Inventors words – neologisms science


Surely the most famous new word coined in science fiction “robot”, 1920 play by Karel Capek Czech writer ‘ RUR (“Rossum’s Universal Robots”). I do not know any Czech but I dare say “robot” comes from the root of a similar Russian rabotat , to work. Here, rather than a word that is completely invented from nothing. we have a new form of the current word, express a new idea.

“Robot” is somewhat along the spectrum that extends from the neologisms that are just convenient abbreviations (such as “mascot” for “concentratin mass”), a truly new words and ideas. (Of course a writer can also invent new words to express old idea, although this is usually pretty pointless. I think Larry Niven in The Ring World Engineers invented a new word for sex, though I can not remember what had happened and I can not be bothered to look it up.)

Even though they are mostly mere abbreviations, new words can offer a new slant on the previously described concepts.

Perhaps an example of this “Pauk”, in Brian Aldis’ Helliconia Spring . “Pauk” means “Trance where one can commune with the spirits of ancestors people”. Or where one believes one can …. because it is not clear from Helliconia trilogy as a whole, whether Pauk is a genuine phenomenon soul-contact or whether it is a mental illusion hand at a certain level of society. The latter interpretation is suggested by the “spirits” of the dead seems to change in mood, from grumpy to sweet-tempered, as civilization advances.

A vaguer, but potentially more original time, the Martian word “grok” in Heinlein’s Stranger in a strange land . If you grok, you have to tune in to something ineffable health; it is a mysterious concept, perhaps too vague to be useful, but at least we can say in its favor, no obvious equivalent existed before in English.

Turning from the abstract to the concrete, the derivation of an existing word used for a new “drainer” in Robert Silverberg’s A Time Changes . A member drainer is despised profession, a kind of secular confessor, one of them unburden themselves verbally in private, to get rid of stress, in cultures that prohibit open use of the personal pronoun “I”.

Jack Vance coined new words for the days of the week in Araminta Station , simply avoid jarring inconsistencies to use familiar Friday our Saturday, etc, associated with long earth tens of thousands of years in the future, even if its inhabitants are people who come from us and similar to us culturally. He was right to do it. The words that they chose are beautiful atmosphere additions to his story.

An interesting example of an author who has deliberately eschewed evil neologism is Gene Wolfe, that the annex to the first volume of the far future of his epic The Book of the New Sun has stated:

In rendering this book – originally written in language that has not yet reached – in English, I could easily have saved me a lot of labor to adopt invented a term I have never done it. Thus, in many cases I have been forced to replace yet undiscovered concepts closest twentieth-century equivalents. Such words peltast, androgyn and exultant are substitutions of this kind, and is intended to be suggestive rather than definitive.

He is right; the effect is very suggestive, and his decision to go down the road of neologism is a linguistic victory leads to a lavish feast prose texture. But he is writing about the far future Earth. If he had been writing about another world, neologisms would have been more appropriate.

The Ooranye Project has found it necessary to find new words for some uranium concepts. Here, for example, two political neologisms on the giant planet

“Lremd” has the meaning of luck and skill; it could be defined as a gift to be in the right place at the right time, to be able to weave a career in the crowd events without metaphorically bumping or jostling against other people. You could call it an inbuilt personal radar. The noad – city chiefs – must have these qualities. It allows them to indulge every so often adventures as if they were individuals, and to keep in touch with ordinary life. It might come close to a notion of reality Rousseau is the “general will” of Contrat Social Du idea that our world is impractical for any catch bigger than a group of friends. Thanks lremd, authorities Ooranye can be un-bureaucratic, not only free but free-and-easy, in a way that would be impossible on the planet!

“Arelk” is as bad as “lremd” is good. Arelk can be defined as “political hardening of the arteries”, where a polity degenerates into bureaucratic rigidity and potential tyranny. Arelk is one of the most feared phenomena of lremd-loving nations Ooranye.


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