Words mean things. Words that sound alike can mean completely different things. On occasion, words mean much more than just how they are written, or used in context. Misused words take on a life of their own and find their way in to our modern English Lexicon more times than you might think. How they get there is only a matter of whit, repetition and how fun it is to speak that word or say that phrase; it's popularity, if you will.
But, above all else, there is the creative mind of the creator that created the creation. In other words, the whack-job that thunk-it up. The "Wordsmith".
Have a look at the modern day Lingua Franca. I prefer the term "World Common", but it's really just British/American English. No, it's not "but-just"... it "is"... It is the most complicated language to understand, yet it has become THE most versatile tongue known to human kind. A perfect language to write with, in my humble opinion (Notice how I didn't use the acronym? Acronyms suck. Acronyms are for lazy people.)
To accurately convey one's thought through the written word, one must have a good grasp of the language in which they are communicating (of course). Some folk do this very well, while others simply do not have the literary cognition to assemble even a small collection of semi-coherent verbiage. But for the most part, I believe the majority of us can, when pressed, bang out an "I miss you" letter or a cleverly penned original "get well" note and live to tell about it.
And then there are those of use who think very deeply about what it is that we are trying to say when we ply our craft, making those thoughts real by permanently marking them on paper, thereby bringing those thoughts to life in the very word it was written in. And it even goes much deeper, right down to the root of the word.
Let's use the word "conjugate" for an example (I used to giggle at the word conjugate, the way the other kids giggled when they heard every other word spoken by the Sex-Ed teacher). It means: "having the same derivation and therefore usually some likeness in meaning <conjugate words>" or "joined together especially in pairs : coupled". Of course, in my pea-sized prepubescent brain, words were having sex and stand-up comedy was born. See: "Class Clown".
I wonder who it was or who "they" were that figured out all the clever ways to use words like "there", "they're, "their" or "balls". Like as not, it was in the evolution of generational slang that compelled Webster to add words to it's lists that, twenty years prior would have sounded inane or considered nothing more than gibberish.
But what's the fun of just minding the rules of writing? Just because your 90-year-old English teacher says you should not begin a sentence with "and" or "but" doesn't mean it won't work in practice. Sometimes, writing outside of convention does a better job of conveying a complicated thought than just writing the word "Hello"...
But wait! There's more!
"Wordsmithing" is a word that is a perfect example. A "Smith" is someone who makes things out of other things that were mostly unrelated, and enjoys the snot out of it enough to make a living at it. A dictionary is a great list of "words" that are mostly unrelated until you break out the Thesaurus. Just dip your quill in a bottle of imag-ink-nation... and presto! You have a brand new word.
Where the Blacksmith has raw iron to rend, the Wordsmith has letters, words and phrases that, when molded into just the right thought can say exactly what he is thinking regardless of whether or not the words, letters or phrases actually exsisted before he thought of writing then down. That's the kind of wordsmithing I'm talking about!
This post was conceived purely out of mental idleness. That is when I'm not thinking about anything other than random ideas and bending the English language to suit my mad-cap mental adventures. Then someone said something and it sounded like something else and then a completely unrelated word popped up. So, right then and there, I made up a phrase that used three separate words, mashed into just two words with a hyphen in the first, and the whole concoction actually sounded like it meant something.
Then, things got strange (like they always do) as I started to define this newly wrought literary phenomenon. This is, for me at least, the best part of wordsmithing. Not only might I have coined and defined a word or phrase that may possibly endure the test of a generation, I get to be the expert on it's history and usage. Bonus!
Oh, yeah... Someone in the room was talking about the Michael J. Fox movie trio, "Back to the Future" and since I was in a world of my own writing HTML and CSS codes, I began to think about what it must have been like for the scriptwriters trying to make the "foreword into the past" thing pan-out on a movie set.
The word was: "retro-perspectual conceptation".
I think it's a verb.
Originally posted on April 14, 2013 - "Write... NOW!" blog.