It seems that an overwhelming amount of writers are having a bit of a free-for-all when it comes to adding creativity to their writing, for the go-to for clichés has been the over use of neologisms.
A neologism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a new word, usage, or expression; also a meaningless word coined by a psychotic. An article about the neologisms in media and society, author Michel Quinon may not be calling these journalists psychotic, but the fact that it even warrants discussion can be questionable.
Of course, neologisms have their place in writing. They add originality and character to stories and essays (writer Chuck Klosterman is actually so good at this, he said he frequently uses it to pick up women). However, newspapers and media shouldn’t be so quick to adapting.
Quinon stated that newspapers, especially in England, have become a melting pot of language in action. The problem with this new fad of making up words is that there is not only chance of losing the reader, but the clichés become a bit exasperating.
According to Quinon’s article, the fabricated vernacular trend began during President Nixon’s Watergate Scandal.
Soon after, journalists started to expropriate the last syllable of the building’s name and attach it to other words.
Journalists were so fond of adding –gate, they kept using it, and still do, though its meaning has diminished to “something embarrassing that has happened to somebody in the public eye.”
Examples such as Travelgate, nannygate, sexgate, troopergate, fornigate, whitewatergate, and filegate, have all been a by-product of anything having to do with the embarrassment of a public figure. If these terms don’t ring a bell, it is because it’s in the nature of the construct to be short-lived (and they’re 40-years-old).
This has clearly been an apparent trend in American journalism and pop culture. Suffixes are a journalist’s best friend when trying to come up with headlines when facing a deadline.
In addition, there have been a handful of phrases that have evolved from mass media content used to describe pop culture phenomena. Phrases such as blog, webinar, wardrobe malfunction, or fauxhawk may not have been ostensible a few years ago, and have now become recognizable, everyday words. After a certain point, it gets ridiculous.
Neologism is almost everywhere you look. If you know anything about the whole hard rock and heavy metal music scene, there are been bands that label themselves a select sub-genre, like metalcore (a mix of metal and hardcore) or jazzcore (jazz and hardcore), and others that are similar and not too far-fetched.
On the other hand, some bands are just ridiculous when it comes to defining their sound.
Genres like mathcore, clownstep, or the most unfathomable, “Vegan Edgecore,” (I honestly could not begin to try to describe what I think it sounds like) really question whether they really sound like that or are just pompous.
I’m afraid society’s lack of a strong vocabulary, as well as the growing popularity of hashtags, will be the foundation of this word-welding craze, and may only get worse over time (I’ll be really upset if I ever see newspapers using them in print).
It undoubtedly has its place in writing, and I know 99% of these dialect-debacles won’t last. But some of these words that writers are devising are ludicrous. In some ways, it has the potential to make the writer look like they lack a strong vocabulary.
So writers: spare your readers. You want them to understand what you’re talking about, don’t you?
Chris Palermo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org