Is it a word if the meaning is understood?

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kxmode
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30 May 2010, 11:43 pm

People sometimes makeup words on the fly and realize they aren't real, even though they understand its meaning. For example while working on my story's outline I wrote down wordsmithship, and then quickly deleted it. Now I realize wordsmithship isn't a word but I instinctively understood its meaning. Does this make it a word?


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Evil_Squeakheads
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31 May 2010, 12:38 am

It becomes a word once multiple people understand and agree on the meaning. The meaning of a word like Wordsmithmanship is pretty self explanatory, because it's based on a real word from the English language. So I guess it could be a word....



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31 May 2010, 3:05 am

It depends on whether you subscribe to a prescriptive or a descriptive view of linguistics. There are academics who have long, raging, heated arguments about just this sort of topic.


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31 May 2010, 5:09 am

Connecting words into one is very useful. Except things like Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, it's not :lol:


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Sparrowrose
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31 May 2010, 5:19 am

Valoyossa wrote:
Connecting words into one is very useful. Except things like Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, it's not :lol:


Languages with concatenation (such as German) are so cool! Esperanto permits concatenation. One of the many things I love about it.


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kxmode
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31 May 2010, 8:09 am

Valoyossa wrote:
Connecting words into one is very useful. Except things like Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, it's not :lol:


Portmanteau. Yes, but what about words that take prefixes and suffixes and attach them to a word to create a new word that doesn't technically exist.

wordsmith - A writer who creates a written work, though the word usually designates those who write creatively or professionally, as well as those who have written in many different forms.

ship - The noun or the object that possesses the attribute in question. The workman renowned for his workmanship.

wordsmithship - a writer who is renowned for professional creativity with written work.

Wordsmithship is not a word, but I know its meaning. I'm so confused.


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you_are_what_you_is
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31 May 2010, 10:40 am

Yes. I think that any string of characters can be a word.

Generally the important question is whether any particular word is useful and appropriate: you could introduce the word 'jkdfnkjwfkjnfkjwnkjn' and say that it means 'grey wolf', and you wouldn't be incorrect, but it would be a waste of time.


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31 May 2010, 4:43 pm

It is a word, and a very good one.


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Hector
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31 May 2010, 6:58 pm

In a sense a word is only truly a "word" when it is officially recognised, as in a dictionary. All that truly matters, though, is that you are understood.



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31 May 2010, 8:52 pm

kxmode wrote:
Wordsmithship is not a word, but I know its meaning. I'm so confused.


There is already a word "wordsmithery." If your word means the same thing, then you've invented a word but it's a redundant and possibly unnecessary word.

"wordsmithery." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wordsmithery

Wordsmithery: A Guide to Working at Writing (Paperback)
by Robert L. Root
http://www.amazon.com/Wordsmithery-Guid ... 0205270247


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kxmode
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01 Jun 2010, 12:41 am

To me wordsmithery is the act of someone crafting words, while wordsmithship is what you would use to describe someone who is very good at communicating with written words. You could say a wordsmithship would use wordsmithery to craft literary masterpieces. I consider the literary greats to be wordsmithships.

The example from my original post somehow became the topic, but it's just that, an example. This thread isn't about "wordsmithship" it's about words we make, that, at first, appear real but we later find they are not. Albeit on sporadic occasions I don't do it often these days, but I used made up words a lot. I was thoroughly convinced the words were real. It wasn't until I look in a dictionary that I discovered they weren't.

I have a random theory as to why this might happen. Could it be possible that the creative side of my brain is stimulated into "creating" words while writing? I create a LOT; art, music, writing, you name it. I wonder if this part of my brain is stimulated.


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03 Jun 2010, 10:31 pm

Well, the term "word" is a conventional category for strings of letters that are commonly used to convey meanings. For that reason, I don't think there is a solid line on when a string of letters becomes a word. If there was, then could anybody find it? And why would it be *that* line, rather than another one?

"wordsmithship" seems quite suitable to me.