Sunday, June 21, 2009

Where Do Words Come From?

One of my clients asked me whether “bacheloring” is a word, for whatever reason. I thought to myself, “why does it matter whether it is a word?” I told her to make it a word!

Who, can we reasonably ask, is the Authority on introducing new words? God? Some super smart person? Presumably new words must come into existence here and there, otherwise how would we have any?

Were all existing words meant to be as if some cosmic force necessitated them to be so? Decidedly not! Words do not seem to be like, say, gravity. For no matter whether we want gravity to be this way or that, it is only exactly the way it is. The same can not be said of words. They are merely arbitrary conventions.

But once again, who is entitled to make the determination as to what can or will be a word? Does it require an advanced degree in astrophysics? Computer science? Perhaps in English or Mandarin? How about requiring only somebody confident and assertive enough to make a word a word? Anybody can do this! There are few things more arbitrary than words. Except maybe opinions.

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