This was published a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have a chance to blog it till now. Forbes, of all publications, put together quite a nice special issue on neologisms – that is, newly formed words. I’m impressed that they got real linguists (like John McWhorter, my colleague when we were both at UC Berkeley) and language experts, instead of the usual prescriptivist William Safire-types. I can recommend all of the following articles, as well as the additional material they link to. Enjoy!
The Word’s Tale by John McWhorter – How new words become real words
Spreading the Word by Ben Zimmer – How language is made and why it grows
Why Language Changes by Sherry Coven & Paul Yeager – Ever since prehistoric man ran out of things he could draw on a wall, we’ve invented new words
Putting In A Good Word by Grant Barrett – A dictionary editor weighs the survival odds of ten newly-coined words
Nano-celebu-geddon! by Mark Peters – emerging prefixes and suffixes
Gaming Words for Newbs by Anna Vander Broek – don’t get pwned — buff your vocabulary before you play an online game.