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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 18-Jan-06

 


Wednesday 18-Jan-06

Assmosis and other neologisms

I just heard a lovely term: 'Assmosis', defined as 'going up through the company by kissing ass'. What a lovely definition! It combines the credibility and rigor of the scientific 'osmosis' with the slightly crude realism of the 'kissing ass' metaphor.

New words ('neologisms') like assmosis are often made up of combinations of existing words, where the collision of two meanings brings forth a new understanding, or they just redefine existing words, such as the computer 'bug'. Very few new words appear out of the blue.

Sometimes creation of new words is linguistically careful, leveraging the old languages that are at the root of many other words. Somebody, for example, took great care in the creation of the word 'television', although the relatively-recently-invented 'telephone' probably provided a strong hint.

Most words, however, are invented in the tension of the moment, when you want to express something but do not have the right words to hand. This is one reason why young people talk in such strange words: lacking the vocabulary they just get creative, and so another word is born.

Inventing words can be handy for changing minds as they really make people stop and think about what is being said actually means. When I say that my dog's got 'lickitis', you might have to pause for a moment to decode it's meaning.

Journalists do this well and the dictionary is littered with words that started their lives on the front page of a newspaper. You can do it too. When you want to grab attention or to amuse (another great mind-changing tool), then just make up a new word!


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