Weekend Wrinkle: Are Those Real?

dog on fifty dollar billHey, don’t tell anyone, but lots of people are using, well, fake words.

I know! Shocking. But, since English is the linguistic equivalent of Play-Doh, it’s a given that this is bound to happen. It’s even acceptable – sometimes.

Words like denim, boondocks, and albatross are adaptations from other languages that have become part of the English lexicon. Then there are the modern made-up words like blogosphere, hyperlocal, and all the “e” words (email and ezine for example).

Making up words isn’t new. Remember the Jabberwocky? In fact, there’s a new word, sniglet, for a neologism (which means a word that is a made up).

On the other hand, here are a few fake words that we should never use (unless, of course, you’re trying to drive a grammar geek insane or possibly to violence):

  • Alright is really two words, all right.
  • Alot again is two words if you mean many and misspelled if you mean distribute.
  • Conversate? What the heck is that? You either have a conversation or you converse with someone.
  • Nother is another trickster. Most of the time, we mean another or other as in, “We went to another country and experienced a whole other culture.”
  • Hisself and theirself are totally fabricated reflexive pronouns. The correct forms are himself and themselves.
  • Irregardless could possibly get you hurt by roving gangs of militant grammarians if what you really mean is regardless.

Why do some made-up words become acceptable to use and others face the relentless wrath of wordsmiths everywhere? Got me. The gods of the lexicon are a fickle crew.