October 13th, 2010 by Rob

“How many languages do you speak?”. Like all linguists, when I mention my profession this is the most frequent question I am asked. My favorite answer used to be “none”, but this was kind of a conversation killer. So I decided it would be funnier to reply “‘How many? … you are thinking of translators … linguists are the people who invent all the new words”.

Show / Hide


Which seemed like a good reply until it became clear that I hadn’t actually made up any new words, leading to further embarrassed silence, and my preclusion from high society. So to remedy this, here are 5 new words I’m letting slip upon the world:

kodaclone – someone who looks unsettling identical in every photograph.

postcaputraumobliviocryptophobia – fear of sustaining a head injury that results in forgetting your passwords. Yes, it is a long word describing a very specific fear, but admit it, more than once you have sat right there with your hands hovering above the keyboard as this exact fear shivered through you.

queita / queito – Spanish (you didn’t think I was only going to make new English words?) It roughly translates to ‘whatever’, with ‘what’ plus the diminutive suffix (lit. ‘little what’), typically said with a shrug. My former Spanish teacher lamented the lack of a word meaning ‘whatever’ in Spanish, so this is for her.

cessingfromanger – figuring out what this reduced compound means is left as an exercise for the astute reader(s) of this blog.

pareŋ – this is a polysemous word that fills what would otherwise be a lexical gap in every language. You have probably once read that the Mangyans didn’t have a word for “war”, or the Sumerians didn’t have a word for “fridge-magnet”, or something along these lines? Not true – ‘pareŋ‘ is the word in all cases. This will prevent people drawing superficial connections between the mere presence/absence of a word in some language and the culture of its speakers. It also rhymes with ‘orange’.

High society, here I come. Everyone else, please let me know if I’ve missed any important new words.

One Response to “5 new words”

  1. Tweets that mention 5 new words | jungle light speed -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeremy K and Kelly Bennett, Robert Munro. Robert Munro said: kodaclone: someone who looks unsettling identical in every photograph. http://bit.ly/5NewWords #language #linguistics @trochee @wordnik […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>