Friday, March 4, 2005

Not for the faint of heart, or mind

So much for any hope of neologizing even a new form of a neologism. I just came across two explicit uses of "Chaiwanese", care of random Rachel and the Shout Box. Truly I say unto you, neologizing is not for the faint of heart. Fortunately, as the sting of defeat fades into the background bliss of existence, I am encouraged to see there are creative minds all over the place. Neologizing too successfully would unnerve me much more than it could amuse me, sort of like speaking into a microphone and realizing no one is in the audience -- or that they're all dying in comatose heaps. It may be pride or it may just be my exuberant love for language, but I do find it fascinating to bend and mold language in ways that fit my own experience. As this essay on James Joyce argues,
The more creative the language context, the more likely we are to encounter lexical experiments, and find ourselves faced with unusual neologisms. The stretching and breaking of the rules governing lexical structure, for whatever reason, is characteristic of several contexts, notably humour, theology, and informal conversation, but the most complex, intriguing and exciting instances come from the language of literature.

Pride of place for neologizing among modern authors is given to the chief oneiroparonomastician (or 'dream-pun-namer' -- the term is Anthony Burgess's), James Joyce. Joyce himself called Finnegans Wake 'the last word in stolentelling,' a remark which seems to recognize that the extraordinary lexical coinages in his novel have their roots in perfectly everyday language.

I suspect it can't be all bad for a fledgling writer to have the same linguistic urges as James Joyce.

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