Words we need but don’t have, versus words we have but don’t need


Guac? (Photo credit: Lady Madonna)


Lately, there’s been developments on both sides of the language spectrum – many new words that we really don’t need have entered the language, while at the same time there are things we’d need to describe for which there are no words, at least not real ones.


First, on the unnecessary side, the Oxford Dictionaries Online (not the OED itself, as pointed out by Slate here) just announced their latest batch of words, and it’s a humble-jumble of words that I’m sure some teenagers out there are using, but that really don’t feel like they will be around long enough to be included. Atlantic has a fun take on it here. What’s up with all the abbreviations and acronyms? Is it a pure result of a texting society, or are we just in a hurry? Guac and apols are not words, they are abbreviations only.


Why invent all these new words at the same time as we don’t use all these great existing words? Atlantic just had a piece on which words get removed from dictionaries, detailing the harsh fate that words such as landlubberliness and ostmark have encountered. Perhaps they can be consoled by the fact that they survived a lot longer than twerking and fauxhawk probably will.


On the other side of the spectrum, there are also all these words that don’t exist, but whose existence actually would enrich our language. The recently published Afterliff covers new fun words created from signposts, and defines common emotions such as a person worth emailing, but not phoning (eworthy). In this earlier post, I looked at some other great resources for this, above and beyond Urban Dictionary, such as the Emotionary.


One example of something that really should get its own word is the “yeah no”-combination. Lexicon Valley had a great podcast on its use. In our ambiguous society, that could definitely be a concept that deserved its own proper word.


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