Saturday, April 2, 2011

When widgets eat quarks, all nonce breaks out

When widgets eat quarks, all nonce breaks out

Recently, I learned about something called a nonce word. Or, more accurately, I did not learn about the existence of nonce words, just that there was a word for these type of words. Yes, even I'm a little confused.

A nonce word is a word created just for the sake of having a word or word phrase to refer to something for which there is no name or for which you do not know the name. Sometimes, you just substitute a word – like widget or thingamajig – for the word you are unsure of. I do this all the time. For example, could you get me my whatsit?

Another example of a nonce word is one that has added prefixes or suffixes to create a new word. In semi-current affairs, an example would be Snowmageddon. It's meaning is obvious, even though it combines two very interesting ideas “snow” and “Armageddon.”

Lastly, we have nonce words that are really just nonsense. These words are substituted for other words, most often for comedic effect. For a good example, read some nonsense verse, like Jabberwocky.

What's even better about nonce words is that they often become part of the modern vernacular and the language we use everyday, even though they were once nonce or nonsense.

Related links:

Nonce words
James Joyce's quark

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any questions, comments or concerns? Share them here.