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In , at PodCamp Pittsburgh 2, a social media "unconference," some geeks were sitting around discussing web technology— and going off on tangents. Bacn is spam's tastier cousin. Being geeks, these neologists—that is, creators of neologisms, or new words—made a website to promote their word and asked bloggers to write about it. Their promotional efforts paid off.

Bacn became a story. Not everyone liked the new word. But the story of Bacn spread. Bacn was coined to attract attention, communicate instantly, and be remembered and repeated. It worked. Notice the big story wasn't that people sign up to receive email and then don't read it. The story was that someone had come up with a funny, catchy name for the common phenomenon that makes us see it in an interesting light. Neologisms can be among the most powerful of micromessages. Coined words come in many varieties.


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There are political epithets like Defeatocrat ; terms for new technologies and cultural phenomena like podcast , greenwash , and of course bacn ; proprietary names for companies and products, such as Skype, Technorati, Wii , and more. Almost all new words, from tech company names to political insults, result from a handful of processes familiar to linguists. Most of these processes are green: they reuse or recycle existing words.

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Here are seven common ways to build a new word:. Making up a new word doesn't have to mean creating a new sound; it can also mean putting an existing sound to new use. People often don't think of these as neologisms, but the end result is essentially a new word.

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Remember, a word isn't just a sound or a handful of letters; what makes it interesting, what makes it a word , is that it has a meaning. When people use the word word , they sort of vacillate between meaning just the spoken and written form on the one hand, and the form plus the meaning on the other. For this reason, lexical semanticists—linguists who really take words seriously—don't even find the word word very useful.


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They use different terms when they're talking about the form alone and when they're talking about the form plus its meaning. To put a special mark of ownership on a repurposed word, you can respell it. Respelling words serves some technical functions: as we saw in the last chapter, it makes them easier to trademark as in Rice Krispies, Cheez Whiz, and Krazy Glue , it often creates a unique keyword to increase search engine visibility as in Squidoo , and it sometimes makes it possible to acquire a meaningful ".

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But respelling comes at a cost: you run the risk of seeming stupid or cheesy, or being confusing. One of the best respelling techniques eliminates letters that aren't necessary for pronunciation. This approach achieves spelling economy, a desirable quality in a name. Flickr, for example, eliminates the e in the common -er ending. Eliminating letters that are not pronounced is a natural move, and one that children often do. At the end of his kindergarten year, my son Tobias unwittingly coined a Web 2. Reusing a word—that is, giving it a new meaning—can change it forever in people's minds.

Spam , once a brand name for a humble canned meat product, provides a perfect example. Recycling words—recombining them into new, larger units, sometimes breaking them down into their component pieces first—offers almost limitless possibilities for new coinages. But we focus on it while ignoring almost everything interesting about language. At their most helpful, the Language Bosses are linguistic poison sniffers, like Remy the rat in the Pixar film Ratatouille.

Who should read it? Design fans : You probably want to order the hardcover, because the book design is so cool.

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Microstyle is about verbal design. Short, attention-getting, memorable messages have much in common with graphic design, and work together with it in logos, ads, posters, comics, and other works. Would you like to have a free sneak preview of Microstyle? I alone will the be the judge, jury, and distributioner.

This tweet might be especially clever, or it might get lots of new people to follow Microstyle. Or both. Sorry, due to shipping costs and legal hassles, this contest is only open to grownups in the U. And you have to be following Microstyle to win.

It's a field guide for the age of the incredible shrinking message, published by W. Pinterest, stop voicejacking! Here it is: Hi, I set up a Pinterest profile where I can share the things I like and I want you to follow me so you can see it! Am I alone in finding this practice distasteful? The next three make me panic, though: See who you follow, and follow new people. Update your profile. Post tweets for you. It would be easy enough to fix this: Access your followers so you can follow new people. Access your profile so you can update it.

Post your tweets for you. What makes language delicious? Author: Christopher Johnson Filed under: Uncategorized. E-book In order to read our eBooks you have to download Adobe Digital Editions and register on the Adobe website as well.

Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little

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