New words from Twitterers (including mine: ‘thelcome’)

People neologize (coin words) all the time, but you’ll never read or hear most of these mintings. (The official concrete noun of product for the verb mint is mintage(s); I prefer the sound of my novelly used mintings. And if not here, where?) Lexicographer Erin McKean, founder of online-dictionary-and-more Wordnik, recently publicized some neologisms. She asked for submissions on Twitter and put some in her article of January 22, 2012, for The Boston Globe: “New words from noncelebrity neologizers.”

I contributed thelcome, a word I coined in 1991 (and other people have independently arrived at). It came from my slip of the tongue when trying to respond to a very complimentary thank you. Here’s the definition I put on Pseudodictionary in 2003:

thelcome – A reply to a complimentary “thank you,” where both “thank you” and “you’re welcome” seem appropriate responses. [Blend of “thank you” and “you’re welcome”]

e.g., She said, “Thanks so much! You’re such a wonderful person!” “Thelcome,” I replied.

After Erin McKean’s article came out, I was happy to see thelcome mentioned on Stan Carey’s language blog. He’s in Ireland, so the march toward worldwide thelcome-acceptance proceeds apace. (Next stop: the Pitcairn Islands, where, unlike the U.S., it’s summer now.)

As for the other neologisms in the article, I think Kate Greene’s technoschmerz could catch on. It’s similar to weltschmerz (borrowed from German, literally ‘world pain’), but the emotional pain comes from irksome technology rather than the dismal world. Also, Kate Chmiel’s term for factory-made apple pies, exstrudel, is delectably unappetizing (and presumably a smooth blend of extrude and strudel).

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that my favorite coinages are both from Kates. And that my name, Kevin, also starts with K. And that their words end with Schmerz and Strudel, both German masculine nouns starting with S. And that I’m a part-German male person whose (non-German) last name, Sullivan, also starts with S.

One probably has to be somewhat form-focused to be a neologizer, but I think it’s time to put language back in the toy box for today.

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