Thursday, 19 March 2009

A challenge for Harry

The blog has just clocked up 39,000 visitors since its bloggerbirth on 8 September 2006. Probably not huge numbers in the great scheme of things, but pleasing chez The Cupboard.

Harry is a regular visitor and contributor to the blog. He helpfully keeps me right with all my spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and his passion is dictionaries (yes, sad I know, but perhaps no sadder than my yoga).

Once I remember challenging him to plant a new word into the ether and seeing how long it took to become part of everyday speech.

How about a blogcionado (someone who is an avid fan of blogs)?

We look forward to hearing from Harry.


Harry said...

Well, it's a tough challenge. I'll repeat the story I heard somewhere about someone who decided to set himself exactly this task. He was struck by the fact that for so many European words there is an English equivalent somewhere, even if it's not in common use. But while the French use the lovely word faramineux or pharamineux (something like "enormous" or "formidable") to refer to an astronomical sum of money for example, there is no English word *faraminous. So he started using it on every possible occasion, in the hope that one day he'd find it coming back to him like a bad penny, or rather, bread cast upon the waters. "The prices in this place are just faraminous!", he'd exclaim, or "have you seen the latest figures on knife crime? Faraminous!". People nodded sagely and never turned a hair, but they didn't start saying it themselves. (At least, not to him, though I see a handful of examples on Google.)

Blogcionado is a particularly tough challenge, with that very awkward and untypical consonant sequence -g-th-y- which i bet doesn't occur in any English word. So instead I thought about various other trendy agent suffixes that are often used to coin new words.

Blogerati and bloggerati are pretty obvious I suppose (Google throws up 11,000 and 46,000 hits respectively), though it is interesting that we feel the need of that double g to make it look right in English. What would it be otherwise, would people say blozhe-rati? Even though there isn't any word in English I can think of with o as in blow followed by the g of entourage, it's true it looks better with a double g. Where does that leave the original, literati — any risk of people pronouncing it light-rati?! The lite-rati — people who only consume low-sugar soft drinks? I wouldn't be in the least surprised if someone somewhere has coined that one too.

Blogster is another obvious one, and very snappy too, in fact it's almost certainly a trademark somewhere. No surprise that it gets over 300,000 "ghits" as we Google-fanciers call them. The -ster suffix is, unlike most of the endings that came to my mind, not a stylish new Spanish or Italian borrowing but a re-embracing of the old Anglo-Saxon occupational suffix we see in webster and brewster and suchlike words we mostly know today only as surnames; youngster arrived in the 16th century apparently, and a little later we get the very nice dabster. I once very nearly registered the domain name, or was it, when I noticed with surprise it was still available, as I thought it would be a very snappy and versatile name for pretty much any kind of expertise you might want to peddle. He who hesitates is lost: days after I had the idea it had gone. I could probably have made some money there.

What about that uber-cool -ista ending we see in fashionista and Guardianista and whatnot. It reminds us of barista, basically the mysterious rebranding of a low-paid menial who knows which buttons to press on a coffee machine as the coolest thing on two feet. The English -ist doesn't begin to cut it. "I asked Mabel the counterist for a cup of tea" — nah, rubbish. Blogista gets a staggering three quarters of a million ghits. And these are all just for the singular form by the way, not including blogistas etc. Bloganista scores over 1000, and bloggist 23,000 or so. Even (scraping the barrel now, I admit) blogateer and bloganeer (like privateer and buccaneer, you see) make it over the 100-hit mark. Bloggerative (bit like operative? maybe?), blogga for the would-be gangsta in your life, and for the laydeez, bloggerina or the German Blogerin, show some small signs of life. Hang on, what about... ah, so close! bloggerateur just, just, makes it above Google's radar, and though there's nothing for "bloggeranteur", as for perpetuating by analogy the solecistic restauranteur, well I'm sorry I refuse. Bloggeration![*]

[*] Yup, that one's spoken for too.

Harry said...

(Commenting on myself)

"there isn't any word in English I can think of with o as in blow followed by the g of entourage"

Maybe Limoges as in the porcelain? But not within a word — the sequence /ʒr/ is just horrible. Unless you keep your precious ceramics on a "Limoges-rack" or something.