- Jeffrey Okay Aronson
Centre for Proof Primarily based Drugs, Nuffield Division of Main Care Well being Sciences, College of Oxford, Oxford, UK
- Twitter @JKAronson
Coining new phrases
Most phrases generally use have arisen via pure evolution of the language, usually by altering the meanings of present phrases or by combining phrases.1 That is properly illustrated by a sentence, contrived by the late Marghanita Laski, that may have been incomprehensible to Jane Austen, although she would have identified each phrase it contained: “She wanted a brand new face, so she propped up the child grand and reached for her compact.” No new phrases had been wanted to assemble that sentence, merely previous ones that had accrued new meanings with time. Different phrases are coined to fulfill explicit wants at explicit occasions.
Once I consulted the lists of updates and additions to the Oxford English Dictionary that had been printed in December 2021,2 I discovered simply over 700 gadgets in 4 classes:
● 159 phrases that had been fully new to the dictionary;
● 214 new sub-entries—phrases or phrases that had been included below different headwords;
● 295 new senses of previous phrases;
● 44 additions to unrevised entries—new senses, compound phrases, or phrases that had been already included as draft entries appended to the tip of present entries; these had been additionally included within the different classes.
Solely about 6% of all the brand new entries weren’t derived from present phrases, and of those who had been, most had been loanwords newly recorded from Buddhism.
The identical is true of slang phrases, as illustrated by my assortment of about 3000 examples of medical slang. By my rely, slang phrases that aren’t derived from pre-existing phrases account for less than about 1% of the overall corpus.
Neologisms are phrases or phrases which can be new to the language. So far as I do know, there isn’t any particular time period that distinguishes these which can be derived from present phrases from these which can be fully newly minted. It’s the latter that I’m coping with right here—the 1%.
A few of these phrases are initialisms which have been was phrases, as in the event that they had been acronyms. For instance, the Amyoyo syndrome (Alright Motherfucker, You are On Your Personal) has up to now been utilized to sufferers with head accidents in intensive care models in whom restoration is unlikely—a utilization, one hopes, that’s out of date.
One other initialism turned acronym is gork, which describes an unconscious affected person who’s unlikely to get better; it stands for God Solely Actually Is aware of. Gork, in its flip, has spawned the adjectives gorked and gorked-out. Synonyms are crumpo (somebody who has crumpled) and vedgy (a vegetable). Gorks are handled on gork wards, additionally referred to as vegetable gardens. These disdainful slang phrases, unacceptable right now, illustrate how docs defend themselves towards the anxieties that may in any other case be induced by the extremely distressing issues with which they’re unremittingly confronted day-to-day.3 And these coinages additionally permit medical employees to speak with one another in a kind of secret code, not obtainable to sufferers and their kinfolk.
The onomatopoeic conversion of the post-nominals MD, PhD to “Mudd-Fudd” additionally illustrates disdain, a standard phenomenon in medical slang, on this case for different docs somewhat than sufferers.
Some phrases are loanwords, similar to smeck and smecker, from the Yiddish phrase shmek, an act of sniffing or smelling or an quantity sniffed. In Yiddish, a shmek tabac, for instance, is a pinch of snuff. The slang model refers to one thing rather more potent than tobacco. Likewise, pisher is Yiddish for somebody who urinates; it’s equal to the English slang time period “pisser” and is equally pejorative.
Ganja, initially a preparation of Indian hemp, i.e. hashish, is one other loanword, from the Hindi phrase gānjhā. Amongst different neologisms from the drug commerce is bindle, an quantity of morphine, heroin, or cocaine ready on the market4; its origin is unknown nevertheless it could be derived from “bundle.” Different examples embody dujie for heroin5 and mojo for morphine6; their origins are additionally unknown.
Amongst many slang phrases for a penis is “langer,” which is Irish slang. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites the chance that it’s from an Irish phrase, éalang, a defect or flaw, however then says that that’s unlikely “on formal grounds.”
These are in no way the one phrases whose origins are unknown. To wazz is to urinate, maybe from “whizz,” onomatopoeically referring to the noise made; it’s mentioned to have originated within the Nineteen Forties in Felsted Faculty, an impartial faculty in Essex, the place “wass” was slang for a rest room, however whose provenance is in any other case unknown.
To chunder, to vomit, is first recorded within the 1950 novel A City Like Alice by the novelist Nevil Shute (1899–1960): “They have been telling me the way in which these bloody Nips go on. Makes you chunda.” Of this the OED says “of unsure origin.”7 It then goes on to hypothesise that it’s maybe brief for Chunder Bathroom, the title of an early twentieth century cartoon character, presumed rhyming slang for spew. Nevertheless, there isn’t any proof that the complete title was ever utilized in that approach, and the primary proof for using chunder appeared significantly a lot later than the interval through which the cartoon character was present. The character, the dictionary provides, was drawn by Norman Lindsay, and later Lionel Lindsay, for an promoting marketing campaign that ran from 1909 to 1920; the title was additionally used as a nickname amongst navy personnel through the first world battle.
Muggles and Satchmo
A muggle-head is a smoker of marijuana. This would possibly, I suppose, have initially been a corruption of “muddle-head,” however there isn’t any proof that that’s so. By itself, “muggle” means a joint and “muggles” is marijuana. On this sense, the phrase seems to be a very new coinage, although it existed earlier than in several meanings, in response to separate entries within the OED.
Within the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, in a poem in regards to the supposed founding of Britain by a Roman referred to as Brutus, the poet Layamon used the phrase “muggle” to imply a tail resembling that of a fish. Then in a 1608 comedy titled Your 5 Gallants, Thomas Middleton used “muggle” to imply a younger lady, a sweetheart; in that case the phrase appears to have come from a thirteenth century Italian phrase for a girl, moglie, from the classical Latin phrase mulier. I doubt if J Okay Rowling knew of those associations when she selected to explain members of Harry Potter’s non-magical world as “Muggles.”
Lastly, right here is an instance of a time period that seems to be a very authentic neologism, which bears no resemblance in any respect to some other phrase, however which may truly be traced to a predecessor. “Zatch” is appropriately designated within the OED as “vulgar” and outlined as “The buttocks; the feminine genitals; an act of copulation.”8 This may increasingly in reality be a corruption of “satchel,” used figuratively to seek advice from any bag-like construction, or one fancifully likened to a bag. Louis Armstrong’s nickname, Satchmo or simply Satch, derived from the time period “satchel-mouth.” And the title of considered one of Satchmo’s information was “Muggles” (1928).
Who would have imagined that there can be such a curious connection between Louis Armstrong and J Okay Rowling?