Main Perfectly Cromulent Word Discussion

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11:33:20 AM Sep 26th 2015
I've cut a lot of examples from the Literature section for misuse. Some of them were already on Neologism, H.P. Lovecraft was already on Author Vocabulary Calendar, and I moved some stuff to Future Slang and Fictionary.

Unfortunately, we don't seem to have a trope for when authors make up a vocabulary for a fantasy/sci-fi setting. Neither Constructed Language (a whole language with a grammar of its own), nor Fictionary (an invented language that is really only an invented vocabulary with the syntax and grammar of English, or another modern language), nor Future Slang (made-up slang in a futuristic or utopian setting) is entirely the same. We also don't have a trope for nonsense words or nonsense languages (like "Jabberwocky").

These are the examples for which I could not find a home:
  • Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar used this technique, including the proper choice of onomatopoeic inventions, in chapter 68 of his novel Rayuela. Trying to interpret the meaning won't get you anywhere but if you pay attention to the rhythm and the sounds, you can easily notice that the scene describes a sex encounter between the two main characters. Also used in the short story "La inmiscusión terrupta" from Historias de Cronopios y de Famas.
  • In that it was a word before its popularization, albeit with a different meaning (beatnik slang for marijuana), J. K. Rowling's use of the word "Muggles" in Harry Potter fits here. Having said that, "Muggle" became one of the more important terms in the series' mythology, as opposed to being a throwaway gag.
  • Gene Wolfe, in the Book of the New Sun, uses a very large number of such words, mostly archaisms referring to things of the distant future for which our current language doesn't have proper words. "Destrier," an old word for an armored knight's horse, is used for a bio-engineered creature that runs fast enough to allow successful cavalry charges against enemies with "high-energy armament."
    • Another example used throughout the tetralogy is Fuligin; it's a color darker than black. So there is one more black. As the series closes we learn of 'argent' - the colour purer than white.
    He (Master Gurloes) mispronounced quite common words: urticate, salpinx, bordereau.
    (translation: string with nettles, the fallopian or eustachian tube, a memorandum listing documents)
  • Roald Dahl's The BFG. And how! (By the way, don't try the snozzcumbers.)
  • Redwall's babies and toddlers are known as "Dibbuns". Brian Jacques was asked if this was an actual British regional slang term, and he said that it's actually just a nonsense word which sounded appropriately cute.
03:36:21 AM Sep 27th 2015
Unfortunately, we don't seem to have a trope for when authors make up a vocabulary for a fantasy/sci-fi setting.

Wow. That needs to go to YKTTW, pronto.
01:56:19 PM Dec 3rd 2011
How come no one has added TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary?
02:59:33 PM Sep 26th 2010
  • Henry David Thoreau uses the word 'laetation' in Walden. It does not seem to be real, although a Google search turns up an inexplicable number of swinger websites.

According to the OED, "laetation" is a real word, albeit an obsolete one, defined as "a manuring".
03:17:16 PM Jul 20th 2011
"there is only one actual adjective" I changed this line on the Jabber Wocky entry. "Aflame" is a standard adjective. All the other adjectives are made up, but they are still adjectives.
09:24:53 PM Apr 16th 2010
Are any papers on string theory completely serious?
07:28:19 PM Apr 4th 2010
01:41:39 AM Apr 24th 2010
JET73L: And this from the Friends example, because I'm not sure if I'm not getting the joke, or if some context was missing, or if this person just doesn't know that "bendy" is a real word (meaning "flexible"). Webster's says recorded usage dates back to at least 1928.
  • Also from Friends, my favorite made-up word: Phoebe says Chandler should have sex with her because she's "very bendy."
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