Friday, December 5, 2008


In the two previous posts to this one, I included words that I have coined, invented, made up, created etc… I had a lot of fun reading peoples’ comments, too – I thank you all. I’ll just single out just a couple here that were particularly pertinent to this current post . My SWF post seems like it was kind of a double-take moment for Dew, who is one of my go-to people for weather - clouds and water and such. Most of my coined words do happen to be weather-related terms. That’s because we really have so few of them. Or at least not the ones I need, but maybe they exist, and Dew or Robert can clue me in on this. And the whole thing started a very informative comment conversation with Squirrel, of Nyack fame. I would also like to acknowledge the terrific Carrollian (as in Lewis Carroll) words left commenter Champ. Unfortunately, the link s/he left didn't work, so I can't pass it along. Champ, get back to me and I'll fix it!

Of course, just because there may be a correct meteorological word (like virga or crepuscular rays) doesn’t mean I have to use them, right? Well, as RuneE hinted at, you have to pick your spot. So, I most often employ my new words (neologisms) in my correspondence, where I can explain what I mean. Some of my friends have even started using them in conversation, which makes me puff right up like a proud lexicographical parent. A few years ago I also began using my new words in some of the poetry I write. That presented the problem RuneE referred to. So, when my most recent book of poems was published, I incorporated a poetry glossary in the latter pages, to explain everything (or so I hope). Anyway, everyone has heard that the Eskimo people have something like 600 hundred words for snow/ice (though I've also read that the total is not quite that high) because they need the differentiation. It obviously can be a matter of survival to be able to tell someone they’re about to venture out on “…” (snow that’s not safe ) as opposed to “…” that is. Well, poetry might not be that life-and-death, but the subtle changes of light and cloud and weather are important to me. Since I first began creating words, back around 1964/65, I’ve made up almost 40 words. Some of them I don’t use much any more since they describe weather in the foothills where I lived before moving here to Lake Erie. Except more new words lake-words soon!

Here are a few, just for fun; feel free to use them anytime you like, or share them to friends or family! As you can see, I’ve put my high school Latin to good use!

ASTREL(S) – dancing star-shaped sun glints on water; moon glints are ‘moon astrels.’
SOLUMBRA –sun/shade patterns moving across land or water.
SPOOLING – light delicate song made by some frogs, such as spring peepers.
HELIOSPOUT(S) – slanting sunrays through clouds (replaces the term crespuscular ray).

Photo - "Heliospouts Over Cedar Beach"
More links if this is a subject you are crazy about, like me.
portmanteau word
words and phrases coined by Shakespeare


Rose said...

I must admit I didn't catch the frainage yesterday because I was in too big of a hurry to absorb what you said, but I did the spraysicles and knew immediately immediately what you meant...

RuneE said...

It is not often that my comments lead to so much inspiration in others! But I'm glad that you took my point, which I expected you where well aware of anyhow.

The Inuit (Eskimo) example is of course famous and illustrates the importance of geographical and sociological factors in the development of language. However, when it comes to the making of new words, others are also important. In Norwegian (as in German and other similar languages) we can easily make new words by combining a whole set of words into a new one that describes the meaning exactly. This is difficult to do in English. So maybe you have a larger need for "new words"?

On the other hand, I fully understand the "urge" to kid people with making up new words, both for things that already exist and for things that might/ought (someday) to exist.

I don't know if you have noticed that Blogger is evidently at the moment experimenting with its "word verification" system and using "words" that are pronounceable. This of course sometimes leads to the use of real words. For instance, for this comment I have to enter the word "erste". That is German for "first"...

Sylvia K said...

I love the fact you make up your own words! I might not always recognize a word in one of your posts and I automatically say, hmmm must be one of those. You are so creative and that's wonderful!

Lin said...

very creative and challenging to communication with others...

Gretchen said...

What a pretty shot! Happy SWF!

bobbie said...

I particularly loved your spraycicles the other day. I think there are times when we just have to create a new word. You do it beautifully.

Kallen305 said...

I agree w/ what bobbi said!

Whenever I make up new words, it is never my intent. I just say it the wrong way and people look at me rather odd.

Your words sound like real words that should indeed be put into our vocabulary.

RuneE, that you for the fascinating tidbit of information. I never knew that about language development.

mom/caryn said...

My husband is constantly and forever making up new words. Most of them are non-sensical (he speaks fluent Dr. Zeuss).. But I've found many to be very usable on occasion.

I've made up a few myself. I relly like fooling around with the pronunciation of words.

Your words are not only creative, but descriptive, pronounceable and
easier to remember than some of the original words they replaced. I compliment you!

Your photographs are surreal. Some of my very favorite mood shots.

magiceye said...

am enjoying this. thank you!

SandyCarlson said...

I like solumbra a lot. Your post was a lot of fun, Deborah!

Indrani said...

I have noted your words down. I will be doing the 'make sentences' exercise, like I had done decades back.