I came across this Ted Talk video a couple times now, so I feel compelled to share it with you. Anna Curzan addresses what makes a word real. How can a writer resist a topic like that?
The idea of creating words brings YA fiction to mind. I can think of several YA books that create their own language of sorts, perhaps because of the popularity of dystopian stories in teen lit. If you read Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, you'll be familiar with words like "bubbly" (something that's cool or exciting) and "crumblies" (mid-aged and senior citizens). Or how about Tolkien's hobbits talking about "secondsies" (a second breakfast)?
What Curzan does, however, is a whole other concept. She's not writing fiction. She's talking about real life words and how we use them right now. Curzan has an interesting role as one of the few people who get to vote on the validity of a word. That's right - she "gets to," as in an activity that I would covet. She makes it very clear, however, that she doesn't vote on whether or not she likes a particular word, but whether she believes it has been popularly accepted as a word or, conversely, is an already accepted word being used in a completely different manner.
I don't always agree with her. I take task with the idea that abbreviations like LOL and WMD - merely the shortcut versions of other words - can be considered words on their own. But I absolutely love "adorkable" and, yes, my friends can expect to hear me using it soon.
Whether you agree with word usage or not, after you watch this video you'll never look at the dictionary the same way again!