If I may have a word with you…

I’m going to acknowledge and apologize right now for a blogging sin of my own. I tend to talk about whatever I feel like talking about when I post a new entry. For this, I am, somewhat, but not entirely, in a possibly unclear manner of speaking, compunctious.

If you don’t know what that last sentence means, then that might be a good thing.
For me.
Not you.

I will apologize for the semi-bastardization and slight paraphrasing of Douglas Adams – the best wordsmith of the last 30 years. And once again, if you caught the ponderous wording in that last sentence, then I am sorry. Not for you catching it, for me saying it.

Still with me?
Okay, good!

We often take liberties with the way we speak and write, choosing the phrase things in creative ways to capture attention. Sentence structure and understanding the semantics of our wording choices allows these plays on words. But what happens when you get creative with the semantics directly? What happens when you start messing with the structure of a word, the meaning of it?

Well, quite a bit of hilarity, ensues.  

A few years ago, an email began circulating about the Washington Post’s Style Invitational (Formerly “Mensa” Invitational), where the contest consisted of entries where a common word was given a subtle change to create a new word.  The change brought to a word is not sufficient on its own. Entries must have a corresponding definition.

Here’s the original list from 2007

 1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject
financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you
realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright
ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign
of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
getting laid.

7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person
who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon : It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these
really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like,
a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido : All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they
come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve
accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.) : Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your
bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the
fruit you’re eating.

Along the way I’ve come up with a few of my own, but I am loathe to say them here. I do use them in conversation though and they get a few laughs every so often. I’ve a few friends that have done the same. The best of theirs is “Acknowledgize”, which is where you acknowledge someone’s grievance with you but don’t apologize for your behaviour that lead to that grievance in the first place.

Suffice to say, my two best words are written down on a sticky. I’ll pull them out at a later time. Gotta find out if i’m eligible as a Canadian citizen, to enter the Washington Post’s contest. It appears they still run it and they send out cool gifts to winners, like the Grossery Bag.

Now, I have one particular word that I thought up as an entry, but it’s no good on it’s own. It needs to be part of a clause. I wonder how that will fly? Perhaps I can suggest to WP to expand from words to cliches, puns, buzz-words and related?


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