Words Are a Great Wonder

In our world where fast paced technological communicating is the norm, our lexicon is shrinking hand over fist. But the potential of words is a great wonder. Words are salty goodness that pepper writing with flavor.




So this month at the Guild we are, once again, making words.

Last spring I introduced my writers to the idea of “neologisms” coined by Lewis Carroll. I began by asking the writers to remind me of the details from last spring’s lesson. I was surprised that they remembered with great detail the suffixes we explored so long ago:

» cosm 
[From Greek kosmos, order, universe.] 
Universe; world
microcosm, macrocosm

» esque
 [F., fr. It. -isco. Cf. –ish.]
 An adjective suffix indicating manner or style
Arabesque, Romanesque

» ism 
[Greek -ismos, -isma noun suffix]
 A suffix used to form action nouns from verbs, distinctive doctrine, system, or theory skepticism, truism

They even remembered more than a handful of the words they crafted, words like: appleism, s-e-e-ism, TVism, tablesque, pencilesque, windesque, bouncehousecosm, balooncosm, and lollycosm

As I sat with the group, I marveled at their retention, but more significantly at their delight. can’t say the same about any of the vocabulary development lessons that I’ve utilized through the years from various curriculums that shall remain nameless!

The art of crafting neologisms focuses the writer’s attention on the specificity of words and their potential to enact ideas in a very meaningful way. And lessons that are meaningful are lasting.

So we began our exploration of suffixes, mining for meaning and application:

» able 
[From Latin abilis, capable of, fit for.]
 washable, enjoyable, pitiable

ex. Neologism – baloonable

» nomy
 [From Greek nomos, system of rules or knowledge.] astronomy, economy, autonomy

ex. Neologism – iPodonomy

» ization 
[From Greek izein, to become.] popularization, organization, generalization

ex. Neologism – basketballization

» ology 
[From Greek logia, to speak of, study or science of.] biology, geology, anthropology

ex. Neologism – pickleology

» phobia 
[From Latin phobia, abnormal fear] claustrophobia, arachnophobia, xenophobia

ex. Neologism – flipflopphobia

» ward
 [From Middle English ward, specifics of direction] toward, homeward, backward

ex. Neologism – chocolateward

Bonus Suffix:

» biotic
 [From Greek biotikis, of life, method of living] antibiotic, probiotic, microbiotic

ex. Neologism – fauxbiotic

Ultimately, I challenged the writers to create a list of neologisms for each suffix. Now I challenge you to do the same. And as you do, keep in mind, words are a great wonder! Go and salt the earth.


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