Where do new words come from?


WHERE do new words come from?  Few are purely invented, in the sense of being coined from a string of sounds chosen more or less at random. Most tend to be existing words given new meaning (“to tweet”). In other cases, a word changes its parts of speech (“to Photoshop”, “to Facebook”). And in some of the most creative instances, people chop words and recombine them to make new ones (as in “sexting”).

New words mostly become embedded through use. A few countries have official academies that declare when a word has been accepted, but they have little actual influence over how people speak. Which words make their way into a language says a lot about where phrasing comes from today.

One such official regulator is the Dansk Sprognaevn, which has the humble task of determining official spelling in Danish. Many Danes take the body’s decision to include this or that word in its spelling dictionaries as a sign that it is a “real” word. “New Danish Words,…Continue reading

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