Recogitating And Refudiating


We talked so much about Sarah Palin's coinage of "refudiate" last week that it really, truly, sounds like a word to me.  I am, in fact, feeling somewhat unwilling to repudiate it.  Particularly because it is a portmanteau, which Philip Hensher points out in the Telegraph, isn't only a noble choice of word creation, it's necessary:

These habits of word-formation, or neologism, all have a legitimate history. Lewis Carroll is the modern founding father of the portmanteau word. In fact, he invented the term — and alongside efforts that have not caught on, such as "slithy" for "lithe and slimy", managed the lasting contribution of "chortle" (from "chuckle" and "snort").

Portmanteau words are now a staple of the magazine competition, and amid the waste of failed invention, every so often one meets a need: smog, stagflation, chocoholic. I don't know how we ever did without "metrosexual", coined by my friend Mark Simpson.

(I don't know how we ever did without "metrosexual" either —I mean, I'm married to one for goodness' sake!) Hensher's look at the creation of words is a nice micro-history, and it also makes good point.  You're only Shakespeare, or Carroll, or even Mark Simpson, if your word catches on.  If your new word is refudiated, well ... move on to your next new word.



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