurston.

  7. Leo, thank you for that reference. i had heard about that kind of thing in NG and now I know where to go find it.
    There are lists going around, those email chain letter things people send all over, that are lists of jokey neologisms. Some are actually useful. One favorite of mine is ‘arachnasm’, the dance you do suddenly when you walk into an invisible spiderweb. Another is ‘intaxication’ the stupid euphoria you experience when you get your own money back.

  8. We aim to amuse and inform, and kind of you to say so, Herr Stu, vielen Dank!

  9. the concept of “esoterogeny”, the fabrication of linguistic difference and obscurity in order to establish in-groups
    Fascinating.
    But remove “linguistic” and it sounds like an attribute of our species.

  10. dearieme says:

    kaleidascrote – a criminal of mixed racial origins.

  11. dearieme, I love that one!
    Then there are the wry extensions and snide analogy forms, like ‘fobbit”

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